Drip marketing involves a series of emails or texts sent to subscribers at set intervals that market a business and its products/services. Given the flexibility of drip marketing, all businesses should use it to increase sales. To set up a campaign, define your goals, then use software to design, schedule, and automatically send it.
Writing copy for effective marketing campaigns is time-consuming enough; the last thing you need is to spend hours setting up and sending the campaigns. To save time, consider a platform like Constant Contact. It offers an intuitive campaign builder, templates, and more starting at $20/month. Click here to get started with Constant Contact.
How a Drip Campaign Works
A drip campaign is an automated series of emails or text messages that businesses send to subscribers over a set period of time to encourage sales. To set one up, determine your campaign goal, draft your campaign―with a lead magnet that entices subscribers to take action―design and send your campaign, and then track the results to see how effective it is at moving potential and current customers toward a sale.
For the best results, email marketing drip campaigns should offer enticements—often called lead magnets—that are relevant to recipients and encourage them to complete the desired action. For example, if a customer subscribes to a campaign after buying a product, they’d likely appreciate coupons in return. Alternatively, customers who are not familiar with your business might enjoy educational content like an e-book in exchange for them providing their email address.
Once your campaign is drafted, and you have determined the right lead magnet to use, you can set up your campaign. To make this easy, businesses often use email marketing software like Constant Contact. These intuitive builders allow users to create template-based emails with text, images, forms, and more using drag-and-drop or menu-based editors, then schedule them to send on a predetermined cadence.
While each campaign is running, it’s important to track its performance to learn what changes should be made to boost conversions. Marketers can use reporting insights to edit existing campaigns and create more effective future campaigns. Ultimately, this results in successful drip marketing that not only grows sales but also builds brand awareness and automates marketing efforts, leaving time for other business tasks.
Reasons to Use Drip Marketing
Drip marketing should be used to keep customers engaged and move them through the sales funnel until they make a first-time or repeat purchase. There are many goals that may play into why businesses run drip campaigns, including persuading potential customers to become paying customers, upselling to current customers and introducing new customers to your brand and its values, among others.
Here are some reasons businesses use drip campaigns:
- Lead nurturing: Lead nurturing involves providing leads with enticing business or product information, plus an incentive―like a discount or free e-book―that encourages them to move through the sales funnel and make a purchase.
- Shopping cart abandonment: When a customer abandons an online shopping cart, it indicates to you that they are interested in purchasing the product but may have obstacles that stand in the way. A drip campaign sent at this stage of the buying process can help them remain interested until they’re able to buy.
- Upselling: Paying customers should be nurtured into becoming long-term customers to maximize the customer’s lifetime value (CLV). Upselling drip campaigns do this by offering customers ongoing recommendations for relevant products based on their previous purchases.
- Product renewals: If you sell products that expire or run out periodically, drip campaigns can remind customers when it’s time to repurchase, along with links to make it convenient for them to reorder. This helps to retain your existing customers.
- Product series launches: When products come in a series, such as webinars or books, drip campaigns help to ensure buyers are aware of each new product launch, offering them the opportunity to purchase the next product in the series.
In deciding your reasons for a drip campaign, remember that they should always revolve around your business goals and customer expectations. To ensure these are aligned, you should conduct an analysis of your company to learn its strengths and weaknesses and learn as much as you can about your customers and their expectations, then use drip campaigns to reach your goals and provide relevant content for your subscribers.
Drip Marketing Costs
The primary cost associated with drip marketing is for an email marketing tool. Most of these cost between $0 and $70/month. This pricing is generally based on the number of subscribers and features included. For example, a basic tier may offer basic website forms while a midtier plan may offer fully customizable forms.
For more information on the types of email marketing software available and their prices, read our buyer’s guide on email marketing software.
How to Set Up a Drip Marketing Campaign in 7 Steps
To set up a drip marketing campaign, brainstorm sources for collecting emails, then create an email software account, map out your content, create your forms, set up your campaigns, and make your forms live. Finally, track your campaign’s performance and make adjustments as needed.
Here’s how to set up a drip marketing campaign in seven steps.
