Drip Marketing Campaigns: The Complete Guide to Marketing Strategies with Drip Emails

The primary goal of email marketing is to reach the right people at the right time — that’s where a drip campaign comes in. By crafting the perfect series of emails, you can entice your target audience to subscribe to your newsletter, refer a friend, take a survey, make a purchase, and more.

In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into what a drip campaign is, how to create one, and the many types of drip campaign emails that you can use to your advantage.

In this drip marketing guide, you’ll discover: 


What is a drip campaign?

A drip campaign is a scheduled sequence of automated emails, often triggered by certain customer actions and behaviors. Drip campaigns give you the opportunity to engage your customers in an efficient and relevant way.

Think of the term ‘drip’ as a chef applying the precise amount of an ingredient at the right time, such as a dash of a jus across a plate — no more or no less than what is needed in that moment.  And the same for marketers. The idea is to provide useful and relevant information exactly when it is needed, without overwhelming or ‘spamming’ the customer.

Drip campaigns can help you to: 

  • Nurture leads. Most people aren’t ready to buy when you initially contact them. With a drip campaign, you can smoothly lead prospects through the entire customer journey from awareness to conversion.
  • Connect with users who almost purchased from you. By tracking abandoned shopping carts, you can reach out to customers to remind them the items they nearly bought are still available.
  • Onboard, engage, and retain customers. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that current customers will continue to purchase from you. That’s why it’s a good idea to use a drip campaign to keep them engaged with your brand – from welcome users, to onboarding them with your products and offers, right through to post-purchase. Providing a stream of emails with helpful information, recommendations, and offers makes it much more likely that you’ll retain customers.
  • Introduce yourself. A drip campaign can be a great way to introduce yourself to new customers — or inform existing customers about new products and services. Drip campaigns can be educational tools that intrigue your audience and entice them to explore your offerings further.


When to use a drip campaign.

Drip campaigns are all about helping your brand stay in touch with your target audience. The series of automated emails will generally be triggered by the customer or potential customer taking an action in relation to your brand.

The emails are designed to use that action as a trigger point to open a conversation and build a relationship with that person through regular, personalized emails. Actions to trigger an email drip campaign include:


Drip email

Signs up to a newsletter

Welcome email to a new subscriber. This is a great place to share what makes your business special.

Buys a new product or service

Educational emails to help your customer get more from their product or service. And recommendations of supporting products.

Downloads your whitepaper

Lead nurturing email. This conversation is triggered when a prospect enters their email address to download a whitepaper


Download the Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing


How to create a drip campaign.

A strategic drip campaign can do wonders for your organization. When creating one, keep the following best practices in mind. 

1. Nail down your goal.

It’s impossible to build an effective drip campaign unless you know exactly what you hope to accomplish. Follow these steps to set realistic goals. 

  • Define your purpose. What do you want to achieve from your drip campaign. Not specific numbers, but more generally — is it more subscribers, better conversions, or increased engagement?
  • Understand the metrics. The main metrics of email marketing include open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, and unsubscribe rate. Choose the metric that best suits what you want to achieve.
  • Find where you’re at. Explore your chosen metrics in your email marketing software and see where you currently stand. How have recent email marketing campaigns performed?
  • Set realistic goals. Now you know your existing numbers, you can set realistic goals of what you want to achieve with your new drip campaign. Set moderate targets initially and review them periodically. 

2. Use a marketing automation platform.

One of the most effective ways to run a drip campaign is by using a marketing automation platform. Marketing automation software is designed to help you streamline your marketing and sales efforts. It can make it easier for you to: 

  • Generate more leads
  • Close more deals
  • Meet your goals

With a quality marketing automation platform, you’ll have no problem segmenting your customers, sending trigger-based emails, optimizing your campaigns, and, most importantly, improving the ROI of your marketing efforts.

DID YOU KNOW? Marketing professionals who segment their audiences for their email campaigns see an uplift in revenue of 760%, according to HubSpot


3. Offer more than a sales pitch.

Remember that the goal of a drip campaign is to slowly but surely convince your customers to take certain actions. Drip campaigns are all about accomplishing goals gradually rather than in a single stroke.

This means your emails should be more than sales pitches. Make sure they include useful information that can help your customers, and position yourself as a thought leader by sharing interesting content that they can relate to.

