The complete guide to email drip campaigns

Email Marketing
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Chances are that somewhere along your creative business journey, someone told you to start an email list. Maybe they said: “It’s the best way to do marketing–way better than social media!”

So you started an email list.

But you haven’t seen the explosive results you were promised. People read your email newsletters and occasional sales emails. But then…nothing. You have no idea what’s supposed to be happening on the other side of your emails, but this is certainly not it.

You’re spending a few hours a week creating content for your list and seeing nothing in return. It’s a chore, busywork on your to-do list—for little to no results.

So why do people keep singing the praises of email? What are you missing?

The answer: You’ve been using email marketing wrong.

Effective email marketing isn’t about aimlessly pushing out content every week. It’s about taking your reader through a strategic journey that ends with a specific action, such as booking a call to work with you.

And the way you do this is with email drip campaigns.

In this article, we’re breaking down the basics of email drip campaigns and explaining how you can start using them to turn your email list into a money-making machine.

The complete guide to email drip campaigns

What is an email drip campaign?

An email drip campaign is a series of pre-written emails sent to your readers in a scheduled sequence. The goal of an email drip campaign is to guide readers to take a specific action. This action can be anything you want, but commonly, this action is one of the following:

Email drip campaigns serve a different function than other types of email marketing, such as email newsletters. Email newsletters are standalone emails that often don’t have a specific goal at the end.

Why creators should use email drip campaigns

Busy creators will especially benefit from using email drip campaigns. As you’ll see, email drip campaigns help creators nail their marketing without needing a full-blown marketing team, serious marketing expertise, or a ton of time.

Email drip campaigns are one of the most effective sales tools

Because email drip campaigns are almost guaranteed to be seen by your reader in the correct order, you can guide each reader through a strategic journey.

Other forms of marketing, like social media, rely on complex algorithms to deliver your content. This means that even a series of strategic posts will not likely be seen by your followers in the correct order, making it impossible to truly guide your followers through a journey.

The data backs this up. Email marketing has an ROI of $42 for every $1 spent! Automation, such as with email drip campaigns, drives these numbers up further: Data shows on average, businesses see a 451% increase in qualified leads after implementing email automation.

Set your email marketing on autopilot

With ConvertKit email drip campaigns, you can send well-timed, targeted content to your subscribers so you can stay focused on what matters most- your business.

Email drip campaigns allow for highly relevant, personalized messaging

Email drip campaigns are one of the few marketing tools out there that allow you to segment your audience. Segmenting is the process of dividing your email list into categories, such as by demographic, reason joined, recent purchases, recent behavior with your list, or more.

After you divide your list into relevant categories, you can send different email drip campaigns to each segment. As a result, each segment receives a message that is highly relevant to their life or customer journey. Relevant messaging makes for powerful persuasion. Hubspot reported that marketers using segmented lists see an increase of 760% in revenue.

One of the most common examples of a segmented email drip campaign is the abandoned cart sequence. This campaign automatically sends to a specific subset of an email list: People who have added something to their cart and then exited without buying. The campaign is designed to encourage this segment to hurry back and complete their purchase.

Fifty Three sends an abandoned cart email to bring shoppers back to finish a purchase.
Fifty Three sends an abandoned cart email to bring shoppers back to finish a purchase.

Email drip campaigns work like a full-time marketing machine

Most creators are not marketers. They’re creators! And often, they don’t have the funds to hire a full-time marketer, either.

This is where email drip campaigns come in. You can create an email drip campaign once, test it out, and if it results in a good number of sales, you can keep it running indefinitely. In other words, once you create a single successful email drip campaign, you can use it again and again!

This means you can set up your email automation and forget it—and watch the sales roll in while you focus on creating.

Email drip campaigns nurture customers through the sales cycle

Your email drip campaign leads people through the sales cycle, from unaware to paying customers.

Marketo estimates that as much as 96% of leads who visit your website are not ready to buy yet. An email drip campaign can capture those leads and then strategically nurture them until they are ready to buy. Without an email drip campaign, all those leads would simply bounce off your website and disappear forever.

Types of email drip campaigns

The types of email drip campaigns are determined by the end goal of the campaign. You can have multiple email drip campaigns running at once to reach multiple goals at once.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of email drip campaigns:

Welcome sequence

A welcome sequence is a series of emails triggered when a customer first joins your email list. The goal of a welcome series is typically to educate subscribers about what to expect from your list and demonstrate why your offers, services, or products are valuable.

For example, check out the welcome series by product business coaching company, The Product Boss:

The Product Boss sends a welcome email series, including these two emails, designed to help new subscribers get the most out of the newsletter.

The Product Boss sends a welcome email series, including these two emails, designed to help new subscribers get the most out of the newsletter.
The Product Boss sends a welcome email series, including these two emails, designed to help new subscribers get the most out of the newsletter.

Onboarding sequence

An onboarding sequence is a series of emails triggered when a person becomes a paying customer or client. The goal of an onboarding series is usually to make new customers feel welcomed, help customers feel like they made the right decision, reduce customer churn, explain the process of using the product or service, and answer FAQs.

