Email drip campaigns are a marketer’s dream: they’re automated, perfectly tailored to a specific audience, and tend to have far greater ROI than batch-and-blast or group emails. But a poor drip campaign can have the opposite effect – the more your customer feels like they’re being thrown onto a conveyor belt, the higher the chance they’ll unsubscribe and leave you for good.

Here are some bullet-proof tips for creating email drip campaigns that convert.

Identify the type of drip campaign you need.

There are four general types of email drip campaigns. You can get far more granular with this, but it helps to identify what you’re hoping to achieve before you start hammering out email copy. Here are the main types to choose from:

  1. New Subscriber
  2. Existing Subscriber Nurture
  3. Existing Subscriber Upsell
  4. Existing Subscriber Retention

What’s your goal with your drip campaign, and which of the four categories above best describes it? Identify this first, and then map out the details.

Map it out.

To brainstorm, use a flowchart or mind map maker tool like or XMind to plan your drip campaign. It should contain different pathways for your readers to take, based on their interests and behavior. This will help you visualize your campaign and identify any holes or potential problems before you start. Here’s a good example of a very basic drip campaign structure for a new blog subscriber:

drip campaigns

Have different drip campaigns for different purposes.

As is the case with all digital marketing, email drip marketing is most effective when it’s personalized (read: segmented). Rather than map out one long, complex drip campaign, create several smaller drips for different instances. For example, create separate drip campaigns for:

  • A new prospect who downloaded something from your landing page
  • An existing customer who used a specific coupon on a recent purchase
  • A specific buyer persona, like the marketing manager of an SMB
  • A lead in a specific geographic region
  • A prospect who you met with once, but haven’t heard from since

There are countless ways to segment your email lists, so do what makes sense for your business, but remember that you’ll get the best results by sending the most focused, relevant content.

Experiment with frequency.

One of the major pitfalls of drip campaigns is that it’s easy to inundate your readers with too many emails in too rapid of succession. The tricky thing, however, is that to determine the best frequency for you, you have to consider a ton of different factors. This includes the particular group you’re targeting, how far down your sales funnel the reader is, the nature of the email content itself, and on.

The best way to find the right frequency for you is to experiment. The main metrics to study here are your click-through rates. If your click-through rates are average or high (2-5% and above), this is a good indication your email frequency is spot-on — or your content is just really awesome — either of which bodes well for your drip campaign.

If click-through rates are low, this could indicate a number of things, including:

  • You’re either sending emails too frequently (readers don’t take action because they just heard from you yesterday).
  • Your emails are spaced too far apart (readers don’t trust you because they don’t remember who you are).
  • Your content isn’t what the reader expected, or isn’t delivering enough value.
  • Your call to action is unclear or missing.

Add a questionnaire to your unsubscribe page.

High unsubscribe rates may be another huge red flag for your drip campaigns — but it’s impossible to know how to fix it if you don’t know why your readers are leaving. Add a short questionnaire to your unsubscribe form to find out why you’re losing readers, and use that data to inform your next drip campaign. Allow them to check a reason for unsubscribing:

  • The content wasn’t interesting to me
  • The emails were too frequent
  • I don’t remember signing up for this list
  • Another reason (include a text field for an explanation)

Make your drip campaign a series.

Your subscribers appreciate it when they know what to expect. If you’ve launched a drip campaign with an initial email that promises to follow up with helpful tips, don’t just say “we’ll be sending you helpful tips.” Instead, introduce a five-part series that will build on itself over the next month. If your reader likes the first couple of tips, she’ll likely stay tuned for the whole drip campaign. Further, introducing a series helps your readers understand that you won’t be blasting them with emails every week for the rest of their lives.