Marketing & Advertising

5 Steps to a Successful Email Drip Campaign

If done correctly, a drip email campaign yields significant results.

If done correctly, a drip email campaign yields significant results.

Emails sent automatically and on a schedule are an effective way of communicating with your customers and prospects. Sometimes referred to as drip or nurture campaigns, automated emails target consumers based on their actions.

For example, when customers or prospects sign up for your newsletter, they can receive a welcome email followed by another a week later with an offer. The potential combinations of automated emails and content are considerable. In this post, I’ll discuss the steps to set up a successful drip campaign.

1. Goals and Segments

Start by establishing the goal and the segment to achieve it. Here are examples:

  • Goal: Inspire prospects to make their first purchase. Segment: Anyone who has not purchased products and who subscribed in a given timeframe.
  • Goal: Upsell current customers. Segment: Customers who have spent less than a certain amount in a given timeframe.
  • Goal: Bring back old customers. Segment: Anyone who has made a purchase of a certain amount but has not purchased in a certain timeframe.
  • Goal: Sell product A. Segment: Anyone who has not purchased product A but has visited its product page in a certain timeframe.

The more specific you get with shopper type, purchase behavior, and timeline, the better the return on investment will be on your drip campaign. Try to have multiple drip campaigns for each segment.

Getting the segments right is the most important part of a drip campaign. Use analytics to help. You can create segments to reach certain goals, as discussed above. Or you may identify segments first based on purchase frequency, lifetime value, website visits, buyer demographics or psychographics, as examples. Ideally, perform segmentation modeling — i.e., analyzing your data for potential segments — before building out your drip campaigns.

But if you do not have enough data, consider creating segments based on product purchases or high-spend versus low-spend customers who have visited your website in a certain timeframe.

Make sure the same individual is not in multiple drip campaigns. If it occurs, go back to your goals and segments to understand why there is an overlap. Businesses with many customers and sophisticated marketing automation tools should be able to move individuals from one drip campaign to another based on their behavior.

2. Frequency

How often should you send drip emails? There is no right answer. Use A/B testing at different times. Start with two schedules — the first email, second, third, and so on. Whichever overall campaign has a better performance (always measured against your goal, not necessarily sales) is the frequency to use. Continue to test frequencies to fine-tune.

Time and day of the week matter. You can, for example, send an email based on the time the person has browsed your website — assuming your tool will automate this for each individual. Consider using the high-traffic times on your site to send the first email. Alternatively, test which time and day work best for your business.

3. Subject Lines, Offers

The subject line for each drip deployment should be unique. Again, use A/B testing to find the best subject line based on open rates clicks, depending on your goal. (If the goal is for recipients to read the email but not click on it, test on open rates.  If the goal is to generate clicks, test on that metric.) To speed up the process, consider calculating an average open or click rate for the entire drip campaign, and only optimize emails that are below the average.

You can also test the offers in the body of the email. For this test, keep the subject lines the same and vary the offer. The offer with the most clicks is the winner.

4. Number of Emails

There are typically three transactional emails: purchase confirmation, shipment, and thank you. Drip campaigns to prospects may require just one email to determine if the recipients want to receive your emails and how frequently.

To establish the number of emails in a single campaign, monitor the unsubscribe rate and at what stage people are starting to unsubscribe. Monitor when click rates and open rates start to decline. When that occurs, you are likely sending too many emails.

5. Track Metrics

Once your drip campaigns are running, track the following metrics.

  • Sales. Calculate the difference in sales before and after the drip campaign. Then divide the increase by the sales before the campaign and multiply it by 100. An effective campaign will produce a positive number. Negative means your drip campaigns have backfired.
  • Open rates. Benchmarking open rates can help identify winning subject lines across all your drip campaigns for an overall improved result.
  • Click rates. Can help establish relevant subject lines and compelling offers.
  • Product offerings. Use A/B testing to identify popular products, and products that go together for cross-selling opportunities.
  • Unsubscribe rates. Too many emails can increase unsubscribe rates. Monitor unsubscribe rates daily basis.

And don’t be afraid to check your competitors. Sign up for their newsletters. Make a purchase. Then analyze their drip campaigns. Make sure yours are different — and better.

Anna Kayfitz

Anna Kayfitz

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