Why You're Using Drip Emails All Wrong (and What to Do Instead)

Are you alienating your audience and sabotaging your potential results?

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By Timothy Carter

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Drip email campaigns have a lot of potential. In case you aren't familiar, drip email campaigns are designed to automate the process of sending multiple successive emails to members of your target audience. Over time, you can significantly increase interaction rates and conversion rates this way; as a consumer gets more emails from a given brand, they become more familiar with the brand, and they're exposed to more opportunities to take action. Eventually, if they're a good fit, they should make a purchase or take some other significant action.

Unfortunately, most brands that are leveraging drip email campaigns are using them incorrectly. At best, this means they're never going to reach their full potential. At worst, it means they're alienating their audience actively and sabotaging their potential results.

The double-edged sword of drip emails

The power of drip email campaigns is a double-edged sword. The reason these campaigns are so popular is because they are cheap and easy. Because they're entirely automated, you don't have to spend much time or effort optimizing them or executing the campaign. Because it's based on email, it's relatively cheap to put a campaign together. And because the learning curve is relatively easy, you don't need any special training or certifications to get started.

Related: 5 Ways to Earn a Better ROI with Your Email Marketing Campaigns

These are massive strengths, and they're part of the reason why drip email campaigns can have such a high ROI. However, they also present a handful of disadvantages. Notably, people have a tendency to overestimate the value of drip email campaigns or overestimate their own abilities to extract value from those campaigns. Just because it's easy to get started with something doesn't mean it's easy to capitalize on its full value. And if you're overconfident in this area, you might overlook some of the most fundamental mistakes that you're making.

The biggest problems with drip email campaigns

So what are the biggest problems we see with drip email campaigns, and how can we fix them?

  • Targeting the wrong people (or targeting nobody). One of the biggest problems is targeting the wrong people or targeting nobody in particular. You might have a list of targeted prospects that fall into ideal demographic categories, but are you writing emails that are specifically tailored to them? Oftentimes, marketers fall into the trap of appealing to the broadest audience possible, which means creating generic content that could conceivably be relevant to anybody. This rarely works out; instead, it's better to alienate some people so that you can be extremely relevant to your most valuable audience segments.
  • Overwhelming your audience. Because drip emails are automated and they happen behind the scenes, it's tough to get an intuition for how often you're sending emails to your customers. As a result, many brands end up bombarding their audience with far too many emails. Sending an email every day, or sending dozens of emails before you stop trying to reach a contact, could end up getting you marked as spam and could turn some customers away from your brand permanently.
  • Getting caught in spam filters. Overactive spam filters or bad habits on your part could quickly squash your campaign's potential. Using specific trigger words, formatting your emails poorly, or reaching people who never subscribed to your list in the first place could all cause you to face spam-related issues. Make sure you're following best practices to avoid spam filters, and do your best to send quality content to people who actually want to see it.
  • Relying on terrible subject lines. Your subject lines are arguably the most important part of your drip emails. Without a good subject line, people won't open your email, meaning the rest of your message is worthless. Work on writing subject lines that are concise, inviting and unique; you can experiment until you get the process down.
  • Overloading your emails with content. Email marketers are often tempted to stuff their emails full of as much content as possible, inflating quality and quantity. For the most part, consumers want emails that are concise and easy to digest, so it's much more effective to craft emails that are short and succinct.
  • Neglecting the statistics. You might think your emails are persuasive and compelling, but how does your target audience feel? Your drip email software (and customer surveys) should reveal the truth. Study the data seriously and objectively if you want to keep improving.

Related: 10 Tips for Writing Emails That Will Get You Tangible Results

Drip email campaigns often fail in one way or another, but this isn't a reflection of the potential of the strategy. Instead, it's a reflection of how the strategy is considered and how it's executed. An honest and critical assessment of your previous email habits should help you identify some of the biggest problem areas associated with your campaign execution and forge a path for the higher ROI in the future.

Timothy Carter

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Chief Revenue Officer of SEO.co

Timothy Carter is the CRO of the Seattle digital marketing agency SEO.co. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO & digital marketing leading, building & scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and driving growth from websites and sales teams.

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