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Email drip campaign guide: 10 examples & tips for success 

23 min

You’ve probably read a lot of case studies about people increasing their sales and revenue using email marketing. Don’t feel dispirited if you’ve tried to copy their tactics and failed. In most cases, that success you read about in a 1,000-word blog post didn’t happen overnight.

Most marketers put years of work into learning the trade. That’s because there’s a lot to learn about automated drip campaigns. But, the basics of email marketing are remarkably simple.

Today, I’m going to run you through some of the most important things I’ve learned about achieving your business goals with an email drip campaign. You’ll learn how to generate sales using automated email sequences. 

But first.

What is an email drip campaign?

An email drip campaign, sometimes called an autoresponder cycle, is a sequence of emails that are sent to a potential subscriber over a period of days. These email sequences are automated ‘set and forget’ campaigns. Common examples of automated email drip campaigns include the welcome email sequence and the cart abandonment sequence.

Here are over 30 other ways you can use email automation.

An email drip campaign can be as complex or as simple as you want to make it. A classic email welcome campaign, for example, would have three emails. These emails are sent one after the other on consecutive days using an email autoresponder software, like GetResponse.

A typical email marketing automation workflow would look a bit like this.

A simple email drip campaign built with marketing automation.

Email drip campaigns can be a lot more complicated, though. They often include tracking user actions – so you target customers based on what they do. For example, someone who doesn’t open an email might be sent a different series of messages from what a person who opened the email receives.

Below is a template example of an email campaign for a webinar on GetResponse.

email marketing automation cycle for a webinar.

You can see there are a lot more stages to this sequence.

Marketers use email drip campaigns because multiple messages are more effective at generating a result than sending a single email. A good example is a cart abandonment email– we’ll look into this in the next section. 

10 amazing email drip campaign examples

Now that you know what an email drip campaign is. I’d like to get practical by breaking down common email sequences you can use to improve customer engagement for your business.

1. The email welcome sequence

The first email most of your audience will receive is your welcome email. As I mentioned earlier, I recommend sending three emails over a couple of days. This email welcome sequence aims to introduce your website’s visitors to your company. Your welcome emails will cover the who, what, where, when, and how of your company history.

Below is an overview of the welcome drip campaign sequence of a travel company

Welcome email sequence – drip campaigns.

The purpose of the first email in that sequence is to set expectations. Generally, you want to do the following:

  1. Introduce yourself and/or the company that you are representing.
  2. Share something interesting or unexpected about yourself / your company.
  3. Set expectations about what you will be delivering.
  4. Get them to follow you on a social media channel or whitelist your email address.
  5. Deliver the content upgrade that you promised them.

This first email is a bit like a first date. Create a good impression, deliver on your promise, make a joke, then leave…

A day after this, you can send a second email.

Your second email might contain a link to your best blog post, a video, or something else that they’d find useful. It’d be best if this content were exclusive or ‘hard to find’ on your site.

On the third or fourth day, send your final message. This email will generally provide recipients with a bit of content they’d find useful on your site. It could even be a freebie.

Try to make sure that each time you send them an email, you provide a link to a different resource. So, for example, the first message might have a link to a PDF. The second email could have a link to your website, and the third a link to a video.

Sending your target audience to different places helps to create a sense of the unexpected. People get bored receiving the same thing week in and week out.

2. The birthday sequence

The birthday email drip campaign is a great way to form deep connections with your audience and generate some extra revenue. They help you send people birthday wishes, which is a nice thing.

To run a birthday email campaign, you’ll have to collect a person’s date of birth.

You can do this on your opt-in form. However, this will be a point of friction for people signing up to your list. If you take this route, I recommend that you don’t make collecting this information obligatory. People who don’t want to give you their date of birth will just input fake details.

The other way to collect a person’s date of birth is when they are already on your list. You can see that the jeans company Lee uses this approach, though their copy could be improved.

Lee email collecting birthday data from subscribers.

I recommend this option.

The advantage of this approach is you have already formed a relationship with your readers by the time you ask for this information. More importantly, people have to opt into the process. This means the data is more likely to be accurate.

So that’s collecting the date of birth covered…

A birthday email campaign is short and sweet. Send the first email on the person’s birthday around noon. This message can be a best wishes card with a discount coupon.

