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The Beginner’s Guide To Drip Marketing

by Neil Patel

If you’re familiar with email marketing, then you’re probably familiar with drip marketing.

If not, drip marketing refers to sending (automatically) a set of pre-written marketing messages to leads based on their actions (behavior), at specified time intervals or per event.

While drip marketing can be used in various forms, email is the primary method. (Others include direct mail and social media.)

As you might guess, the drip analogy is from a leaky faucet that keeps dripping droplets of water. In the marketing world, these droplets are likened to a series of messages.

Drip marketing is evolving into a science, and it is not as simple as you might think. Your campaign must be perfect (almost), and your messaging must be solid.

The power of drip marketing lies in its automation and precise planning. By creating and executing a great drip marketing campaign, you can reap incredible rewards from your email marketing.

So, how do you create and execute a great drip marketing campaign?

Determine User Behavior

First, you need to figure out who your users are and why they are on your website.

This isn’t as complicated as it sounds. By examining your analytics and making some safe assumptions, you’ll begin to see patterns and detect behaviors.

Here are some common user behaviors that will affect planning your drip campaign:

  • Signs up
  • Regular visitor to the blog
  • Infrequent visitor
  • Signed up and did not visit the site again
  • Not yet opted for the free trial
  • Opted for the free trial but did not subscribe to the paid version
  • Abandoned shopping cart
  • Subscribed to the paid version, which is active
  • Subscription expired, did not renew
  • Unsubscribed to newsletter

There can be many other behaviors depending upon your niche. Your first job is to determine all possible user actions.

You’ll be using these actions as the baseline behavior for sending the user his or her first drip email.

Set Goals

Set your drip marketing goals. Here are some common goals that can apply to your business niche:

  • Build brand (solid messaging, making people share your messages/posts, great product, thought leadership, brand engagement)
  • Generate leads (great actionable content, social sharing, paid advertising)
  • Increase revenues (increase signups to free trial, convert free trialers to paid subscribers, upsell, paid advertising, remarketing)

Many times, the goal of a drip campaign is to cultivate leads. Based on that goal, a drip campaign would be laid out similar to this one, which includes other touch methods:

coordinate lead cultivation efforts

Every drip marketing campaign should have an obvious goal—something you are leading the customer toward.

Plan Your Drips

To plan your drips, you have to understand the user’s behavior.

In the first section above, I listed some of those probable user behaviors. In the following example, I will list the kinds of drips you might want to send to users based on those behaviors.

Remember that every drip should be sent based on a specified time interval or per event.

I’ve divided the drips into regular, special, and one-time.

Here is a typical schedule:

  • Regular Drips: Every 5 days
  • Special Drips: Every 30-40 days
  • One-Time Drips (on sign-up, unsubscribe, etc.): Per event

Here are some potential behaviors, paired with a possible drip schedule:

user behavior drip planning

Remember that these examples are general. Every business niche has its own particulars, so plan and schedule your drips per your user needs.

You also have to keep an eye on the lead status. For example, you may choose to allot rank #1 to a person who signed up for your newsletter, rank #2 to a user who opted for a free trial, rank #3 to a frequent visitor, and so on.

Each lead status must be slotted to a particular set of drips; and every time a lead acts on your drips, you must upgrade his lead status and put him on a different set of drips.

Write the Drips

Drips are pre-written. Write great drips according to user behavior.

Of course, you can’t write drips containing your unreleased blog posts, but you can write a series on your existing posts.

Remember that leads keep signing up at different times. Therefore, you should send them the posts they missed out on.

Create a Drip Flowchart per User Behavior

Every user behavior and the drips must be mapped on a flow chart.

Here are a few considerations:

  • You may have to create landing pages.
  • You will have to set a specific template per email (drip).
  • Your users will be in different locations. Schedule drips based on their time zones to get the best results.
  • Your writing style should be similar to the style you use on your website.
  • You may have to create a suppression list (a list of people who should not receive your drip).
  • Ensure that your drips are scheduled properly. Users must not receive too many or too few drips.
  • Use analytics to figure out user actions to your drips.
  • Finally, write solid messages that motivate users to act.

This is how a typical drip marketing flow looks (for one user behavior):

example drip campaign flow

Sign Up with a Drip Marketing Solution Provider

You have to automate your drips and therefore must sign up with a quality service provider.

There are a ton of options to choose from, ranging from really easy to super complicated.

Here are some big players:

If you’re new to the world of drip campaigns, start simple and work your way up.

Review the Results and Tweak Your Campaign

Results of every drip campaign, just like any other marketing campaign, must be analyzed for:

  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Engagement levels
  • Mail receiver’s journey

Based on your analysis, you may have to tweak your copy or triggers.

Conclusion

The guide above will help you create a rock solid drip marketing campaign.

Though drip marketing is mostly used in the context of email marketing, you are free to use it in other forms of marketing as well.

Drip marketing is one of the most challenging techniques in digital marketing. Why? It’s so complicated. There are so many moving parts, so many user behavior metrics, so many response-based actions, and so much momentum.

But, complicated as it is, it’s also enormously effective. A powerful drip campaign can produce incredible ROI, and it will certainly push your marketing further than you ever thought possible.

What’s your experience with creating a drip campaign? What was the success like?

2 Comments

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Neil Patel

Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue.

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  1. Víctor says:
    February 1, 2017 at 2:00 am

    I really enjoy this article, but I’ve a question, what is the difference between Drip Marketing and Lead Nurturing?

    Thanks 😉

  2. Kenneth says:
    September 25, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Excellent article. A drip campaign with quality content and relevant, interesting information will always be successful. Readers don’t mind getting emails from a trusted source.

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