When I first built my email list, I was ready to create some email drip campaigns. My problem? I didn‘t know what to say. I felt like a salesperson with this perfect prospect, but I couldn’t find the words to convey how to change this person's business.
If you are in my former position, this article will help you clarify what an email drip campaign is, what they can do, and how to make your own click-worthy email drip campaigns.
- What is an email drip campaign?
- Types of Email Drip Campaigns
- Drip Email Campaign Templates (+Examples)
- Example Email Drip Campaigns
- Create Drip Campaign Emails That Convert Leads
For example, if a lead downloads a whitepaper on recruiting best practices, they might be placed in a drip campaign that shares relevant recruiting content. The final email might include a call to action (CTA) to request a demo of your recruiting software.
You can also make email drip campaigns for other marketing activities, like:
- nurturing a freemium customer
- converting a blog subscriber
- delivering relevant content to leads from a certain industry.
There are no limits to the type of campaign you can create, although there are a few common types.
Types of Email Drip Campaigns
Let’s look at some drip campaigns you can create to nurture prospects and leads, with some eye-catching email drip campaign examples for more insight.
1. Onboarding Email Drip Campaign
After a lead submits their email through a form, it’s time to welcome them to the business by sending them content that would interest them. An onboarding email drip sequence should provide value, entice leads to keep engaging, and prompt them to speak to your sales team.
In an onboarding drip campaign, you can send leads:
- A list of blog posts and case studies that would interest someone in their niche.
- A unique welcome coupon they can use for a limited time.
- A curation of products that they’ve already seen (signaling purchase intent).
Onboarding Email Drip Campaign Example: Levi’s Red Tab
This Levi’s email responds to a user subscribing to the Red Tab newsletter. Not only is it an acknowledgment of their “onboarding,” but it’s a unique welcome message that entices them to join the Member Program for more benefits, such as early access to new clothing releases, free shipping, and a limited discount of 20% off their first purchase.
2. Retargeting Email Drip Campaign
A retargeting drip campaign targets users who’ve engaged meaningfully with your content. They downloaded a white paper, visited the same page multiple times, or downloaded an ebook.
To bring them back, you serve more specific content to help them make purchasing decisions. You can also find out what they thought about the resources they accessed.
In your lead nurturing emails, you can send your prospects:
- A fillable workbook for the recent guide or ebook they downloaded.
- An email directly from a sales rep asking to set up some time to chat.
- A feedback request about the resource they downloaded.
Retargeting Email Drip Campaign Example: Litmus
The retargeting email drip campaign is intended for pre-existing email subscribers of the marketing platform, Litmus. It includes a call to action to reserve a spot for an upcoming seminar. Also, it includes free ebook attachments that provide valuable information for those looking to optimize the software for their own business use.
3. Post-Demo Email Drip Campaign
This would apply mainly to the tech industry, where sales reps often provide product demos to prospects and leads. But if you offer any product that can be demonstrated live, this drip campaign would also work for you.
After a demo, it’s important to re-emphasize your product's value and bring success stories from other companies. You can also send guides on how to get higher-ups to buy in.
Here are some content ideas for a post-demo campaign:
- A list of video testimonials from past clients.
- A list of tutorials on a feature that the lead was specifically interested in.
- Access to an exclusive free trial offer that you extended while on the phone.
Post-Demo Email Drip Campaign Example: Away
In this post-demo drip campaign example, Away, a luggage company, provides users with a tutorial on how to use and replace the Carry-On ejectable battery. The lead may not have known of the battery initially but may become more interested in purchasing upon learning more about the product in this type of drip campaign.
I started chatting with a few of my friends in sales to learn more about their best secrets and corresponding open rates, and David Sneider, Sendbloom's former head of growth and current CEO of Expand, provided the following quote:
“Introductory email messaging is the ‘tip of the spear’ for starting business relationships. The copy you write needs to be sharp yet sincere, showing that you can provide value without inundating them. Ultimately the recipient should feel as if all you want is to improve their day and their business.”
This made sense to me. If I'm more authentic, then the engagement and longevity of my relationships should strengthen.
I prodded David further and soon uncovered his top tips and best practices for creating a drip campaign — plus his three most successful email templates that you would see later in this guide.
1. Choose a drip campaign software.
To send drip campaigns, you’ll need a sales automation tool to schedule the emails in advance and target them to different segments of your lead base. For example, you can create and send email drip campaign sequences with the HubSpot Sales Hub.
