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Drip vs. Nurture: What marketers need to know about email campaigns
Digital Marketing

Drip vs. Nurture: What marketers need to know about email campaigns

Email marketing can be as simple as a monthly eNewsletter, or as complex as the plotlines of your favorite daytime drama (seriously. It’s even called the “soap opera sequence.”) 

The more complex types of email campaigns are known as “drip campaigns” and “nurture campaigns.” 

Drip campaigns are typically a series of messages (emails… although these days they can include text messages, direct mail and social, too) sent at a regular interval you define to develop a relationship with your contacts. The full series in a drip campaign is sent regardless of recipient interaction (unless of course, they unsubscribe).

Nurture campaigns are a series of messages sent based on the lead/contact’s behavior. They are sent via trigger vs. on a schedule. Triggers could be links clicked, pages viewed, forms filled out, videos watched, webinars registered for.

If you’ve ever done a little online window shopping, and then received an email reminding you about items left in your virtual cart, that’s a Nurture campaign. do you know which is the right campaign to use?


Know your audience and set your goals

Like any marketing effort, the first step should be identifying your target audience, and setting goals for the initiative.

Start with the basics by answering these questions: 

  • Who is the audience and what do you know about them? 
  • Are these contacts that are already in your database, or newly generated?
  • What are your goals? (For this audience, with this campaign.)
  • How long is your (average) sales process?
  • What technology is involved? (Marketing Automation, CRM, etc.)

Then, take the time to revisit your customer persona(s) and journey map to determine the best ways to reach your targets. Ask yourself: 

  • How long is the journey?
  • What do we need them to know along the way?
  • Who’s going to help them get there?

Understand where your leads are ultimately going and what tools your sales team will have to assist in converting them. If you want to get real next-level about it, ensure that your marketing and sales team have a shared definition of a qualified lead and a service level agreement in place for hand-off and follow-up.


Figure out who is following up with your leads and how

If “know your audience” and “set your goals” are numbers 1 and 2 on the list of “Most Important Things To Do Before Building An Email Campaign,” figuring out who is following up with these leads (and how) would be #3. 

We can’t stress enough how critical this is. An email campaign can generate leads—and with the right content it can even help qualify those leads—but it alone can’t guarantee those leads will convert. That’s up to you and your brilliant sales team. 

Determine whom on your staff will be responsible for following up with the leads your email campaign creates, what that follow-up will look like (meeting, phone call, etc.), and how this process will be documented for both your sales and marketing teams to see. 


Is there such a thing as a Drip-Nurture Hybrid Campaign?

In short, yes.

You can use both drip and nurture strategies to keep your leads warm. But, you should use a nurture strategy when you have a clearly defined buyer’s journey and want to get your lead to a conversion destination like requesting a demo, downloading content, or completing a purchase.

For example, here are a few ways you could set up your nurture campaign:

  • Build off of initial offer
  • Training/education series (deliver a lesson each week)
  • Channel-based (i.e. tradeshow-specific)

And Last, But Not Least...

Regardless of the email campaign style you ultimately choose, don’t forget to use attention-getting subject lines to help push open rates and engagement. Here are a couple of examples to consider

  • Are you ready?
  • Here’s the thing:
  • Are you there? Have you been eaten by dragons?

Questions, hinting at something big, or just using unexpected phrasing are all great ways to get attention and create a bit of intrigue for your prospect.

You’ll also want to make sure your Calls-To-Action (CTAs) truly let the reader know what action they should be taking. Again, refer back to the customer journey as well as your goals for this campaign to determine what this audience should be doing and where that click should go.

Before you hit send on your next email marketing campaign, connect with the digital marketing team at CID. We’ll help you develop the right strategy and content plan for your goals. 

Heather Vaughn

Heather Vaughn

Marketing Services Director

Heather Vaughn is CI Design's Marketing Services Director. Her marketing career has been split with equal time on the agency and client sides, giving her a 360 perspective on marketing, and a keen understanding of how to use all its glorious data. With a blend of account, project management, and content strategy skills, she loves working with teams to connect the dots and craft marketing solutions that work.

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