4. Practice market segmentation.

Market segmentation involves dividing your customers into certain niches. It can help you create personalized campaigns that target the specific needs and motivations of your customers.

You can segment your market by demographics such as age, gender, location, and occupation. Or target customers based on behaviors such as:

  • Making a purchase
  • Creating an account on the website
  • Signing up for a free consultation

A marketing automation platform makes segmentation a breeze.

5. Determine useful triggers.

Drip campaigns depend on triggers to achieve success. Triggers are actions that customers must take in order to receive an email.

If a customer signs up to learn more about one of your services, for instance, you may want to send them emails to keep them interested. And if a customer puts an item in their shopping cart but abandons it, you may want to send emails to convince them to return to their cart and follow through with the purchase.

Your emails can include special promotions like free shipping or 5% off if they order by a certain date. Messages may also highlight related products to further pique the customer’s interest.

6. Include feelgood emails.

You want your customers to feel good every time they open one of your emails, so keep things light and positive. Include content that will put a smile on their face and get them excited to hear from you again. How to write feelgood emails: 

  • Stress the positive. Goes without saying but celebrate what’s good rather than focusing on what’s bad. Be boosterish rather than downbeat.
  • Be playful. If your tone of voice allows, use playful language in your email copy and include references to things readers can relate, preferably with a knowing nod.
  • Write plainly. Craft copy that’s easy to digest with simple words and short sentences. Don’t make it a chore to read. 
  • Big up the benefits. Translate dry product features into real-world benefits. Show how your products can make life easier.
  • Tell happy stories. Do you have a coworker who has done something inspiring? Share their story in your emails.

Remember, never make them feel bad for abandoning a shopping cart, unsubscribing from your blog, or not buying anything.

7. Determine frequency.

Think about how often you’d like to send emails. While there is no hard and fast rule on frequency, consider what would be appropriate for your goals and customers. Things to consider:

  • Don’t overwhelm. Customers want timey and relevant information but not relentless spam. You’re better sending too few than too many emails.
  • Consider the audience. Are you marketing to consumers or executives, B2C or B2B? Consider how busy they are and the state of their inboxes.
  • Align with their journey. Every email should have a clear purpose. Look at the customer journey touchpoints to decide whether an email is required.
  • Give them control. Set up an email preference center to enable your subscribers to decide how often they want to be contacted via email.
  • Learn from your peers. One in three marketers send their subscribers between three and five emails per week, says HubSpot.
  • Take a holistic view. Email cadence measures not only the number of emails but how they break down across different types of email. Factor this in to your planning.

If you’re unsure on frequency, do some testing to uncover the sweet spot for customer engagement.

8. Finalize your sequence.

The sequence of your email campaign should align with your objectives. When it comes to how many emails you should send, the only limit is your customers’ patience and interest.

Things to consider: 

  • How much information does the customer need?
  • What stage in the customer journey are they at?
  • What is their next potential action with you?
  • What are their challenges and barriers?
  • How can you help them overcome that?
  • What is your overall goal? 

The key is to send as many emails as you need to in order to get your message across without fatiguing your contacts.

9. Create catchy subject lines.

If your subject lines are weak, customers will be less likely to open your emails. To ensure your emails get read, keep your subject lines short, catchy, and personalized. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself what would grab your attention.

Tips for writing good subject lines: 

  • Have one message. Make clear what you want the person to do, or what it is you’re offering them.
  • Front-load the copy. Include the most important words at the front of the sentence for easy inbox scanning.
  • Be active. Write with active verbs to inspire people to act. Get, Buy, Own, Enjoy all good options. 
  • Be concise. Email subject lines should be short and tightly written like a newspaper headline.
  • Lead with benefits. What is the main USP of your email? How will it enhance their life? Put that front and center.
  • Be quirky. Another option is to try to catch the reader’s eye with a quirky, attention-grabbing headline or pun.

Overall, remember to have something to say and to say it as clearly and concisely as possible.

10. Find ways to measure success.

As with any marketing strategy, knowing how you’ll measure success is important. One of the most popular ways to do this in drip campaigns is by implementing UTM codes, which tell you where traffic is coming from and whether a user has landed on your site before – all via Google Analytics. UTM codes tack onto URLs. 

