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    What is a drip email marketing campaign?

    by Iain Thomson Project Lead

    A drip email campaign is a series of timed emails sent to an individual user in response to an action they have taken. Here’s all you need to know about them.

    We often write about email marketing campaigns and newsletters, and how they overlap. One of the most important factors is timing – how frequently they are sent, and when are the best days and times to send them for your specific audience.

    But those campaigns are mass emails sent out at the same time to a group of subscribers. Sure, you can compose multiple messages to send to different groups within the list at different times, but they are still being sent out on your schedule.

    With drip email marketing, a single email is sent out to a user based on their interaction with your organisation, not to an entire mailing list. So if Dave buys your widget at 10:15, he might get an email at 11:15, while Katy might buy the same widget at 11:21 and get the same email but at 12:21. Their action is the trigger to send out one or more emails.

    Timing is everything

    The name “drip” suggests more than one email, and that that is indeed the normal process. The first email will be followed up by a second, and then a defined number of extra emails before the campaign stops. Drip emails tend not to go on for too long, though – typically no more than a few months, and with fewer than seven messages. But the important thing is that it’s only that one person getting that email at that moment.

    Of course, there isn’t a person sitting in a darkened room wearing a hoodie and responding to the trigger event, starting a stopwatch and composing another email a few days later. The messages are written in advance by a person sitting in a darkened room wearing a hoodie. It’s all automated.

    Drip marketing is three-dimensional, too. When you set up your campaign, you can make it responsive to users’ actions, like a flow chart. So if email 1 gets one response, their next drip email will be email 2A, but if it’s a different response, they can get email 2B, and so on.

    These personalised mini-campaigns can be set up to any trigger you want, whether that’s a purchase, an abandoned cart, an item they’ve looked at in the past coming in stock, a recommendation based on a purchase or abandonment, signing up to a newsletter or whatever action they take that can be trackable back to an individual user.

    Make it stand out

    As your drip campaign might be running alongside a newsletter with the same customer, the trick is to keep them short and personal. They need to know why they’re getting the email on top of the newsletter, so be open and let them know.

    Some companies use a slightly different email template for drip campaigns than they do for more regular emails, and it can help to make them stand out, and not look like your newsletter has become hyper-targeted or salesy, which might switch people off.

    So keep it direct, limit the duration of the campaign, set up various pathways based on potential feedback, and make it stand out from your newsletter, and it’s a form of personalised marketing that can really pay off.