Drip marketing campaigns seem to be everywhere at the moment, whether these involve signing up for a free course or taking part in “challenges” on LinkedIn. But what exactly is drip marketing and how does it work?

At Plezi, we’ve been using drip marketing for a while now, and long enough to know what works and what doesn’t. So, we wanted to tell you what drip marketing is, what the benefits of using it are, and how to use it without annoying your prospects. If you want to learn more about this marketing trend, this post is for you.

In this post, we’ll look at:

  1. What is drip marketing?
  2. The benefits of drip marketing
  3. The differences between drip marketing and lead nurturing
  4. Drip marketing examples: when to use it
  5. How to launch a drip marketing campaign
  6. The limitations of drip marketing

1. What is drip marketing?

Drip marketing is an automated marketing strategy that delivers content to prospects using a series of emails. The principle is simple. You automatically send your contacts a pre-defined sequence of emails over a specified period of time determined in advance. 

These are always triggered by a prospect opting-in for something. For example, downloading a white paper, signing up for a newsletter or a particular mailing list.

What makes drip marketing unique is not only its focus on a single channel (email), but also the very specific time period involved. For example, a campaign might involve sending contacts one email every three days for two weeks, and then it’s finished.

2. The benefits of drip marketing

Drip marketing has several advantages for both prospects and marketers alike. 

Firstly, prospects can be assured of receiving content that has been well thought out, or of experiencing something a little different. Typically this is delivered over a short period of time using a sequence of emails focusing on the same topic or with a real unifying thread. This is a real plus for prospects, letting them increase their knowledge of a specific subject or work through several training modules, for example. 

But drip marketing also has some advantages for marketers of course: 

  • by using a drip marketing campaign to send prospects content that closely matches their interests, you can ensure that your campaigns are highly personalized for each prospect;
  • by piquing the interest of prospects and having them look forward to receiving your content, it’s easier to maintain a relationship with them over a longer period;  
  • the results of a drip marketing campaign are often much better than those of larger email marketing campaigns. On average, they have an 80% open rate and click rates are 3 times higher (Source: Uplers)

By using a steady sequence of emails, drip marketing campaigns can generate 50% more qualified leads than normal email marketing campaigns.

3. The differences between drip marketing and lead nurturing

Lead nurturing is a marketing technique that sends content to prospects to gradually move them closer to purchase. At first glance, it can seem quite similar to drip marketing, but there are a few fundamental differences.

The drip marketing cycle is shorter 

The period of time involved in a drip marketing campaign is clearly defined and generally short (around 2 weeks). They also rarely involve sending more than 10 emails. Lead nurturing, on the other hand, happens over a much longer period which is also less well defined. It naturally involves sending a much greater number of emails. 

Drip marketing campaigns are designed to achieve very specific goals 

In drip marketing, you try to achieve a very specific goal. For example, to promote specific content, generate more subscribers to a training course, or have prospects request a demonstration. And each campaign is designed with a different purpose in mind. In lead nurturing, your goal is to support prospects over the long term and regarding several different topics in order to move them gradually through the marketing funnel. 

Drip marketing is targeted at a very specific audience 

A drip marketing campaign has a much smaller target audience than lead nurturing. You can’t target your entire database of contacts because you’re trying to address a very specific need. A similar process happens in lead nurturing when you segment contacts according to what stage they are at in the conversion funnel. However, the segments involved are much less specific than the audience for a drip marketing campaign.

4. Drip marketing examples: when to use it

In a workflow to welcome prospects

Buyer’s journey stage: awareness.

Trigger: signing up for your newsletter.

Aim: to welcome a prospect who has newly signed up to your newsletter by presenting your company, setting out what they can expect from you, and engaging them in two or three emails.

A drip marketing campaign to meet this objective can be split up as follows:

  • Email 1 – Welcome new subscribers and introduce your company. Briefly indicate what content they will receive as subscribers.
  • Email 2 – Briefly present your product or service and above all your expertise in a particular area. Ask subscribers to add your email address to their address book so your newsletter doesn’t go to their spam folder. 
  • Email 3 – Send a selection of your most popular pieces of content to encourage further interaction

Be sure to carefully divide up what you need to say over the different emails. If these are too short, prospects will probably leave after the third one. But if they’re too long, they might leave before you’ve got a chance to send all three! We talk more about the workflow we use at Plezi to welcome new prospects in our post on marketing automation workflows

Worklows UK

Promote an offering linked to specific content

Buyer’s journey stage: evaluation or purchase.

Trigger: downloading a specific piece of content.

Aim: to encourage someone who has just downloaded content to request a product demo, a quote, or to make a purchase.

Note that this campaign only makes sense if it is linked to content closely related to your product or service, often at the evaluation or purchase stage of the funnel. If you use it for all your content, you’ll quickly start to sound like a broken record.