Birthday email drip campaign.

At the same time the next day, you can send a follow-up email informing the person you’ll be closing the discount offer in seven hours. This is a good way of taking into account that many people have better things to do on their birthday than shopping online. It also creates a bit of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

3. The special offer promo

Think about the last time you made a big purchase. What made you get your credit card out? Was it a logical decision or a spur-of-the-moment impulse?

Maybe it was a bit of both.

It’s a widely recognized fact that emotion and logic play a big part in buying behavior. You can see this when you analyze the reasons behind why you made that purchase. This is very different from how you rationalize the things you buy…

The copy you use for your email drip campaign must account for these factors.

You need to analyze the different reasons people might purchase your product. These will be rational and emotional reasons.

Once you’ve decided on the most important factors, you must deal with them one at a time.

What I’ll share with you below is the email marketing sequence I use for promotions. It’s based on common drivers for making a purchase. I call this email marketing sequence Winners Miss Out.

Each email in the sequence covers a different sales angle:

  1. Desire: the first email is focused on the outcomes that a person would get from purchasing the product you’re offering. There’s a focus on emotional factors.
  2. Logic: the second email examines the rational reasons for purchasing the product. This follows an FAQ format.
  3. FOMO: the final email is about creating that FOMO feeling. This is a standard way to close a promotion for a time-sensitive offer.

Below is an example of such a campaign.

Special offer promo email drip campaign

You can see that each of the three emails in that sequence builds on each other by focusing on different factors that might influence your audience to purchase a product.

To increase sales, you can combine your email promotion with Facebook retargeting. Obviously, you can’t run a promotion using this exact sequence each time. You’ll want to mix things up.

Test things like running a giveaway a few hours before a promotion to get your offer started. Alternatively, you might run a competition and the promo after you’ve given away a prize. There are plenty of great online platforms you can use to do this.

4. The upsell email sequence

A natural outcome of an email promotion is an upsell.

Buying things makes you feel good. There’s a release of endorphins in there somewhere.

The other thing about buying something is that you often realize there are other things you ‘need’ to buy. Sports are a good example of this. If you buy a new surfboard, you might think you need to buy some wax for your board.

This desire to purchase additional products is part of a buying cycle. It’s why you see people who have gone shopping carrying three or four bags of stuff. You should be incorporating this need for additional products into your sales cycle.

There are two ways that you can manage an upsell.

One way to provide an upsell is on-site at the point of purchase. You can either provide an upsell before or immediately after they’ve made a purchase.

The other way to run an upsell is through an email sequence.

You should run your upsell sequence within a maximum of a fortnight of a person purchasing a product on your site. The email sequence you use for an upsell would be similar to the one you’d use for a promotion. However, it’s important to recognize that the person you are emailing has recently purchased something from you.

Doing this is easy. For example, you might say:

Summer is coming 🙂 

We just wanted to let you know your surfboard was dispatched yesterday. As an existing customer, you’re now eligible for a limited-time discount on all our summer beachwear…

You can see where this email is heading.

Your email sequence doesn’t need to be as long as the initial promotion. I suggest sending two emails – one email to let them know deals are available and the second to say the offer is coming to a close.

A good example of a person who does this effectively is Bertrand, the founder of Youzign. He has several complementary graphics design software platforms. This creates opportunities for upselling customers in the same way that an ecommerce business might do.

Youzign Sales – upselling.

It’s possible to get really high conversion rates with the right offer.

Some of our best upsells converted 60% of customers. Without an upsell, this would all be lost, which is substantial revenue for any business. Of course, you don’t want to overdo it and negatively impact the customer experience. They should always be at the heart of your sales process.

Don’t let profit define your strategy. As he mentioned, it’s important to get that balance between the customer experience, and the sales process.

5. The cart abandonment sequence

Abandoned shopping carts are widely recognized as a major leak in sales funnels. Around 75% of customers abandon an online purchase. But, a study found that people who send three abandoned cart campaigns generate 69% more orders than those who don’t.

That’s a lot of extra sales…

It’s not just the frequency of the messages that get such results, though. A good email drip campaign is effective because the person creating the campaign has thought through all the reasons why a person should click on a link. They then dealt with those issues one at a time throughout the campaign. 

Below is a small brain map covering the different reasons someone might not purchase.

reasons to abandon the purchase.

