Drip, Blast, or Trigger? Email Marketing Campaigns Explained

Women carrying shoppings bags and using smartphone

There is a bit of confusion out there as to where an email blast ends and drip campaigns begin, so let’s dive right in:

Email blasts are single email campaigns with no logical follow-up. Drip campaigns, on the other hand, are the next step in email marketing. Done well, they involve defining a logical sequence in messages or offers and sending them on a pre-defined schedule. For example, a bike retailer might send an email at the beginning of January about signing up for a tune-up – a get ready for spring email – then, in two weeks, send an offer for discount on a tune-up. Finally, in February they might send another message to tune- or trade-up.

Sounds good, right? A blast approach would entail sending one email with all these messages in one, as an example, and, likely, only once. A drip campaign helps turn the one blast into several points of follow-up. However, the drip is done with only educated guesses in mind as to the consumer’s behavior.

Most email marketers today are evolving beyond drip campaigns to trigger-based campaigns. These trigger campaigns are either semi-customized or completely personalized campaigns based on the individual target user’s behavior. Using the same scenario above, a trigger for the first email might be an open and click on tune-up details. If they do in fact click but do not convert, a reminder to schedule might go out in a week. Only the people who opened but did not click would receive the extra incentive of a discount.

To accomplish either of these approaches, brands must develop and manage a well-constructed data model and eventually a marketing database. These solutions, increasingly included as high-level capabilities in marketing automation platforms, form the foundation of advanced email marketing.