Our weekly Drip Campaign Guide series continues with Part Three. Last week we covered drip campaign etiquette, examining all the must-haves of politeness, timing and personalization. This week we’ll discuss the inner workings of actual email sending: how drip tools work, what are their main features, and what you should pay attention to when creating your very first drip campaign.
By learning how drip tools work and how to operate them, you’ll also understand how to optimize your campaigns. Every single step, even the smallest one, can be improved to make your overall flow better and more converting.
Drip campaign tools and how they work
There are plenty of drip campaign tools on the market, some bigger and more innovative than the others. All of them have similar functions with which you can automate your mailings and keep your drip campaign up and running. The only real differences between all of them are the price and the interface. First, let’s take a look at how drip campaign tools and services work by laying out their functions:
- Managing audiences.
The mailing list is what every campaign starts with, which is why every single tool on the market lets you manage your audience. Some tools allow basic management, like uploading and adding personalization, while more sophisticated tools let you segment lists or even verify them.
- Creating messages.
Drip campaign tools provide users with editing, subject line and body personalization options, etc. Drip campaign tools that are oriented at reaching out to existing users do support HTML editing, but outbound/cold-mailing oriented ones don’t to make emails look more natural.
- Planning your campaign.
When planning your drip campaign you create a unique flow for your audience. The flow is how your messages are sent – to whom, when, and under what conditions. All flows are based on triggers and always have a goal. Some tools use a drag-and-drop editor, making it easy to see and control each link in the flow.
- Running your campaign.
Once it’s ready and launched, the drip tool starts running your campaign according to the settings by delivering specific emails to specific people, at specific times. You provide the tool with an audience and an email chain, and it does all the rest.
- Analyzing your campaign.
Statistics provided by the tool makes it possible to evaluate your performance and determine what has to be changed – messages, timing, or maybe the whole flow. Statistics helps users to understand how the campaign performs overall, and see the exact metrics for each and every step. Going in blind is unacceptable in drip campaigns, use stats to analyze and improve.
These functions collected in a single tool is what makes drip campaign tools so attractive to marketers always looking to improve, evolve and save time.
Drip campaign components and features
It’s time to take a look at the technical features and modules of drip campaign tools. Most of these features are present in your average drip tool, but to show you the full range of drip tool capabilities we will use Snovio’s Drip Campaign Tool as an example.
- Email accounts. Most drip tools that support outreach and cold mailing campaigns use pre-created email accounts that must be added by the user. User can add any existing email account based on Gmail, Outlook, name-your-platform, or even based on their own custom email server. Drip tool will connect to this email account and sync with it to send smart automated email sequences that look very natural and human-like. Users can add one or multiple email accounts to speed up the sending, or use different accounts for different needs and campaigns. Most email providers limit sending to 400-500 emails a day, so if you have bigger lists and still want to automate your campaign with a drip campaign tool, consider adding more accounts.
- Email lists. Drip campaign tools let users manage lists and audiences. You can start by uploading an already personalized list, or personalize it by adding relevant data after the upload. Besides personalization, drip campaign tools can usually segment lists, making it easy to send laser-targeted campaigns. Segmentation means it’s easier to analyze how each and every segment interacts with the campaign. The drip tool option of email list and audience management will show you how each contact performs, as well as let you enrich or unsubscribe individual campaign recipients.
- Campaigns / flows / funnels. This is the heart of the drip campaign tool where users build and design their campaigns by creating an actual sequence of emails. But drip campaigns are not limited to a sequence and, as you know, campaign mechanism makes it possible to set up triggers and goals. Which is what distinguishes drip campaigns from simple email campaigns. When designing a flow you can set up the times of sending, as well as choose the recipients and the conditions for every piece of email sequence delivery. This is also where you create your messages (subject lines, email bodies and personalization tags), set up pauses between emails, adjust triggers and define your goals. If you create your drip campaign correctly, all that’s left is reaping the rewards of your labour: generating hot leads, closing deals, and nurturing your users.
- Triggers. Triggers are one of the levers you can use to adjust your drip campaign, making it more targeted, personalized and better converting. The most commonly and widely used triggers are “email opened” and “link clicked”, meaning you can design your campaign to send specific email messages only after the previous email has been opened, or the recipient expressed interest by clicking a link in the message. By composing varied messages and applying triggers you can lead your recipient to the goal most efficiently. The easiest way to work with triggers is by using a drag-and-drop editor.
- Timing. Timing mechanisms can be used in a couple of ways: you can set the timing to send your next piece of the email drip campaign instantly when trigger is activated (email was opened or a link was clicked), or you can set up a delay in hours or days before the next email. It’s best to mix the timing parameters to make them seem more natural. For example, sending the next email only 8 hours after the previous email was read, not right away. With this feature you can control your drip campaign and not overload your recipients with too many email messages all delivered in a short span of time.
- Goals. There’s nothing to achieve without a goal. Drip tools and services allow you to set up goals which define the completion of your campaign for a specific recipient. They can vary – from specific or total number of emails read to an exact link clicked or reply received. A completion of your goal may lead your recipient to another campaign or an end of this one, but it always depends on your business needs. The Goals feature lets you analyze the performance of your campaign. In most drip campaign tools users are allowed to set up multiple goals within the same campaign, therefore you can check all the possible scenarios of the flow and analyze their completion rate.
- Statistics. If automation is the heart of drip campaigns, statistics module is the brain. Here you can see all the metrics of your campaign – how it’s performing overall and by each step, which goals are being met, which scenarios are the most common within the campaign, how many users are converted to the next step, how many replies have been received, and much, much more. A fine-tuned drip campaign with set triggers, timings and goals will only ever need you to feed it new recipients. Which is why you will spend most of your time watching and analyzing statistics, measuring and improving your campaigns. Statistics is your best friend.
As you can see now, each and every feature of the drip campaign tool, no matter how simple it may seem, is in its place, working with precision to deliver the best campaign.
While drip campaigns take a lot of work off your hands, you are still responsible for the data you feed it. And to ensure good results you need good data. These two steps have been mentioned in our articles before, and we always insist on their importance:
- Email verification – is a 100% must-have before running any email campaign, including a drip one. If you are sending your drip campaign to cold recipients or use email drip campaigns as an outreach tool, make sure you have verified your email lists prior to sending. Drip campaigns are created to target recipients with laser precision and interact with them the smart way, and it’s doesn’t really help to have 20% to 40% of your emails bounce at the very first step simply because you didn’t verify them.
- List enrichment – you will miss a chance to fully personalize your subject lines and email copies if your leads are not enriched. The more enriched your email list is the better, because you’ll have not just the names, but also titles, company names, industry names, and so much more data, ready to turn your emails truly personal. The rule of thumb is the more natural your messages look, the higher conversion rate you get, and personalization is what can help you achieve that.
At first glance, drip tools are similar to email marketing tools. The difference is drip tools work with flows only, automating the whole outreach, nurturing or closing process with the help of smart email sequences.
Drip campaigns may seem complicated, but essentially they are a collection of simpler mechanisms working seamlessly together to create a powerful tool. However there’s more to drip campaigns than this. Next week we’ll discuss the main thing when it comes to presenting yourself to the campaign recipient – the email. We will brush up on our email writing skills, show you some examples and scenarios, and disclose the most common mistakes marketers make when creating drip campaign emails.