The drip campaign software should integrate seamlessly with your CRM and offer real-time performance metrics that let you tweak and update your campaigns as needed. It should also enable deep personalization — no two leads should receive the exact same email. At the very least, the greeting should address the person receiving it.
Last, your software should be user-friendly and easy to adopt for all of your sales reps.
2. Identify the goal for your drip campaign.
Are you trying to re-engage dormant customers? Nurture new leads? Cross-sell existing customers?
Decide what action you want your reader to take at the end of the drip campaign and determine a road map to get there.
Ask yourself which of the following goals is most aligned with your own:
- Promote a new product or service.
- Increase brand awareness.
- Gather customer feedback.
- Generate revenue.
- Boost user engagement.
- Drive registrations for an upcoming event.
Once you've determined your goal for the campaign, think through who will be segmented into this drip. This brings us to our next point.
3. Determine how someone ends up in this campaign.
When sending an email drip campaign, you want to ensure that the right people get the right message at the right time. To do this, you need to know who will opt into your list or who’d be segmented into your drip campaign. Ask yourself the following questions to find out:
- What action did the audience take to find themselves in this email drip campaign?
- What are their pain points?
- What are their goals?
- What will get their attention in the middle of a workday?
- Why would they delete an email from this campaign?
- What do I hope the audience will do after reading one of these drip emails?
Once you‘ve answered these questions, you should have a good idea of who you’ll be targeting, how you‘ll segment this audience, and how you’ll best reach and provide value to this audience.
4. Decide how many touches your drip campaign will have.
You can send more emails than you think you should. Customers want to hear from you. They just want the right content delivered when they need it.
With that in mind, you can schedule one email per week. B2C companies can get away with sending a little more, but B2B companies should resist sending more than five emails monthly.
Your drip campaign can last from four to eleven emails sent four, seven, or fourteen days apart. Decide how many touches you need to effectively nurture your audience and prime them for your offer.
5. Create the content (and personalize it).
A misconception about drip campaigns is that they‘re irrelevant and mindlessly sent mass emails not tailored to their audience’s needs. While some email drip campaigns fit this description, this shouldn't be the case with your drip emails.
It's possible to create relevant and personalized content that you can send to certain segments in your drip campaign.
For instance, if you create a case study, you can set up drip emails, automatically add recipients who download this case study to your campaign, and send your email drip campaign. When doing this, ensure you include a fresh piece of content for your prospects in each of the drip emails you send. For example, you might follow up their initial case study download with a friendly email like this:
Tax season knocking too soon?
I see that you recently downloaded our customer case study featuring [Customer name]. I hope you found it helpful.
I thought you might also like this blog post on “Six Simple Things SMBs Can Do Today to Make Tax Season Painless.”
Let me know what you think.
6. Know when to take someone out of the drip.
The worst experience for a prospect is to take your desired action without being unenrolled in your drip campaign. Let's say a prospect is enrolled in a drip campaign with the goal of getting them to schedule a demo.
If they schedule a demo on a Tuesday and get another email on Thursday asking them to schedule a demo — that's a terrible customer experience.
It looks even worse when the email drip campaign has been altered so that it looks like you’re sending the emails. This makes it appear that you either don't remember who your prospect is or have been a fake the whole time.
To know when to take someone out of your drip, create a trigger that will unenroll a prospect once they complete the desired action of the email drip campaign.
Feeling ready to create your drip campaign? I’ve compiled a few best practices to ensure each email is in its best shape.
1. Be informative, but keep it short.
There are a few types of emails where including long-form content is useful. For example, if your lead is specifically interested in how you founded your company, you can create an email drip campaign with the story. At the end, you can add a CTA for them to join a webinar on how they can start their company.
Besides a case like this, you want them to get to the CTA as quickly as possible. That means keeping your drip campaign emails two to three paragraphs long.
2. Include a CTA button or question at the end of every email.
Whether you want the lead to schedule a call, tell you who to contact, or sign up for a free trial, you’ll need to include a CTA at the end of every drip campaign email. Leads should know what to do after reading every email.
The CTA should be tailored to their stage of the buyer’s journey. If they’ve only recently signed up, you can ask them to follow your company on social media. When they’ve reached the consideration stage, you can send them a white paper or a case study.
3. Send your emails on Fridays.
There has been much debate on the best time and weekday to send emails — lookup “email frequency” or “email cadence” in Google, and you’ll see what I mean.
