A smiling young woman sits at a wooden table and types on a laptop. She's wearing glasses and a pink-and-light-blue plaid shirt over a light blue t-shirt. In the background is a kitchen with white cabinets.
Emails from drip campaigns are more effective than some people may think, with conversion rates of up to 50%. — Getty Images/valentinrussanov

A drip campaign is a type of email marketing campaign. It refers to a series of automated emails sent to someone who took a specific action on your website. Drip campaigns are a good way to build a relationship with potential customers and boost brand awareness. However, drip campaigns can also go awry: Send too many emails, and your customers might find your outreach annoying. Here’s what to know about setting up a successful drip email campaign.

[Read more: Keep It Quirky: 5 Small Business Owners Share Their Best Email Marketing Tips]

How does a drip campaign work?

Drip campaigns come in many sizes and forms. These campaigns are highly customizable according to your business goals. Essentially, a drip campaign is just a series of emails sent out on a schedule that can change depending on what action the recipient takes when the message lands in their inbox.

Many marketing teams launch drip campaigns in response to something a visitor does on the business website. Actions that can trigger a drip campaign include:

  • Placing an order.
  • Signing up for a newsletter.
  • Registering for a webinar.
  • Abandoning a shopping cart.
  • Joining a loyalty program.
  • Signing up for a product demo.

Drip campaigns are designed to give someone the right information at the right time to motivate action. “If someone just subscribed to your blog newsletter, for example, a drip campaign could send a welcome email right away with another email two days later that shows off some of your most-read content,” wrote Zapier. “Or if a potential customer has been hovering around your ‘premium upgrade’ page for a few weeks but hasn't yet pulled the trigger, a drip campaign could send them an email with five reasons to purchase the premium plan.”

Drip campaigns are automated, making it easy to connect with people without having to manually reach out. Automation is just one of the many benefits of setting up this type of communication.

Many marketing teams launch drip campaigns in response to something a visitor does on the business website.

What are the benefits of a drip campaign?

Drip campaigns can be launched for very specific purposes, or they can be used to simply keep your brand top of mind. The flexibility of these series is what makes them attractive to business owners. Drip marketing enables your business to connect with customers without much manual effort from your sales and marketing teams.

And drip campaigns—when set up properly—work. Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to engage with customers. According to Campaign Monitor, B2C companies that use automated emails see conversion rates increase by as much as 50%.

Best practices for running a drip campaign

First, figure out the goal of your drip campaign. These email series can serve many purposes: welcoming new customers, onboarding, prompting someone to revisit their cart, lead nurturing, and more. Define what success will look like by the end of your drip campaign. Are you hoping to boost sales, get people to sign up for a webinar, or increase engagement with your content?

Next, determine the specific action or the date that your drip campaign will be based on. Some companies use a drip campaign for seasonal promotions, such as Black Friday sales. In those scenarios, your email campaign would be triggered by a certain deadline, rather than an action someone has taken on your website.

Most experts recommend limiting your email series to four to 11 emails, depending on whether you’re running a B2C or B2B campaign. Space your emails between four and 14 days apart to keep the information fresh and relevant — and to avoid spamming your email list.

[Read more: 6 Essential Steps to Creating an Effective Email Marketing Campaign]

Finally, make sure your emails are informative and not too repetitive. Consider that someone might open one email out of five, but that email might not be the first email they receive. Provide enough context so that someone can understand the point of your campaign without having to follow along the whole way through. And include a call to action in each message.

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