Drip campaign ideas for email marketing that drive ecommerce sales

Janet Aronica
7min read
Email marketing
February 5th 2021
Image shows a dripping faucet

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 9th, 2014. It was been updated in March 2022 to reflect the most current data and insights.

Email marketing as a digital marketing channel is not new, however, in the era of third party cookies being twilighted and data privacy becoming a core principal for technology email marketing has become even more important. Email continues to be one of the best strategies ecommerce marketers can use to increase sales. Within the channel are various strategies and tactics that marketers can lean into to make it more effective, and drip campaigns are an essential component of that email toolbox.

Use a campaign software to start your newsletter or email campaign

Usually when you think about drip campaigns, you tend think about nurturing new subscribers or cold contacts and (hopefully) getting them to make a first purchase. However, professional marketers will go a step further and re-imagine drip campaigns as not only a tool to drive the first sale, but also a way to cross-sell, up-sell, and retain your customers.

Winback email campaign examples

Keep reading to learn:

What are drip campaigns?

Drip campaigns, also known as lead nurturing campaigns, are typically a series of emails delivered on a set schedule with the goal of educating subscribers and moving them down the sales funnel toward conversion.

To do this, you segment your email lists based on when customers subscribed and what activities they have taken with your company. Segmentation is one of the most essential aspects of email marketing. The more sophisticated your audience segments the better your open rates and deliverability metrics.

Learn how to increase your email open rates.

What’s the key benefit of drip campaigns? Boosting sales!

But there are less tangible advantages to using drip campaigns in your email marketing strategy.

Email drip campaigns can help keep your brand top of mind and they can educate people about your product, increasing the chances your customers will tell others about it if it comes up in conversation.

Drip campaigns also make your company more visible to potential customers, even when they’re not on your site. This increases the overall likelihood these subscribers will buy, even if it’s not directly through email campaigns.

It’s also easy to measure the performance of drip campaigns. You can track open rates, clicks, and unsubscribe rates.

Using an email automated marketing solution makes this even easier, because you can dial down individual actions from specific subscribers and see how each drip campaign affected that subscriber’s choice to make a purchase.

Drip campaigns provide a lot of intelligence that you can use to fine tune your marketing and increase sales later on.

Marketing platform that provides data analysis and predictive intelligence

Setting up an effective drip campaign

Before you set up your drip campaigns, you need to keep a few things in mind.

Get your content brand ready

These days, marketing channels are integrated, from your social media creative, to your blog posts, to your email marketing.

You should coordinate with your content teams about what content you need for each audience so you have the right site content, product guides, videos, and blog posts to link to in your drip campaigns.

A good drip email provides something more than a 20% discount to the recipient.

It educates or entertains in some way, so you’ll need the right assets in order to do that. Plan ahead and think this part through.

Integrated digital marketing campaigns to scale your business

Send emails on the right schedule

As a general rule of thumb, start with a higher frequency of email sends when someone first subscribes because that is when your customers are most engaged with you.

This way your emails are in their inbox as a reminder every day and you start the relationship off on the right foot.

Once you establish a baseline level of trust, brand identity, and credibility, you can take it down a notch to every other day or once a week.

From there, optimize things like the time of day and the day of the week you send your emails.

Start with the right customer segments

Set up your subscriber segments based on on-site actions. A few good segments to start with would be subscribers who have made a purchase before versus those who haven’t.

Then, to get more granular, segment even further and separate subscribers who have made a purchase recently (like in the past six months) and subscribers who have not made a purchase recently.

While these customer segments are a good place to start, your business model may lend itself to some other segments—like in-store customers vs. online purchasers.

Email marketing segmentation ideas to get better open rates

Three unconventional drip campaign ideas

Drip campaigns are usually only thought of as ways to engage new subscribers and warm them up until they are ready to purchase.

In the ecommerce world, this translates to hitting up fresh subscriber lists with discount offers until they finally break down and buy something. Drip campaigns or lead nurturing can go beyond that, as exemplified in these three strategies.

1. Use drip campaigns to up-sell

Create a drip campaign that will get your current customers thinking about a more advanced version of your product.

In terms of content, you can share case studies, customer stories, or examples that show off advanced use cases. Buyer guides or videos may also work well as content that will allow you to educate your customers about the product and help them see the value of a more sophisticated model.

This type of drip campaign is best to share with engaged customers who buy from you frequently.

2. Use drip campaigns to cross-sell

Cross-selling simply means to recommend products to current customers that complement the products they have already purchased from you.

To achieve an effective cross-selling drip campaign, divvy up your customers into cohorts based on past purchases and try to identify patterns. Did a lot of customers who bought X also buy Y? If so, target customers who bought X but did not buy Y with a recommendation to purchase Y.

That recommendation can come in the form of a buyer’s guide, product video, customer testimonial, or a simple product recommendation email.

3. Use drip campaigns to improve customer retention

Don’t let your customers get comfortable. A few weeks or months after a customer has purchased your product, they’ve probably become familiar with the basic functionality. They may stop looking for ways to get more out of it or even forget they own it.

Don’t let this happen. Roll your customers into drip campaigns that educate them on the advanced uses of your product and keep them wanting more.

Not your average drip campaign

Just because you may typically use drip campaigns for lead nurturing doesn’t mean you always have to follow the status quo.

Good drip campaigns vary from industry to industry, but one truth remains: good content sent at the right time, to the right person, intending to reinforce the right message, works.

Create your own drip campaign.
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Janet Aronica
Janet Aronica
Senior digital marketing manager at Edelman Financial Engines