The Anatomy of an Email Drip Campaign: Everything You Need to Know (+Examples)

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The Anatomy of an Email Drip Campaign: Everything You Need to Know (+Examples)
by Marketing

This post was updated on March 30, 2021.


“Email drip campaigns” might sound a bit complex, but the way you do them is very simple. 


You need to send, or “drip,” emails in a predefined order and time period to subscribers. 


Email drip campaigns can help you with getting more sales, nurturing leads, and improving customer retention. They’re automated using email marketing software, so you don’t have to send every message manually. 


To cut a long story short, it’s a must for online businesses from any industry.


In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know to start taking advantage of this marketing strategy



The Basics of Email Drip Campaigns


An email drip campaign is a sequence of emails sent to recipients on specific, predefined dates and times. 


The sequence triggers a specific action taken by the recipient, e.g., purchasing online, subscribing to a newsletter, or registering for a free trial. Your email marketing services take care of triggers and automatic sending of all messages. 


Email drip campaigns’ goals depend on the customer’s action, but each campaign can have more than one purpose. For example, an abandoned cart recovery campaign can also try to upsell.


The most common types of campaigns are: 


  • A welcome series 
  • Lead nurturing series 
  • Abandoned cart recovery series 
  • Product promotion series
  • Upsell, cross-sell series


You’ve definitely seen at least one example from each type. 


Here’s a welcome email from MailTrap. It is the first from the transactional emails sent after someone signs up for their tool. Its purpose is to educate the new user, so it contains tips on how to get started. 


how to start email drip campaign


To run successful email drip campaigns, careful planning, strategizing, and revisions are necessary. 


Follow these steps to make this process as efficient as possible.



How to Create Email Drip Campaigns: 5 Steps


In this section, we’ll talk about the steps needed to create an effective email drip campaign. 


One fundamental question before we get to them is: do you have enough subscribers to send the email?


If not, no worries. There are many ways to build your email list quickly. 


One is adding a free live chat with a lead capture feature to your website. If you’ve just started using a new CRM to manage client data, you can automatically get the emails from the previous CRM with Trujay


Okay, now, let’s see how you can create fantastic drip campaigns for that growing email list of yours. 



Step 1: Define Your Goal


Why do you want to send out that drip campaign? 


That’s something you should ask yourself before you even start to create your emails. 


Is it to welcome a new free trial user? Recover a sale abandoned halfway through? Or maybe to support your sales strategy by promoting more products?


Check the types of campaigns. They will help you find an answer to that question. 


For example, if your goal is boosting customer loyalty, send out appreciation emails or special offers. If you need to increase customer engagement, then send out messages with offers. They’re going to be your product promotion series. It needs to have attractive offers for subscribers combined with great incentives. 


In this example email, you can see how a brand combined the Black Friday drip series sale with another sales trigger: extra discounts. 


email drip campaign discounts


So, define your goal and align it with a drip campaign type. This step is critical as it drives everything you do later: write content, set sending time, etc. 



Step 2: Segment the Recipients


As mentioned, breaking your email list into specific groups is very important for your drip campaigns’ success. 


Since drips are based on triggers – most commonly, a customer’s action or characteristic – customer segmentation is critical to ensuring that each campaign is relevant for them. 


An example of an email based on a customer’s action? 


If abandoning the shopping cart without finishing checkout is the action, it activates a recovery campaign featuring emails like this.


drip campain cart abandonment


A campaign based on customer characteristics considers something specific that you know about them. 


For example, if a customer buys a product from a particular category, say, vegan bodybuilding supplements, and then remains passive for some time, you can create a campaign to promote products related to the accessories they purchased.


The result could be emails like this.


campaign drip email results


Such personalization is a significant advantage of drip campaigns because it makes them more relevant for customers. 


Read more: Personalized Marketing and Its Impact



Step 3: Create Engaging Content


Now that you know the purpose of the campaign, you can start creating content. 


Regardless of the drip campaign type you’ve chosen, the most important types of content for emails are textual and visual. 


Here’s what they include.


The Texts

The Visuals

The text for: 

  • subject line
  • preview text
  • email body (headings and main text)
  • CTA(s)
  • graphics
  • images
  • business logo


For the visual part, every email’s design should follow your brand guidelines. In other words, it should use the brand’s colors, logo, and other branding elements. 


The text needs to be prepared beforehand for each email, too. The way you write it depends on the campaign type.  


Let’s see an example of an on-point email text. 


Suppose you finally mastered some webinar software and would like to host your first webinar. 


So, you need to create emails to send as reminders for it. The goal is to remind the subscribers to attend and give time & date + the link to join. To keep it relevant, you shouldn’t include any promotional offers or other content (unless directly related to the webinar).


Here’s how the folks at Tidio, a free chatbot app, did it. The message is concise, fluff-free, and conveys the message right away. 


email drip campaign


And, of course, the message uses the brand’s colors and elements (logo). 


To make your email copy useful to convey your messages, write in a natural, straightforward language. 



Step 3: Choose the Right Email Marketing Tool to Create Emails


You need an email marketing tool to be able to create and send emails automatically easily. A perfect tool is beginner-friendly, has email templates, and allows building custom emails with an editor.


If you need some recommendations, take a look at Tidio Email Marketing and Moosend.  


Both are great for users of all skill levels. For example, Tidio has a forever-free plan with customizable templates and an email editor. 


To send a campaign is to choose a template and customize the texts and visuals in the editor. Here’s how the process looks in Tidio’s email editor.



Each email element is customizable (you just need to click on it to change it). If you personalize the template and save it, getting the next one ready will be much easier and faster. 


If you have the texts and visuals ready, the entire process should take about 10 minutes. 


That’s it, the only thing left is to schedule the campaign (more on that next).



Step 4: Set Campaign Time and Frequency


A drip email campaign is delivered automatically, which makes it easier to reach more customers. Use your email marketing tool to set the days and times when you’d like the drive to send. 


Here’s how this feature looks like in Tidio Email Marketing. 


tidio email marketing

Keep in mind that the emails in specific campaign types – abandoned cart recovery, for example – are triggered by a customer’s action. 


So, instead of time settings, you’ll have to configure the campaign to be sent after the customer takes action, e.g., signs up for a newsletter. Many tools have this setting done for you automatically. 


The only thing left is to activate the campaign, e.g., send it out.



Step 5: Execute and Keep Track


Every drip email marketing campaign should have predefined KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), or metrics, to track its performance. 


Consider tracking your campaigns with these:


  • ROI (Return on Investment – sales made with the campaign minus the money you invested in it)
  • Lead cost and value per campaign (cost per lead minus revenue per lead)
  • Lead engagement level (open rate value plus click-through rate)
  • Unsubscription rate (the number of those unsubscribed minus the number of subscribers)


By using these KPIs, you’ll get a better understanding of how your drip campaigns perform. 



The Bottom Line


Email drip campaigns are a must for every business and industry because they can get more quality leads and sales. The best news is that now you know everything to start creating them!


With email marketing tools taking care of sending emails, your task is to come up with quality, personalized, and engaging content and offers. 


Remember that the more relevant your campaigns are, the more chances you have for success. Good luck!



This guest post was written by Pawel Lawrowski, Head of Growth at Tidio. Pawel has 10+ years of experience in marketing and sales in the IT industry and enjoys sharing his knowledge with others. You can connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.