Skip to main content ↓

The Comprehensive Guide to Drip Email Campaigns

a row of pink envelopes are lined up in a diagonal pattern

Research shows that for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you get back $4, with drip email campaigns playing a huge role.

But to get such mouthwatering ROIs, you must understand the types of email campaigns that help move your marketing needle up. One such campaign is called a drip email campaign.

What is an email drip campaign?

Also known as a drip sequence, a drip email campaign is an automated email marketing strategy designed to deliver several emails to a subscriber over a specific period. The emails are triggered by an event or action performed by the customer and are set to go out at predetermined intervals.

example drip campaign sequence infographic

For example, if a person subscribes to your blog, your drip campaign will include sending them a welcome email almost immediately. A day or two later, that subscriber will be sent another email highlighting some of your most popular blog posts. And if you have a course, your third email could be an introduction to that course.

The beauty of email drip campaigns is that they enable you to provide your subscribers with the exact information they need at the right time. And no matter when a person joins your email list (or a particular segment), everyone receives the exact same sequence.

Connect with subscribers right from your CRM

Catch your buyers’ attention at every stage of the funnel with Nutshell Campaigns—an email marketing solution that’s built right into your CRM.


an envelope with a letter in it that says to audience

Why use drip email campaigns?

So why should you bother with drip email campaigns?

Simple. Drip campaigns can help you achieve your marketing and revenue goals. A few advantages of drip campaigns are:

Boost engagement

One of the biggest advantages you get from drip email campaigns is that they help boost engagement. Especially if a prospect has just subscribed to your email list, this aspect is very important.

That’s because research shows that it takes about eight touchpoints to convert a prospect into a customer. And a drip campaign gives you a lot of opportunities to engage with your prospects.

Lead nurturing

Another advantage of drip campaigns is that they are the perfect tool for nurturing your leads. Business is all about managing customer relationships. Sadly, however, you can’t handhold each customer as you take them down your sales funnel.

But with a drip email campaign, you can come close.

That’s because a drip campaign allows you to communicate with each lead in a personalized way, giving the impression that you’re with your lead at each step of the customer journey.

This results in higher chances of your leads converting into customers.

And thanks to technology, the whole buyer’s journey can be completed online, especially since you and your clients can sign your documents electronically.

Drive revenue

Your main business goal is to generate revenue. And drip emails are one of the best tools to do this, thanks to their being automated.

Yes, that’s important as research shows that automated emails drive about 75% of the revenue of all email marketing campaigns. Automated emails are so effective because they enable you to send targeted and personalized messages to each of your subscribers.

The result, of course, is that you enjoy higher open and transaction rates.

Build strong customer relationships

Data shows that it costs 5x more to get a new customer than to retain an old one. This means building strong relationships with your customers should be one of your priorities if you’re to grow a successful business. You must increase your customer retention rates.

And drip email campaigns help you build meaningful relationships with your customers.

The more your customers engage with your email content, the more they’ll value you as an authority and trusted resource in your field. For this to happen, you must:

  • Create valuable content
  • Interact with your readers regularly

Well executed, your drip marketing will help you grow a tribe of loyal customers in no time. Customers who will not just be repeat buyers but will also be brand ambassadors.


Want to write sales emails that convert?

Download our Complete Guide to Writing MUCH Better Sales Emails to access our best sales email tips and see example templates that really work.


the complete guide to writing much better sales emails by the Sell to Win team

How to design email drip sequences that work

Despite newer forms of marketing (like SMS marketing), drip email marketing still gives one of the best ROIs.

And while implementing a drip email campaign may seem to be a daunting task, it isn’t. But thanks to automation software like email marketing software or CRMs, they are quite easy to pull off.

So, let’s get our hands dirty and design a drip email campaign that works.

Identify your target audience

For your drip email campaign to be successful, you must identify who you’re sending it to.

Knowing your target audience is crucial as it will help you craft personalized emails that move them to take action. It also helps you know what triggers will work.

Once you’ve identified your target audience, create a segment for them. Segmentation will ensure that only the right subscribers on your email list get the message for the objectives you have for the drip campaign.

