Email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective outreach methods available for any business. From large clothing outlets to local bakeries, email marketing has the power to connect with new and current customers for a fraction of what other marketing approaches cost. A drip email campaign functions differently from sending the same message to everyone though. This form of email marketing functions based on how a message recipient interacts with the email. A properly crafted and executed drip campaign can prove especially beneficial. However, before such an advertising approach can begin, it’s essential to understand the anatomy of the perfect drip email campaign and how it can improve visitor engagement.
What is a Drip Campaign?
Before diving into specific concepts on how to create the perfect drip email campaign, it’s essential to understand the basics of it. As demonstrated by the graphic below (Zapier, 2018), a drip email campaign begins just as any other would: with a single sent email. For a traditional email marketing campaign, it begins and ends with this first message. However, the purpose of a drip campaign is to increase the likelihood of a recipient opening and interacting with the content provided in the email. If the receiver of the email opens the initial message, they are provided with a link to a complimentary eBook (as an example). Should they follow through with downloading the eBook the individual will then receive a product demo? If they did not take advantage of the eBook download, another email goes out with a video overview. Should the individual watch the video overview, another email will go out with the eBook and then finally the product demo email.
If the recipient of the first email doesn’t open it, the second “drip” is an email containing the video overview. If they still do not open or respond to the email, the drip ends, and they are removed from the email list (or moved to another list). If they do open and watch the video overview the next drip is the eBook, which follows with the final drip of the product demo.
According to Kissmetrics (2018), when producing a drip email campaign, every message, from the initial email to the last, should take advantage of personalization whenever possible. This helps prevent the email from appearing generic and mass sent. Ideally, this should include a recipient’s name, job title, the previous engagement (whether through email correspondence or on the website) and any other relevant information to help connect the client (or potential client) with the business.
Personalization does take longer to craft, but the additional few moments it takes to customize an email significantly boosts an email’s performance, no matter the stage within a drip campaign. As the Kissmetrics (2018) graph indicates, a personalized email is opened 41.2 percent of the time. In comparison, a standard, non-personalized email receives an open rate of 11.7 percent. The click-through rate jumps from 21.3 percent for a standard email to 26.2 percent for a personalized message. The average click rate also moves from 2.5 to 10.8 percent. Despite the additional length of time to produce these kinds of messages, the anatomy of the perfect drip email campaign relies on personalization.
The Welcome Email
Every drip campaign begins with an initial email. This first email provides a welcome to the recipient. Whether they downloaded a trial version of software, signed up for a newsletter or made a purchase for the first time, this first email must provide a strong welcome, but it also must offer several different points.
According to Ad Espresso by Hootsuite (2016), the first email should not just welcome the recipient, but go over the most important benefits (of a product, website or working with a company). The goal here is to increase engagement with the individual and to promote them into following an embedded link inside of the email. This might be an eBook, or to upgrade a software trial version to the full, paid version.
The most pivotal point in the welcome email is to end with a strong and specific call to action. This call to action nudges the recipient of the email closer to the end goal (convert into a customer). As the example from Grammarly below indicates, it concludes its welcome email with a simple tool designed to demonstrate the power of using Grammarly on text. It shows off how the product can help address a problem the potential customer is running into.
The welcome email for businesses will always vary, depending on what the end goal of the drip campaign is. According to Click Back (2017), there are several different campaign targets to build a drip email campaign around. These can be broken down into six general campaigns. Drips to keep a lead engaged, drips to educate a consumer and to help propel them to their next purchase, drips to help re-engage the lead that may have gone cold, competitive drips that highlight why a company is better than the competition, promotional drips to help build awareness and excitement about a particular product, and training drips to educate customers on how to use a product or service they recently purchased.
Tracking how a customer interacts, not only with an email, but the company website, is crucial. One of the major benefits of placing cookies onto a user’s computer (or having a potential customer create an account in order to checkout) is the ability to monitor when a customer abandons their shopping cart. Drip email campaigns do not always need to center around a “Welcome.” It can also revolve around an abandoned shopping cart. As Kissmetrics (2018) points out, 67 percent of all eCommerce shopping carts end up abandoned. That number jumps to 81 percent of travel booking services. In order to help bring back customers who abandon their shopping cart, companies such as Expedia send out behavioral based drip emails in order to not only bring up the abandoned purchase but to also highlight additional benefits and features, should they decide to return and complete the original purchase.