Research by Campaign Monitor demonstrates that Fridays have the highest open and click-through rates at 18.9% and 2.7%, respectively. Its research also shows that Saturdays should be avoided.
While the research can be a nice guidepost, your cadence will ultimately depend on when your leads mostly interact with your emails. So keep a close eye on performance metrics to determine what drives results for your business.
4. A/B test send times.
What’s the best time to send drip emails? The data suggests that the early morning hours (even as early as 4 AM!) are highly effective, as most 9-to-5 office workers check their emails in the morning.
However, the best time for your company will depend on your leads and not just published research. Where is the grand majority of your customer base located? What industry are they in? Do they work from home and tend to work odd hours? If they commute in the morning, do they prefer checking their email during their lunch break?
Like in the previous best practice, you’ll want to use your leads’ engagement behavior to decide when to send your emails.
5. Track open rates, click-through rates, and click-to-open rates.
In your drip campaign tool, you should be able to see open rates, CTR, and click-to-open rates. This last one is especially important because it tells you the percentage of people who actually clicked through after opening the email.
Tracking this information lets you determine the best time and day to send your emails. Plus, it also allows you to A/B test the wording, positioning, or design of your CTA. You can also A/B test the effectiveness of your subject lines by looking at the open rate.
I’m focusing on these three metrics because they’re usually simple, easy to find, and most relevant to improving your drip campaign. But if you want, you can track other email marketing metrics, such as unsubscribe rate, to gauge the resonance of your emails with your audience.
6. Implement a follow-up sequence after no response.
Has your lead not responded? This isn’t the time to back down and assume they’re a lost lead. Send a follow-up email — again, again, and again. You’re not being annoying. Remember, a drip campaign always aims to offer value, and the truth is you have something valuable to offer. You’re never bothering. You’re trying to help them improve their business process and generate their desired outcome.
If you fail to reconnect after several attempts (I recommend trying at least two times), you can then send a “breakup” email and remove the lead from the sequence.
7. Ask for feedback if your drip campaign is unsuccessful.
If a lead fails to convert, send a survey link to the lead. Looking at the metrics is one thing. Hearing straight from your leads on what you can do better is another.
Create a survey and try to understand why the lead wasn’t interested. Was it simply not the right time? Did they go with a competitor? Armed with these answers, you can create a better drip campaign that engages prospects at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
The following drip campaign templates show these best practices in action. Take a look and get inspired.
Drip Email Campaign Templates (+ Outcomes)
1. Drip Email Campaign Template
My name is [Name], and I'm the founder of Shipping Company. We work with organizations like Sears and Target to hold FedEx and UPS accountable.
We track all your shipments, identify late deliveries, and file claims on your behalf. You only pay when package tracking is credited to your account.
What would be the best way to get 15 minutes on your calendar to explore if this would be valuable to [Company]?
- Open Rate: 44.3%
- Reply Rate: 33.3%
- The introduction is quick and honest, taking up no more than one sentence.
- The second sentence is also quick and concise, explaining what the business does without a five-paragraph pitch.
- The concluding CTA is a simple yes or no question. That makes the effort required to respond much easier.
Pro tip: A/B Test Your Pitch. The second paragraph of the first drip email is a good place to A/B test different features of your product or services of your business to see what prospects find most relevant. I test mine by simply sending each version and tracking the emails with HubSpot Sales to see which garner the highest open and click rates.
2. Drip Email Campaign Template
My company, [Shipping Company], gives you real-time visibility into your shipments, lets you know when any have been delivered late, and tracks packages on your behalf.
You pay for performance, so if we don‘t save you money, we don’t get paid. Who would be the best person to speak with at [Company]?
- Open Rate: 61.8%
- Reply Rate: 35.3%
- The second sentence refines the original pitch and uses new messaging that resonates with what the recipient cares about.
- The two closing sentences to this drip email are magical. The first removes the monetary objection that may prevent the lead from moving forward. The second requests an introduction to the right person, which simply requires forwarding the email.
3. Drip Email Campaign Template
I wanted to make sure you saw my earlier message. I'd like to learn about the pains of package tracking at [Company].
If you are the appropriate person to speak with, what does your calendar look like early next week? If not, who do you recommend I talk to?
- [Your name]
- Open Rate: 42.4%
- Reply Rate: 22.9%
- The introduction of this email makes it clear you are just checking in on the status of their email.
Learning from David‘s examples, I’ve concluded that my drip emails should each follow a few key points.
