As your email marketing becomes more sophisticated, you’ll likely want to send more advanced and personalized messages. But as you strategize and start to build campaigns, you may find the distinction between email automation and drip campaigns a little muddy…are they essentially the same thing? Does my ESP provide support for both? Which tactic would work best for me and my email program?

The short answer is that, although email drip and email automation campaigns share a lot of similarities, the two are NOT synonymous. And the reality is that the distinction between drips and automation is a bit confusing!

To help you master both, take our quiz to test your knowledge on the nuances and details. Then continue reading for a deeper dive into more use cases and tips for each type of email campaign so you’ll never stumble on the two types of campaigns again.

Because there are a lot of similarities between drips and automation, it’s helpful to review use cases and take in some tips so you’re equipped no matter what type of email campaign you decide to go with.

Email drip campaigns are static

Email drip campaigns can be thought of as static, predetermined, and scheduled content. While it requires work to create and schedule content upfront, once it’s executed or in motion, the drips take over and there is no further action required from the creator.

Example use cases of email drip campaigns include:

  • A welcome email series that provides a total of four emails with content that is the same regardless of a user’s action.
  • A promotional email campaign that sends users different sales and discounts throughout the Black Friday/Cyber Monday time period.

Read more about how to build your own email drip campaign within SendGrid.

Email automation is dynamic

Email automation can also be referred to as email nurture, but these types of emails dynamically (in the moment) change based on user behavior:

Email automation use case examples include:

  • Highly-engaged recipients receive special VIP discounts and early access to services before the rest of your email list. (Note: you don’t need to use automation to achieve this, it is just much less manual).
  • Nurture campaigns with the end-goal of upselling.
  • Anniversary email – consider sending your recipients a special discount or promo after they’ve been on your email for one year.
  • Abandoned cart emails to prospective shoppers.

Check our SendGrid’s interactive Email Automation Best Practice Guide for a deeper dive on the topic, and hear from our in-house email and delivery experts about how to optimize your email program.

What type of campaign is right for your program?

The answer will depend on factors such as how much data you collect from your recipients and the capabilities of your ESP. While email drip campaigns tend to be a bit more manual than automated emails, you won’t need as much information nor the extra cost associated with automated email tools.

If you’re wanting to take your email campaigns to the next level, and have the resources available to set up email automation, that very well may be the best route to take.

For more on email marketing automation best practices and to help you decide if it’s right for your program, look over SendGrid’s best practice guide to email automation. And if you’d like to play around in SendGrid’s automation beta, sign up for that over here.

Happy sending!



Kelsey Bernius
As a senior content marketing manager at SendGrid, Kelsey oversees the SendGrid Delivery blog. Her downtime is dominated by either her mountain bike or skis (depending on current weather forecast)–and mixing up a salty marg afterward.