What's in this article?

What is a drip campaign?
Types of drip emails
What is a lead nurturing campaign?
How to segment your email audience for different email campaigns
Should I use a drip or nurture campaign? How to decide
Download our free guide
Tips for improving your automated email campaigns
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If you work in sales, then you know it takes a bit of coaxing to turn interested prospects into real paying customers.

It often takes multiple touchpoints in your customer’s journey to get them from the very top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel—automated email sequences can help them get there.

Drip and lead nurturing campaigns will also make sure no new and existing leads slip through the cracks, so everybody can be contacted automatically and in a timely manner.

But what’s the difference between a drip email sequence and a lead nurturing sequence? Aren’t they the same?

Not quite, but they are similar and often used together, with drip sequences coming first, and then followed by more targeted lead nurturing campaigns.

In this article, I’ll break down the difference between drip campaigns and lead nurturing campaigns, how to segment your audience list, and give some tips to improve your emails.

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What is a drip campaign?

Drip campaigns, also known as drip marketing, are a series of pre-written emails (and texts) that are scheduled and sent automatically to your email list over a pre-determined amount of time.

They’re a continuation of your lead generation strategy.

Drip sequences are used for showcasing a company’s products and services through emails and text messages long enough to eventually win over leads and close more sales.

You may also know drip campaigns by other names including:

  • Automated email campaigns
  • Timed email campaigns
  • Lifecycle emails
  • Autoresponders
  • Marketing automation

Typically, drip campaigns start the moment a web visitor fills out a contact form on your website.

As soon as your lead submits their contact info, they’ll receive their welcome email, kicking off the drip sequence.

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Types of drip emails

Drip emails are typically segmented to deliver highly relevant emails to people throughout different stages of their buyer’s journey.

Let’s look at some other important drip email types.

Welcome emails

These are sent immediately after your lead has submitted their contact info on your website. Its purpose is to kick off the sequence, introduce your reader to you and your company, and confirm that their form was properly submitted.

Onboarding emails

Onboarding emails are sometimes different from welcome emails and are usually sent after the customer has taken some sort of action, such as opening up their welcoming email or clicking on a link on the welcoming email.

Once this action has taken place, an onboarding email sequence may be triggered. Onboard emails can encourage readers to subscribe to a newsletter or to begin using your company’s brands and services.

Prospecting emails

These types of emails are popular for B2B marketing as well as insurance, mortgage, and real estate sales.

Prospecting emails are sent to introduce yourself to your reader, explain the benefits of working with you, and set up an appointment, such as a phone call, video chat, or in-person meeting.

Pursuit or nurture emails

These emails show a higher intent of getting your customer’s business and may be sent more frequently to show that you’re serious and persistent to work with your lead.

You might send these pursuit emails to people who have shown a higher level of interest or engagement with your brand or emails to give them more attention.


Use renewal emails to check in with customers before critical times related to their products or services, such as mortgage lending, home equity, insurance, or home refinancing.

Renewal emails are timed and sent farther apart than traditional drip sequences and they’re used to send reminders to people before a certain expiration day occurs, or before their subscription ends, or other reasons when people need to be reminded of something.


Referral campaigns use your existing email list to share and forward your message along to friends and families, extending your reach through email.

Referral campaigns can be triggered once a prospective lead becomes a customer, ensuring that you’re only sending referral emails to existing customers and not prospective leads.

Re-engagement (for cold and dead leads)

If your leads have turned cold, or possibly dead, you can use re-engagement drip sequences to follow up and hopefully warm up leads that haven’t been responsive.

Depending on the lifecycle of your sale, you may wish to extend or shorten the time periods between re-engagement emails.

What is a lead nurturing campaign?

A lead nurturing campaign is another form of automated email marketing, sending pre-written messages to readers over a set amount of time-based on and triggered by their recent interactions.

In short, sales lead nurturing campaigns are very similar to drip campaigns, except they are more personalized and are based on the user’s interactions to trigger new email sequences.

For example, all of your initial leads will be entered into a drip campaign sequence. However, as these readers begin to open and engage with your emails, they’ll be entered into the next stage—lead nurturing campaigns.

Not all of your initial leads will make it to the lead nurturing stage. But those who do will need to receive more personalized and relevant emails to keep them engaged and continuing along with their customer journey.

How to segment your email audience for different email campaigns

When setting up your drip campaigns and sales lead nurturing campaigns, you’ll need to organize or segment your audience into different categories, so you can write specific types of emails for each type of audience.

New leads

New leads should be responded to as quickly as possible to confirm you’ve received their information and to introduce yourself to your reader so they’re not confused later once you reach out to them.

Cold leads

Cold leads are either the new leads who you haven’t been able to contact yet or leads that have been unresponsive, for example, not opening up their welcoming or onboarding emails.

Dead leads

These types of non-responsive leads may have reached their expiration date as far as your ability to sell to them. However, don’t lose faith! They may have gotten overwhelmed by the number of messages you’ve sent them in the past.

You can engage with dead leads by sending a friendly reminder email to ask if they’re still interested in your products or services.

In-sales funnel leads

These are the leads who have engaged with you already and are in the middle of their customer journey. Perhaps they’ve already received their free quote or submitted a loan application.

You can use your pursuit type of emails to show you’re serious about winning over these leads’ business and will need to apply more pressure to get them to continue moving down the funnel to convert into a customer.

