Compared to other online marketing campaigns, an email drip campaign is ancient and boring. Yet, brands continue to use it.
That’s because a carefully planned and properly executed email drip campaign generates $38 ROI for every dollar spent. That’s way more than the ROI you’d get using other online marketing channels!
What’s more, customers expect brands to send them emails about their latest promotions and offers.
But that doesn’t mean that the email marketing tactics you’ve used in the past are still the same ones to use today.
Technology and the way how your leads decide on what to buy have changed over the years. So too, have email drip campaign best practices.
That’s why I’ll be sharing with you 20 email drip campaign best practices and tips you can start using to get your subscribers to increase your open and click through rates.
1. Never buy email lists.
Before you can launch an email drip campaign, you’ll first need to have an email list.
However, building an email list takes a lot of time and effort. That’s why many brands tempted to buy ready-made email lists advertised on Google.
But what these brands don’t realize is that buying email lists will do more harm than good in the long run.
For starters, you can’t be sure if the email addresses in these lists are valid until you launch your first email drip campaign. Fake emails will cause you to receive an error message saying that the email address doesn’t exist.
Second, many of the legit emails included in these lists will likely flag your email as spam since they don’t recall subscribing to your email list. Others would even go as far as reporting this to your email service provider.
If you get a lot of these reports, you can be flagged by Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and other free web email services. Worst, you can even be blacklisted by your current email service provider. That’ll prevent you from getting any results from any email drip campaign you launch.
Finally, there have been several regulations passed to protect people’s privacy and personal information online. Buying email lists puts your business at risk of violating these regulations. That wouldn’t only result in a hefty fine, but also damage your business’ reputation.
Building your email list from scratch is the safest and best option you have if you want your email drip campaigns to become successful.
I’ve written a step-by-step guide on how to build an email list quickly from scratch. If you still don’t have an email list or you only got a handful of people on your list, make sure that you check that out.
2. Make sure you comply with privacy regulations.
Several regulations and policies have now been put in place to protect consumers’ data privacy online. The latest is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that will take effect on January 1, 2020.
One common thread among all these regulations is that they require companies first to get the consent of their audience to collect and use their personal information. That includes their email address.
If your business is caught violating these regulations, the penalties you’ll be facing are severe.
For example, companies that violate the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) would have to pay up to 20 million euros or 4% of their annual global revenue, whichever is higher.
The good news is that nearly all email service providers now have all the necessary disclaimers in place that’ll make sure that your opt-in forms and email drip campaigns are GDPR compliant.
Make sure this option is turned on when you create your email drip campaigns. This varies from one email service provider to another.
For example, if you’re using ConvertKit, you can set this in your Account Settings.
3. Tell a story.
Storytelling is a wonderful way of connecting and building relationships with your leads through your email drip campaigns.
Aside from the fact that we love stories, one study shows that our brains become 5x more active when we read or listen to a story.
One very active area is our brain’s sensory cortex, which allows us to feel and experience what the characters are going through.
That’s the reason why you’d feel scared and nervous when you’re reading a Stephen King novel or find yourself wiping away tears when one of the characters in the story dies.
Injecting stories in your emails help your subscribers put themselves in the situation you’re describing in your email. Since people make buying decisions with their emotions, it’ll help convince them to the action you want them to do you immediately after reading your email.
Sharing personal anecdotes like what Alexander Heyen of Modern Health Monk does in this email example below is a great way how you can inject stories into your email drip campaigns.
4. Automate your email drip campaigns.
An email autoresponder is your best friend when launching an email drip campaign. It starts the right email drip campaign to your subscribers based on triggers—actions that they do on your previous emails or your website.
That way, you send the right message to each of your subscribers at the right time.
Rustan’s, for example, automatically sends out an email to its subscribers when they add items into their shopping cart, but don’t complete the purchase.
By automating this email drip campaign, Rustan’s can remind its subscribers about their purchases and reduce their abandoned cart rate.
5. Add relevant images in your emails.
There’s a saying: “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” And rightfully so.
You and I are wired to learn and understand images and other visual elements faster than text. So by adding an image in your emails allows you to drive your message home to your leads while keeping your email short and sweet.
More importantly, we remember images we see than something that we heard or read. One study shows that people can retain up to 65% of the images they saw three days before.
