Drip Marketing: Best Practices & Use Cases

drip marketingWhether you’ve been in email marketing for a while, or brand new, drip marketing is something that you should leverage the right way. And when I say that, I mean understanding why it exists, how to put it into practice, and what are the best use cases.

We are going to start out by looking at what drip marketing really means, how it relates to other types of email marketing, most common use cases, sprinkle in some best practices, and then how you can take things to the next level. Let’s get started.

What is Drip Marketing Really

A common issue in email marketing is that some terms are used interchangeably, so it can cause confusion. When it comes to Drip Marketing, it’s really just a name for an automated sequence of emails.

This very simple definition might sound unexciting, however this simplicity lies behind the effectiveness of drip marketing as a strategy. And there is a reason I say strategy, and not a feature. This is because people often confuse “automation” and drip marketing.

drip marketingThe “email automation” part is the technology that makes drip marketing possible. And this is important because automation can get quite a bit more complicated than just “dripping a sequence of emails”. In fact, drip marketing is the easiest and simplest way to leverage email automation.

And in fact, avoiding premature complexity is the hallmark of an effective marketer. This is why implementing simple, linear sequences is the first thing we recommend to people that are new to automation, or email marketing in general. 

The best part is that “simple and easy” doesn’t mean “unimpressive results”. In fact, simple sequences give you the highest bang for your buck. Essentially drip marketing represents this perfect intersection of the best in personalization and automation. This is a simple-to-implement pattern that guarantees you get the best of both.

If you want to get more complex with your personalization and automation later on, you can, and we’ll talk about that in the last section of this guide.

Bulk Marketing vs Drip Marketing

Before we continue with the specifics of drip marketing, I just want to touch upon an important clarification here. You see, a lot of the marketing used to sell drip-marketing software can give you the wrong impression. Some overzealous marketers even went so far as to make it seem like drip marketing is here to replace bulk marketing.

Whilst negative marketing can sometimes be effective for the person doing the selling, in this case it has resulted in a lot of people getting the wrong impression. No, drip marketing does not replace bulk marketing. In fact, the two play a different role. 

If you want to learn more about the concept, check out our super popular guide published by Mailcon: Automation vs. Bulk? How to Reach the Pinnacle of Email Marketing Using Both. Note that article is aimed at more intermediate marketers, so when this article discusses automation, it discusses it in general, not just simple automated sequences (drip marketing).

Getting Started

To start off, you just need to know the basics of creating a drip sequence. It only involves a few simple ingredients. First, you want to decide what triggers the sequence. For example you might want the sequence to launch when people first join your list, when they first click on a certain link, visit a certain page or are assigned a certain tag.

Next, you want to decide what kind of person this is, and if you really want to get fancy, you can think in terms of a “persona”. This is in order to ascertain what the goal of the sequence is. Now if that sounds complicated, it doesn’t have to be, as most sequences have simple goals, for example a welcome sequence, or a post-purchase series.

And finally, you want to prepare the emails that will “drip” to the subscriber over the course of this sequence. Aside from deciding the content and number of those emails, you will need to decide the order in which they are sent, and the timing. 

This is the essence of a “drip marketing campaign” right here. Should they get the first email right after sign up, then the second email 2 days after? Should the third email come on day 5, or should the automation wait a full additional week?

Now again, automation can become a lot more complicated than what we are talking about here, which is why drip sequences are a great choice to get started. With drip campaigns you only need to decide on “how you want to drip the emails”, that is the order of the emails, and the time in between each email.

The best use cases

While you can make a drip sequence around most anything, there are some general types of drip sequences that are the most ubiquitous. If you’re not sure where to start, the following types of drip marketing campaigns are a sure bet.

drip marketingWelcome Sequences

This is the one type of campaign that we advise everyone to implement from day one. It literally doesn’t matter what your business model is, every marketing list needs a welcome sequence.

This is for several reasons, but the main one is that without a welcome sequence your reputation is bound to suffer. This includes your reputation with both the subscribers and inbox providers.

Having a welcome sequence on the other hand, guarantees that you have better deliverability and engagement with your subscribers. To learn more about this, check out the Guide to Creating a Welcome Email Series

Onboarding Sequences

An onboarding sequence focuses on educating customers or users on understanding a product or service. Typically it triggers when people first get access to the product or service.

