Email Marketing – Drip vs Triggered

What’s the difference between drip [marketing] emails and triggered emails?

That’s a question I’ve been hearing more often as business owners and sales pros begin exploring marketing automation software for their business.

These tools bring the promise of automatically following up with leads until they are ready to buy and then turning them over to sales for the close. Marketing automation tools do make it possible to scale follow up and personal attention to a far greater degree than an individual could manually; however, success with these software tools depends heavily on your ability to craft meaningful messages and deliver them when they are relevant to the reader. This last part, the delivery, is where we see a big difference in drip vs. triggered emails.

Drip Marketing Campaigns

Drip emails typically refer to a set of messages that are delivered in a pre-determined order over a pre-determined time period. Here is a typical scenario:

  1. A visitor fills out a form on a website to download an eBook.
  2. Within 1 hour, they receive an email containing thank you and a link to the eBook.
  3. 1 day after that, they receive an email reminding them to download the eBook if they haven’t done so already.
  4. 2 days after that they receive an offer for a free consultation

The actual series may include more (or fewer) steps, but the general idea is that everyone who downloads the eBook will receive the same set of messages over the same time intervals.

This capability is found in almost all of  your email service providers and products known as autoresponders.

Triggered Emails

More sophisticated automated solutions allow you to respond to your visitors based upon their behavior – their behavior triggers your response.

Using the example above, triggered emails would allow you to respond differently to a person who immediately downloaded your eBook than you would to a person who didn’t click on the download link until days later.

Or you could respond differently to a website visitor who spent time on your pricing page than you would to the person who spent most of their time on your careers page.

Message vs. Media

In this post I’ve talked about drip vs. triggered emails, but I should have talked about drip vs. triggered “messages”. Good follow up campaigns will use a variety of channels (phone, text message, letters, postcards) in addition to email to communicate with prospects and customers. Some marketing automation tools are better at handling multiple channels than others, so make sure to ask about that if you are shopping for a solution.

Rookies and Veterans

In some ways, the difference between dripped and triggered emails is similar to the difference between a novice and an experienced sales person. While a rookie may blindly follow “the script” and veteran sales pro will listen to what his prospect is saying and then respond with appropriate types of information and follow up questions.

Having a rookie sales person may be better than having no sales force at all, but in the long run, having a veteran will help you get to the next level faster.

If you have any questions about marketing automation solutions and whether one is right for your business, feel free to contact me.


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