For example, Pinterest scheduling app Tailwind uses an onboarding series to ensure that new customers actually start using the app:

This is an example of a successful onboarding email from Tailwind; the goal of this email to make sure new customers are actually using the app they signed up for.
This is an example of a successful onboarding email from Tailwind; the goal of this email to make sure new customers are actually using the app they signed up for.

Launch sequence

A launch sequence is a series of emails that announce the launch of a new product, offer, or course. This sequence is designed to drum up excitement for the new offering so that when the launch happens, people buy it.

For example, financial advising firm Verdi Advising sent a launch sequence for their latest membership launch:

Verdi Advising sends a launch email sequence, including these two emails, to drum up excitement for the launch of their new program.

Verdi Advising sends a launch email sequence, including these two emails, to drum up excitement for the launch of their new program.
Verdi Advising sends a launch email sequence, including these two emails, to drum up excitement for the launch of their new program.

Customer feedback sequence

Just like it sounds, a customer feedback sequence is a series of emails sent with the goal of getting customer feedback. This sequence is designed to help customers understand how important their feedback is and make giving feedback easy.

For example, check out the customer feedback sequence from phone case company Bodyguardz:

Bodyguardz sends out a simple email campaign, including these two emails, to collect feedback from customers.

Bodyguardz sends out a simple email campaign, including these two emails, to collect feedback from customers.
Bodyguardz sends out a simple email campaign, including these two emails, to collect feedback from customers.

Re-engagement sequence

A re-engagement sequence is a series of emails sent to a segment who has not opened your emails in a while. The goal of this sequence is to increase your open rates and overall email list quality by attempting to “re-engage” this segment and make them active subscribers. If that goal fails, the secondary goal is to confirm that these subscribers are completely inactive and can be purged from the list.

For example, beeswax wrap company Abeego sends out a re-engagement campaign with emails like this:

Abeego sends out a reengagement campaign to see if inactive subscribers want to stay on the list or be purged.
Abeego sends out a reengagement campaign to see if inactive subscribers want to stay on the list or be purged.

How to set up an email drip campaign in ConvertKit

Convertkit is designed to make using email marketing exceedingly easy for creators. Setting up an email drip campaign with ConvertKit is no different. Just follow these simple steps:

1. Use Visual Automations to see the “flow” of your drip campaign

Visual Automations allows you to build drip campaigns visually, instead of having to imagine the flow and order of your emails. It’s like seeing the customer’s journey laid out before you on a map.

Here, you can see how the subscriber will progress through the drip campaign step by step and can visualize your full funnel.

To find the Visual Automations feature, go to the Automations Page in your account.
To find the Visual Automations feature, go to the Automations Page in your account.

2. Start building your first automation with the point of entry

The point of entry is how your customer first gets into this email drip campaign. In other words, it’s the “trigger” that starts sending this email drip campaign to certain customers.

The point of entry can be any behavior, such as subscribing to your list for the first time or making a purchase. There are three main categories to choose from: Event, action, or condition.

3. Create an action to happen next

Once someone enters your email drip campaign from a point of entry, you need to create an action to happen next. In other words, start building your campaign.

This action can be as simple as “Send the first email of the email welcome sequence.” For example, I send a welcome email drip campaign to every new subscriber, and the first one just gives some background on me and what the reader can expect to learn from me.

4. Add more actions until your email drip campaign is complete

Continue to build your email drip campaign by adding more and more actions. Typically, these actions are simply sending additional emails in your sequence, such as “Send welcome email 2,” “Send welcome email 3,” and so on.

It’s a good idea to build on the value you’re providing through your drip campaign, so keep it focused on a central theme or topic.

To find the Visual Automations feature, go to the Automations Page in your account.
To find the Visual Automations feature, go to the Automations Page in your account.

5. Decide what happens at the end of your email drip campaign

Once all your emails in your email drip campaign have been sent, what do you want to happen next? Convertkit allows you to:

  • Segment subscribers based on their behavior within this email drip campaign
  • Send subscribers into another email drip campaign
  • Route subscribers into your regular email newsletter

For example, you could segment your subscribers based on whether they took the desired action at the end of your email drip campaign. Those who didn’t take the action could be routed into another email drip campaign, where they will be down-sold on a lower-cost offer. Those who did take the action could be routed into an onboarding sequence email drip campaign.

Learn more about how to set up email drip campaigns in Convertkit.

Turn your email list into a money-making machine with email drip campaigns

If you haven’t found success with your email marketing yet, it’s likely because you’re churning out content with no clear game plan. Email drip campaigns help you put the power of strategy behind your email marketing, guiding subscribers into doing exactly what you want them to—like buy from you!

And once you find an email drip campaign that works effectively, you can set it and forget it. Your drip campaign becomes your full-time marketer. You can spend more of your time serving your customers and doing what you love, while leads or customers flock to you.

Set your email marketing on autopilot

With ConvertKit email drip campaigns, you can send well-timed, targeted content to your subscribers so you can stay focused on what matters most- your business.

Kaleigh Moore

Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer who works closely with SaaS companies and marketing teams for content creation.

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