Take this email from Postmates, for example.
Their customers may not remember everything that’s written in the email. But they’ll definitely remember the animated GIF. So the next time they’re craving for nachos, they’ll know where to go.
6. Create compelling subject lines.
Your subject line is the most crucial part of your email.
Your email subscribers will decide whether to open your email, trash it, or report it as spam based purely on your email’s subject line. Free web email services like Gmail and Yahoo! Mail decide whether to send your emails to your subscribers’ inbox or their spam folder.
On top of that, each of your subscribers receives a daily average of 126 emails.
That’s a lot of emails competing for your subscribers’ attention!
If your email’s subject line doesn’t get your subscribers to open your email, it can quickly find its way into your subscribers’ Trash folder without being opened.
One common mistake that marketers make is to make their subject lines sound fancy and smart.
This technique may have worked in the past. But in 2020 and beyond, subscribers are more inclined to open an email when they know what they’re going to get. So make sure that your subject line clearly describes it.
Adding emojis to your subject line also helps. This visual element helps your email stand out in your subscribers’ inbox. That’s the reason why 56% of brands that are using emojis in their subject lines experience higher open rates compared to those that don’t.
There are two things to remember when using emojis in your email’s subject line:
First, make sure that the emojis you use serves more than a decorative element to your subject. For example, you can use an emoji to set the overall tone of your email’s message or emphasize the main idea you want to convey in your email.
Second, use emojis sparingly. Otherwise, it would look spammy and can cause your email to wind up in your subscribers’ spam folder.
7. Brush up on your copywriting skills.
Writing copy for emails is very different from writing copy for your sales page, blog post, and even your social media posts.
According to a research study done by AWeber, email copy averages 434 words from start to finish.
You can do this is by using simple words. They’re not only shorter, but also easier to understand.
Remember: The purpose of your email’s copy is to get your subscribers and leads to click on your call-to-action link and move down further in your marketing funnel.
So don’t worry if you can’t fit everything you want to say in your email. Include only enough information so that you pique your leads and subscribers’ curiosity.
8. Give ample time in between emails.
Imagine a dripping faucet in your kitchen. Even though the drops of water come one after another, there’s a brief gap between each water droplet.
The same thing’s true with email drip campaigns.
Scheduling to send each email every two to four days ensures your leads don’t feel like you’re bombarding them. At the same time, the time in between emails is close enough to maintain your leads’ interest at optimum levels.
9. Plan out your email’s design very carefully.
Your email’s layout and design are just as important as the copy you write.
There are two kinds of formats brands typically use for their emails in their drip campaigns: text-based emails and HTML emails.
As the name suggests, text-based emails are predominantly made of text and include very little to no images.
HTML emails are the complete opposite. They’re colorful layouts with lots of images.
There’s much debate among marketers on which email format is more effective in increasing conversion rates. Some, like Hubspot, say they get more click-throughs in their text-based emails than HTML emails because they look and feel more personalized.
Others, like Campaign Creators, observed more click-throughs when switched to HTML emails.
So how do you choose which format you should use?
The answer: that depends on the purpose of your email drip campaign.
If you’re a B2C business and you’re creating an email drip campaign as part of a product launch or informing your subscribers of the latest arrivals in your eCommerce store, an HTML email format may be your best bet.
That’s because it’ll allow you to include images of your products as well as CTA buttons that’ll take your subscribers directly to your site’s checkout page.
On the other hand, if you’re a SaaS business that wants to send a reminder notice to your customers, you’ll be better off by sending them a text-based email like this one from Bluehost.
10. Personalize your email’s content
Sending email subscribers personalized content increases open rates by 29% and clickthrough rates by 41%.
Personalizing your email’s content is more than just adding your subscribers’ first name in your emails (although that does help). It’s providing each of your subscribers with content that piques their interests.
At the same time, the content should also match what stage they’re in your marketing funnel. A subscriber that’s still in the awareness stage wouldn’t be interested in receiving emails offering them a free trial of your product like this one from Uber.
You can do this is by using dynamic content within your emails.
As its name suggests, dynamic content are blocks of content within your email template that changes based on the data you’ve collected about your each of your subscribers’ interests and browsing behavior on your website.
For example, if you have a lead that opens emails and downloads offers you send on how to help them become more efficient with their time, the dynamic content blocks within your emails will give them more of these.
