What Is Drip Marketing?

Drip marketing is a strategy employed by many direct marketers where a constant flow of marketing material is sent to customers over a period of time. Drip marketing endeavors to create sales through long-term repeated exposure to its recipients of the goods and services that are advertised. Drip marketing may entail the use of a variety of mediums, such as email, direct mail, and social media, to deliver a steady stream of pre-written messages to prospective customers or buyers.

The goal of drip marketing is to keep a product or service one is trying to sell in the prospect's thoughts. Drip marketing may also be referred to as a "drip campaign," "lifecycle emails," an automated email campaign," "marketing automation," or an "auto-response campaign."

Key Takeaways

  • Drip marketing is a direct marketing strategy in which marketing material is sent to prospective customers steadily over a certain time period.
  • Drip marketers used to primarily target customers via direct mail, but now email and social media are the preferred means of contact.
  • Using targeted ads, links, messages and other forms of contact, marketers attempt to get a particular product or service lodged in the minds of consumers through repetition and visibility.
  • The marketers anticipate that with enough exposure, some consumers will finally get on board and buy the product or service. 

Understanding Drip Marketing

Initially, drip marketing was done chiefly with paper mail and flyers mailed to a recipient from a marketing list or after initial contact. The Internet and its myriad messaging options are now the primary way to engage in drip marketing.

Many forms of drip marketing rely on the "Law of 29," which states that most prospects will not buy something until they see an ad for it at least 29 times. Drip marketing may be used as a means of lead generation, with automated communications serving as a substitute for or augment a personal follow-up.

Drip marketing may be best seen as a lower-impact way of keeping top-of-mind in longer-tailed sales efforts.

How Drip Marketing Works

The most common medium for drip marketing is email because of its low cost and easy automation. Email drip marketing is generally used with an online form that the prospective customer fills out, which enters the person into an autoresponder program that manages the campaign from there on out.

Social media is increasingly being used in drip marketing campaigns, in which social media account updates and news feed items are updated on a regular basis around a content marketing effort. 

Direct mail has long been used in drip marketing efforts and has been updated to utilize software and digital printing to automate, personalize, and otherwise manage the production and distribution of mailers. 

Special Considerations: Prospect Behavior

A drip marketing campaign is conducted based partly on the behavior of a prospect, which lends the practice its other name: behavioral emails. Generally, once a prospective customer opts into communications from a seller they start a series of pre-composed emails or other communications. The first email may go out immediately or within a few days. It is soon followed by a series of follow-on emails based on the consumer's behavior, such as visiting a particular website, shopping online, adding an item to an online shopping cart, or making a purchase.

Such behaviors are easily tracked online and may result in a variety of communications, including incentives to purchase, such as discounts.