1. Brainstorm Ways to Capture Emails
All of the instances you interact with your customers offer opportunities to build an email subscriber list. These include your website, social media, email, the checkout line, company events, and sales calls. Use all of these opportunities to ask new and returning customers if they’d like to join your email list and explain the value they’ll receive in return, then follow up with drip campaigns that are relevant to where and why they sign up.
Here are the channels you can use to capture emails for drip marketing.
Social media platforms often attract people interested in your brand but who have yet to purchase. You can earn new subscribers by including an email sign-up form on your Facebook Business profile and via advertisements that include your sign-up form. Additionally, social media platforms like Facebook allow for granular ad targeting that helps you build a quality list you can then nurture into customers.
Businesses often interact with customers via email—either to address questions about a product or offer general support. These contacts have either yet to purchase or could present an opportunity to nurture repeat customers using upsells. After resolving the customer’s issue or answering their question, consider offering a lead magnet, benefit, or educational information in exchange for a subscription to your drip campaign.
Use a landing page with a form to gather emails, leveraging a lead magnet to entice visitors to subscribe to your list. These email capture pages are often aimed at starting a relationship with potential customers who are interested in your brand. Drip campaigns for these prospects focus on nurturing subscribers until they make a purchase.
If you own a brick-and-mortar shop, a request for an email address when people purchase from you can help you not only build your list but also tie that list to the types of products individual customers buy. Use customer relationship management (CRM) software to record purchases and identifying contact information, then send a confirmation or welcome email to each subscriber, followed by product recommendations and even coupons that encourage similar purchases.
Many companies use pamphlets or flyers in their brick-and-mortar stores, including event announcements, new product launch flyers, and food menus. Add a quick response (QR) code to them that takes people to an email sign-up page. Once a prospect signs up, send emails to complement the information in the pamphlet. For example, if you offered the code on a menu, send emails with dinner coupons, food tasting event information, or new dish launches.
Your salespeople should be trained to ask for email addresses when people make purchases. These could then be used to send educational and product tip drip campaigns. Ultimately, the goal is to keep customers engaged and coming back for more.
Many email marketing companies help you set up text-to-join campaigns. These allow you to send short message service (SMS) messages to follow up on sales or customer service calls. You can then ask for customer email addresses to send discounts or request customer feedback.
Community events help businesses connect with local customers, and are a great way to collect emails onsite. Use a tablet to gather emails quickly in exchange for a fun contest entry or coupons at local fairs, trade shows, and community gatherings. Then, follow up via email thanking customers for attending and offering information about upcoming events, information on products they tried while at the event, and discounts to encourage a visit to your store.
If your company offers the ability to purchase products or services from your website, include an email capture or subscriber form at checkout. In response, you can send abandoned cart reminder emails to encourage first-time purchases, related product recommendations, or coupons to encourage repeat purchases.
The steps below will focus on web-based avenues for collecting email subscribers, but it’s good to keep all of the above avenues in mind when building on your email list.
2. Sign Up With an Email Marketing Software Provider
An email marketing software provider offers tools to help you build contact forms, then collect and organize your subscribers’ information into segments related to where and why they signed up. Finally, it offers you email templates and automation tools so that you can design drip campaigns for each of your subscriber segments, and then automate their timed delivery. To sign up for an email marketing software, visit their pricing pages, then select a plan.
To sign up with an affordable email marketing software provider like Constant Contact, for example, visit its pricing page to review plan options. Click “Buy Now” on the one that suits your needs or start with its free 60-day trial by entering your email address on the homepage and clicking the “Sign up for Free Today” button.
Complete the sign-up process as prompted on the following screen, adding in all pertinent personal and business information.
3. Plan Content
Before collecting emails, plan your drip campaign content. Then, as people begin signing up, you can respond immediately with your campaign email sequence. You should also tweak the campaign it as it runs to better target subscribers and deliver valuable content. To start, however, develop a general list of content. Then, create drafts of that content that are to the point and offer value. Repeat this process for different subscriber sources.
Create General Content List for Homepage Subscribers
If you have a small sign-up form on your website’s homepage, you won’t necessarily have a direct understanding of what website content enticed your subscribers to sign up. For example, they may have viewed your product pages and your blog or stumbled across your site by accident. Because you don’t know which content they’re interested in receiving, you’ll need a general list of content you can send to all those who subscribe via these forms.
