drip campaign

How to Create Your First Email Drip Campaign

Drip email campaigns are a great way to engage with prospective, current, and past customers.

Hi, I’m Dr. Jennifer Dapko. I teach a variety of marketing courses and also help companies boost their brand and grow their digital presence. Let’s dive in and talk about drip campaign basics.

What does “drip campaign” mean?

Think of a drip campaign as a means of “dripping” email content to a particular audience at certain intervals. You must decide who your audience will be, what information they would find helpful, and how frequently they would be willing to receive your emails before unsubscribing, or even worse, flagging your emails as spam.

Drip campaigns are automated. They alleviate some of the time constraints of writing and sending emails one at a time. Very few of us actually have time for that.

Each drip campaign includes a series of emails. The first email in the series is triggered by an action you define. For example, you may want to engage leads after they have downloaded a free guide from your website.

In a drip email campaign, the series of emails is automated and delivered based on timing you set. For example, for those who download your free guide you may decide to send the first email right away or the next day or even next week, depending on your goal for the drip campaign. So let’s talk about goals for a drip campaign.

What goals should I set for an email drip campaign?

The first step to creating an email drip campaign is to determine your goal. This includes identifying an audience and what you hope they will do as a result of reading your dripped emails.

  • Moving prospects from the top of the sales funnel toward the bottom, in other words, closer to making a purchase from you.
  • Nurturing current customers to drive engagement within your community or to create loyal customers and brand advocates.
  • Stimulating repeat purchase behaviors or to generate referrals from past customers.

Once you have your goal in mind, it’s time to dig in to defining your audience so that you can write compelling and helpful content.

Who is my drip campaign audience and what should I write in drip campaign?

You will have some basic idea of who you will send emails to once you have identified your goals: prospects, current customers, or past customers. You’ll want to get more specific by creating a persona for this audience. A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal prospect, current customer, or past customer. At a minimum you will want to identify what content would be helpful to them in the context of the products or services your company provides.

The key is to be helpful:

  • For prospects, what information would they find helpful to learn about the problem they are facing and how your company, product or service can solve it?
  • For customers, what information would they find helpful to use your product or service in better or new and innovative ways?
  • For past customers, what information would they find helpful to buy again from you?

Sending emails that are overly sales-y and aggressive, or lacking relevant information to them, will guarantee your drip campaign emails a spot in their junk or spam folder.

Once you’ve got a clear picture of your goal, audience, and the content they want, it’s time to build your campaign!

How should I build a drip email campaign?

Now that you’ve identified the goal, target audience, and the types of content that will be helpful to your audience, the next step is to build your drip campaign. You’ll need to consider the trigger, how many emails your drip campaign will include and the timing of each email. All of these will depend on your goal and your audience.

1. Create Your Email Drip Campaign Trigger

Let’s say you’re looking to convert leads into customers by way of a downloadable free industry guide available on your website. While the guide is free, you’ll want to create this as gated content in which you ask for at least an email address in return for your helpful guide. Your drip campaign “trigger” will be the email address. Every time someone gives you their email address, then it will trigger the drip campaign to begin for that individual.

2. Create Your Email List and Drip Campaign Emails

The email address feeds into your email management system, such as MailChimp, where you can set up a list just for these email addresses. You could call it, “Free Guide Email Drip Campaign.” Once you have the list set up, you can then create your drip campaign. This includes writing each email and putting them into a logical sequence. The number of emails you include in your campaign can be as many as you think makes sense for your goal and for the persona you’re sending to. Generally, a campaign consists of at least three dripped emails.

3. Set Up Your Timing

You’ll also want to consider the timing of the emails, meaning, when should the first email go out after the persona has set off the trigger? Immediately, the next day? You’ll also want to set the timing for all subsequent emails in your drip campaign. If you have a sequence of 5 emails, should they go out one per day, one per week, one per month? Again, this really depends on your goals. You also want to keep in mind how tolerant your audience will be to receiving daily versus weekly or monthly emails.

What are the steps to a drip campaign?

Below are some key steps to starting a drip email campaign:

  1. Set your goal.
  2. Identify your audience.
  3. Identify relevant and helpful content for your audience.
  4. Create a trigger that will start the drip campaign, for example your audience downloading a free guide from your website.
  5. Choose an email management system, such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, and create a list for the emails from your trigger. You’ll need to connect the website trigger to your email management system so that the trigger emails automatically get dumped into your list.
  6. Create each email in your campaign in MailChimp (or equivalent).
  7. Set timing for each email to auto-send.
  8. Track opens, unsubscribes, and spam counts to identify room for improvement in your campaign.

Need help setting up an email drip campaign?

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