Want to reach segments of your email list with minimal effort? Email drip campaigns are normally easy to create and an excellent way to engage contacts and move them through different stages of the sales funnel. In fact, drip emails can “provide a 119% increase in click-through rates” — amazing considering that the content only has to be created once.
Learn how you can create and manage your own drip emails by following these email drip campaign examples.
What is an email drip campaign?
An email drip campaign is a series of emails sent automatically to a target audience after they’ve expressed interest in your business. For example, if you have a gated piece of content, such as an ebook, a series of emails might be triggered after the reader volunteers their email address. The reader could, say, receive emails every Wednesday for six weeks.
Or maybe you have a new customer who just purchased your product/service package. This purchase could act as a trigger for a series of welcome emails with resources and tips for using your product/service.
In short, these emails are based on specific timelines or user actions. And with any drip, the goal is to deliver the right information at the right time to move contacts through the sales funnel.
There are also many different types of drip campaigns. Educational drips, reengagement drips, onboarding drips, and training drips are just a few examples. But the benefits are the same for each type:
- The email content only has to be written once (automation takes care of the rest).
- These emails educate leads and current customers about your product/service.
- A series of emails helps your business stay visible and top of mind for contacts.
- Drip campaigns assist with closing more deals and increasing revenue.
The best part about drip emails is that you’re not contacting people out of the blue. The recipients of these emails have already given you their email address so they’re less likely to unsubscribe. It’s an effective method for building a relationship with leads or current customers without having to contact them manually.
Email drip campaign examples (and lessons learned from each)
If you’re convinced that your company should create and send a series of emails to your own contact list, take note that email drip campaigns are only as successful as the strategy behind them — relevant content must be delivered at the right time to be effective.
Here are three B2B companies who managed to do just that. Take a page out of the email drip campaign playbooks of PandaDoc, Zendesk, and Alexa. Model your own drip emails after their examples.
PandaDoc: Consideration Stage Drip
PandaDoc is a document automation software company with a strong focus on email marketing.
PandaDoc’s most successful drip is called the Consideration Stage Drip. A lead is enrolled after they download a piece of PandaDoc content or attend or register for one of PandaDoc’s webinars.
Then, over the next five to seven business days, the lead gets an email from the company with more content that relates to the original webinar or piece of content they signed up for. PandaDoc’s strategy is to deliver relevant content to increase the likelihood of conversion.
Results: Short, sweet, and relevant content is PandaDoc’s recipe for success, according to Bethany Fagan, content marketing manager at PandaDoc. “We’ve only been running this drip for about six months, and it already has about an 18% response rate or conversion rate from lead to marketing qualified lead; we define an MQL as someone who has requested a demo or started a trial with PandaDoc.”
10% is considered to be a good response rate by email marketers. With an 18% response rate, PandaDoc’s recipe for success seems to be working.
Takeaway: Don’t wait to interact with people who have shown interest in your offering; you can bet your competitors won’t. Ensure that you have automatic emails in place to immediately engage with a contact.
Define a schedule for your emails to be sent every day or every week after you receive a new email address. Create content such as ebooks, white papers, and blog posts to include in these emails. Content should match the stage of the funnel (e.g., new contacts should be sent top-of-the-funnel resources). Along with resources, include a call to action (CTA) that encourages contacts to further engage with your product/service.
Zendesk (Campaign 1): Feature Adoption Drip
Jennifer King, senior director of engagement marketing at customer service software company Zendesk, cites product usage as the foremost predictor of customer health. “The more a customer adopts a new feature, the stickier the product will be for them, and the least likely they will churn,” says King, “Taking in five Zendesk key support features we’d like our customers to adopt, we built an event-based trigger campaign that evaluated which features a customer used, and then we monitored it month over month to see if there were any changes in their feature usage.”
The objective? Get customers to adopt key features in their plan level.
The difficult part was prioritizing which feature email tracks (i.e., different email series that Zendesk had ready to send about specific features) were most important.
Once Zendesk determined the level of priority for each feature (i.e., which feature they wanted customers to use), it was easy to build in the necessary rules to move people from track to track. A user could qualify to be entered in one or all email tracks, but the priority of each track took precedent over which track they would enter in first.
Zendesk would then evaluate whether customers adopted the key feature by taking on specific actions assigned to those features. For instance, if the goal was to get a customer to enable a widget, Zendesk would create a series of emails providing benefits and examples of why taking this step is important. Before each email is sent, the company would evaluate if the customer took that action. If they enabled the widget, Zendesk would then evaluate them for the next track of emails, and another, and so on.
Zendesk measured success by the following factors:
- Percentage of people who organically adopt feature vs. those who adopt after receiving this campaign.
- Effectiveness of the campaigns in enabling feature adoption.
- Effectiveness of the campaigns in reducing churn if customers adopt more features.
- Churn rate.
- Email engagement metrics: unique open rate, unique CTOR, unsubscribe rate.
Results: Across all five feature tracks, Zendesk was able to reach statistical significance. On average, the company saw a reduction in churn rate. The adoption rate increased by 5%, on average, of those who received the triggered adoption campaigns being higher than those in holdout, indicating the effectiveness of campaigns.
Takeaway: As Zendesk notes, the more invested customers are in your product/service, the less likely they’ll churn. If you’re struggling with your own customers not upgrading past basic product/service features, use drips to educate them on the benefits they could be receiving if they upgraded.