11. Create a sense of urgency
In an ideal world, your leads would take action as soon as they read your email.
But, as you know, that doesn’t always happen. In fact, many of your leads will take their time to decide unless you give them a good reason to.
Including phrases like “Limited Time Offer” or “2 Hours Left” within your subject line and your email’s text will evoke a sense of urgency among your subscribers. When they see phrases like this, they’ll be compelled to make a decision.
Another way of making your emails appear more urgent is by utilizing the power of FOMO.
FOMO, or the “Fear of Missing Out,” is a psychological principle that’s innate within each person.
No one wants to feel like their left behind. As a result, they’d grab the chance to join in the conversation the moment an opportunity presents itself.
Adding screenshots of feedback from your different social media accounts is an excellent way of using FOMO to create a sense of urgency.
Before doing this, make sure that you get permission from these clients for you to use your feedback.
12. Add only one call-to-action in your emails.
Next to your subject line, your call-to-action is the most vital part of your email. It’s what will take your leads one step closer to becoming paying customers.
As a rule of thumb, include only one call-to-action for each email that you send to your subscribers and leads. Otherwise, they may experience a case of “analysis paralysis” and not take any action at all.
However, that doesn’t mean that you only have one call-to-action button within your email.
On the contrary, make sure that you sprinkle your call-to-action throughout your entire email, whether you choose to send an HTML email…
…Or a text-based email.
That way, you’re making it convenient for your leads to click on your CTA link or button.
13. Use a tracking URL.
A tracking URL allows you to track who among your subscribers click on your CTA.
More importantly, it’ll give you details on the different pages and actions that your subscribers do within your website after clicking on your CTA.
The information you gather through your tracking URL allows you and your marketing team to send even more personalized content to these subscribers. This, in turn, helps you to drive them further down your marketing funnel and convert them into customers.
You can create a tracking URL for each of your email drip campaigns using Google’s Campaign URL Builder.
All you’ll have to do is to fill in the details in the fields provided. Google will then generate a tracking URL you can then include in your emails’ CTA button or link.
14. Be willing to let some of your subscribers go.
You need to clean your mailing list regularly to keep it healthy and get accurate reports on your email drip campaign’s performance. That means you’ll need to purge from your email list those subscribers that haven’t opened your emails, much less click on your links.
I know this is a tough email drip campaign best practice to swallow. But just like medicine, this is going to be for your own good.
Your email open and clickthrough rates show you how many subscribers in your email list opens your emails and clicks on the links, respectively.
So even if your email drip campaign’s doing well, these “dead” subscribers are like weights that are bringing down your results.
15. Make A/B testing a habit across multiple devices.
This is another email drip campaign best practice that you’ve heard and read before. But it’s still worth repeating because it’s crucial in ensuring your email drip campaign delivers the results you’re expecting.
Most marketers conduct an A/B test only on the different elements in their emails, like the subject lines and the CTA buttons. That’ll definitely yield results.
However, if you want to increase your conversion rates exponentially, you’ll also need to A/B test the landing page where you’ll direct your email subscribers. That way, you’ll make sure that not only does the message match with what you’ve written in your email, but it also ensures that the entire checkout process is seamless.
16. Incorporate multiple channels within your email drip campaigns.
Email may be your target market’s preferred channel to receive offers and information from you. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not using other channels as well.
Integrating other channels into your email drip campaign puts your business in a better position to build a relationship with your leads.
Channels like social media also play a massive role in influencing your leads on what to buy. Studies show that your leads and customers are more willing to trust what other people say about your products, especially when they see it on social media.
More importantly, incorporating social media channels like Facebook and Instagram gives you the chance to work with influencers your leads and customers follow. This is what the retail brand Lulus did.
Alongside with their email drip campaign, they partnered with micro- and nano-influencers who shared photos of them wearing clothes they sell. So when Lulu sends out an email to those subscribers following these influencers an offer for these clothes,
they’ll be more likely to grab the offer and make the purchase.
17. Make your email drip campaign mobile-friendly.
According to a Pew Research study, 81% of Americans own a smartphone. Of these, 20% access the internet purely from their smartphones.
What’s interesting is that more people are opening their emails on their smartphones even if they have access to a desktop or laptop.