Here are general content types that can be sent to these subscribers to begin a relationship:
- Welcome emails: When someone signs up for your email campaigns, make a great first impression by offering value right away. This usually takes the form of a promise for more content-rich emails in the future, thereby encouraging a long and engaging subscribership.
- Customer case studies: This type of content is best for companies marketing their services to awareness or interest stage website visitors. By showcasing how your services transformed your customers’ problems into victories, you can entice website visitors to try your services.
- Customer testimonials and reviews: This type of content is best for marketing to people who have yet to purchase a product or service from your company. It can often complement case studies as social proof from your current or past customers. It’s best to include customer testimonials or reviews that are positive and offer specifics about how your products or services solve problems.
- Percentage-off coupons for anything in your store: Most often, customers who sign up via a header or footer email capture form do so because they want to know more about your company and its offerings but may not have decided on specific products or services that interest them. A discount coupon can entice them to move into the evaluation stage by deciding what product or service they’d like to try at a discount.
- Product launch announcements: When you launch a new product, get the word out via an announcement. Even if your current or potential customers aren’t interested in the product itself, the announcement can highlight the fact that your company is always looking for ways to offer more and better products or services to benefit them.
- Company news: Customers like to know who they’re doing business with. If your company has made big changes, keep them in the loop by offering company news in your general email campaigns. This helps you showcase company changes in a positive light before they get the information from a competitor or from a news outlet that seeks to sensationalize it―sometimes not in a positive way.
- Feedback requests: A request for feedback sends a message that you care about customer concerns and want to hear from them. In turn, this message helps to build the open, honest, and trusting relationship that turns first-time buyers into and loyal customers.
Draft Your Content
As you draft your content, remember that your readers have a short attention span and want to read easily consumable content that ultimately gives them value. As such, craft your email subject lines, content, and calls to action (CTAs) to be to the point, easily understandable, and friendly.
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you craft your email content:
- Craft interest-inducing subject lines: Your subject line should develop enough interest for people to open your email by telling them briefly what they have to gain by doing so.
- Keep it casual and to-the-point: In any email campaign, customers want to know how reading your email will benefit them. Emails should be to the point and casual. Remember that people don’t want to read pages of business jargon. Instead, they want a friendly email and doesn’t waste their time, so get straight to the point.
- Tell people what to do to earn the benefit: Each email should direct people to perform one action like setting up a free trial. Don’t include links that deviate from this goal. In addition, only ask people to perform an action after you’d made the case as to how that action will solve their problem.
Brainstorm & Draft Content for Additional Subscriber Sources
While it’s good to have general content ready for your drip campaigns, it’s also important to have specific campaigns set up to address subscribers acquired from different sources like social media ads, landing pages, and other channels. Develop a list of content customers should receive in response to where and when they sign up for your campaigns, using the general content list above as a guide. Then, draft your content for these sources.
Keep your content drafts organized by subscriber source in an easy-to-find place, This will make it easier to add to your email software later. For more tips on crafting your drip campaign content, read our email marketing best practices tip list.
“We find that most drip campaigns that provide a series of value before focusing on selling are the ones that are more successful in the long term. Draft out a content strategy for your campaign that delivers useful tips or advice that showcases your expertise but doesn’t necessarily focus on selling what it is you have to offer. Once you’ve built trust and the potential buyer sees you as an expert—and appreciates the great value you have already offered them—it will be much easier to sell your product or service.”
— Maghan Cockrell, Director of Performance Marketing, Linchpin Sales
4. Design Email Capture Forms
Now that you have your email platform in place and have planned your content, you can begin to build your email capture forms. To design a sign-up form on your website, connect your email marketing software to your website, set up the associated contact list in your software account, then build and publish your form. We will use WordPress in the steps below as it is one of the most common content management systems (CMS).
Install the WordPress Plugin
To install the Constant Contact WordPress plugin, log in to your website’s backend. Click “Plugins,” then “Add New ” from your WordPress dashboard left-hand menu. On the next screen, search for Constant Contact. Once the results show you the “Constant Contact” plugin, click the “Install” button. Once it’s installed, click the “Activate” button that appears in place of the “Install Now” button.