Tracking begins well before a potential customer makes an initial purchase and continues well after they have left the website. This way, a company can better craft a drip campaign specifically tailored for the individual. In these campaigns, it is important to upscale the original offer. As the Expedia example indicates, instead of just booking the original hotel, the service provides additional savings by booking flight and hotel services together, while still guaranteeing the best price. This step in the perfect drip email campaign is all about enticing a customer to return to the website and complete a purchase.
This kind of campaign doesn’t only focus on travel. If a customer abandons their shopping cart, a drip campaign can begin, sending a reminder to the potential customer of the product(s) they looked at and had in the shopping cart. This initial email serves as the “Welcome” email. Should they fail to respond to the welcome email, the tracking step comes in and the company may decide to sweeten the deal in order to entice the customer into coming back. As the general reminder of the product didn’t work, offering free upgrades, shipping or added products may do just that.
In every single email of the perfect drip campaign, it is important to conclude with a clear call to action.
Email marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. According to Click Back (2017), while splitting email lists into smaller sectors and categories helps with content customization, it’s still important to test different emails results with list recipients. This is done with the help of A/B testing. A/B testing allows a business to randomly send out different emails while monitoring results. By continually testing these variances within a drip campaign, it makes it easier to craft content with a higher opening, click through and interaction rate. The data collected from these tests will make it that much easier to craft future campaigns with a higher rate of return.
Design for Mobile Access
Drip emails should consist of a singular purpose. Each subsequent message sent along the campaign must connect to this original purpose. Is it to produce a new lead? Bring back a potential customer? Finish off an abandoned sale? Whatever it is, every email should drive this point home. By remaining focused on a singular idea, it helps keep the email simple. It reduces overtly wordy messages and maintain the reader’s attention, while increasing the level of whitespace within the message. It also allows for proper formatting, so the message can be viewed on a mobile device.
One of the biggest mistakes a drip email campaign runs into is not using proper mobile formatting. According to Finances Online, 48 percent of all emails are opened through a mobile device and this number is growing. This number jumps up to 64 percent when asked if the household’s decision-makers read emails on their mobile device. Only 11 percent of email templates are optimized for mobile viewing. This results in a reduction of interaction with an email. By formatting and optimizing the drip campaign to be viewed on a mobile device, it increases the chance of a recipient opening the message (and potentially following through with the included call to action).
Timing is Critical
It’s far too easy to jump in and begin sending new customers emails right off the bat. However, this bombardment of emails is not the best practice for an effective email marketing campaign. In fact, a drip marketing method heavily relies on timing to prove successful. If a recipient receives a large number of emails in a short period of time, they may unsubscribe or send the emails automatically to the spam folder simply because it feels like they are, in fact, being spammed.
According to Delivra (2018), the length of time a company needs to wait for optimal success depends on the kind of email campaign they run. If it’s a welcome campaign, drips should be spaced out to around a week apart. For example, after the first email, the company should wait a week, then send out an email featuring the latest blog, wait a week, then send the next message based on whether the individual interacted with the last email. If the email campaign is designed around a free trial, wait time should sit at around two days. This is because free trials are generally time sensitive and only last a certain length of time.
Other examples from Delivra includes re-engagement campaigns (wait five days between emails) and membership renewal campaigns (wait three days).
Does Drip Marketing Actually Deliver Results
With so many forms of marketing available, is spending time on a drip campaign worth it? From adding personalization to messages and using proper formatting, is it something a business should really focus on and does having the perfect drip email campaign actually improve visitor engagement? According to Pinney Insurance (2016), it absolutely works and delivers desired results. In fact, sales revenue increased by an average of 34 percent by companies that used a drip email campaign. 80 percent of these companies saw an increase in leads, while 77 percent of the companies saw an increase in conversion rates (and nearly 152 percent higher click-through rate as compared to the standard marketing email).
Drip email campaigns make it possible to fully engage with a potential or current customer. While there are varying tactics for a successful campaign, it’s important to focus on a singular end goal. With the end goal in mind, the drip campaign can begin to form. By taking advantage of personalization, determine the format of the email campaign and properly optimize each message for mobile viewing. By following these steps, it is possible to formulate the perfect drip email campaign to improve visitor engagement while reaching for the desired goal in mind.
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