What are Drip Campaigns? Examples, Best Practices

Written by
Skirmantas Venckus
Mar 31, 2022
12 min read

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for decades or just returned from Mars, it would be safe to assume that you’ve heard the term “Drip Campaigns” being tossed around quite a bit. Whether you’re a realtor or an ecommerce store owner, drip campaigns are an integral part of any business’s email marketing strategy.

In this easy-to-read article, we’ll try to help you understand everything there is to learn about drip campaigns—what a drip campaign is, the most common cases for automated drip campaigns (how everyone else is doing it), and recommended best practices (how you can implement the same for your business too).

What are drip campaigns anyways?

Also referred to as an autoresponder at times, by definition, a drip campaign is an automated email sequence. 

This mailing sequence can be configured according to either a specific timeline (meaning date and time) or user action (say, someone subscribed to your newsletter).

Every email that’s part of a drip sequence is pre-written and set up inside your email marketing tool with an input trigger mechanism. Once this condition is met, the email sequence is activated.

And even though they’re 100% automated, drip email campaigns can be highly personalized, so the prospect reading the email feels like it was written just for them.

The benefits of drip campaigns—why are they important?

Drip marketing campaigns don’t just send out emails to your prospects and customers; their true power lies in how they are configured to fire at the right time. When done right, drip campaigns provide the following benefits to businesses:

  • Boost engagement.
  • Enhance brand awareness, likeability, and loyalty.
  • Drive higher conversions through powerful automation.
  • Increase sales and revenue.
  • Automate lead nurturing that saves time, effort, and workforce resources.
  • Lower customer churn rate.
  • Enable ecommerce businesses to recover lost revenue through abandoned cart sequences.
  • Help maintain your email list hygiene by ensuring that every subscriber, whether active or otherwise, is handled accordingly.

All in all, drip campaign sequences allow you to communicate efficiently and effectively with your subscribers in a very timely and relevant fashion.

When you spend thousands of dollars on advertising to catch your prospect’s attention on their LinkedIn or Facebook feed, it’s drip campaigns that will do the heavy lifting for you at a fraction of the cost.

Drip campaign examples and use cases

The most common types of drip campaigns are the ones described below. 

1. Automated Welcome Sequence

Welcome emails are a great way to introduce your business and the best side of what you do for new subscribers. 

If you promised a freebie or a resource, this is the time to keep your word, otherwise you risk losing the trust you’ve taken so much effort to build up using the copy of the landing page.

The idea is to create an excellent first impression by sending out not just one but a series of three to seven emails over several days.

A welcome email is an excellent way for you to set up subscriber expectations in terms of future email communications.

Want an unfair competitive advantage? Learn how to design and deliver a compelling welcome email series to new subscribers promptly.

Here is an example of a Welcome email done right by Slack.

Welcome email example

2. Onboarding Sequence

An onboarding email sequence is very similar to a welcome sequence in that you want to make a new user feel at home after signing up for your product or service.

The key difference, though, here is that instead of just “showing them around,” you take them through a personalized experience of your product or service.

For example, a SaaS company that offers a free trial account for a limited time may want to ensure all trial users have a solid run of the software and its features before asking about a paid subscription.

The overall idea is to walk them step by step through a hands-on experience of your product or service features while explaining to them the best ways to get the most out of it.

Generally, all of your onboarding emails will be non-salesy, to the point, and with a clear call to action (CTA).

Your onboarding emails will help your subscribers learn about anything important related to your company or product. They will also explain how you stand out from competitors in the market and can provide a way for the subscriber to contact you for help or assistance.

If you want to learn who you’re going up against in organic and paid search, try using SE Ranking’s Competitive Research tool.

Who are your closest rivals and how do they position themselves in search? It's time to find out.

Below is an example of an Onboarding email by the famous WordPress page builder software, Elementor.

Onboarding email example

3. Abandoned Shopping Cart Sequence

Shopping cart abandonment means a visitor places an item in their online shopping cart but leaves your site without purchasing.

On average, 71.53% of online shoppers abandon their carts.

If nothing is done about it, your ecommerce store will bleed revenue. You can utilize drip campaigns to automatically send a personalized email to the visitor whenever this happens, reminding them of their intent to buy a particular product.

Usually in a sequence, you could send out the first email, say a few hours from abandonment, the second after a day, and the last one after 48 hrs.

Here is a great example of an Abandoned Shopping cart email by the clothing and accessories brand Nomad Gear.

Abandoned cart email example

4. Reactivation Sequence

Suppose a vast percentage of your list is not engaging with your emails (opens, clicks, replies). In that case, it will affect your email campaign profitability and your email inbox delivery performance over time. 

So you have to throw these inactive prospects into a re-engagement or reactivation sequence that aims to reel them back in with a great offer.

One important thing to note is that you are NOT trying to win over everyone as an active subscriber or reader. You are merely seeing if they can be woken up from their slumber and indifference. It should be perfectly acceptable for them to unsubscribe from future email communication with you.

Also called winback sequences, these emails are a simple yet highly effective way to remind the subscriber of why they signed up in the first place, along with introducing new ways to engage with and use your product or service.

The following example is a reactivation sequence by the writing tool Grammarly.

