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Email Drip Campaigns Tips and Best Practices

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A drip campaign is a series of emails sent out automatically at specific times and dates to an audience in a specific order based on their actions. The purpose of drip campaigns is to convey targeted messages to the right people at the right time and trigger the desired action. 

91% of consumers prefer brands that remember their interests and preferences and offer relevant recommendations and offers. That’s why it’s not a mystery that drip campaigns have an 80% more open rate than single-send emails. When done effectively, a drip campaign can be of great help in realizing business goals:

  • Convert website visitors
  • Onboard new customers
  • Nurture leads
  • Encourage repeat purchases
  • Nurture customer relationships and increase customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • Build a community of your own

So you can use drip marketing for a variety of purposes, and it gives you the ability to reach out to the masses while personalizing your message thanks to automation. It’s up to you what will be the primary objectives of your next drip campaign, but there are three general drip email categories that can inspire you along the way:

Types of Drip Campaigns

1- Welcoming Drip Campaign

When there’s a chance to greet your customers or prospects, grasp it and use it to make a good first impression. Welcome drips are profoundly effective for leaving a mark in such instances. 

You can lay out important information about your products and services, deliver insightful and valuable content that’ll make them return to your website, or offer them a voucher to encourage the first purchase.

Online stores usually give out 10-15% welcoming discounts when you subscribe to their newsletter, for instance. It’s quite an effective welcome, considering it gives the customer a reason to switch from the brands they’re familiar with to your store, which may seem risky at first.


2- Nurturing Drip Campaign

Drip campaigns could be more complicated than templated email sequences. You can use your customers’ behavioral data to trigger a specific campaign that deals with a particular situation. Nurturing campaigns are probably the most common types of drip emails. 

Customers or prospects leave footprints on your website that’ll give you a pretty good idea about their interests, needs, and buying behavior. A part of your job is to trace that information and offer customers what they need along their buying journey. 

It might be particular information that’ll entice them to click buy, a video explaining how your products are exactly the solution that’ll change their lives, or a personalized discount on a product they browsed before. 

The bottom line is, that you can turn a prospect or customer’s active interest into a sale, a single sale into a repeat purchase, and their preference for your brand into loyalty in the long run.

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The sky’s the limit here. For example, retargeting campaigns could have a conversion rate of 41% and could be used in critical moments such as when a visitor abandons their shopping carts without completing a purchase. Or when they visit a particular product page. Abandoning their shopping cart or visiting a particular product page could trigger a series of emails touting and reviewing your products alongside some discounts and CTAs. 

All email automation platforms have this feature. You simply need to connect them to your eCommerce platform to enable them to track a customer’s interactions with your check-out page, and then design your email flow. Here’s a good abandoned-cart email by Adidas. 




3- Engagement Drip Campaigns

Although growing sales and business is the ultimate goal of marketing, you have to come to terms with the nature of conducting business with customers for a long period of time—they have to stay engaged. And it’s your job to maintain the connection and nourish the relationship. That means you have to spend some time and resources to increase customer engagement, even in times when they don’t show an intention to buy right away.

Most businesses rely merely on social channels to drive engagement, but drip campaigns are actually much more effective in forming the grounds for a long-lasting customer relationship. That’s because you can tailor your message to appeal to a certain individual’s emotions and logic, and let them know your brand values resonate with them.

Re-engagement campaigns are pretty popular in this category. Say one of your contacts has not been opening your emails, clicking your links, or responding to your requests. You might guess that they’ve gone cold. What you can do about this is send them a series of re-engagement emails, reminding them of why they subscribed to your list in the first place or offer them some incentives to act. 

If nothing worked, you might have to remove them from your list to keep your engagement rates high and improve deliverability. 


Email drip campaign best practices

Drip marketing could be used for a lot of purposes. You can use drip campaigns for creating awareness around your products or brand, for communicating your unique selling proposition to those who’re in search of a solution or product like yours or give a little nudge to encourage a second purchase. Thankfully though, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Here are some email drip campaign best practices to follow:

1- Build a plan and stick to it

Starting a drip campaign without a proper plan is like selling your homemade lemonades at whatever price the neighbors like to pay. You’re making an effort, and you might make some money in the end, but you’re not sure if the business is profitable. As a part of anything with a  business growth strategy, first, start with your campaign’s goal. 

