Drip campaigns: a comprehensive guide

Every time you download an ebook, sign up for a product, register for a webinar, or do similar actions, you receive an email. These emails are triggered emails or drip campaigns that have been set up to send the right message at the right time. 

With this guide, let’s understand how drip campaigns work and how you can use them:

Email Automation book

What is a drip campaign? 

A drip campaign is a sequence of automated emails sent at specific time intervals based on your user's actions. Also known as lifecycle emails, email automation, autoresponders, drip campaigns reduce your manual effort while communicating with your contacts.  

One classic example is the email that you send when a website visitor downloads an eBook or a whitepaper. You send them an email with a PDF/link to the eBook, as soon as they leave their information. 3 days later, you can also set up an email with other related resources they might want to download. Eventually, you can send them an email to engage them more or even convert them. All the emails are sent out automatically, based on triggers. 

With drip campaigns, you can communicate the right thing at the right time, striking the iron while it’s hot.

When can you use drip campaigns?

Drip campaigns can help you drive marketing goals at a lot of different stages of a customers’ lifecycle. Anything that can be automated, should be automated. Automation makes operations more effective, and you can focus on more creative, analytical, or experimental tasks. These are instances when you should use drip campaigns:

Welcome new users

Send a friendly welcome email to your signups or subscribers the moment they come into your system. 74% of subscribers expect a welcome email immediately, and welcome emails even get 5x more opens than an average email. Welcome emails are a great way to introduce yourself and set a context for your subscribers.

Source: Airtable

Nurture your leads 

It’s hard to find a lead that’s ready to buy right away. You need to guide them to try your website/product and understand the value proposition. You must educate your users about the key features, and handhold them through the next steps. It could mean showing them video tutorials, sharing case studies, free trials, and so on.
Product onboarding emails are a great example of nurturing drip campaigns. You should send one which includes videos, support articles, and everything that can help the user get started.

Source: Platforma 2

Drive engagement

Engagement is a good indicator to understand users' interest, how likely the user is to convert into a customer, or if they’re on the path to churn. Drip emails let you take proactive steps to keep your subscribers engaged and to bring back inactive users. Periodic newsletters, product updates, blogs, etc., are great ways to keep subscribers interested.

You can trigger a drip campaign if a user hasn’t made any action, prompting them to go back and try the product. Send them emails with features and use cases.

Source: Dropbox Paper

Convert cart abandonments 

Abandoned carts are fairly common across industries because people are either just browsing or not ready to buy yet. Purchase decisions take time and research. Triggering an abandoned cart email drip can help you push your users to conversion. Remind them that their items are still in the cart or create a sense of urgency with a limited period discount.

Source: Saatchi Art

Push for renewals

All your users who are on paid subscriptions can’t be sent manual emails. You can leverage drip campaigns to push for renewals. Subscriptions are either set to be auto-renewed or renewed manually.

For auto-renewals, it’s a good practice to inform your customers beforehand. Do this with a drip campaign triggered a couple of days before the renewal is due. Include details on the charges and the payment method that will be used. Follow this with a confirmation once the payment is done.

For manual renewals, you can set a drip campaign to remind customers about the expiry of the subscription. Send them a couple of emails with clear call-to-actions to renew. Send them a confirmation with gratitude when they make the payment.

Send the final email for unsubscribers/deactivation

It’s always worth a shot reaching out to the contacts who are unsubscribing from your email list. While it means they don’t want to hear from you, you must trigger a final email to ask what went wrong and what you can change. This feedback will help you reduce unsubscribes/cancellations in the future as well.

Source: Hulu

Drip campaigns come in handy across all stages of the marketing funnel. Now that we know what all you can set up, let’s understand what goes into running drip marketing campaigns.

Setting up a drip marketing campaign

For a better way to function operationally, it’s imperative that you set up drip campaigns. You need to go through an entire process to craft a drip campaign that’s clear, measuring, and engaging. This requires careful planning. Here’s a stepwise approach on how to do it right.

Identify a goal

Every drip campaign you set needs to have a goal. Think about what action you want your recipients to take by the end of the drip emails. Do you want to:

  • Increase product awareness

  • Collect customer feedback 

  • Push for renewals 

  • Amplify revenue through cross-selling/upselling

  • Improve product usage among dormant users

While you determine your goals, make sure to be very specific. Your goals need to be measurable.

