• What are Drip Emails and How Do They Work?

What Are Drip Emails and How Do They Work?

There are many reasons and even more ways to use drip email campaigns in your marketing strategy. Ultimately, drip email campaigns are an automation tool that helps you effectively segment your audience and send targeted emails to each segment. But lets dig into the details that make this true. Read on to learn about what drip emails are, how they benefit your business, and how to use them to take your email marketing strategy to the next level.


What Are Drip Emails and How Do They Work?

Why Drip Email?

Drip email is one of the staples of any effective digital marketing effort. Drip emails allow you to create automated, targeted email campaigns and as a result are outstandingly effective at getting your audience to take your desired action. These campaigns can be catered to your audience in such a way that you make sure the right people are always seeing the right kind of email.

Drip emails can have a highly specific message about a very specific subject, so you can worry less about your recipients losing interest or unsubscribing, since they’ll be shown content based on their actions, which are based on their preferences. How do you make sure that people who want to see pricing see pricing emails, and people who want to see blog posts see blog posts? Drip emails are the way.

The Components of a Drip Email

The reason drip emails are such a widespread technique and so many marketers use them is because of how well the drip automation lends itself to lead nurturing and inbound marketing strategies.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing refers to the approach most companies take to attract customers today—by offering high-value and informative content to their audience before they ever make a purchase (i.e. when they are a stranger to your brand or have become a lead). Offering something of value helps you earn their trust and build rapport. Eventually, the line of thinking goes, if this person is considering spending money on a product or service, they’ll buy from the authoritative and familiar name they trust, when they understand exactly what it is they need from the company.

Lead Nurturing

Drip email is simply a form of lead nurturing, which is the key concept behind inbound marketing. With lead nurturing, you provide your leads with offers, content, and support relevant to their current needs and based on their position in your sales funnel also referred to as the “buyer’s journey.”

Lead nurturing takes many forms, and depending on where the lead is in the sales funnel, the best content and support to offer the lead at any given time is going to be different. By offering the right content at the right time in the right way, you can push your lead further down your sales funnel, and move them closer to becoming a customer of your business.


Drip emails allow you to take inbound marketing and lead nurturing to the next level by leveraging the power of automation. Drip campaigns and automations use a very basic “if… then….” approach to deliver the right email, at the right time, to the right person for you, and can create highly effective strategies by using them.

How Drip Emails Work (on the Outside)

When a person takes an action with your email—opens it, clicks a link, fills out a form, or reads a blog post±this triggers the next email in the sequence to send. If they didn’t take an action, a different email is sent, one catered toward a similar audience and with a similar message as the first email.

If you’re confused by this, we’ll work with an example:

  • You own Manoli Cannoli, which offers pastry cookbooks for single men. Dave is interested in getting started baking, but he’s never baked pastries before, and considers himself more of a microwave chef.
  • Dave arrives at your website because he clicked on one of the blog posts you promoted on Facebook. He reads one of your blog posts, and then another, and then gives his email address to receive a free recipe for cupcakes. He now has become a lead for your business.
  • He gets the email, opens it, realizes this looks a little bit more difficult than microwaving a poptart, then closes his browser and heads off to do just that.
  • Two days later, your drip campaign sends an automated email from Manoli Cannoli:“Hope those cupcakes turned out great! Who are we kidding, you probably didn’t cook them, did you? That’s alright! Baking is hard, and we don’t expect anyone to dive in headfirst…” etc.
  • Dave likes this, but he’s at work, and he doesn’t have time to open the email. He forgets about it, and because he didn’t open it, a week later your drip campaign sends him another email:“Hey! Don’t let yourself down – we’re positive you’re going to find out baking from scratch is much more enjoyable than cooking from box mix. In fact, we’re SO sure, we’ll buy you a box of your favorite cupcake mix to compare to the first cupcakes you bake yourself.”
  • Dave is impressed by your confident, casual message, and likes that you seem to understand him, so he actually opens this email. Because he completed this action, your drip email campaign sends a positive follow-up two days later:“So, what did you think?”
  • Dave has now moved from a casual level of interest into an engaged consumer of your content, and because you’ve empowered him to feel confident in his ability to start baking, he buys your cookbook a week later.

How Drip Emails Work (on the Inside)

So how do you get these different emails to trigger based on different actions? With your email marketing platform, you set up conditions for each email that look something like this:

IF Email A is opened, AND the user DOES NOT click on Link 1, send Email B in a day OR if Email A is NOT opened, send email C in 1 week.


By creating micro-steps toward your ultimate conversion goal—buying the cookbook —you can create emails catered toward each step and ensure the lead is constantly receiving content that’s relevant to where they are in the buyer’s journey.

If they take an action step that indicates they’re a little closer to buying your cookbook, you send them the email that pushes them one step closer to buying the cookbook, such as video content teaching them to bake.

If they DON’T take a step closer with the next email, you send them more content to nurture them more gently toward that next step, until they eventually take it.

All of this is automated, so when you’ve identified steps that work, and tested them ensure you’ve set up your emails for optimization, your drip campaign becomes the hands-free salesperson for your business.


Drip emails are highly effective but are definitely a more advanced level of marketing. If you’re looking for some more basic content and campaign tips, download our free eBook below:


ThriveHive combines easy-to-use tools and expert guidance to help businesses stand out and get found online. Learn more about our guided marketing and advertising solutions here.

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