The idea is to identify the most important issues in this list and then deal with them through your targeted campaigns. The more pain points you deal with, the more people you’ll engage.

Cart abandonment emails help turn lost leads into buyers. Here’s a basic outline of a good cart abandonment series used by Jack Paxton. He is one of the founders of Vyper, a growth hacking platform, and works as a consultant for companies like AppSumo and BPN Nutrition:

Suggested abandon cart email sequence:

  1. 6 Hours after abandoning the cart:
    This is a friendly reminder. Using scarcity, mention that you have limited stock or that this item sells out regularly.
  2. 24 Hours Later:
    Run a time-sensitive special offer for the customer that lasts for 48 hours. This can be free shipping.
  3. 72 Hours Later:
    Last chance offer. This email has the greatest discount. It can be a dollar or percentage discount. You can make this a unique expiring offer to add scarcity.

Here’s what this sequence of automated emails looks like in practice.

Cart Abandonement Email Sequence.

Usually, the first email in the sequence will help recover about 25% of lost sales who signed up for the cart abandonment sequence. The second and third emails will help you generate additional sales. 

You can increase revenue returns further by running abandoned cart ads on networks like Facebook, Instagram & Google.

Related: Autoresponders vs. Marketing Automation

6. Re-engagement drip campaign

A re-engagement drip campaign is a strategic approach to boost engagement and reconnect with subscribers or customers who have become inactive or disengaged. This email sequence is designed to revamp your customer relationships and reignite their interest in your brand, product, or service. 

A possible trigger for a re-engagement sequence is a predefined period of inactivity. For example, when a subscriber hasn’t opened your emails for several months. Or when a customer has not visited your store for an extended period– say, 2-3 months. You can use a platform like GetResponse to automate the detection of these inactive subscribers.  

The first email in your re-engagement sequence could serve as a reminder about your brand and its unique offerings. In this email, you simply remind customers or subscribers that you’re still around and ready to serve them. 

Re-engage customers with an enticing incentive to lure them back in. This incentive could be exclusive content, a discount, or early access to a new product. Or, you can simply tell them about some products or features you have added since they last checked your store. That’s what Captions does in the example below:

Re-engagement email example from Captions.
Re-engagement email example from Captions. Source: ReallyGoodEmails

Your second email should continue to emphasize the value you provide. Reinforce your brand’s unique selling point. You can take it further by sharing success stories or customer testimonials that showcase positive experiences with your brand. Include a clear call to action encouraging them to engage. For instance, you can tell them to visit your website or check out your latest content.

The third email can create a sense of urgency and present a final offer. Making a time-limited offer could trigger the disconnected lead to take action and re-enter your buyer’s journey. You should also inform the subscribers that they could stop receiving your emails or special offers if they remain inactive. If the lead is still interested in your brand, there’s a good chance that they’ll engage with your CTA.   

If a subscriber doesn’t respond after several re-engagement marketing emails, it might be best to respect their decision to disengage and remove them from your mailing list. This helps you maintain a healthy sender reputation. The goal is to persuade them to reconnect with your brand in a meaningful way, not force them to engage.  

7. Feedback sequence

A feedback sequence allows you to gather useful insights from your customers, enabling you to improve your products or services and demonstrate that you value their opinions. Here, you want to start with a warm and polite request for customer feedback. Write this email like you were asking your friend for a favor. Of course, you want to appreciate the recipient for previous interactions with your business. 

Also, express your commitment to providing the best possible solutions to their needs through your products or services. Then, you can ask existing customers for their feedback. Make it clear that you value their input. 

Provide a clear and accessible link or button to your feedback survey form. You should also keep your survey forms short, clear, and straightforward so your recipients don’t lose interest.  

Here’s an example from Dairy Queen:

"Share your feedback" email example from Dairy Queen.
“Share your feedback” email example from Dairy Queen. Source: ReallyGoodEmails

Your second email serves as a friendly reminder. Send this to customers who did not respond to the first one. Acknowledge that they may have missed it. It’s safe to assume that they had a ton of emails or were just busy. 

Reemphasize the importance of their feedback and how it’ll help you serve them better. Don’t make your feedback request about you or your brand. Make it about the customer. If possible, you may offer an additional incentive to encourage them to provide feedback. This could be a chance to win a special price or a discount on their next purchase. 