If you run a SaaS, your onboarding sequence can double as a welcome sequence, or it might exist in addition to your welcome sequence. For example, if people get onto your list by registering for a free account, your onboarding sequence doubles as a welcome sequence.

However, if you have a general list that tries to sell people on getting an account, then your welcome list will be informational in nature. And then when people do get an account, this will trigger the onboarding sequence.

If you run a SaaS, and this is why you’re looking to implement drip campaigns, consider that there are some unique advantages that you have. To learn more about leveraging them, check out 15 Ways to Use Emercury as a SaaS.

Educational Sequences

Sometimes you will see these also referred to as “lead nurturing sequences”. The idea is that you want to engage the lead in a consistent and timely manner, utilizing valuable content that they will appreciate. In most cases the easiest way to do this is to drip some educational and informative content their way.

The only thing to consider is how you will trigger the sequence. You might be offering a “free weekly tips” incentive to get people to sign up. In that case this sequence will trigger when they sign up for the list. 

Alternatively, you can tie this educational sequence to another event. For example you can have it trigger just for the subscribers who show interest in a given topic, either explicitly, or based on behaviors like tags and email clicks.

Post-purchase, Cross-sell and Up-sell Sequences

You’ve most likely heard about the fact that most sales in most businesses are made to pre-existing customers. This is true whatever your industry or vertical. It is always easier to sell more to existing customers, than to sell to brand new leads.

This is why you will want to consider drip sequences in the context of existing customers. They can center around either nurturing the customer post-purchase, or trying to sell them on additional products. 

Alternatively, you can do both. It really depends on your business model, the product in question and your related catalog of products and services. Additionally consider that you can also cross-promote with another business for a commission.

If you need some more help with this, consider checking out the Beginners Guide to Up-sell and Cross-sell Emails. Alternatively, consider that we try as best as we can to share great tips in the format of articles and guides, but every business is different.

Some things just work best in a personalized format. If you want to discuss how you can leverage Emercury and email marketing to implement these kinds of strategies, consider booking a free demo, while I still have time for those.

Honorable mention: Abandoned cart emails

You will often see abandoned cart emails mentioned in discussions of drip marketing. Technically though, most abandoned cart sequences follow the same formula. Additionally, there a few best practices you need to learn do abandoned cart emails right. To learn more check out: Best Practices for Abandoned Cart Emails.

And if you happen to be using WooCommerce, note that we just released a brand new version of our integration plugin and it supports abandoned cart automation.  You just tell it which Emercury automation to trigger when someone abandons a cart. We also integrate with Shopify, and other ecommerce solutions, feel free to book a demo to discuss your needs.

Making the Most Out of Drip Marketing

Let’s talk about how you can get the most bang for your buck in email marketing. And I’ll be honest here, what I’m about to share applies to all of email marketing, not just drip campaigns. That is to say, these are concepts that make all email marketing more effective.

However, if you’re following this progressive approach to email marketing, you’re likely to start out by just crafting basic drip sequences and broadcasts. It is wise to start practicing the universal principles at the same time. And what are those universal principles? Let’s have a look at that now.

drip marketingAnalyze and iterate

Looking at your metrics as an email marketer is key, and quite a lot of marketers say they moved to Emercury because we make analytics so simple and easy. You can see exactly what’s happening with your email marketing at a glance.

And studying your metrics is key to implementing the iterative approach. So what is the iterative approach anyway? Well, it’s just a matter of trying something, studying the results, and deciding if you want to change something.

Then, you study the results after the change, and if needed, adjust further. This is an iterative process with which you’ll improve not just your drip marketing, but marketing and business in general. The secret is in having those easy at-a-glance metrics.

Keep it clean

I’m talking about the concept of list hygiene here. It is an often overlooked aspect of email marketing that is unfortunately not taught to beginners. We often get veterans with huge lists moving to Emercury because of our knowledge and features surrounding list cleaning, list hygiene and deliverability.

But here’s a tip: you don’t have to wait until you’re in the millions to do email marketing properly. You can focus on list hygiene and deliverability from day one. And in turn you’re going to get more out of your email marketing in less time and effort.

Focus on engagement and value

It’s not just about dripping emails to a subscriber for the sake of meeting some arbitrary number of email sends. You have to actually think about the value that each and every email provides to the subscriber. 

