Email marketing has evolved over the last few decades. With automation, marketers can create and send emails to mass audiences while still appearing to the recipient as one-to-one communication. 

Moreover, marketers can send multiple emails to a given audience over a set period. The tactic is known as drip email marketing and it allows you to keep your audiences engaged with your brand. 

What Are Email Drip Campaigns and How Effective Are They?

An email drip campaign is a series of emails (typically anywhere from three to five, or possibly more) created around a particular topic, theme or marketing initiative. These emails are then automatically sent out to a designated audience over a certain period.

You can set drip campaigns to be sent out in one of two ways: 

Schedule email drips are those sent out to an audience (or audience segment) all at once. For example, you might schedule a series of three emails to be sent to a specific segment at 8:00 am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, respectively.

Triggered drip campaigns, on the other hand, are those sent to individual audience members that take a specific action, or engage with your company in a particular way. For example, when an individual subscribes to your mailing list, you’ll typically want to send them a series of emails welcoming them to your brand’s experience.

We’ll get more into specific examples in a bit. For now, know that drip campaigns can be used in two key ways for a variety of purposes.

As for the effectiveness of drip campaigns, the proof is in the numbers: 

  • They boast open rates that are about 80% higher than one-off emails
  • They generate 50% more sales-ready leads 
  • High-quality campaigns can potentially lead to 80% more sales at 30% lower costs

Simply put, if you’re not currently using drip campaigns to engage with your audience in a variety of ways, you’re almost definitely missing out on major opportunities.

That said, let’s now talk about some of the most common (and useful) types of drip campaigns you might consider implementing.

5 Email Drip Campaigns You Need to Include in Your Marketing Playbook

“Welcome Aboard” Campaigns

The “Welcome” email drip, as we alluded to earlier, is a series of emails that are automatically sent out to anyone who subscribes to your mailing list.

As the name suggests, the initial purpose of a “Welcome” drip campaign is to introduce your brand and organization to new potential customers. 

Throughout the campaign, you’ll ultimately want to:

  • Thank the individual for subscribing to your list
  • Set the stage as to what they should expect from your newsletter
  • Gather extra information about their needs and goals for working with your brand

Welcome Aboard drip campaign example


You might also decide to include a discount or other first-time promotional offer in each of your Welcome emails, as well. Whether you include an incentive or not, you also want to add a call-to-action to ensure your new subscribers know what their next steps with your brand should be.

New Customer/Onboarding Campaigns

Once an individual has made their first purchase from your company, you’ll want to send them another “welcome”-type email series—this time focused more on how they can get added value out of their purchase.

Once again, you want to thank them for their business. For companies whose products or services are a bit more complex, you’ll want to ensure your customers know how to use your offering to its highest capacity. For example, Tinder’s onboarding email explains precisely how to use the popular dating app:

New Customer drip campaign example


Or, you can use these emails to ensure your new customers know what their purchase can do for them:

On-boarding email drip campaign


Use this post-purchase drip series to get your new customer even more acclimated with your products and your brand overall. The more value they receive from you, the more likely they are to stick around. 

Informational Campaigns

Sometimes the best way to keep your audience engaged is to teach them something new (and do it free of charge).

For this reason, informational, content-focused drip campaigns can be effective.

Say you’ve just created a series of blog posts or videos focused on a central topic, and you’re looking to promote it to your audience via email. Instead of just shooting out a single email to your audience announcing the new series, you’ll want to set up a sequence of emails sent over a week—with each email focusing on a single piece of content.

Informational drip campaign


Informational drip campaigns can be sent to entire audience segments, or to individuals who opt-in some other way (such as signing up to receive the additional content via landing page).

It’s also worth mentioning that, as with any email marketing initiative, you ultimately want to use informational drip campaigns to nurture your recipients toward a further conversion. 

You might use a more subtle approach (by simply presenting the valuable content and building trust among your recipients), or you can be a bit more direct by including CTAs within each. 

In either case, the goal of an informational drip series is to get your customers to see the value you bring to their lives.

Retention Campaigns

Email drip campaigns focused on retaining customers and spurring future purchases can take many forms.

Perhaps the most commonly used type of retention email is the upsell or cross-sell campaign. Typically, these are sent to customers who have purchased specific products from your company. 

Overall, the goal of such emails is to promote other items that could enhance the customer’s experience with the product they initially purchased.

Retention drip campaign


If you sell consumable products, subscription services or any other product or service that requires repeat purchases, you’ll want to create drip campaigns reminding your customers to take action. You can also improve retention via drip campaigns by soliciting feedback from customers after a recent purchase or experience. 

Retention email drip campaign

Whether providing additional value to your recipient’s experience or showcasing just how much you value their business in the first place, such emails are bound to keep your customers engaged with your brand. 

Re-Engagement Campaigns

Of course, not all of your customers will remain as active as you’d hope.

A well-planned drip campaign, then, can often be the difference between keeping an at-risk customer on board and seeing them defect from your brand for good.

Now, in some cases, it’s more about simply getting a customer back on track toward conversion.

For example, you can send browse abandonment and cart abandonment email drips to individuals who visit your site and add items to their cart but don’t end up going through with their purchase.

Re-engagement drip campaign


For more dire situations (such as when a customer remains incommunicado for an extended period), you’ll want to put one last solid effort into keeping them around. 

For these win-back drip campaigns, you might provide your at-risk customers with an “offer they can’t refuse,” or you might choose to remind them of the value you bring to the table:

Re-engagement email drip campaign


While you still might lose a decent chunk of these at-risk customers, you at least want to try one last time to get them back up and running—and providing value to your company in the process.

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