The emergence of one-tap mobile apps and always-on social media may give the impression that asynchronous email has lost its momentum as a marketing channel. But as a tool in the customer-comms arsenal, a good email campaign can still help businesses deliver impact across a medley of different needs from supporting product launches to inspiring loyalty to soliciting feedback.
This may be especially true now as consumers face potential fatigue from information overload, driven in-part by the influx of messaging across social media following the initial COVID lockdowns. If you're looking for a way to earn back your customers attention with messaging that feels less invasive and more personal, now may be the time to consider deploying a campaign over tried-and-true email.
Why Email Marketing Matters
According to research from the Radicati Group, email remains central to the online experience, and more than half the world uses it. By 2024, Radicati predicts there will be 4.4 billion email users, and we will send and receive more than 361 billion emails daily.
Because it goes to people's inboxes and feels personal, email is also an excellent tool for building brand awareness by creating relationships with your subscribers. Research from the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) says that sales and lead generation are other primary objectives for using email marketing. Email marketing can also be a powerful tool for customer retention.
But people are also being overloaded with emails. We get trillions of emails every year. Instead of having recipients send your emails straight to the spam box, you can cut down on the email overload by sending short, relevant emails at regular intervals. In other words, use email drip campaigns.
What Is an Email Drip Campaign?
As the name suggests, an email drip campaign is an email campaign where you 'drip' out the content. That means you send pre-prepared emails at preset intervals over a period, based on customers' behavior. Email drip campaigns let you nurture your audience and build a relationship with them over time.
Before you start to create email content, be clear about what your goal is for the email drip campaign.
Common types of drip campaigns include:
- Welcome email campaigns, which get subscribers used to your company and what you have to offer.
- Onboarding email campaigns, which teach subscribers how to use your service so they stick around.
- Win back campaigns, aimed at re-engaging disengaged subscribers who haven't interacted with your campaigns or made a purchase recently.
- Cart abandonment campaigns, which remind subscribers that they have items in the shopping cart and offer incentives for completing the purchase.
- Challenges and courses, which encourage subscribers to learn or improve with daily or weekly actions.
- Post-purchase campaigns, which encourage subscribers to review their purchase and suggest other complementary items they might like.
- Teaser campaigns for an upcoming event, like a product launch or a sale.
How to Create an Email Drip Campaign
You can run an email drip campaign in almost any email marketing software. If you don't see the actual words "drip campaign," look for the section where you can create email automations. Here's how to get started:
1. Set your goals.
Before you start to create email content, be clear about what your goal is for the email drip campaign. Typical goals include onboarding, retention, engagement or re-engagement, lead generation and making or recovering sales.
2. Know your subscribers.
It's also important to understand your subscribers' motivations and likely actions so you can tailor your content and email sequence so your email is likely to elicit action. Drip marketing is a bit like having a flow chart:
- Customer lands on your site and subscribes to your email list.
- You begin the welcome email series.
- At some point, you send an email giving two choices of content they can access, say an e-book or a video, or articles on two different topics.
- Depending on the choice they make, they get a different series of emails.
3. Create your email series.
Next, it's time to write the content. For best results, keep each email short. But value is more important than the word count, and your goal is to get subscribers to engage and to read the next email in your drip campaign series. Just as they do on the web, people scan emails, so use an eye-catching image and occasional bold text to make them pause.
4. Consider the intervals.
There is no perfect cadence for your email drip campaign. It really depends on your goals and your subscribers' preferences. If you're sending a welcome email, you might send an email immediately after signup or purchase, and another one in a couple of days, and a third a couple of days after that. Some companies send daily emails for five days. If you're not sure, experiment and check your email marketing statistics to see how subscribers are responding.
5. Add emails to your email marketing software.
Once you have your email content and you know who you want to send your emails to, it's time to load them into your email marketing software. You'll be able to set conditions for sending emails, such as when someone has signed up, interacted with a piece of content or taken a specific action. For example, many e-commerce retailers send different emails depending on whether you have simply looked at a product or clicked through to view it.
6. Test and measure.
Your email marketing software will track interactions, allowing you to measure and test the effectiveness of your drip campaigns. Experiment with different email subject lines, numbers of emails, email content and send times until you find what works best for your subscribers.
There's one thing to be aware of when sending automatically scheduled emails. Circumstances can change rapidly, and your pre-scheduled campaign can end up being awkward, badly timed or even offensive if something newsworthy happens. So, it's worth paying attention to the news in case you need to temporarily pause your campaign to avoid alienating your subscribers.
Done correctly, email drip campaigns can help your business be more connected to customers without overloading them, and boost sales too.
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