I recommend two emails in this sequence so your audience doesn’t feel like they’re being forced to give you feedback or review. 

8. Educational email sequence

An educational email sequence can help you engage your audience, provide value, and position yourself as an industry expert. This is quite useful if you want to leverage a new trend in your industry or an important topic your loyal customers should know about.

Start the sequence by telling your subscribers what the next series of emails will be about. Briefly summarize the topic you’ll cover and its relevance to your subscribers. Tell them how long the series will be—for instance, 7 days, 3 weeks, one month, etc. 

Subsequent emails can then begin to explore your topic in more detail. Each email should focus on a specific aspect or subtopic related to the main theme. You can also insert links to educational blog posts on your website, like the example below:

Educational email example from Sauna House.
Educational email example from Sauna House. Source: ReallyGoodEmails

In your final sequence, you can go over key learnings again. It’s advisable to end this email sequence with an offer– maybe an ebook with a complete guide or a useful resource. If you have an online course to sell, the educational email sequence will be quite effective for promoting the course.

9. Event sequence 

If you have an event coming up– physical or virtual, then an event sequence will do you great good. This email sequence aims to create buzz around your upcoming event and get your subscribers to register. 

You can schedule this to run a few weeks before your event, 4-8 weeks would be fair. Apart from your general subscribers, other categories of people you may want to send an event email sequence to include:

  • People who attended a previous event you had
  • People who visited your event page but did not buy a ticket

Here’s how a typical event email sequence would flow:

The first email in the sequence in this drip campaign example could be a teaser– short, engaging, and intriguing. Your goal is to pique the interest of your subscribers without disclosing all the event details. 

For instance, you could highlight the date and time, then tell your audience to stay tuned for more details. You can add a CTA prompting them to learn more about your upcoming event.

In your second email, you can reveal the theme and purpose of your event. Briefly explain what the event is about and what attendees can expect to gain. For instance, if there’s an opportunity to network at your event, you can mention this in your email. 

Your third email is about building anticipation and excitement. Introduce speakers and other notable attendees who will be part of the event. Make a big promise that’ll spur your audience to action, and include a CTA button for registration.

In your final email, remind your audience that the event is fast approaching, and registration is limited or closing soon (building on FOMO). Use powerful and persuasive language to convey the value they’ll miss if they don’t attend. Also, include a prominent, time-bound CTA to register immediately.

Here’s a good example of an event sequence from GutHub:

Event sequence from GitHub. Email 1.
Event sequence from GitHub. Email 1. Source: ReallyGoodEmails
Event sequence from GitHub. Email 2.
Event sequence from GitHub. Email 2. Source: ReallyGoodEmails

You can also send an email sequence to people who already bought tickets or registered for your event. However, this sequence will focus on reminding potential attendees about the event, telling them how to prepare for it and items they may need to bring along. If there are some ground rules, you also want to include this in one of your emails.

10. Product launch sequence

A product launch sequence is a strategic email campaign you can use to generate excitement and anticipation for a new product or service among your audience. It’s important to carefully plan and execute your launch sequence to maximize its impact. 

For this drip campaign strategy, start with a teaser email with a captivating subject line and a brief message about your upcoming product. Include engaging graphics or an image related to the upcoming product, just like the example below:

Email teaser from Halfdays.
Email teaser from Halfdays.

Follow up the teaser with an official announcement email. Tell your audience about the new product or service. Include details such as the product name, key features, and benefits. 

Present the new product as a solution to the current needs of the potential customer to build interest. You can offer a product demonstration or sneak peek to give potential customers an idea of what to expect. This could be a video, virtual tour, or detailed infographic of the product’s functionalities. Add a call to action that leads to your demo page. 

In your third sequence, you can promote an exclusive offer or early access opportunity for those who opt in early; you could prompt them to join a waitlist or preorder the product. 

Send a countdown email to stir up some excitement as your launch date approaches. A timer graphic will help you spice things up. Remind subscribers about your exclusive offer and the benefits of being among the first to access your new product. 

On your launch day, send a celebratory email to officially introduce your new product or service. Add a direct link to your product page through an engaging call to action.

How do I create a drip email campaign (a.k.a. autoresponder)?

Now that you know what an email drip campaign is, let’s look at how you can create one yourself.

