How to Use Drip Email Campaigns to Drive Conversions
If you’re like most e-commerce and other online merchants, you depend on regular (and often frequent) promotional campaigns to drive sales. These campaigns are loaded with offers, incentives, and immediate calls to action. But is the prospect really ready to buy? Do you have a relationship? Does your prospect trust you enough to buy from you? Drip email campaigns (also called nurturing campaigns) are the tool every online marketer needs to develop that relationship and trust with prospects that will ultimately result in more sales conversions and greater client loyalty over time.
Drip email campaigns are a great way for companies to streamline lead-nurturing processes by automatically sending out relevant and timely email messages to prospects and customers. These campaigns are your opportunity to emphasize why someone should buy from you versus your competitors. Plus, nurturing campaigns develop the relationship and trust you need to get the sales you seek. And because they are typically automated, nurturing campaigns will free up valuable time, as well as resources of sales and marketing departments. In effect, these campaigns are the ones that, once created, keep giving over and over, continually driving up your return on investment (ROI).
At FulcrumTech, we’ve implemented a number of drip campaigns that have resulted in phenomenal boosts in revenue. To give you actionable insights into some of the best practices we’ve learned over the years, here are descriptions of two of our most recent drip email campaigns. Plus, I’ve thrown in a few additional drip-marketing tips that you can implement in your own marketing program.
Welcome Email Drip Campaign
Welcome email drip campaigns provide the perfect opportunity both to educate and nurture prospective new customers during their pre-purchase consideration cycle. Because the typical savvy consumer invests considerable time in researching products online to compare costs, features, and benefits among competing brands, this type of drip campaign is especially vital for e-commerce sites today.
When a person first signs up for your communications, he or she is in a phase we call the “sign-up honeymoon.” These are the campaigns that usually see the highest open rates. So, instead of the typical single welcome email, we rolled out a three-email series. This particular series focused on the unique product features not available from similar products on the market. The series spanned one week and was triggered when prospective customers signed up to receive product information or to speak with a representative via live chat on the company’s website.
The email messages provided product information that was tailored to match the prospective customers’ interests and lifestyles. In the final email, we offered prospects a discount toward their first online purchase.
Within four weeks after launching the welcome drip campaign, we saw the anticipated high-performing metrics, from open rates to conversion:
- Unique open rates for each of the three emails were 61.9%, 40.5%, and 35.7%, respectively.
- Click-to-open rates for the three emails were 33.2%, 15.9%, and 22.9%, respectively.
- Clicks from the emails generated significantly more traffic to the website and online store—where the conversions occur—driving more than a 64% increase in ROI.
Abandoned-Cart Drip Campaign
Users who place products in online shopping carts and leave before finishing the purchase are hot prospects. And sometimes all they need is a nudge (or two, or three) to complete the purchase. That’s how an abandoned-cart drip email campaign can help drive conversions and recapture sales. In fact, these campaigns are one of the highest revenue generators for e-commerce firms.
Our client in this example did not send abandoned-cart emails prior to our involvement with it. So, we recommended implementing a drip campaign consisting of three emails that were each populated with up to three items left in prospects’ carts. (When it comes to abandoned-cart drip campaigns, we’ve found that three is the typical sweet spot for getting an optimal response.)
The following summarizes our strategy for this campaign. Note that you can use many of these best practices for your own abandoned-cart campaigns.
- Email #1 — This email is sent between three and four hours after a prospect has abandoned a cart. In this email message, we ask the shopping cart abandoners if they encountered technical issues during checkout or if they had any questions that needed to be addressed by a customer representative. The primary goal of this email is to simply remind prospective customers that they did not complete their online purchase. A link to return to their cart is provided as a key call to action.
- Email #2 — If prospective customers do not respond to the first email, a second email is sent two days later. This email is presented as a “friendly reminder” that lets them know that their items have been saved. Again, a prominent call-to-action button linking to the cart is provided to drive the conversion.
- Email #3 — If there is still no response, a third email is sent two days after the second email. In this email message, we provide an extra push to purchase by including an incentive for 10% off their order. The offer and cadence are two major areas of testing and optimization in abandoned-cart drip campaigns; however, we’ve found that if a prospect does not make a purchase after a week, he or she likely is no longer interested in the product(s). It’s important to think through whether an incentive is appropriate in your case, though, because you may inadvertently train your prospects and customers to abandon their carts and wait for the third email. This especially can become a problem if repeat purchases are common on your site.
Not only did this campaign drive substantial revenue, but it resulted in an increased order value of 20%.
Drip Campaign Tips for Driving Conversions
Here are more great tips to help keep your drip email campaigns relevant, optimized for outstanding performance, and driving more conversions:
- Set up a preference center. This will provide you with vital information about your prospects and customers to create relevant content, as well as determine the best frequency and cadence for your drip campaigns.
- Segment your lists based on where subscribers are in the customer journey. Knowing where your customers are on the path to conversion can help you send the right email message at the right time. Plus, use as much information as you can gather about your prospects (e.g., demographics, the website page from which they signed up for emails, and purchase behavior) to create content and offers that are relevant to individual target segments.
- Provide dynamic content to personalize and increase relevance in your drip campaigns. As described in the abandoned-cart case above, including the products that a prospect has left in his or her abandoned cart is a good example of this. Another example: if you sell pet products, for instance, include different content for a cat owner versus a dog owner.
- Use responsive design for your drip campaigns and associated landing pages. With a significant portion of subscribers using mobile devices to read and respond to their emails, optimizing for mobile is no longer an option if you want to achieve high-performance results.
- Constantly test and optimize your drip campaigns. This is one of the most important email tactics to drive conversions. In addition to tracking conversion rates, measure such metrics as opens, click-through rates, delivery rates, bounces, and unsubscribe rates for each drip campaign. Then, fine-tune your email messages and dedicated website landing pages by testing elements such as subject lines, headlines, calls to action, offers, and days and times sent. Plus, be sure to also test email send frequency and cadence to help you achieve the best campaign response for each target audience.
With the automation tools currently available, drip campaigns are easier than ever to set up and deploy. Add some finesse in the areas of strategy and optimization, and you’ll keep those conversions coming!