Upgrade email example

5. Recommendation Sequence

A recommendation sequence is when you use data-driven insights to recommend more of something that a particular subscriber likes. Usually, based on a user’s past actions with your product or service, recommendation sequences are compelling since they come across as highly personalized and relevant.

You can target user segments with drip campaigns based on what they use your service most for or what type of content they are interested in.

Here is a simple yet effective example of a recommendation email by Goodreads.

Recommendation email example

Best practices to setting up your first drip campaign

Let’s assume you own a small ecommerce store that primarily sells t-shirts for men. Now, here’s how you would go about creating your first drip campaign (or maybe even optimize an existing one).

Step 1: Map out your target audience’s buying journey. 

Once you have established whom you are selling to, i.e., your target audience, it’s important to understand your buyer’s journey. Specifically, how will they end up buying a product or service such as yours?

An easy and effective way for you to do this is by using Google Analytics to understand their journey through your website or landing page. 

For instance, which of your blog posts or landing pages are your top-converting ones? Once you figure this information out you can send more traffic that way to ensure more conversions.

If you want to learn more on how to use Google Analytics for SEO, make sure to read this article.

Another way is by examining where you are running the same sales campaign through multiple channels and want to figure out which one’s performing the best.

Add custom UTM parameters to work with Google Analytics and you will realize that the majority of t-shirt buyers are from your highly active email list and not from your latest direct sales Facebook ads campaign.

The benefit of mapping out your buyer’s digital journey is that it will align your content marketing funnel right and give you clear insights into what touchpoints your prospect needs help at.

Step 2: Segment your target audience based on their starting point. 

Not everyone’s ready to buy from you right away, so segment your audience by their motivation to buy from you. Some will listen to your call to buy right now, while others will take a longer journey.

Segmenting your audience also allows you to be as specific as possible with each audience set, so whatever you say in an email is not a broadcast but a personalized journey. This guarantees higher engagement and more conversions, sales, and revenue.

For instance, you realize it doesn’t make sense to talk to all of your buyers the same way since they are composed of baby boomers (among the most senior in terms of age), millennials, as well as Generation Z (youngest) and their motivations to buy are vastly different.

So if you are able to obtain additional information from your leads during signup, you can segment them into categories and then send them extremely personalized and highly relevant campaigns that convert better.

Step 3: Establish your battle goals. 

Everything you do in your drip campaign will be done with this singular objective in mind. With a goal-driven approach, it’s easy to understand whether the campaign has been successful or not.

Are you trying to get maximum openings, increase the tease before a major sales offer (for instance Black Friday) and maybe even get them to sign up for a waitlist? Or are you gunning for out-and-out sales where your prospect adds their favorite t-shirts to the cart on your ecommerce store and simply checks out?

Step 4: Choose the mechanism that will trigger the email domino sequence. 

Your email marketing tool will provide you with plenty of options to trigger the email sequence. 

A wide range of triggers are available that can be based on dates (birthday, anniversary, renewal, etc.) or user behavior (clicked on a link, abandoned cart, product purchase action, etc.)

For instance, since you may now already have their date of birth information (obtained earlier during sign up), you could make them a special offer during their birthday. 

Or if someone abandoned their cart containing 10 t-shirts, offer exclusive FREE Shipping to encourage them to complete their order.

Step 5: Write your drip campaign sequence.

This is an email series, so naturally, every email will build upon the previous one to lead the subscriber gently to the ultimate conversion objective (sale, click, etc.)

  • Have an optimized email subject line that is NOT clickbait and avoid common spam words.
  • Start each email with a great hook to grab their attention first.
  • Work on creating interesting email leads (the first paragraph or so of your email) that grab your reader’s interest next, keeping them glued to the screen.
  • Aim to keep the messaging and copy simple, conversational, yet to the point at all times.
  • Ensure that each sequence email has a clear call to action (CTA) that persuades the subscriber to take the following action.

Step 6: Measure & analyze the performance of your drip sequence.

Follow and track reporting metrics such as open email rates, click-through rates, click-to-open rates, and the overall customer acquisition costs (CAC) to understand whether your campaign is meeting set objectives in terms of performance.

Step 7: Optimize your drip campaign sequence.

A/B test anything and everything, but one variable at a time, so you know what’s working and what’s not. Variables that will go under the radar will be the send times, Call to Action (CTA), Copy, Design, etc.

Looking for advice on taking your drip campaign sequence to the next level? It’s simple. Build out drip automation sequences that include SMS marketing as well, and see your conversions shoot through the roof!

Of course, making a killer drip campaign sequence becomes way easier with the right tool. We recommend Sender.net for anyone looking to build their drips easily and cost-effectively. 

Sender's email template


Whether you are an educational institution seeking enrollment for online courses or a real estate agency wanting to generate high-quality leads and nurture them, drip marketing campaigns work for most niches and industries. 

Now that you know what a drip campaign is and how it can drive traffic and increase sales, it’s time to get started. 

Without drip campaigns, you are essentially leaving money on the table. With drip campaigns, on the other hand, you enter the business world as a brand that communicates the right thing at the right time, making loyal customers out of casual visitors.

There are several ways you can use this strategy to grow your business, so choose one that works best for you.

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