You’ll need to:

  • prepare copy and images that will go into your messages
  • decide how often and at what intervals you’ll want to send them

Note that your subscribers may be joining your list on any day at any time. If you’re using email drip campaigns, you can be sure that every person will receive the same email sequence, no matter when they join your list.

While that’s usually a good thing, you’ll want to be careful if your email drip campaign is tied to a specific date.

Now, how do you create an email drip campaign? This video will show you how to do just that in your GetResponse account, using AI Email Generator.

How many emails should be in an email drip campaign?

An important question you may ask yourself is, how many emails should I put in my drip email campaign?

The answer isn’t all that simple, but it’s not too complicated either. It all depends on your goal or the type of lead nurturing campaign you want to run.

If you’re developing an online course on a complex topic, you may want to divide the relevant content across more messages. Additionally, you’ll also want to make sure there are gaps of a few days between each of your emails. This way, your content will be more easily digestible, and your audience will continue to engage with your brand for longer.

Your approach will most likely be different than this if your primary objective is to convert new leads into sales. In that case, you’ll probably have more emails at the beginning of your cycle, with a shorter interval between them.

Let’s look at what the data tells us:

Drip email campaigns length and the average engagement rates observed
Drip email campaigns length and the average engagement rates observed

The table above comes from the email marketing benchmarks report we update annually.

As you can see, 41.21% of all drip email campaigns have only one message. That could either mean these are welcome messages, a thank-you email, or some other quick automated response. 

Furthermore, 26.02% of an email drip campaign series consists of two to five messages, 13.88% have six to ten emails, and the remaining 18.89% have even more.

What’s noticeable is that the average engagement metrics, like open rates and click-through rates, slowly decline as the sequences become longer. However, they’re still about two-to-three times higher than what you’d observe for single-message promotional campaigns.

Although the unsubscribe and spam complaint rates don’t seem to rise or be affected by the length of drip emails.

All that considered, as long as you’re satisfied with the revenue you make from every additional message and the revenue outweighs the costs (e.g., list churn, spam complaints, lower inbox placement rate), you’re good to go.

Naturally, the longer your cycle gets, the more difficult it will be to manage and ensure all the content inside the messages is up-to-date.

Want to go even deeper? Here are a few best practices that will help you decide how many emails you should put into your email drip campaigns:

  1. Divide your content into small and digestible chunks. Put each topic into a separate email and launch your campaign drip.
  2. Analyze the results with your email marketing software. See if your audience shows the right level of engagement throughout the cycle.
  3. Gather feedback. Ask your recipients if they’re happy with your proposed schedule or if they’d rather receive your emails more or less frequently.
  4. Analyze the feedback on your drip emails and launch an A/B test. Ensure that 50% of your traffic goes through the first variant and the other goes through the revised one.
  5. Stick with the winning email drip marketing campaign.

Pro tip: There’s another option, but it’ll only work if you set up your email sequences using GetResponse Marketing Automation.

Instead of adding fixed intervals between your emails, you can give your recipients the power to access the right message instantly.

To do that, you need to add a new link in your emails (e.g., “Send me the next lesson”) and two elements to your marketing automation workflow, such as “If linked clicked > Send an email.”

Here’s what the setup would look like in GetResponse:

How to set up an email course the advanced way using GetResponse Marketing Automation
How to set up an email course the advanced way using GetResponse Marketing Automation

Wrapping Up

Email sequences and effective drip campaigns should form a core part of your online marketing strategy. In this article, I’ve shown you some of the most common email drip campaign ideas marketers use. If you’re struggling to monetize your list or engage your readers, hopefully, these campaigns will form a framework you can reference in the future.

With a few edits, you should be able to incorporate these drip campaigns into your email marketing strategy. Of course, it’s going to take a few days to do this, so make sure to bookmark this page, as you’ll want to refer to it later. If you have questions about anything I’ve covered in the article, let me know in the comments below!

And if you’re looking for a tool that’ll help you create email drip campaigns more effectively thanks to AI generative features, be sure to check out GetResponse.

Nico Prins
Nico Prins
Nico is the founder of Crunch Marketing, a SaaS link building agency. The company works with enterprise SaaS clients, helping them scale lead generation globally across EMEA, APAC, and other regions.