Connect your WordPress plugin to your Constant Contact account by clicking “Plugins” again, then the “Connect Your Account” button located on the top of the next screen.
When prompted, enter your Constant Contact login information. You can click the “Remember my username” box so that you don’t have to log in again, then click “Log In.”
Set Up a Contact List to Capture New Sign-ups
Before you create a form, you need to create lists to house new email subscribers. Your lists should be labeled to reflect the location of the sign-up form used to capture them. For example, if your list houses emails secured from a sign-up form on your website’s homepage, you might label it “WordPress Sign-Ups.” To set up your list, sign into your Constant Contact account and click the “Contacts” tab from the top of your dashboard.
Next to “Email Lists” on the following page, click the plus sign to indicate you want to create a new list.
In the box that pops up, create a name for your list—“WordPress Sign-Ups,” for example. Finally, click “Add List.”
Build Your Contact Form
With your list in place in Constant Contact, return to your WordPress dashboard. Click “Contact Form,” then “Add New Form.” On the next screen, under the “Add New Form” title, enter a name for your form. This name won’t be viewable publicly but provides a way for you to find the form in your software account easily.
In the HTML text box below the title, describe the incentive or lead magnet that will encourage a website visitor to sign up with their email address. For example, you may tell them they will receive discounts, coupons, product recommendations, or event announcements if they sign up.
Under the Constant Contact List header, select the list you would like subscribers who use this form to be added to. In the example below, we selected the “WordPress Sign-Ups” list.
Click the down arrow to the right of the “Form Options” header to expand the “Form Options” section. In the “Button Text” field, input the text you want to appear in the CTA button on your form. In the “Success Message” field, enter the copy you’d like users to see when they’ve filled out and submitted your form by clicking the CTA button.
The success message serves to tell customers they are now a subscriber, thank them for their willingness to receive regular communications from your brand, and tell them what to do or expect next. Your message should reflect these points. You can write something like, “You’ve been added to our list. Thank you for allowing us to keep in touch. Check your email in the coming days for all kinds of coupons, discounts, and announcements.”
The next section is the “Submission Behavior” section. In the field next to the “Redirect URL” field label, input a URL people will be directed to once they’ve submitted your form. You can also leave it blank if you want visitors to remain on the same page.
Insert Fields Asking for Subscriber Information
In the “Form Fields” section, you will find some pre-set field options you can add to your form, including “Email Address,” “First Name,” and “Last Name.” For these, use the drop-down arrows to select a field type, then use the text boxes to type in how you want each field to be labeled when visitors see them (Field Label) and what you want written within the fields before visitors fill them out (Field Description).
You can also add custom fields to request additional information that will help you identify subscriber needs, interests, and any other information that can help with your marketing. For example, you can add fields for job titles, the companies they work for, their birthday to indicate an age bracket, their income bracket, and anything else you feel will help your marketing efforts.
To add a custom field, click the “Add Another Field” button, then select “Custom Text Field” using the drop-down arrow next to the “Select a Field” label. You can create any type of custom field you want by just typing in the label you want assigned to it. Then, add a description for visitors in the “Field Description” text box. To add more fields, continue clicking the “Add Another Field” button.
Additionally, you can use the “Form Design” Field on the right side of the form builder to change your form’s color scheme. However, if you leave this alone, the form will adopt the colors of your website.
Once you are done adjusting the colors, click “Publish.” This will make the form active, but until you add it to relevant pages, users will not see it. Place these forms on your site after the drip campaigns are set up in Constant Contact and are ready to send.
5. Build Out Your Drip Campaigns
Now that you know the content types to include in your campaigns and you’ve built your forms, it’s time to start building campaigns that will be sent out in response to a customer action (trigger). In the example, we’ll focus on trigger campaigns as a result of signing up on your website. Start by setting a trigger, then build your email series using the drag-and-drop builder. Choose time intervals in between each email to indicate the pace they should be sent out.
Start Email Campaign Creation & Choose Trigger
To begin building out the emails in your series, click “Create” from your Campaigns tab in Constant Contact. In the pop-up screen, click “Email Automation” and “Create email series.” In the pop-up window, type the name of your drip campaign. This is an internal name that won’t be visible to your email recipients.