Say you want to convert people who visited your website more than once, browsed several product pages, but never made a purchase. And you want to welcome them with a drip campaign that involves a small discount because let’s face it, 80% of shoppers say they feel encouraged to shop with a new brand if they found a discount. You have to decide on:

  • Duration of the campaign
  • A budget for the discount (up to $10000, let’s say)
  • Eligibility criteria (3 plus visits to products priced over $100, for instance)
  • Success criteria (converting 40%, or 500 out of 1000 customers)

Planning will help you understand the feasibility of your drip campaign, and make adjustments to stay profitable along the way. Use a CRM tool that offers visibility into customers’ buying journeys – it makes it much easier to trace and record various customer touch points on your website.

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There are plenty of CRM platforms with email marketing that come with workflow automation that help you test drip campaigns easily. All you have to do is to set up the rules (based on your criteria), and sit and wait for the results.


2- Tailor your message and the way you deliver it

One of the real struggles in marketing is constantly reminding yourself, that in times when you’re the conversation starter, you have to keep the message short. You’re already requesting people’s time, so it’s best to convey an informative message in a precise manner. And of course, your message should bring value to the reader. That type of drip campaign should include information like: 

  • An advantage of working with you is that solves a specific issue for them (a special feature of your tool, for example)
  • A piece of particular information, insight, or expertise you offer can’t be easily found elsewhere (industry reports, quality blogs, product recommendations tailored to the individual’s interests)
  • A success story of yours that can be inspirational
  • A discount or loyalty campaign announcement

To make sure you’re not intrusive, however, you have to collect customer data first, then act on those clues. Some customer engagement tools can help you with the process of data gathering and creating customer profiles based on them. 

Say you want to build a remarketing drip, targeting cart abandoners that visited your website in the past two months. There are more than one ways to entice them, including:

  • Offering a personalized discount on that product
  • Offering free shipping
  • Sending price drop emails (letting them know when it’s discounted)
  • Promoting a line of items along with the product that makes it stand out

The key here is to test all those strategies over time and segment your audience based on what they best respond to. Price-savvy customers will be more inclined to use the discount, for example. 

But highly emotional buyers or high-spenders will be interested in your brand’s story, and thus promoting your line with a little bit of storytelling will be more effective for them. Your overall content marketing strategy plays an important role here. Use the right content marketing tools to design a suitable content strategy that caters to your audience. 

A/B test several campaigns that offer different kinds of value, and tailor your message to each segment. CRM platforms and email marketing software allow you to personalize your message to a great extent, so make sure to use personalized CTA, wording, recommendations, and discounts.

3- Track drip campaign metrics

CRM tools and email marketing software will show you open rates, click-through rates, and click-to-open rates, which are vital in measuring the success of your drip campaign.

Following those three metrics will help you understand how engaged you can keep your audience, and notice if you’re doing something wrong. Uninteresting or overtly promotional subject lines, for instance, can cause your audience to skip the email altogether and even report spam.

It’s always a good idea to play it safe and test your email campaigns for spam and deliverability issues before sending them. There are a lot of email testing tools that can give you a spam score as well as analyze your email address to report any deliverability problems. 

Conversion rate is another metric for you to track because it measures whether you’re achieving the primary goal of the campaign, which is having your audience take the desired action. If the desired action is registering for your upcoming webinar, you’re expecting them to click on the CTA that goes to the form page, fill out the form, and agree to be contacted by you. When that’s accomplished, it’s a conversion.

And naturally, it all comes down to the ROI of your campaign at the end. How much were you planning to invest in it, how much you actually did, and how was its return? The formula goes:

Formula for return on investment


Simply, look at what you’ve gained and what you’ve spent during the campaign, and continue if it’s been profitable for your business. You don’t want to leave too much money on the table, or even go as far as bleeding it out.


Drip campaigns are automated email sequences that are triggered after some predetermined conditions are met. Email automation platforms allow you to design several drip campaign flows and set conditions for them. The three main categories of drip campaigns are: 

  1. Welcome drip campaigns 
  2. Nurturing drip campaigns 
  3. Engagement drip campaigns 

There are different campaign types in each of these categories: onboarding emails, product promotions, recommendations and discounts, event promotions, upsells and cross-sells, abandon-cart emails, renewals, re-engagement campaigns, delivery tracking, feedback emails, etc. 

Use the tips, tools, and best practices explained above to take advantage of these drip campaigns and increase your sales/improve customer retention. 

About the author

Mostafa Dastras has written for some companies such as HubSpot, WordStream, SmartInsights, LeadPages and MarketingProfs. Over the past years his clients have primarily relied on him for increasing organic traffic and generating leads through outreach campaigns. Visit his blog, LiveaBusinessLife, or connect with him on LinkedIn.