Here’s an example of an email sequence for this campaign: 

  • Email 1 – a link to the downloaded content
  • Email 2 – provide additional resources and explain why your company is well placed to solve the problem addressed by this content
  • Email 3 – a clear call to action, along with more information about your product or service and/or things like customer testimonials and statistics

Courses or challenges via email

Buyer’s journey stage: awareness or consideration.

Trigger: registering for a specific course or challenge.

Aim: to provide prospects with more information about a specific problem (that is important to them) using a sequence of emails.

You might have seen examples of this type of campaign on social media recently. That’s because this is something drip marketing does very well.

There are two different formats that can be used here to great effect. 

The “one idea a day” short format
You send one email a day over a specified period about an important idea or concept to be learnt. You can either include all the content in the email itself or send subscribers to a web page, blog post, or video, for example. 

Kameleoon’s short A/B testing course is a good example of this format. 

The “one task a day” challenge format
Here, you set prospects one task to complete each day in order to reach a goal after a certain number of days. Examples of this goal could be improving your website or cleaning your contact database

Promotional offers

Buyer’s journey stage: purchase.

Trigger: the prospect reaches a specific score (lead scoring).

Aim: to promote a special offer (e.g. promotion, bundle, benefit available for a limited time) to the right people. 

If you target your entire database at contacts at once you risk scaring away those who aren’t yet ready to buy. So from time to time, you can use a dedicated drip marketing campaign to target those who are now ready to purchase. When a prospect reaches the purchase stage, you can send them a sequence of two or three emails to highlight a special offer. These help better qualify your prospect and let you quickly see if they are indeed ready to be passed to the sales team. 

The email sequence might look like this: 

  • Email 1 – Present the details of your offer 
  • Email 2 – Present the advantages and benefits of this offer 
  • Email 3 – Present feedback from satisfied customers who have already taken advantage of this offer

5. How to launch a drip marketing campaign

Drip marketing certainly isn’t rocket science. Like most things, you need to make sure you’re organized and know what goal you want to accomplish.

Identify your main objective

Having a specific goal in mind is always going to make an email campaign more effective. That’s even more true when it comes to drip marketing. Before getting started, you need to decide on what your priorities are and ask yourselves the right questions. 

Do you want to: 

  • move some new contacts closer to purchase? 
  • convert contacts further advanced in the funnel? 
  • introduce your product or service?
  • have people sign up for a webinar or a newsletter? 

Once this main campaign objective is set, you can identify your target audience more easily. In practice, you can probably identify the goal you want to achieve and have a good idea of the prospects you want to target very quickly.  

Plan your campaign

One of the critical moments of any drip marketing campaign happens right at the start. This is when your prospects will get hooked or quickly leave. And the clearer and more relevant your campaign trigger is, the more successful your campaign will be. 

Then, you need to think about: 

  • what filters to use to exclude certain contacts (e.g. existing customers); 
  • the number of emails in the sequence; 
  • the total period covered by your email sequence. 

The best way to manage all this without being swamped by Excel files is to use marketing automation software you can trust. This will take the stress out of preparing and sending emails. 

Write your emails

This is perhaps the most important part of your campaign and the one that will take the longest. Take some time to think about: 

  • varying the content of emails within the same campaign; 
  • personalizing certain elements of emails (e.g. logo, graphic design) 
  • improving your subject lines
  • where to place promotional elements in your emails

Launch your campaign and fine-tune it 

It’s a good idea to fine-tune your drip marketing campaign based on some early feedback. If you see that your email open rate drops after a particular email, you might need to review your content and rethink your email subject lines. Keeping a careful eye on your open rates, click rates, and conversion rates will let you constantly optimize how your emails perform.

Launch your campaign and fine-tune it 

It’s a good idea to fine-tune your drip marketing campaign based on some early feedback. If you see that your email open rate drops after a particular email, you might need to review your content and rethink your email subject lines. Keeping a careful eye on your open rates, click rates, and conversion rates will let you constantly optimize how your emails perform.

6. The limitations of drip marketing

Is drip marketing the ultimate marketing technique? We certainly think it’s great, but that would be a little too good to be true. In practice, it’s a very powerful technique but which can take a while to implement effectively. 

Targeting contacts with a very specific profile can mean you might miss targeting others. And, because you are only targeting them for a short period of time, you risk being easily forgotten by them afterwards. 

As always, it all depends on how you use it. Drip marketing is an excellent addition to a lead nurturing strategy, which enables you to engage prospects over the long term. 

Plezi’s Smart Campaign lets you use a mixture of the two techniques. You can make sure that long term relationships with prospects are also highly personalized in terms of the content you send them. A Smart Campaign lets you send emails with targeted content to each of your prospects based on content they have already viewed, and their interests as identified by analysing their behavioural data.

CTA Lead nurturing

Drip marketing is a powerful marketing technique that can deliver great results when used in certain specific situations. Do you prefer drip marketing or lead nurturing? Have you been on the receiving end of a drip marketing campaign that was particularly engaging? Why not tell us about it in the comments below?

Charles Dolisy