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.


Personalization marketing makes email campaigns even better. Check out our favorite examples of personalized emails, or contact us to start creating an integrated marketing strategy.