Next, select your trigger type from the drop-down menu. Because we haven’t yet sent out an email, choose “A contact joins a list.” Then, click “Save.”
Next, select the lists you want this email series to be sent to when new people sign up and click “Save.”
Choose Your Email Intervals
On the next screen, choose how long you want to wait until your first email is sent after the subscriber signs up. Click the tiny clock to set when the first email will be sent and the time intervals between each sent email. Next, click “Create new email.”
Build & Activate Your Email Series
Constant Contact allows you to build your campaigns easily via predesigned campaign-type specific templates. Begin by clicking the “Create” button under the “Campaigns” tab in your Constant Contact account.
Next, choose a template like “Product Announcement” or “Limited Time Sale.” You can use the search bar to search for specific email types or industry-specific email templates. Click the “Preview” icon, which looks like a digital eye, at the bottom right-hand corner of your template to see what it will look like when sent.
Preview the template on the next screen. If you like it, click the “Select Template” button. If not, select the back arrow at the top left-hand corner of the screen to continue searching for the right template.
On the open template, click the pencil icon to name your email. Then, use the right-hand menu to customize your email and add the content you drafted in step 3. Click the “Images” menu tab to add images and the “Build” tab to drag and drop content blocks into place, including buttons and text boxes. Match the content to the drip campaign content you outlined and drafted above. Sprinkle in general content to ensure subscribers learn more about your company.
Select “Preview” to view your email or “Continue” to be taken back to your series.” Click “+Add to Series” to continue building out your email series. Constant Contact allows you to add up to 15 emails to each series and continue choosing the time intervals between each email by clicking the “Edit” link in the bar with the tiny clock. It’s best to start your emails at monthly emails at first, then adjust them to weekly for customers who are highly engaged.
Once you’re done, click the “Activate” button in the top right-hand corner of the screen. This will push the campaign live, meaning that the people on the lists you specified will begin receiving the emails in your series as soon as they sign up for your email list.
6. Make Your Sign-up Forms Live
To add your sign-up forms to site pages and make your drip campaigns fully live, return to your WordPress dashboard. Navigate to your Constant Contact form list, then select the form or forms you created. You will have to place each form on your site separately using shortcodes.
On the form edit page, click on the down arrow next to the “Shortcode” section under the “Publish button.” Copy the shortcode in that box, then paste into any sidebar widget, page, or post where you would like your form to appear. Click “Publish” on the pages where you’ve added the shortcode to ensure it’s live. You can double-check the live site to be sure the form is visible.
7. Analyze & Respond to Campaign Performance
Constant Contact offers engagement reports, heatmaps, segmentation reports, and campaign comparison reports to show you which email links people click on and what emails are opened. For emails that underperform, take note of their content, design, and how they differ from those that perform well. Incorporate the characteristics of those that perform well into future campaigns and avoid designs and content that doesn’t.
Here is a look at the types of reports Constant Contact offers to track your email campaigns:
- Engagement report: See what emails your email recipients open and what they click once they’ve opened them. Learn the engagement trends of your email series over time. With these insights, decide if an email needs to be replaced or tweaked for better performance.
- Compare campaigns: Choose up to five emails to compare engagement rates, including which are opened the most and how often links within them are clicked. With these insights, analyze what campaigns are more effective and uncover trends in what makes an email effective and what doesn’t.
- Click-tracking heatmaps: While the engagement report tells you if individuals click links within an email, this report shows you how many times they clicked and which audiences click them most. The larger the circle over a link, the more often that link is clicked. With this insight, learn what link placements are more effective in increasing engagement.
- Click segmentation: Use the segmentation report to group people by what links they click most within emails. Use these insights to discover the types of content certain customers are most interested in learning more about. Or, learn which new segments are interested in the content you didn’t previously think interested them. Use these insights to create more targeted campaigns based on interest.
As you learn more about how your emails and overall campaigns perform, make changes to email content to ensure you’re delivering the most valuable content to your subscribers. Adding regular feedback request emails to your drip campaigns will give you even more insight into how to improve your email content.