Time-wise, each drip can be sent anywhere from two days to a week after the previous message.
Example Email Drip Campaigns
Now that you have some drip email campaign templates, let’s go over some drip emails that brands have created. Depending on your need, you can use these for inspiration or turn them into templates for your own brand.
1. Zuper Event Drip Campaign
Conducting or attending industry events is one of the easiest ways to share information about your product. You also get the chance to chat with the right leads because the majority of attendees will be highly interested in the event’s topic.
Since your audience may be busy and forget about the event, you need to engage and remind them with an event drip campaign.
An excellent event drip campaign comes from Zuper. As a Field Service Management Software, the brand knows the field's challenges. To enable them to help prospects with these issues, Zuper created an event drip campaign to boost customer acquisition.
The first email in Zuper’s drip campaign is simple, includes a link to their website, and only reminds the lead of the event.
Shortly after, Zuper sends another email that calls out its product, briefly explains how it helps clients, and then they invite the reader to schedule a demo.
Once the demo is over, Zuper reminds the prospect of their free trial offer, asks them to complete the signup process, and responds if they have questions.
As you can see, Zuper’s drip campaign is based on simplicity. In a few sentences, they can quickly convince cold leads to become free trial users. So, keep your email drip campaigns simple and show customers that investing in your brand is their best bet to curtail losses and drive revenue.
2. Contractbook Lead-Nurturing Campaign
Nurturing leads doesn’t have to be hard. An easy way to do it is to think about their problems, write a detailed post that addresses these problems, and include a link to this post in your drip campaign. This is what the Contractbook team did with the first email of their drip campaign.
After the first email, Contractbook sends a series of short emails, including one that invites their audience to schedule a demo.
When sending lead nurturing sequences, ensure your audience is confident that your product works. Do this by including not just blog post links, but also testimonials or case studies of people who like your product.
3. First Session Lead-nurturing Campaign
First Session is a brand that helps people find the right therapist to get instant help.
To do this, they created an email drip campaign to educate folks new to therapy who might have hesitation, skepticism, or simply fear of the unknown. Their first email addresses these, includes a video for beginners, and presents a call to action for the reader to browse therapists.
The next email in the series goes further with a CTA that asks readers to schedule a phone consultation. It also includes a new video and another CTA to download a checklist.
The above calls to action are great for segmenting users because readers who opt for the free phone consultation might need help immediately. Meanwhile, those downloading only the checklist may need more nurturing to convert.
That’s not all.
In a last-ditch effort to convert these warm leads, First Session sends another email that includes video testimonials of people sharing their stories. They also ask readers to follow them on Instagram, so they can further nurture them on one of their core social media channels.
4. Rev Drip Email campaign
Rev has become one of the fastest and most accurate transcription services. In this example shared by Nick Gaudio, its former Director of Brand (now Director of Content at Rattle), Rev sends interesting emails that add value. Take the first email in the drip campaign, for instance.
Rev uses humor to draw the reader into the message, puts a CTA towards the end, and includes many links to help the reader learn more about Rev.
In the next email, Rev sends an email with a CTA that requires small or no effort to execute —download the Rev app. The best part is that Rev entices the reader to take action by making the app free.
But, Rev isn't done.
To convert users still on the fence, Rev sends a case study of a popular brand (Spotify) to encourage its warm audience to convert.
5. Blogging Wizard Welcome Email Campaign
Adam Connell is a marketing veteran with many years of experience building and growing websites.
Through his newsletter on the Blogging Wizard, he shares free resources, advice, and guides for building online brands. When users subscribe, this is the first email from Adam’s drip sequence.
This email is simple, doesn’t require much from the subscriber, and offers value by providing a resource library.
After the first email, subscribers receive another email that contains links to popular content on Adam’s website.
“The remaining emails in the sequence serve the purpose of promoting other highly informative articles on an individual basis. This results in directing as much traffic as possible,” Adam says.
Adam adds, “Articles we select for these emails typically have broad appeal for most bloggers and would be helpful regardless of the stage of their blogging journey. Our sequence is open ended, and we add new emails as often as we publish more helpful content.
Create Drip Campaign Emails that Convert Leads
With these tips, best practices, examples, and templates, you’re on the way to creating engaging email drip campaigns that convert your leads and prospects. By consistently delivering value to your contacts, you can ensure they get the exact content they need to make a purchasing decision. This will help your team sell effortlessly, exponentially increasing revenue at your company.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.