Know your audience

Now that you know your goal, you need to ensure they are aligned with your target audience. The drip campaign needs to reach the right people to drive actions for your specific goals. You need to understand who enters the drip campaign list and why. Ask yourself questions to segment users better.

You can also dive into granular segments using demographics, behavioral data, email engagement, and other factors.

Plan your campaign

Before you start writing, you need to create an actionable workflow for your drip campaign.

  • Determine the triggers
    Triggers define how users will enter your workflow. They are essentially a set of conditions that a user needs to meet for the drip campaign to be sent to them.

  • Decide the number of touchpoints
    The email schedule should be such that the emails are neither too frequent nor too spaced out. You need to send the right number of emails. On average, you can have 4-7 emails in a drip campaign, spaced out across a month.

  • Metrics to measure conversion
    Your campaign could be oriented to drive acquisition, engagement, or conversions. You should set measurable metrics that quantify these goals like time-spent, purchases, renewals, clicks, etc.

Create engaging content

Now that you have everything ironed out, you can get to writing the content. What you write in the emails and how you present it matters a lot. Each email should carry context from the previous ones while establishing its own. You need to ensure that every email goes with a call-to-action, that nudges the recipient towards your goal. Make your drip campaigns personalized to ensure that your audience is engaged.

Run the campaign

Once you have figured out these details, you are ready to start the campaign. Always measure, iterate, and repeat.

Your campaign can be up and ready, but you need to learn more about your email performance. Let’s try and understand how users interact with your emails, and how successful your drip campaigns are.

How to measure the success of a drip campaign?

To analyze if your email drips are successful, you must regularly check up on the metrics you identified earlier. You can use a two-pronged approach.

Understand your email performance

Email performance includes several traditional metrics and reports to identify issues and opportunities from one email campaign to the next. The most commonly tracked email metrics are - open rate, click rate, and unsubscribe rate. These metrics are essential to understand if you need to resend an email, or tweak your content, or not send the email at all. 

Track user interactions using UTMs

A reliable and simple strategy to monitor user interaction is to set Urchin traffic monitoring parameters (UTMs). They’re a small string of text attached to the URL, which is useful in tracking user actions while stitching them to your campaign analytics dashboard. You can place multiple UTMs in your email for analyzing the performance of specific components like links, coupon codes, CTAs, etc.

Some examples of drip campaigns by industry

Drip campaigns are relevant to every industry and used by businesses of all sizes. The needs and challenges of the customers, however, may vary. Understanding your customers is crucial to the success of your drip campaign. The industries which use this the most though are eCommerce, real estate, and blogging, so here are some examples of where they use drip campaigns.

Drip campaigns for eCommerce

Most website visitors never come back unless you give them a reason to. It’s especially valid for eCommerce businesses. Drip campaigns can be powerful since they help you target a niche audience with relevant messaging. Some campaigns that they run are: 

  • Cart abandonment

  • Repeat purchase reminders

  • Welcome series

  • upselling/cross-selling

  • Win-back

  • Rewards campaign

All these emails have the potential to improve your customer retention and satisfaction substantially. 

Drip campaigns for real estate

Drip emails create a significant impact on real estate businesses - both on the buyer and seller side. They make it easy for them to follow-up and streamline regular operational tasks. A few examples are: 

  • Welcome emails

  • Reactivation campaign for dormant leads

  • Review request on a successful purchase

  • Recommendation based on specific searches.

Drip campaigns for blogging

Bloggers often have to do it all - from production to publishing, and promotion. With automation, a lot is taken off their plate. Bloggers can set up several useful drip workflows that keep their readers coming back to them. Here are some examples: 

  • Welcome new subscribers 

  • Re-engagement campaigns

  • Roundup emails for active readers

  • Newsletters


Drip email campaigns are a great way to take your subscribers on a journey with minimal human effort. You can tailor your campaigns to various marketing needs and meet your users wherever they are in the funnel. Now that you know everything about getting started with drip campaigns, it’s time to develop your own drip marketing ideas and create a campaign relevant to your audience and brand.