Surprisingly, only 20% of email drip campaigns are optimized for mobile devices. And this could be why your email drip campaign may not be giving you the results you expect.
As I mentioned earlier, the difference in the screen sizes between a desktop and a smartphone can cause your emails to display very differently.
That’s why it’s crucial to make sure that before you launch your email drip campaign, you need to make sure that your emails are just as easy to read on a smartphone as it is when opened on a desktop or laptop.
Here are some tips to make your emails mobile-friendly:
- Break your content into short paragraphs. Don’t write more than two lines per paragraph in your emails. This will prevent it from turning into an overwhelming wall of text when reading on a smartphone.
- Observe the right image dimensions. If you’re planning to include an image in your email, make sure that its size doesn’t go beyond 640×320 pixels. This is the ideal size for images to be viewed on a smartphone.
- Use plenty of white space. Not only will this make your text more readable on a small screen, but it also makes it easier for your leads to tap on the links within the email.
- Have a prominent CTA button. Adding your CTA above the fold makes it hard for your leads to miss. It also makes it easier for them to tap.
18. Strategically schedule when to send out your email drip campaigns.
Your leads and customers live in different time zones. If you want to increase your email drip campaign’s open rate, you need to make sure that you send out each email at the right time. Otherwise, it can quickly get buried in your subscribers’ inbox.
Studies show that the best days and times to send your emails greatly depends on what type of business you run.
For example, if you’re running a B2B business, Tuesday is the best day to send your emails to get more click-throughs and responses between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM.
On the other hand, midnight on Saturday is the best day and time to send your emails if you’re running a B2C business.
Note that these day and time combinations aren’t set in stone. It’s possible that the best day and time to send your emails to increase your open rate and click-throughs may be different.
If you’ve been doing email drip campaigns for some time, compare the analytics of each email drip campaign you’ve launched to the ideal day and time for your business.
However, if you’re just starting out, you can use the results of the study as a benchmark. Then run your email drip campaigns using different day and time combinations. This way, you’ll see when you’re getting the highest open rates and click-throughs.
19. Re-engage inactive prospects.
I did mention in an earlier email drip campaign best practice that one way to keep your email list healthy and your results more accurate is to get rid of those who aren’t opening your emails, let alone clicking.
However, you should still try to reconnect with them before deciding to let them go finally. After all, there are many reasons why they aren’t opening your emails.
Maybe they’re still asleep when you send your email, so it’s always getting buried in their inbox.
Perhaps the content you’re sending isn’t something that they find interesting.
Or maybe they’re still on the fence on whether they should proceed with their purchase.
The only way you’ll know if these inactive subscribers would still want to hear from you or not is to send them an email like this one from Animoto.
Better yet, throw in an incentive for your inactive subscribers. Birchbox, for example, sends inactive subscribers the chance to receive a subscription box filled with surprise items.
Not only does this get their inactive subscribers to re-engage, but they also even make a purchase.
20. Conduct a five-second test.
According to the recent Litmus State of Email Engagement Report, the average time that a person spends reading an email increased from 10.4 seconds in 2011 to 13.4 seconds in 2018.
Sounds great. However, what many marketers forget is that their subscribers will only spend more than 8 seconds on an email if it grabs their subscribers’ attention.
That’s why it’s crucial for you to practice what’s called “The Five Second Test” on your email’s content.
The test’s straightforward: Give someone (preferably someone who’s not working in your business) five seconds to go through your email’s copy. After five seconds, ask them if they can tell you what the content is about and what’s the call-to-action.
If they answer it correctly, your email’s good to go. If not, you’ll need to edit the copy some more.
In this post, I’ve shared with you 20 different email drip campaign best practices that will help you increase your open and click-through rates. I’ve also thrown in some tips on how to apply these best practices and examples for inspiration.
I admit that this is a lot of information to take in all at once. So, feel free to bookmark this. That way, you can easily come back here and check everything before launching your drip campaign.
Email drip campaigns have successfully weathered the changing times and trends because they allow you to engage and nurture your leads on a more personal level.
By following these email drip campaign best practices shared here, you can send each of your leads and subscribers personalized content at the right time. As a result, you’ll be more successful in guiding them through your marketing funnel and convert them into customers.
Are there any email drip campaign best practices you’re using that’s not on the list? If so, feel free to share it in the comments below.