And obviously, this goes beyond just drip marketing campaigns. Every single email that you send needs to be as valuable to the receiver as it is. This is also tightly related to engagement, which is another concept that you will want to study and learn more about. You can do this in our popular guide: The One Secret To All Email Marketing Profits

Beyond drip marketing

And now, we get to the part that most marketing experts like to talk about, because it makes them sound cooler. Now don’t get me wrong, we love advanced automation features as much as anyone. 

In fact, that’s why we invest in and also bring all the cutting edge features that you may need. And all of those features will be available to you from day one if you get yourself an Emercury account.

However, when it comes to getting actual results, keeping it simple to start with is always your best bet. In the context of automation, this means that implementing simple sequences where you only worry about the order and timing of the emails is your best starting point.

With that said, once you’ve built and have been running your assorted different drip sequences, if you want to get more advanced, I have some good news. Due to how Emercury works, you can just take your existing drip sequences and make them more advanced, gradually, and over time. Let’s look at the steps you might want to take in order to do just that.

Add conditional paths (branching)

I would say that this is probably the very first step to take beyond just having a linear sequence. You can actually go ahead and put conditions in your sequence based on opens and clicks. So for example, let’s say that you send an important email on day 5 of the sequence. You can treat people differently based on who opens this email or not.

That is, you can branch out the sequence into two paths. One for those who opened the email, and one for those who didn’t. At this point you’re going beyond just a basic drip sequence, but it’s not too complicated. Especially if you only add maybe 1 or 2 forks in your existing drip sequences.

Start implementing progressive subscriber profiling

This is just a fancy way of saying “gather data on the subscribers as they go through your automations”. And how you do this in practical terms is quite easy with a platform like Emercury.

You can just set up a condition right there in the automations. For example if the subscriber opens a certain email or clicks inside, give them a specific tag. With this you can have your automation gather data on your subscribers, which results in building up a subscriber profile over time. This is what we mean by “progressive subscriber profiling”.

With this, you can then create branches in your automations to where people are treated differently based on the assorted data. 

The main thing to note here is that you can’t utilize such data at the early stages, because you still haven’t acquired much data on the subscriber. That is you say, you can’t automate off of data that doesn’t yet exist.

At the start when a subscriber is new you can only go off of whatever data they gave at signup, and email related behavior (opens and clicks). Later on, as you’ve built up a customer profile involving assorted tags and custom field values, you can do more complex automations based on that additionally acquired data.

For example, you can create advanced automations that only start off later in the customer lifecycle after all the different “new subscriber” drip sequences are done and have gathered data for you. Alternatively, if those drip sequences are quite long, you might be able to start using the gathered data to make the later stages of the sequence more complex (based on gathered data from earlier in the sequence).

Go beyond the email with events and site tracking

While we do recommend that you start out gathering data based on email behavior (email opens and clicks), you can go further when you’re ready. This is why we implemented site tracking and events. Additionally, we even give you access to a full blown incoming webhooks option.

What does all of this mean for you and your business? Well, you can actually pull in data from all the different sources that you need. For example you can set up an Emercury automation where if a person visits your pricing page, they are assigned a specific tag. Or perhaps you want it to happen when they trigger an event (like say “play a video” or “click a button”).

And with incoming webhooks you can pull data from anywhere in literal real-time. This allows you to integrate your entire stack with Emercury. So for example let’s say that your sales people enter some data in their favorite sales tool. You can have an incoming webhook that sends this data straight to Emercury so that it’s in your subscriber profile, and hence can trigger and influence the different automations.

Get A Strategic Partner On Your Side

There’s no need to go at this alone. While we do put out a lot of free content to help you, nothing beats a one-on-one conversation. In these articles we try to help clarify things as best as possible. However, every business is different, so we have to generalize.

If you want to understand better how to implement email marketing in your specific business, let’s have a chat. At the moment I am still able to do some free demos, so be sure to book one while I can still do these.

I would love to hear about your specific needs, challenges and any confusion you might have about email marketing strategies. And then, help you see how you can use Emercury to improve your bottom-line.

Alternatively, or in addition to booking a free demo, you can also grab a username for our forever-free-plan while we still have it. It’s probably the most generous email marketing automation plan on the planet. We include almost every feature in this plan, with very few restrictions.

Remember, you get to keep this plan for life, for free… Provided that you grab a username while registrations are still open. Be warned, we might decide to pull this way-too-generous offering at any point. So click that link to check if we still allow registrations.


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