How to create an automated (a.k.a. “drip”) email campaign

A successful automated email machine helps your business grow without you having to constantly tend to everything. It develops your business either through deepening relationships with current customers (thereby making them stickier to you) or by forging new relationships with leads in order to help them become customers.

The goal of this article is to help give you a quick high-level introduction to creating your own drip email campaign. If you’re interested in a deeper dive into what it takes to create a successful program, then schedule a quick 20-minute call today.

Let’s jump right in.

Step 1. Have a goal
The keystone to any successful marketing effort is to first have a goal in mind. From here, you build backward through the solution.

“Invert. Always invert.” – Charlie Munger

An automated email campaign is no different. You first need to decide what your goal is for the exercise.

Is your goal to establish greater trust with current clients so they graduate up to a high priced service?

Is it to help new subscribers know, like, and trust your brand so they move up from being prospects to being customers?

Whatever you want this campaign to do, have it in mind with everything you do in relation to this effort. It makes things a heck of a lot easier for you while creating the campaign, and it helps ensure you’re adding value to your readers.

Step 2. Create your campaign
Now that you know why you’re creating something, now comes the time-intensive task of actually creating it. While there a number of options you can use to create the content for your campaign, the main tenement here is to add value to your readers. If they find little to no value in what you’re sending them, they’ll stop opening the emails and you’ll lose credibility. 

The trick here is to create content that you would actually be willing to charge for. 

Produce only value-adding content. Nothing else.

If you don’t think you could get someone to pay a dime for what you’re emailing out, then start over. Produce only value-adding content. Nothing else.

Step 3. Get permission

Unlike traditional advertising that’s all about interrupting someone’s day, your emails should be what’s called permission-based marketing. With permission marketing, you first seek permission from your target audience before you market to them. If you get permission to market, then you’ll see vast increases in the response and engagement rates to your efforts (read Seth Godin’s book Permission Marketing for a more thorough explanation of this concept).

You get permission from your audience by telling them exactly what you plan on doing. If you want to send them a multistep email course, then tell them that’s what you want to do and then provide them a way to sign up for the course. By having them opt into your messaging, they’re giving you permission to market to them.

Don’t abuse this permission. Only provide what you’ve said you’d provide. Don’t take it as an excuse to spam the crap out of folks since you now have their email address.

Step 4. Deliver your content
There are now dozens of drip/automated email service providers (ESP). Two of the better ones are Drip and Mailchimp. Choosing your service provider is a bit of nuanced item, but 90% of first-time email marketers will do well enough with MailChimp.

With whatever provider you opt to use, I recommend you keep things fairly straightforward for your first foray into the world of automated email marketing. While there are tons of neats tricks, systems, and processes you can use and put into place, the more complicated you make it, the less likely you are to actually make it (i.e. you’ll get fed up or stuck somewhere and abandon the project as a whole). 

The more complicated you make it, the less likely you are to actually make it.

Keep Occam’s Razor in mind here. The best solution is typically the simplest.

Step 5. Dog food it
Before you unleash your new automaton onto the world, you first need to run through it yourself (known in the tech world as “dogfooding”). By putting yourself quite literally in the place of your recipient, you’ll quickly find out if there are any bugs in your system.

Did you never get the third email in the campaign? Do your emails render wonky? Is Gmail clipping your emails so that your CTA is getting cut off? 

There are a number of issues that can crop up when you create anything new and are working across multiple independent systems. It’s up to you to ensure your readers have the best experience possible when they get your emails.

Step 6. In all things, measure!
That’s right, you’ve got to measure your email efforts! You need to make sure your campaign is hitting your goal. If not, why not?

Check the open rates of your campaign. Are open rates plummeting after your second send? If so, find out why. It could be your content sucks or there may even be a glitch in the system that causes the subject line to be blank. Perhaps your subject line is too spammy?

If you’re not measuring and checking on your program, then you’ll never know what’s working and what’s not working. Just setting it and forgetting it is not the path to a successful automated email campaign (or any marketing effort, for that matter).

At a minimum, I’d recommend checking on the automation one week after launch, then three weeks after launch then once a month. If you build out a sequence that runs months long (one of Enotto’s is 26 weeks long), then check on it more frequently (at least until you’ve had 50 – 100 subscribers complete the sequence).

While this is a fairly high-level look at setting up your own automated email effort, there’s still a ton more to make a truly successful campaign. If you’re interested in learning more, sign up for our free intro email course. Also, if you want more of a guiding hand towards creating an effective campaign, reach out to us and let us know, we’d be happy to help!