Let’s face it. Email marketing yields astounding results. 

On average, marketers get an ROI of £42 for every pound spent—that’s more profitable than social media. 

But, standalone email newsletters can only do so much when it comes to lead nurturing and retention. You need email drip campaigns, too.

But what is an email drip campaign, anyway?

What Is an Email Drip Campaign and How Does It Work?  

Email drip campaigns—or automated emails, as some call them—are automated email sequences sent to leads on a schedule. The specific actions taken by the leads in your sales funnel trigger these email sequences.

By “dripping” timely and relevant messages to leads, you nurture and nudge them towards a specific desired action in your funnel. Marketing automation email software sends these email drips automatically from a pre-written list of emails, made specifically for that purpose, hence increasing efficiency and saving you the hassle of composing delicate emails for your marketing campaign all the time.

If you’re looking to incorporate automated email sequences into your email marketing strategy, here are 6 email drip campaigns you should be running.

1. Welcome Email

Welcome emails hold potential. When a customer subscribes to your newsletter, you want to send them a welcome email with the subject line “Thank you for subscribing.” 

While you may argue that welcome emails are only a part of the onboarding process, they significantly influence the entire customer journey. With 46% of customers choosing emails as their go-to communication channel on mobile alone, it only makes sense that you get things right the first time.

Why? Their signing up is often the first step in a series of favorable decisions that usher in their commitment to your brand until they ultimately become customers. 

According to Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, a series of favorable decisions constitutes “micro-yeses”. These “micro-yeses” lead your customers to the “Ultimate Yes” marketing conversion—which is the whole point of setting up the email drip campaign anyway.

Screen Capture Of A Youtube Video On Interconnected Micro-Yeses
Screen capture by the author

As an email marketer, it’s imperative to guide your subscribers towards conversions—what better way to start than with a welcome email.

Welcome emails get more clicks and enjoy higher open rates on average than regular promotional emails. Chances are, your subscribers were expecting a welcome email in the first place!

These aside, welcome emails make a good impression and set the tone for future engagements with new subscribers. For stellar results, send out the first email immediately they sign up. Followed by a second, and then, a third, educating this new lead about your business and things to expect. 

Depending on your email drip campaign goal, your welcome email series may include;

  • A brief welcome video
  • Links to or snippets of your most viral blog posts
  • A discount or trial service for signing up
  • Testimonials or case studies about your products or services.

Here’s an example from Loom to inspire your next welcome campaign.

Example Welcome Or Onboarding Email
Screen capture by the author

This email by Loom ticks all the right boxes. It’s short and snappy. It links to resources to help new customers settle in nicely, plus use cases and customer stories. 

Do something similar, but avoid cramming too much information in the welcome email series.

2. Cart Abandonment Email

Abandoned carts are the bane of every marketers’ existence—and daresay, online store owners too—even though they’re a usual occurrence.

Baymard Institute estimates an average cart abandonment rate of 69.82% based on 46 studies in 2021. In case you missed it, that’s nearly seven out of ten shoppers. 

Now, that’s a whopping figure! Of course, many shoppers abandon their cart for a slew of reasons, but you could turn this around with specially crafted email drip sequences.

That could be your chance to offer an incentive such as free shipping or even detailed information about said product, plus use cases, in the form of testimonials. 

Ideally, you should send a series of three abandoned cart emails for the best results. According to research by Omnisend, you can get 63% more orders that way.

When implementing your abandoned cart email drip campaign, consider these best practices:

  • Timing: Aim to send the first email one to five hours after a visitor abandons the cart. Afterward, you can schedule the second and third emails on the third and fifth (or sixth days), respectively. That way, your email drip campaign is spread across the first seven days when the product is still fresh in their minds.
  • Personalization: Personalized emails improve customer acquisition and retention. Moreover, emails with personalized subject lines do a great job of piquing the recipient’s interest, leading to higher open rates. Also, consider using personalized texts in the body of the message.
  • CTA: Your abandoned cart email sequences should always end with a clear point of action.

See this cart recovery email example by Namecheap that ticks all the right boxes.

Shopping Cart Recovery Email Example
Screen capture by the author

This automated abandoned cart email example is straightforward and cuts straight to the chase with a “Check out Deals” CTA. 

The recipient got this email less than 24 hours after she abandoned her cart, and it’s nice to see they aren’t going for the hard sell. They egged the recipient on with colorful animation and short copy. 

3. Retargeting Email

If you’ve ever browsed through a site, never bought anything, and later saw an ad (on maybe, Facebook?) promoting the site’s product—the site retargeted you.

You can use retargeting in email drip campaigns, too. Email retargeting campaigns are one of the most effective ways to turn leads into customers. So, even if they weren’t interested before, you get a 25% chance of conversion once you launch your campaign, according to Criteo.

