Email Drip Campaign Best Practices and Tips

December 03, 2018
Written by
Kelsey Bernius
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

Email Drip Campaign Best Practices and Tips

Email drip campaigns illustrate a valuable life principle that I’ve come to accept and embrace: sometimes it’s wise to be lazy in certain areas of your life so you can push harder in others.

Automatic and programmable coffee makers, for example, afford me more sleep and one less task in the morning (lazy) while still arriving at work with copious amounts of caffeine pumping through every vein and pore (most definitely smart).

This post provides some scenarios about when you might want to send an email drip campaign, as well as some best practice tips to help you along the way so you can be lazy and smart in all the right places.

What are email drip campaigns?

Email drip campaigns allow email marketers to send emails to recipients based on a pre-determined schedule. Setting up email drip campaigns removes many of the administrative and unstimulating tasks such as preparing, segmenting, and scheduling email marketing campaigns so that you can direct your creative energy into elements such as email content and design.

If you look through your own email inbox, you’ll likely find numerous examples of email drip campaigns. Take a look at a recent example from eco-friendly clothing company Pact as they sent an email drip campaign of featured sales throughout the Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday:

Pact sets up a drip email campaign to send a new email each day of the Black Friday weekend with a different article of clothing so that although they are ramping up emails, they are providing different deals with each send.

Each email provides a consistent experience but a different promotion focus each day. The Black Friday/Cyber Monday period is a time when email marketing typically skyrockets and, for the most part, I am personally looking forward to all the deals I can score while perusing my inbox on black Friday (good lazy).

Another good use case for an email drip campaign would be a welcome email drip series that would automatically send a series of emails to people who sign up for your email list. Or if you are promoting an event and want to follow-up with recipients, email drip campaigns allow you to follow up automatically with recipients who have either responded or RSVP’s or for those who don’t open your first email.

For more inspiration on when you may want to send an email drip campaign, check out some ideas in our blog post here.

As you start to add drip campaigns into your email program, keep in mind the following tips:

Tip #1: Break it down

Successful email drip campaigns are highly contingent on how well you’ve segmented your email marketing list. This doesn’t mean that your segmentation needs to be overly complex, it just needs to reflect the goals of your email marketing program (hint: don’t forget to set goals!)

Consider segmenting out your VIP or highly engaged email recipients from the rest of your list to provide more aggressive promotions and incentives. Or if you work in the B2B space, think about segmenting out recipients who express interest in a certain type of product or service line.

Here at SendGrid, we send out two separate customer newsletters based on whether our recipient is interested in transactional emails and sending through our API or if they’re more focused on email marketing campaigns. We’ve found that we can provide more relevant content this way.

Tip #2: Content: still queen bee

Even if you’ve crafted the most strategic email drip flows, if you don’t spend time working on creating compelling, relevant, and well-written content, your recipients won’t likely find value in your email.

Whether you are writing all your company’s email copy or you manage an email writer, this is a critical step across your entire email program. Our email copywriting guide breaks down each copy component of an email, along with tips for brand voice and strategy so that you can put your best content forward.
Writing and creating quality content is a skill, not voodoo magic that only a select few can excel at.
And like any skill, spend time practicing consistently and you will see your writing and content improve.

Tip #3: Don’t get too carried away

Although the benefits of email drip campaigns far outweigh the potential problems, it’s important to be aware of how your email automation and drip campaigns affect the amount of emails recipients receive. One of the biggest risks can be complete email overload.

If recipients do find themselves on one too many drip campaign or automated paths, they may become overwhelmed or even annoyed. If this happens, they may stop opening up your emails and this is going to damage your email deliverability rates.

It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole with email automation and your drip campaigns.

But it’s hard to come back from overwhelming your recipients, so start simple and slowly add drip campaigns while remaining cognizant of email fatigue.


Email drip campaigns make certain aspects of your job *easier* as an email marketer but just starting to automate doesn’t guarantee that you will find immediate success and increased email engagement.

Keep in the mind that you also need to provide relevant and highly-quality content to a well-segmented email list. And always be aware of which recipients may be in danger of landing on too many of your email automation flows by monitoring your engagement rates closely!

If you’re interested in learning more about email automation and how it might work in your program, check out our interactive best practice guide. And if you want to play around with SendGrid’s email automation learn more here!

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