Download the Definitive Guide to Engaging Email Marketing


Example drip campaign emails.

There are several different types of emails you may want to incorporate into your drip campaign. Here’s an overview of several of them.

Welcome emails.

Welcome emails are a great way to introduce your organization and its offerings. You’ll want to send out a series of welcome emails that highlight your company’s strengths and educate your customers about what they can expect from your brand.

These emails may include client testimonials or case studies that showcase your value. They may also offer a free trial, a discount, or a collection of your most popular blog posts.

Retargeting emails.

Retargeting is one of the best ways to turn a lead into a customer. You can use this strategy to reach certain customers based on their online actions.

For example, if a customer reads your blog without leaving a comment or puts an item into his shopping cart without making a purchase, you may want to retarget them. Retargeting emails might encourage customers to share their feedback on your post or offer them a discount, so they’ll move forward with their purchase.

Post-purchase emails.

It costs six times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain a current one.  If you want a customer to remain loyal to your organization and continue to purchase from you, post-purchase emails are essential.

Post-purchase emails show that you appreciate your customers’ business and help you create brand loyalty, a must in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace.

Your post-purchase emails can: 

  • Invite your customers to join your frequent buyer program
  • Feature similar products that they may enjoy
  • Provide useful tips that will help them make the most of their purchases


With newsletters, you can keep your customers engaged and ensure your brand is never far from their mind. You can send newsletters to both current and prospective customers, but make sure your messages make sense for the audience you’re targeting.

Newsletters sent to current customers can include: 

  • Information on your frequent buyer program
  • Latest blog posts to check out

For prospective customers, newsletters may incorporate interesting facts about your business, testimonials, and useful information related to your offerings.

Recommendation emails.

Recommendation emails are important if you’d like to get your customers in the habit of coming back, so it’s no surprise that Spotify, Amazon, and other well-known brands use them to their advantage.

Let’s say your organization sells cleaning products — if you know a customer already bought an all-purpose cleaning spray, why not send them a recommendation email with special cloths they can use to apply the cleaner?

By recommending certain products or services to your customers based on their previous buying behavior, you can: 

  • Support customer retention
  • Increase revenue
  • Introduce customers to useful offerings

Over time, this strengthens your brand’s overall value to your customers, as you are able anticipate their interests and needs.


Alerts and reminders can help you increase customer engagement. Your customers likely lead busy lives, so alerts may be just what they need to re-engage with you.

If your business specializes in oil changes, for example, you may want to send your customers reminders every few months informing them they’re due for an oil change.

In the event you sell a subscription-based product or service, it’s a good idea to send your customers alerts whenever it’s time for them to renew their subscription. A quick message that gives them the option to renew is a great way to boost retention. 


Frequently asked questions about drip marketing campaigns.

What is a good drip campaign?

Lead nurturing is a popular type of drip email. The campaign begins when a prospect gives their email address in exchange for a whitepaper download. This first drip email will be to thank them for their download but will likely be followed up with more offers of exclusive, gated content and even free consultations or trials. Lead nurturing campaigns can unfold over months and even years.

What does drip campaign stand for?

Drip campaign simply means a direct marketing email campaign that is conducted over a period of weeks or months and is executed through several emails. The drip relates to the fact the emails are sent gradually, at regular, predetermined intervals to slowly nudge the customer towards taking action without becoming overwhelmed with spam.

How does a drip campaign work?

We’ll use the example of someone buying a new laptop to explain how a drip campaign works. One of the first drip emails, a few days after they have purchased, may recommend how to get the most from it through tips, explainer videos and apps. Then, the next week another email could showcase other products that can help to enhance the experience.


Create winning drip campaigns with the right platform.

A marketing automation platform allows you to easily create and run drip campaigns without having to overcommit your time and resources. 

Marketo Engage is a powerful marketing automation solution that is just what you need to jump on the drip campaign bandwagon and meet — or even exceed — your goals.

You can use Marketo Engage to:

  • Get a 360-degree view of each customer across all channels
  • Segment customers based on individual behaviors and preferences

And then use this data in personalized emails that are automatically triggered and sent at the perfect time.

Marketo Engage makes it easy to optimize all your marketing campaigns and measure success. Interested? Take an interactive tour of Marketo Engage today.


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