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Cold Email Drip Campaigns: 11 Best Practices

When approaching new leads for the first time, it is important to understand a few things.

First, it is vital that you know your audience, which includes the mindset, experiences, and needs of the people that you are targeting.

Second, you need a well-planned and executed strategy for reaching them.

Finally, you need to be willing to step back, analyze your results, and make changes when needed.

Why Email?

To this day, email remains the single most effective marketing tool available. It’s bigger than social media, and it can hold its own even with minimal of visual aids or enhancements. In fact, some of the most successful email campaigns consist entirely of text. The proper and effective use of words can win over a prospect quickly. It shows that you are an authority in your field and are, subsequently, worthy of trust.


With that in mind, here are 11 things that you should be implementing in every cold email drip campaign that you launch. Treat the following information as a roadmap for success, and try not to skip any steps along the way.

1. Start By Split-Testing Squeeze Pages

The first and most important part of a cold email campaign is capturing email addresses. The whole process is pointless without having an audience on which to test it. Clearly, you already have a product launch or some other purpose driving the creation of this sequence, so insert this part appropriately into the process.

You want to test a number of squeeze pages with each jabbing a specific pain point or key idea that you think will make your ideal buyer opt-in. Over the course of a few days, analyze which pages have the highest click-through rates and gradually eliminate under-performing pages from the mix.

2. Align Messages in Your Emails with Opt-In Terms

If you make promises or hint at solutions to pain points on a squeeze page, those points need to be reflected in your emails. If your message appears to be incongruous with the reason or reasons that someone opts in, then you will lose them almost immediately.

It is for this reason that the core message in all of your content, including squeeze pages, emails, blogs, social media, and so forth, must be consistent. You should also be prepared to tweak later messages in your drip to align with your most effective squeeze pages.

'You don't have to lead with a solution; in fact, we suggest that you don't.'Click To Tweet

You don’t have to lead with a solution; in fact, we suggest that you don’t. Do, however, bring up the points that you discover to be most important to your audience right away. Give them your full assurance that you have the solution and will explain everything as you go. This will help increase your open rates and develop that all-important sense of both anticipation and trust from your readers.

3. Use Smart Subject Lines

Don’t go crazy with your subject lines. We do not recommend that you take the “shock and awe” route. Your subject lines should be thought-provoking, pique reader interest, and, when possible, communicate a sense of urgency.


Avoid subject lines that are typed in all caps. Also, avoid using superlatives like “best” or “greatest.” Additionally, avoid loud, invasive adjectives, for chances are good that only you find your offer “amazing.” It doesn’t have to be amazing, but it simply needs to solve a problem or deliver a valuable benefit. Drive those ideas rationally and intelligently, and do it without overstatement. This is true of the entire email message, but it is of particular importance in your subject lines.

4. Keep Messages Short and Concise

Email messages that can be viewed in full above the fold are always going to be the most effective. Realize that people will only be willing to scroll down to a certain point, and that happens only when they are truly engaged. Maintain a friendly, conversational tone, but get right to the point without unnecessary preamble.

If you want to make a few personal interjections or go a little off-script in a cold email drip campaign, do it in your postscript. If someone is willing to read that far, they clearly have an interest in you and your brand. The postscript can provide you with a great opportunity to do a little relationship-building.

5. Engage with Storytelling

Even in cold email campaigns, storytelling is a great way to win over your audience. Far too many marketers bypass this method, opting instead to drive home the features and benefits aspect of their message. Today’s consumer is far less interested in features and benefits than he or she is about the experience of a product.


It makes sense, then, to craft a story around that. What motivated you to start marketing your product or service? What points can they relate to that you can bring to the table in a story? Get good at this, and you will watch your open rates virtually explode. There is no more successful outgrowth of an email drip campaign than a reader who anticipates or looks forward to hearing from you.

6. Don’t Over-Sell

The purpose of your cold email campaign is to first inform and then sell. You must present the content of your emails that way, and in that order, if you wish to effectively nurture your leads. You are here, first and foremost, to identify problems and needs. Next, show your audience that you intend to address those needs. Finally, offer the solution.

All of these things can be done in a single email or progressively throughout the drip sequence. The latter method is almost always more effective. Try to make the progression of information flow organically. Don’t force details or try to sneak sales language into the mix too early or too often.

7. Provide a Clear Call to Action at the Beginning and End

Phrases like “keep reading” or “read this entire message” are effective ways to draw in the reader. Couple that call to action with the assurance that they are doing so for a specific purpose to keep them engaged. What will the reader obtain from sticking with you until the end? Identify that, and then deliver it.

At the end, wrapping up with a call to look for your next message is a great way to increase your opens. You can also link to various resources, quizzes, or other helpful bits of content that will help the reader along on his or her buyer’s journey.

8. Start with a Small List Segment

These last four steps are designed to help you monitor your progress and increase the effectiveness of your campaigns.


Once you have developed your sequence, test it out on a small segment of your list, and monitor your open and click-through rates. If the numbers fall flat, start by adjusting your subject lines to elicit more opens. If you get more opens but fewer-than-average clicks, you might want to re-assess the delivery of your message before unleashing your sequence on the masses.

9. Adjust the Frequency of Delivery

If your opens fizzle out after day two or three, you might want to space out the delivery windows a bit to see if having more or less time between messages makes a difference. Again, test this out on a small segment, and apply the most effective changes to the rest of your list.

10. Send to the Rest of Your List

Now that you’ve streamlined the messaging and delivery of your cold email drip campaign, it’s probably ready for prime time. Send it to your entire list, and start crunching the numbers. Keep tabs daily on your open and click-through rates. Most auto-responder services provide these metrics automatically and free of additional charge.

11. Evaluate Results and Apply Successful Elements to Future Campaigns

Examine which messages in the sequence are getting the best engagement. If you decide to ask for the sale in every email, then what day of the campaign are you seeing the most conversions? Analyze that message, and use the information in it as the foundation for future campaigns. Clearly, this is what your audience wants to hear.


If you aren’t going straight for the sale, look for spikes in interaction, and figure out what is going on in that particular message that is getting people to click through. What kinds of content get the best response? Is it a quiz or a blog article? Do you get a higher response with a news story or a picture? You may be surprised at the way certain people respond to specific words, images, or media.

Final Takeaway

Email drip campaigns can be tricky to get right. You are approaching prospects who are blank slates to your brand message and attempting to build relationships. The purpose of any marketing campaign is to lead readers through every step of a buyer’s journey where the last stop is your checkout page.

Email remains the most effective tool that you have, so learn how to use it to its greatest advantage. Following the roadmap laid out above is an intelligent and responsible place to start in developing future email drip campaigns.

About the Author

Matt HaagMatt Haag has more than 20 years in technology roles ranging from Programmer/Analyst, Sales Engineer, Business Development and Product Management across an array of products but working with those primarily in the Internet Marketing and Technology space.

Matt acquired SimpleData from its founder in January 2017 with the intention of building on its success as a firm that specializes solely in providing targeted B2B sales leads into one that provides a comprehensive Sales and Marketing Automation and Services platform.

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