And this brings us to the next stage of designing an effective campaign—defining your objectives.

Define your objectives

When designing your drip campaign, you must define your objectives right from the start. You must determine:

  • What you want to achieve. Why are you sending out the drip campaign? Is it for lead generation, upselling, or re-activating inactive users?
  • Who (which segment) will receive the emails. You can use drip emails on any segment in your database. From new subscribers to your most faithful subscribers, drip campaigns can help you achieve any business goal with any segment.
  • How you are going to measure performance. The good thing about email marketing is that tracking progress and performance is easy.

Once you’ve defined your objectives, the next important step in designing an effective drip marketing campaign is to set your KPIs.

Determine the specific action you want subscribers to take

The purpose of a drip email campaign is to help your prospects move along the customer journey. For that to happen, they have to take specific actions.

example drip campaign email with specific CTA of restart subscription

Each email in your series must nudge your subscribers along their journey by having a call-to-action (CTA) that asks them to take an action that moves them down your funnel.

Examples of actions your subscribers can take can include:

  • Downloading a report
  • Redeeming a coupon
  • Watching a video
  • Making a purchase

The actions you want your subscribers to take must be tied to your business goals. But for your subscriber to make a move, you must tie a benefit to the action you want them to take.

Also, the actions your subscribers take (or don’t take) are used as the trigger for the next email in the campaign.

Decide how many emails to use

How many emails should be in your drip campaign?

How should you space them out?

These are important questions whose answers will while the answers are dependent on:

  • Your business model
  • The type of campaign and its objectives
  • The complexity of the information you need to convey
  • The length of your buyer journey

The team at GetResponse conducted a study to help guide marketers to determine how many emails they should include in their campaigns. Interestingly, the research revealed that an increase in the number of emails in an autoresponder sequence resulted in a reduction in engagement.

Does this mean shorter campaigns work best?

Not at all.

It all depends on your business type. However, there are a few guidelines to help you hit the sweet spot regarding the number of emails in your sequence and the intervals. Here are a few to get you started:

  • How much content do you need to move a subscriber from one end of the funnel to the other?
  • Break up your content into small easy-to-digest-chunks
  • Assign relevant content to each stage of your customer journey

To find the sweet spot, you’ll have to experiment with a few drip sequences. A/B test by sending a few sequences with a different number of emails to small portions of your email list. While the results may not be completely accurate empirically, the sequence with the best engagement is the one you should send to the rest of your list.

Set your KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the metrics you’ll use to measure your campaigns’ success. They are determined by your objectives and can include:

  • Open rate
  • Clickthrough rate
  • Unsubscribes over time
  • Conversion rate over time
  • Time to customer conversion
  • Revenue generated

The key to running an effective drip campaign is to know what you want to achieve and how you’re going to measure success.

Related: The 6 Most Important Email Marketing Metrics (And What They Really Mean.)

Automate your drip sequences

There are a lot of moving parts in a drip campaign. Manually keeping tabs on all of them is next to impossible.

That’s why you must automate your email campaigns.

Email automation software enables you to create drip campaign workflows that allow you to easily:

  • Set your triggers
  • Load your email content
  • Set delivery intervals

Automating your campaigns increases your efficiency, saves you time, and even increases your campaign’s profitability.

Monitor and evaluate your performance

Once your campaign is running, you must monitor how your subscribers respond to your emails. More importantly, you must evaluate whether your campaign is performing well or not.

This is where your KPIs come into play.

Using your automation software’s analytics dashboard (or third-party analytics tools), you can track your KPIs and use them to gauge whether or not your drip marketing campaign is performing well.

Keeping track of your KPIs will also help give you the agility to make changes in the parts of your campaign that seem to be underperforming.

For example, if the bounce rates are high in a particular email, you can fine-tune that email’s content to increase its effectiveness.

At the end of it all, the data you gather will also help you create more effective iterations of your drip campaign.

Get an easy-to-use CRM that’s intuitive yet powerful

Nutshell is the customizable, all-in-one CRM and marketing software that helps B2B teams close more deals.

Try it for yourself with a 14-day trial — no credit card required!

