I still remember the day I got hooked. 

I had just started at Rapleaf (now Liveramp, acquired by Axciom) and was learning about drip campaigns, wide-eyed and curious about how to turn email addresses into sales pipeline.

And I couldn’t believe how efficient it was. You spend next to nothing building email lists, strategically send multiple messages to them, and handle the replies.

To be clear ... my style of email wasn't what most people think of. I wasn't sending one, unpersonalized mass email. I spent my time doing what people now call “sales hacking,” using programming and scraping techniques to optimize a sales funnel. 

As a result, I hacked together a thoughtful drip email campaign.

My drip campaign starts with three unique emails. 

The first "drip" is usually a welcome email introducing who you are and what you do.

Call-to-Action: Provide a link to sign up for more information, or ask for an introduction to the right decision maker.

Your second and third "drip" emails should come at least a day after the first - and often up to a week. These should be polite reminders about the first email. 

At this point, if you don't get a response, you shouldn't reach out to that prospect again.

While this strategy worked for me, I wanted to learn more about how sales professionals are automating sales prospecting. I ran a small survey of businesses who signed up for Toofr, an emailing tool that I built and opened up to the sales community last year.

Here's what other salespeople shared about drip email campaigns - 

  • If you have a good first drip open rate, then the second will open at the same rate and fall on the third drip. 
  • If you have a low first drip open rate, the second and third drips will improve slightly. 
  • A vast majority of sales professionals run 3 to 5 emails per drip campaign. Half of all respondents claimed to convert a customer after 3 to 5 drips. 
  • Average monthly deal size does not correlate with bounce rate of email drips. 

This translated into a five key insights for me - 

  1. The money is almost never in the first email. You send the first email in order to give context for your second and third emails. Usually the open and reply rate on the first drip is lower than subsequent drips.
  2. You can use drip campaigns for any product. I specifically asked respondents for their average monthly deal size. I was curious to see if the size of the deal influences drip campaigning behavior. That does not appear to be the case; regardless of how much money you’re chasing in your campaigns, the same strategies apply.
  3. You don’t need a complex program. You can use simple sales automation to send three to five drips, and are able to convert by the end of the campaign. If you’ve heard nothing from the recipient — no bounces, no unsubscribes, no responses, no recorded opens — then you can drop them into a separate nurturing campaign. Maybe put them onto a monthly newsletter list. I still see replies from drips I last sent a year ago.
  4. Don’t be shy. Reaching out for the first time using email works. Follow the rules of proper introductory email etiquette (and the law that codifies it) and you’ll receive more positive replies than negative ones. I’ve never heard of a real sales pro seeing a net loss on her drip campaigns.
  5. Treat the people who reply like you would your actual customers. This is my final point. It should be obvious, but be respectful and honest with the people you interact with in your drip campaigns. It’s the right thing to do.

By deploying a strategic drip campaign, you can take work off your plate and speed up your sales cycle

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Originally published Jul 21, 2014 8:30:00 AM, updated February 10 2017


Sales Automation