3 Tools for Drip Marketing 2019
There are many email software providers on the market that help businesses build drip campaigns. Each has its specialties, including providing landing page builders, using machine learning to determine optimum engagement times to send out emails, and offering segmentation capabilities.
Here are the top email drip marketing tools for small businesses:
- Constant Contact: Constant Contact is email marketing software with plans starting at $20 per month. It offers a drag-and-drop builder for creating email campaigns, subscriber list segmentation capabilities, a form builder capturing subscriber email addresses, and the ability to trigger campaigns based on customer actions. Constant Contact best serves companies looking to build email marketing lists via embedded website forms.
- Sendin Blue: Sendin Blue is a landing page builder and email and text marketing software with plans ranging from free to $66 per month for small businesses. It uniquely offers machine learning to tell you the best time to send out emails for optimum engagement and the ability to create drip campaigns via text and email. Given the text focus, it is best for businesses whose customers primarily contact them via mobile devices.
- Mailchimp: Mailchimp, like Constant Contact, is email marketing software that offers plans starting at free, going up to $10 per month for small businesses. It offers the ability to create campaigns that reach customers via several channels or mediums, including postcards, Facebook ads, and landing pages. It is best for businesses with customers of wide-ranging demographics that engage with brands via on and offline channels.
3 Drip Marketing Campaign Examples
Companies like Netflix, Warby Parker, and Hire Vue use drip campaigns to welcome new customers to their campaigns, encourage repeat purchases, and reengage customers who’ve not engaged for a while. Their campaigns’ effectiveness lies in their to-the-point, personable, and value-packed messages.
Here are three drip marketing examples and the features that make them effective.
1. A Welcome Email From Netflix
A welcome email is sent when a customer first signs up for services, like signing up for a subscription. Not only does Netflix confirm to subscribers that their sign-up was completed, but it gives them clear instructions on how to start using the product immediately while their enthusiasm for it is still fresh. This ensures they’re more likely to use the subscription instead of forgetting in the hustle and bustle of their busy schedules.
2. A Gentle Renewal Reminder from Warby Parker
Reminder emails tell customers it’s time to repurchase a product or service. Warby Parker made renewing prescriptions easy by offering a personalized and gentle reminder that customers need to purchase again because their prescriptions have expired. They make this easy with a prominent CTA button. Also, an included renewal date adds a sense of urgency. Finally, Warby Parker reminders are mobile-friendly so people can take action wherever they are.
3. A Check-in From HireVue When Engagement Drops
HireVue knows they’ll annoy subscribers if emails are ignored, but they continue to reach out. To ensure campaigns don’t hurt their brand image when their email marketing software indicates a subscriber isn’t responding, they send a reengagement email and make the CTA button about staying with the company instead of opting out. The fun tone puts the subscriber at ease while building trust by sending a message that customer preferences are taken seriously.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a drip campaign?
A drip campaign is an automated series of emails that are sent in response to certain customer actions. For example, if a blog reader signs up for your email campaigns, you can trigger a series of emails to be sent to them in a particular order once a week. Similarly, drip campaigns can be sent out via text message or even by snail mail based on triggers like completing a sales call providing a phone number or address in-store.
What is automated marketing?
Automated marketing is often also referred to as a drip campaign. Using email software, for example, businesses create a series of emails and then automate them to be sent when customers complete certain actions like purchasing a product and opting into email campaigns at checkout.
What is drip marketing software?
Drip marketing software allows businesses to build contact lists, segment them based on subscriber characteristics or actions, and create messages to be sent to list members automatically once subscribers complete an action, like buying a product. Constant Contact, for example, includes email drip marketing tools with a drag-and-drop email builder, list building and email scheduling tools, and campaign performance tracking reports.
Bottom Line: Email Drip Marketing
Drip marketing is a series of automated emails sent to subscribers designed to move them through the sales funnel by providing them with valuable content and resources. Good email marketing software is key to this. It offers businesses the tools to gather a list of contacts, segment them based on interests and characteristics, build a series of emails that are relevant to subscribers, and then automate email campaigns based on customer actions.
Starting at $20 per month, Constant Contact offers small businesses the tools they need to build an email subscriber list, segment their list based on customer interests and characteristics, and build email series they can then automate to go out to subscribers. Click here to get started with Constant Contact.