Start My Free Trial

an illustration of a man holding a puzzle piece and a laptop

3 drip email campaign types you need to be sending

You can use several types of drip campaigns in your email marketing to move your business forward. Here are some of the top ones:

Welcome emails

The welcome email is probably one of the most critical types of drip email campaigns you can send.

example drip campaign welcome email from geek

This is because its primary purposes are to establish a relationship with your customer and foster brand awareness. Because of this, you just have to nail it.

So how do you design an effective welcome email sequence?

First, you must make sure that the first email is sent out immediately after a trigger is set off. In most cases, the trigger is submitting a form on your landing page or website.

Next, make sure that subsequent emails are sent out at two or three-day intervals. As for the number of emails in a welcome email sequence, 3-4 should do the job.

Executed well, this type of drip campaign will help you gain your subscribers’ trust, ensuring they open and read other emails you’ll send.

Lead nurture campaigns

Another drip email campaign type you should have in your email marketing toolbox is a lead nurture campaign. This is an email sequence designed to take a lead from the interest stage of your funnel to being a paying customer.

In short, it’s an email sequence that takes your lead from one end of the buyer’s journey to the other.

For an effective lead nurture campaign, use a relevant trigger like downloading a resource. This shows that the subscriber is interested in your solution.

As for the timing and number of emails, this largely depends on your industry, product, and length of your sales cycle. You’ll have to know your industry’s benchmarks to guide you.

However, for your lead nurturing email campaign to be effective, make sure you’re giving your subscribers enough valuable information to help them make an informed decision.

Onboarding emails

Onboarding emails are an essential type of email because they help you achieve two crucial business goals:

  • Build relationships with your customers
  • Educate your customers on how to get the best out of your product/service
example drip campaign onboarding email from ellevest

Triggers for this type of drip campaign can be signing up for a service, purchasing a product, or upgrading a subscription. The first email must be sent immediately and is usually in the form of a “Thank You” email. The rest of the emails in the sequence can be sent 2-3 days apart.

As for the number of emails, that depends on industry/product, but experts recommend 3-6 emails. A great touch would be to make the last email in the sequence a feedback email.

Other drip campaign types you can leverage include:

  • Promotional sequences
  • Cart abandonment emails
  • New product launches
  • Email courses
  • Re-engagement campaigns

Drip email campaigns are a necessity for any business. From trust-building to revenue generation, you can use one type of drip campaign or another to achieve your business goals.

3 drip campaign best practices you must follow

What a journey!

I’m sure you’re rearing to go and implement some of the things you’ve gleaned from this post. Before you run off to execute your next email drip campaign, here are a few best practices you need to follow. These will ensure that your chances of success are higher.

Understand your buyer journey

This is the process you take a person from the moment they subscribe till they make a purchase. Understanding the steps involved will help you know exactly where your customer is, where they need to go, and how to get them there.

Segment and personalize

For your drip email campaign to be effective, you must send personalized emails. And the only way to do this is by segmenting your email list. Doing this helps you find common traits among your subscribers that you can leverage to create personalized email content.

Design a smooth workflow

A workflow is the blueprint you use to determine which emails to send and when. If the workflow doesn’t offer a positive user experience (UX), the chances of losing some subscribers along the way are high.

Above and beyond these three, make sure to follow general email marketing best practices like using responsive templates, crafting catchy subject lines, and A/B testing.

Following these best practices will ensure that your drip email campaigns always hit their intended targets. Of course, you’ll have to tailor your email campaigns to suit your business model.

Drip email campaigns: The lifeblood of your email marketing

No matter your industry or business model, email drip sequences should be a big part of your marketing strategy.

Particularly in the digital age we’re living in, you just can’t do without them. They are the perfect tool for:

So yes.

You do need to run email drip campaigns. They’re the lifeblood of your email marketing.

Thanks to Diana Akhmetianova on Unsplash for the wonderful envelope photograph.

Try Nutshell free for 14 days!



an illustration of a website with a Nutshell Pro logo
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Join 30,000+ other sales and marketing professionals. Subscribe to our Sell to Win newsletter!