The Ultimate Guide to Drip Email Campaigns (income on autopilot)

How would you like your next email campaign to be as welcome to your readers as a steaming mug of hot chocolate during a January arctic freeze…

… and bring in revenue at the same time?

A drip email campaign is a pre-configured set of really good emails that automatically go out to people who opt-in–whether they are new leads or already loyal readers.

The thing about drip email campaigns is that they make you look great, engage your audience, generate earnings, and have open rates hovering around 40% or better.

Yep, they take a fair bit of effort to set up —-which I’m about to make it easier for you with a step-by-step— but then they WOW your readers, set the stage for your new launch or book, generate income, and reactivate dead email lists… automatically.

Drip email campaigns are top of mind for me because I’m getting ready to run a drip email campaign as the introduction to my new Podcast, but here are all the ways you can set up an automated drip campaign for your business or nonprofit:

  • Nurturing leads and converting them into buyers or donors
  • Welcome campaigns
  • Onboarding new customers or donors
  • Abandoned shopping cart campaigns
  • Membership renewals
  • Systematically ask for ratings, reviews, and testimonials
  • Event confirmation and countdowns
  • Fundraising coaching for peer-to-peer campaigns
  • Engagement (I love to bundles past content in a series for new subscribers that haven’t seen it yet)
  • Re-engagement campaigns (we ALL have some subscribers that have gone really silent on us)
  • Launching a podcast (like I’m doing)
  • Delivering courses for direct income


I’ve created drip email campaigns for several years and have perfected the strategy for a winning drip email campaign in today’s email environment and here it is:

1. Drip email campaign must address your readers most pressing problem or pain point. It’s tough enough to keep someone’s interest for one email, much less 15, so choose a topic that everyone struggles with and…

2. Simplify the solution so anyone can easily act on it in UNDER 30 days. I can’t recall a drip campaign that successfully lasted longer than 30 days. Personally, I think 30 days is pushing it. Drip campaigns usually last from 3 – 15 emails. To his credit Darren Rowse ran a super-successful “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” podcast drip campaign, so there you go.

3.  Communicate a clear, tangible outcome of the drip campaign. Again… building a better blog in 31 days was excellent. Another recent example was a drip campaign from Buffer, “The Complete Buffer Guide to Social Media Success: A 10-Day Email Course to Boost Your Results

4.  Even if… overcome objections by answering, “this won’t work for me because…”

5.  Create an opt-in landing page for the course so only the people who want to get 15 to 30 emails from you will. Never, ever drop a drip campaign on your full email list or your unsubscribes will spike (I made this mistake only once). Promote the free or paid drip campaign to your full list, but only send the emails to those that opt-in. The exception is if you are sending a welcome campaign, onboarding campaign, or shopping cart abandonment campaign that is triggered by someone actively subscribing via an opt-in mechanism.

6.  Your email series starts on your opt-in thank-you page.  That’s right. Your first drip email isn’t even an email. It’s a crisply written thank-you page that affirms the outcome your reader will get from the coming drip campaign. Skip this, and you’ll see lower email open rates from the get-go. Use this space to create juicy anticipation.

7.  Write your emails with the content you’re delivering. You can put all your captivating content in the email or write a mouth-watering summary in each email and ask your readers to click through to your landing page with the content or download.

8.  Get extra mileage from good content. Promote the hell out of your drip campaign with multiple opt-in points including: guest post blogs and promote it in your byline, advertise it on Facebook, use a pop up lightbox on your website for an opt-in, promote it in your welcome emails to catch new subscribers (unless it’s your welcome email series). Repurpose your brand new email welcome series of Problem, Agitate, Solve, as a reactivation campaign. Use the content once you’ve created it.

Timing and sequencing

Timing of the emails depends on the type of drip campaign, but here’s an example of a welcome email sequence for a small donation or small-end (under $100) product buy.






Here’s another brilliant example from Buffer of a drip campaign that can be used for multiple purposes: engagement, reactivation, welcome series, or nurture to an offer.

This first image is the sequence and timing of a good drip campaign…



Buffer Drip Campaign Isolated

This second image is the invitation to opt-in to the drip campaign…


Buffer Drip Campaign First Email




Drip email campaigns really only work if you automate them (otherwise they are waaaaaaay to much work to send out manually). Some tools allow you to get fancy-schmancy, but I’m a huge advocate of starting simple and building on that success. Use your current mail provider including:

Don’t have a good email tool to use, then look at these “drip-campaign” specific tools:

On the higher-end, more sophisticated marketing automation tools you can look at include: