Drip Campaign vs Nurture Campaign: Which One to Use?

drip campaign vs nurture campaign illustration with water can pouring drops of water

It would be an understatement to say that email marketing is simply profitable — for every $1 you spend, you earn $42 in return. And email usage is only skyrocketing, with the global number of users expected to hit 4.5 billion by 2024. With all these excellent numbers in your favor, what are the best ways to use email marketing to generate revenue?

It’s all about using the correct marketing strategy. The right campaign can be excellent for engagement and conversions; as far as email campaigns go, drip campaign and nurture campaign are two equally powerful and effective tools for email marketers.

After we explain these two types of campaigns in detail, we will discuss why you should be using both of them and when to pick one over the other. Let’s get started!

What is a Drip Campaign?

A drip campaign, or email drip marketing, is an automated marketing strategy that involves sending a series of pre-written messages to a specific audience at a pre-defined cadence. A more familiar term for drip campaigns among email marketers would be “autoresponder.”

The term “drip” reflects the gradual release of these messages, which can be sent at regular intervals. This method is commonly used in various scenarios, such as customer onboarding, holiday marketing, and re-engagement. While drip campaigns are characterized by their automation feature, segmentation of the audience is equally important, which allows for personalized and targeted content. 

The primary goal of a drip campaign is to guide recipients through a predefined marketing or sales funnel, with each message strategically designed to move individuals from awareness to desired actions, measured through metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. Marketers typically use automation platforms and email marketing tools to implement and manage these campaigns efficiently.

What is an Email Nurture Campaign?

A nurture campaign is a type of drip campaign, but instead of using a time-based schedule, this campaign is based on lead behavior. Marketers can use behavioral data to trigger these emails and deliver personalized content and build a relationship with the reader. Nurturing campaigns “nurture” the relationship between you and your prospect, guiding them toward sharing your vision, which ultimately leads to conversion.

The purpose of these campaigns is to influence the lead’s decision by highlighting your products and their features or displaying the value proposition of your offerings. It is an effective way of sharing content that provides them with the information they need to make a purchase

It is a clever marketing strategy to achieve more conversions and improve revenue. In nurture campaigns, behavioral data collection is key — based on the actions of prospective customers, strategically planned emails can lure them toward conversion. Nurture campaigns create a personalized marketing experience for people who are yet to convert.

Drip Campaign vs Nurture Campaign

Below, we have highlighted the main differences between drip campaigns and nurture campaigns.

FeatureDrip CampaignNurture Campaign
TriggerTime-based; emails are sent out at a pre-defined cadenceBehavior-based; emails are sent based on customer behavior
PersonalizationLess personalizedMore personalized
ContentGeneralSegmented and targeted
GoalEducates and guides leads through the sales funnelBuilds relationships with leads and influences their point of view to lead them toward conversion
ExamplesWelcome series, onboarding emails, abandoned cart emailsProduct recommendations, event invitations, re-engagement emails
Drip Campaign vs Nurture Campaign

By now, you must be able to visualize different scenarios where each of these campaigns would bring better results — that’s exactly what the next section is about.

When to Use a Drip Campaign vs Nurture Campaign 

Depending on various factors, you can decide between drip and nurture campaigns to meet your goals.

You can use email drip campaigns to welcome new subscribers, onboard them to a product or service, or promote a new product launch. They can be effective at educating leads and guiding them through your sales funnel. 

Drip campaigns benefit smaller companies that may not have the budget for customer analytics but still want to run basic email marketing strategies. Such companies can easily set up email drips as they do not require a great amount of data or customization. You can simply segment your email lists and run a drip campaign effectively. 

Nurture campaigns are ideal when you want to use a personalized approach to convert your customers. For example, you can trigger a nurture campaign when a user abandons their cart, downloads a white paper, or signs up for your webinar. If you’re collecting a large amount of data on leads browsing your site, nurture campaigns can be a powerful tool to help you convert them into customers.

To sum up the difference between the two — drip campaigns are time-based email campaigns that guide customers down the sales funnel toward conversion. In contrast, nurture campaigns use customer data to personalize email content and depend on behavior-based triggers for actions like fire or stop. The best campaign type will depend on your specific goals and target audience.

When to Use a Drip Campaign

Here are a few situations where you can use drip marketing with your subscribers.

  • To welcome new subscribers to your email list,
  • To onboard new customers to your product or service,
  • To promote a new product,
  • To educate customers or share informational content.

You can use drip campaigns to automate and streamline the delivery of targeted, sequenced messages, ultimately enhancing engagement and conversion rates.

When to Use a Nurture Campaign

Below are common situations where marketers use nurture campaigns:

  • When a user abandons their cart,
  • When a user downloads a lead magnet,
  • When a user signs up for a webinar,
  • When a user is inactive.

Using a drip campaign, you can deliver highly personalized and timely content tailored to individual actions. By responding dynamically to the unique behaviors and preferences of each lead, you can build a stronger relationship with your readers.

Examples of Drip Campaigns

Two of the most common examples of drip campaigns are welcome drip campaigns and campaigns that educate customers on a new product. We decided to go with two imaginary companies to explain the sequence; the first is a real estate company, and the second is a home appliance manufacturer. We went with one example of each service and product company, so you can adapt either of these campaigns to suit your business. 

Welcome Drip Campaign: Example 

Let’s build a welcome series for an imaginary real estate company. We will show you an example using a hypothetical company named Avenue Properties. You can pick anywhere between 5 to 10 emails for your drip campaign, depending on your industry, but we decided to go with 5 for this one.

  1. Email 1
    The first email should welcome the customer to Avenue Properties and offer an introduction. Thank them for signing up, and set expectations for what they can expect from the business. This email should provide information about Avenue that makes the company look credible. If there is an app, encourage them to sign up.
  2. Email 2
    The second email emphasizes Avenue Properties’s personalized approach to helping customers find their dream homes. Detail how the company tailors searches based on individual preferences, ensuring a unique and satisfying home-buying experience. Include a CTA to connect with a real estate expert.
  3. Email 3
    In the third email, highlight Avenue Properties’ expertise. This is an educational email that shows subscribers how to use Avenue’s services in the best manner possible. For example, share content on how they can find an ideal neighborhood or the perfect home by using special search functions.
  4. Email 4
    Use the fourth email to provide valuable tips for a successful home-buying journey. Offer practical advice on the home-buying process, such as understanding market trends, securing loans, and tackling negotiations. Emphasize Avenue Properties‘ role as a trusted advisor in the journey. Include a CTA to schedule a consultation with an Avenue Properties expert.
  5. Email 5
    The fifth and last email should keep customers engaged and informed about ongoing updates and opportunities with Avenue Properties. Thank the customer for choosing Avenue Properties as their real estate partner and mention how there’s more to explore. Provide a CTA for them to stay connected using social media or by signing up for personalized property updates.

Welcome drip campaigns should be one of the first campaigns you create — start from there and build more complex campaigns with time!

Educational Drip Sequence: Example

Drip campaigns are a great way to inform and educate your subscribers about your newest product or service. This is a hypothetical campaign to promote an imaginary new blender called the B1000. We decided to go with 5 emails for this campaign as well.

  1. Email 1
    In this email, introduce the customer to your company and the new B1000 blender. Provide a brief overview of your company and introduce the latest addition to your product line — the cutting-edge product, the B1000 blender. Express excitement about the customer joining the community of B1000 enthusiasts.
  2. Email 2
    In the second email, talk about the key features of the new B1000. Focus on a couple of features and explain how these features enhance the reader’s blending experience. Include a CTA so your subscriber can explore these features in more detail.
  3. Email 3
    You can talk about practical scenarios and creative ways to use the B1000 blender in the third email. Share stories from customers who have used previous products and how excited they are for the new model. Include recipes for smoothies, soups, or other dishes. You can offer a CTA where they can sign up for recipes in their inbox.
  4. Email 4
    The fourth email is where you discuss tips and tricks! Let your expertise shine as you provide helpful tips to enhance the customer’s experience with the B1000. You can include cleaning tips or offer advice on maximizing efficiency with the new blender.
  5. Email 5
    In the 5th email, you give launch details and offer a discount coupon. Thank your customers for being a part of the B1000 journey, and provide a CTA for them to stay connected to your brand.

The two campaign examples above can guide you with your own drip marketing efforts. Remember to constantly analyze the responses to your campaigns so you can explore ways to improve them.

Nurture Campaigns: Examples

A classic example of a nurture campaign would be an abandoned cart. This is an example of user behavior you can react to immediately and reach out to the customer to get them to push past the final step of conversion. For these examples, we created two imaginary businesses — one is a makeup company, and the other is a leather wallet maker.

The first example is a class abandoned cart sequence. The second example is one where we use a nurturing campaign to entice a lead to make a purchase because you have collected enough data to know they’re interested. 

Abandoned Cart Nurture Sequence: Example 

In this example, we will create an abandoned cart nurture campaign for another imaginary sender, a makeup company named VelvetSkin

  1. Email 1
    Use this email to remind the customer about their abandoned cart and provide a gentle nudge to complete the purchase. Since this is a sensitive point in the sales funnel where conversion is highly likely, mention a limited-time offer or discount as an incentive to complete the purchase. 
  2. Email 2
    In this email, showcase the value of abandoned products through features, benefits, and positive customer reviews. Provide additional information about each item and emphasize the positive impact on the customer’s beauty routine.
  3. Email 3
    Create a sense of urgency and exclusivity to encourage prompt action in this email. Inform the customer that the products in their cart are running low in stock. Offer exclusive access to secure these items before they sell out. Use compelling language to convey urgency and importance.
  4. Email 4
    This is where you use more customer data to suggest complementary products. Highlight how these additions can complete their VelvetSkin look. If possible, offer a special discount for purchasing the suggested products along with the abandoned ones.
  5. Email 5
    Send a final reminder with a compelling offer to re-ignite interest. Remind the customer about their abandoned cart, reiterate the benefits of the products, and offer a special discount or promotion as a final incentive. Clearly communicate that this is their last chance to take advantage of the offer.

If you need any motivation to build an abandoned cart nurture campaign, you should know the open rate for these emails in 2022 was 45% and 10.7% of recipients completed their purchase! 

Hot Lead Nurturing: Example 

So, you have a lead who has repeatedly visited your website and looked at the same products? Time is of the essence! We’ve created a sample nurture campaign for an imaginary leather wallet company named XT, where we contact the lead and urge them to purchase by using their browsing data. 

  1. Email 1
    Introduce the customer to XT Wallets and express appreciation for their recent visits. Showcase the products from the visited pages with high-quality images. Highlight key features and craftsmanship. Include a CTA to explore the entire collection.
  2. Email 2
    In the second email, educate the customer on XT leather wallets’ unique features and benefits. Emphasize their durability, style, and functionality. Use visuals to showcase different designs and color options. Include customer testimonials or reviews to build trust. Encourage customers to explore the full range of XT Wallets.
  3. Email 3
    Use this email to create a sense of urgency. Promote the product from your lead’s most-visited page. Offer a special discount to encourage prompt action. Make it clear this offer is exclusive and time-sensitive. Use persuasive language to motivate customers to click the CTA.
  4. Email 4
    It’s a good idea to suggest complementary products in email #4. Recommend additional XT leather products or accessories that pair well with the wallets. Highlight how these additions can enhance their style. Offer a bundled discount for purchasing the suggested items along with the XT wallet.
  5. Email 5
    This is when you send a final reminder with an exclusive offer for VIP customers. Remind the customer about the XT leather wallets they browsed, reiterate unique features, and offer a special discount exclusively for them. Emphasize that this is their last chance to enjoy VIP access to the offer.

You should be able to clock more sales using either of these two drip campaigns. Ensure each email in the nurture campaign is visually appealing, aligns with your brand’s aesthetics, and includes clear CTAs to drive engagement and conversions.

How to Create a Drip Campaign

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create an effective email drip campaign:

  1. The first step is to clearly identify the goal of your drip campaign (onboarding, product promotion).
  2. Define your target audience, and based on your goals, segment your list based on relevant criteria.
  3. Next, outline the content and structure of your email sequence. Consider the timing, frequency, and message of each email.
  4. It’s time to write engaging and relevant content for each email in the campaign. Ensure your emails provide value and have clear CTAs.
  5. Use personalization wherever possible; address recipients by name and include other personalized elements. Tailor content to match the specific needs or preferences of each segment.
  6. Finally, it’s time to set things up. Utilize the automation features of your chosen email marketing platform to schedule and send emails automatically.
    At Campaign Refinery, our clients get powerful email sequencing tools and automation logic to play with while they design their campaigns. Our sequencing tools give them enough control to guide a subscriber through the sales funnel creatively.
  7. Before launching, test your sequence to ensure formatting, working links, and accurate personalization. Test different subject lines, and content, and send times for optimization.
  8. Remember to monitor key metrics such as open, click-through, and conversion rates. Use insights to make adjustments and improve the effectiveness of your campaign.

You can use these guidelines for all types of drip campaigns. 

How to Create a Nurture Campaign

  1. Like drip campaigns, the first step of creating a nurture campaign is to define your goals. What do you want to achieve with this campaign? Do you want to introduce new leads to your brand, educate them about your products or services, or move them closer to a purchase decision?
  2. Next, identify your target audience. Who are you sending your nurture campaign to? What are their needs and interests?
  3. It’s time to segment your audience. Once you know your target audience, you can segment them into smaller groups based on their needs, interests, or stages in the buyer journey. This will allow you to send more targeted and relevant messages.
  4. Identify behaviors and create triggers. This is the toughest part — but that’s where your marketing expertise comes in. Get into your customer’s head and decide what behavior warrants activating your nurture campaign.
  5. The next step is to create the nurture sequence. This is the series of emails or other messages you send to your leads. Each message should educate, inform, or persuade your leads to take a desired action. Your nurture campaign should provide your leads with valuable information they can use.
  6. Don’t forget to personalize your messages. Nurture campaigns are more effective when you customize the content for each lead. This is possible by using their name, interests, or other relevant information like website behavior.
  7. It is important to track the results of your nurture campaign to see what is working and what is not. Use this information to improve your campaigns over time.

With these general guidelines, you can create a wide variety of nurture campaigns. Remember, it’s all about thinking as a customer would — do that, and you will achieve great success with your nurturing sequences.

Campaign Refinery: Run Any Campaign With Ease

Whether you want to run a drip or a nurture campaign, you need a platform to support your marketing vision. You need tools that give an immense amount of control and a system that saves you time and lets you execute ideas — FAST.

Campaign Refinery does it best.

With our powerful email sequencing tools and automation logic, you can create complex drip and nurture campaigns with ease. The best part of using Campaign Refinery is that you will spend significantly less time thinking about how to structure your campaigns because our UI just makes everything so simple. No matter how much you wish to personalize your campaign — if you can dream it, Campaign Refinery can do it.

All that automation magic is backed up by robust analytics, dynamic audience segmentation tools, and a template library with numerous campaigns to choose from.

If being one of the top email marketers in the industry sounds good to you, apply to join Campaign Refinery today.

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