You can trigger retargeting email sequences in different situations. For instance, Pinterest sent this email a few days ago, based on pins and boards the recipient viewed.

An Example Retargeting Email
Screen capture by the author

Of course, there’s no hard and fast rule for these things. 

You may set a retargeting email drip sequence for when a visitor reads your blog and likes a post or leaves a comment. The most important thing is deciding the best situation that triggers a follow-up email drip campaign. 

You can identify the best situations by analyzing visitor behaviors via heat maps, plus other activities such as click-throughs and open rates. Based on their activity, you can get a rough idea of which situations require a follow-up and who is likely to convert.

4. Post-Purchase Email

Brand loyalty is crucial. If you don’t have a solid customer retention strategy in place, this is your cue to create one. 


According to SEMrush, you have a 60-70% chance of selling to an old customer. The secret is not to neglect your current customers even as you chase new ones. Or, at the very least, strike an equilibrium.

That’s where post-purchase email drip campaigns come in. Post-purchase email drip campaigns engage and show your customer that you value their business and are committed to building brand loyalty

Simply ensure that your post-purchase marketing emails deliver value based on the items they already expressed interest in. So, in a way, with these drip campaigns, you’re cross-selling, as Ralph Lauren does with this email below.

Example Cross-Selling Email
Screen capture by the author

Along with running post-purchase email drip campaigns, consider leveraging different retargeting options such as paid ads for higher conversions. Like emails, you can run these remarketing ads based on website traffic, CSV data, and overall audience engagements for improved ad relevancy. 

5. Unsubscribe Email

When subscribers opt out of your email list, you can still follow up with an email drip campaign. Send one final email to try to re-engage them.

Go for short, concise sentences. “We’re sorry to see you go!” or, “You’ll be missed!” Alternatively, dare to be creative like Myles here did with “Ghosting us?”

Example Unsubscribe Email &Quot;Ghosting Us?&Quot;
Screen capture by the author

Sprinkle a dash of humor to give your emails some personality, followed by an invitation to interact with your brand on social media. 

For good measure, send out a survey to learn their reasons for unsubscribing in the first place. Remember that people unsubscribe for several reasons that aren’t necessarily your fault. So be open-minded when asking these questions.

Example Unsubscribe Or Exit Survey
Screen capture by the author

Manage your unsubscription rate by checking how your customers engage with your email drip campaigns and optimize as necessary. 

6. Upgrade From Free Trial to Paid Subscription Email

When you’re upgrading customers from a free trial to a paid subscription package, it helps that you make the process clear and straight to the point. 

Create an email drip campaign that communicates the basics of the free trials and what they should expect with the paid ones. Ideally, the basics should be a part of the free trial welcome email series you send immediately after signing up. It must include details about: 

  • Duration: How long will the free trial last?
  • Features: Educate customers about your services or products. What are the free trial features? Offer to see them through as they get settled.
  • Use Cases: This drip campaign is where you show them the value of upgrading. Think of it as a pitch email where you provide a strong value proposition showing their results (assuming they’ve used the product successfully). Or, give links to short how-to videos, blog posts, social proof, and statistics. A practical way to show off different use cases is hosting live onboarding webinars.
  • Check-in email: Here, you send a regular check-in email to see how they’re holding up. No selling. No pitching. That way, you’re proactive and solving issues before they spring up.
  • Fees: Because you’re now talking about how much the customer will pay, this part is a bit tricky. However, it’s not very hard to encounter customer resistance as long as you enumerate what they’ll be getting for their money. You can also entice them with discounts or limited-time bonuses.
  • Cancellation: What if your leads decide to unsubscribe/downgrade? What’s your cancellation policy like?

Send them a free trial expiration email once the free trial is about to expire. 

See this template.

Account Is About To Expire Email Template
Screen capture by the author

Again, the timing of this email matters and depends on the length of your trial period. Aim to send it at most two days before the trial expires and urge them to upgrade their accounts. It also helps to show what they’ll lose by not upgrading.  

If your customer fails to upgrade at this point, you may send them one more message on their trial expiration day before moving them to a new email flow where you send fewer messages. Do this to avoid being flagged as spam and so you can save a few bucks.

Final Thoughts

A solid, well-timed email drip campaign can boost your overall email marketing efforts. It’s a great way to drive conversions, welcome new customers, and build brand loyalty by re-engaging repeat customers.

Rather than a single email, you should view your email drip sequence as a cohesive, multi-step strategy to nurture and convert leads in a scalable way. Of course, there are numerous drip campaigns you can employ in your arsenal, each unique to your marketing objective and goal.

By taking the examples and campaign ideas listed above to heart, you can whip something that resonates with your audience, effectively nudging them down the sales pipeline.

This article’s featured image comes from pan xiaozhen on Unsplash.