Convey how customers can get even more value from your offering. For example, send scheduled material, such as case studies about how other customers have benefited from upgraded features. Or provide a cost analysis that shows what customers could be saving by purchasing additional features. If you notice that one customer continually visits the VIP package on your website but hasn’t upgraded, trigger emails explaining the benefits of the features in the package.
Zendesk (Campaign 2): MultiUse Nurture Drip
Turning unqualified leads into qualified leads is not always an easy task, but it’s a problem that drip emails can help with. Consider Zendesk’s approach.
Zendesk receives a steady stream of leads thanks to marketing team efforts. “Unfortunately, not all leads are created equal. As a result, a large percentage of these leads get marked as unqualified,” Jennifer King explains. “Some of these contacts might not have the budget, the contact might not be the decision-maker, have a need, or timing isn’t right. We created a drip campaign with the objective of getting unqualified leads to graduate into MQLs.”
To nurture current leads, Zendesk uses content marketing. The multi-use drip campaign involved segmenting based on the buying stages and profiles as well as geography, language, and company size. Zendesk created top of funnel (TOFU), middle of funnel (MOFU) and bottom of funnel (BOFU) email paths to graduate leads through the sales funnel.
According to Jennifer, “Contacts that engaged with our emails, we would fast track them through and send emails at a faster cadence. Contacts that weren’t as engaged, we would send them on a scheduled cadence. Contacts exited the tracks when they 1) became a customer, 2) became an open opportunity, 3) engaged with a higher priority campaign, and/or 4) unsubscribed.”
Here’s how Zendesk measured success:
- Effectiveness of the campaign in graduating contacts to a trial, demo request, or contact sales CTA.
- Relevance of content being offered (i.e. are people engaged and being fast-tracked?).
- Email engagement metrics: unique open rate, unique CTOR, unsubscribe rate.
Results: Zendesk’s program is delivering a pipeline consisting of contacts that may be perceived as low value. However, four percent of nurture contacts became core leads from the program. Zendesk expects to see results in-quarter for the majority of their opportunities, which tells them that the track lengths that they created are the perfect number.
Takeaway: Qualifying leads early on saves significant time for the sales team. Use email drip campaigns to help qualify your leads. Like Zendesk, segment your contacts, and send different types of content appropriate for certain stages of the sales funnel. Leads might start off with TOFU content, but then can “graduate” to MOFU and TOFU content, based on their selection of email CTAs.
For example, maybe your company offers a social media tool. You begin sending content to an unqualified lead about Facebook best business practices. As the lead interacts with the content and clicks CTAs to learn more, your drips introduce your product, its benefits, etc. Finally, after engaging with the MOF content, your lead receives info about specific tool features and how to use it. At this point, the lead is qualified.
Alexa: Customer Tour Drip
SEO site audit tool Alexa understands email marketing. One of their most successful email drip campaigns is aimed at customers who recently took an online tour of Alexa marketing tools — a four-part series that features an overview of Alexa tools and how they can be used, a customer success story, and tons of additional educational resources and free downloadable assets.
According to Lydia Roth, digital marketing manager at Alexa, “This particular drip campaign was intended for audiences who already had some idea of what our service offers but weren’t yet ready or convinced to sign up for a free trial. By showing this audience how other companies use our marketing suite, and that we have other valuable, free resources that can help marketers improve their campaigns, we’re building trust with those that are still in the consideration phase.”
Results: Alexa’s four-part series has an average open rate of over 20% and an average click-to-open rate of over 23%. Impressive considering that the average open rate in the marketing industry is 16.5%.
Takeaway: Like Alexa, convey the benefits of your product/service in email drips without being pushy. Send resources that are valuable and match customer needs. These types of emails are another method for building customer relationships and trust.
While you don’t want to bombard contacts with emails (which can cause people to unsubscribe in a hurry), sending targeted messages with relevant information can increase engagement and turn contacts into customers. Segment contacts (e.g., by role, interest, stage in the funnel), and create email campaigns around these segments.
Email drip campaign tools
Perform your due diligence and find marketing automation tools/apps that will both streamline your email drip campaign process and reveal how well each email in the process is performing.
Here are a few that will help your automated outreach succeed:
- Mailchimp: This well-known marketing automation software is an excellent tool for managing emails and tracking the success of your email series. The tool has multiple templates to choose from to create your campaigns. You can also perform A/B testing to see which content is getting the most engagement.
- Zapier: Build your own email drip campaign app with Zapier. The tool integrates with a variety of apps, such as Gmail, Typeform, and Google Sheets. Connect all of these different apps to create one complete email drip tool to collect email addresses, manage contacts, and set an email time frame.
- Sell CRM: Ensure that all of your marketing automation software and apps can be integrated with your CRM. Your sales reps can then follow up with leads who want to take the next step with your product/service. Sign up for Zendesk Sell’s free trial to experiment with the platform’s email capabilities.
Assess what type of email you’ll be sending and what capabilities you’ll need. For example, if you’re an SMB, choose tools that can grow with your business. Mailchimp allows you to send to 2,000 subscribers for free, with the option to upgrade later on.
Follow these email drip campaign examples
An email drip campaign has become an essential part of customer outreach for startups and large companies alike. According to email marketing suite Emma, relevant targeted emails produce 18 times more revenue than globally broadcasted ones.
Carefully segment your leads and their stage in the sales funnel before sending out your drip emails. Monitor content, how well it performs (consistently check open rate and click-through rate), and also update email content if information changes. That way, you can effectively engage contacts with information that’s most relevant to their situation and move them one step closer to purchase.
Want to learn more about email campaigns? Check out our other resources on email marketing.