Drip email sequences are critical for people who are already inside the sales funnel

Should I use a drip or nurture campaign? How to decide

Typically, drip sequences are used as the first step in email marketing, with lead nurturing campaigns coming after your initial readers have shown interest or taken action in your website or emails.

If you begin a drip sequence and notice certain leads are always opening up their emails, forwarding emails, or clicking on the links inside those emails, they should be entered into a new lead nurturing campaign sequence with more targeted information.

By the way, you’ll set this up ahead of time so you’re never manually adding people to lists. It’s all automated based on triggers and actions to add them to new email campaign sequences.

Drip campaigns come first and are easier to set up

Drip campaigns are easier to set up and are usually just text-based and informal. Simple and friendly emails are perfectly fine for the initial drip email sequences. Nurturing campaigns come second and are more personalized and targeted

Lead nurturing campaigns are more targeted

Lead nurturing campaigns usually help to transition leads who are in the middle of the funnel down to the bottom of the funnel to conversion.

Compared to drip campaigns, lead nurturing sequences are more personalized and really start to focus specifically on the buyer’s specific stage in their buyer’s journey.

Nurturing campaign emails also tend to be more stylized, with more images and HTML formatting, making them more specific to your segmented audience.

Can I use the campaigns together?

Yes, this is known as a drip-nurturing hybrid campaign, and they are best used together.

As I mentioned before, drip sequences towards a wider net of subscribers almost always come first, followed by targeted and personalized lead-nurturing campaigns.

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Tips for improving your automated email campaigns

When emailing people you need to understand and overcome one thing: Your leads have no idea who you are, and likely won’t have any reason to trust you yet. This is human nature.

Instead, follow these tips to craft a more friendly and persuasive set of emails that won’t turn off readers, but will attract them to you and eventually trust you.

Understand the context and put yourself in the customer’s shoes

Depending on how you generated your lead, the person you’re reaching out to may never have heard of you. This is especially true if you’ve purchased the lead from a lead aggregator.

This means that most people you call will:

  • Be unfamiliar with you personally or your company
  • Gotten tons of messages from your competitors
  • Feel overwhelmed by the entire process so far

Knowing this, you can change your approach to be friendlier and less aggressive than every other salesperson who has already contacted your lead before you.

If you’re working with exclusive leads, then your lead will be more familiar with you, but you’ll still need to understand they’re probably overwhelmed and are looking for an expert to help them.

Subject line email example

Keep your subject lines informal and free of any gimmicky emojis or icons. Personally, nothing turns me off from an email more than the fire emoji, or the gift emoji. It basically tells me the email is spam without having to open it.

Instead, just ask a simple question related to your customer’s need.

If you’re working in mortgage sales, just ask, “Did you get your mortgage?” or “Still need help finding a mortgage?” Additionally, this can be texted to leads using this simple language.

This is a straightforward enough question that reads like a friend or family member sent the text — not a pushy salesperson. And they’ll be more receptive to opening the email, than if it looks like a spammy mass email.

Quality content

You must include quality content in your drip and lead nurturing emails, or else your readers will unsubscribe or opt-out of receiving additional emails.

For example, in your welcoming and onboarding emails, you can embed links to your website’s most popular blog posts or YouTube videos related to the products and services they’re interested in.

This is a good way to get instant engagement and redirect them back to your website or online channels. Embedding the links to your social media pages is also a great way to get instant engagement and grow your following.

If you can, try to include helpful tools, charts, or links to downloadable that will entice your readers to engage more with your email, triggering other email sequences to continue them down their customer journey.

Just remember, don’t add attachments to emails! That sets off red flags in most email providers. Instead, place a link so they can be redirected to your website.

Calls-to-action to encourage readers to take the next steps

If you want readers to subscribe to your newsletter, click on a link, or forward the email along to a friend—all you have to do is ask.

Use calls-to-action (CTAs) to prompt readers to take the next step. This could be as simple as:

  • “Please call me to set up an initial consultation”
  • “Book your appointment today”
  • “Call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx”

When possible, use your real cell phone number, as this will make more of an impression on your reader and help gain their trust quicker than using an anonymous 800 number.

Assign your sales team to leads and follow up

Do you have a leads management system set in place at your company? If not, your best leads may be going uncalled or sent to inexperienced salespeople, when they should be sent to your top salespeople.

The beauty of drip campaigns is that every new lead will receive a series of emails over weeks, so if your sales team never contacts them, at least they’ve received the emails.

But that’s not enough. You still need to actively call and engage with every lead on a personal level.

Don’t forget that your automated email sequences are meant to guide them along their journey, but you still need salespeople to push them along and get them to sign the dotted line.

Consider using ProPair, a leads management tool that uses machine learning and AI to rank leads and match them to the most appropriate salesperson based on their historical sales performance.

Work with Kaleidico — a lead generation and marketing agency

Kaleidico is a lead generation company that gives mortgage lenders, law firms, and financial technology companies a turnkey marketing department and lead generation capability.

Are you looking to close more loans and sales? Then we want to work with you!

Learn how we can set up your email marketing drip and lead nurturing campaigns.

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About Matthew Dotson
Matthew Dotson is a freelance writer experienced in blog, copy, and technical writing. He covers everything from marketing and digital advertising to technology and senior living. Previously, he worked for a Y Combinator tech startup in the Silicon Valley and traveled the country covering auto shows for Ford Motor Company. Matthew is also a multi-instrumentalist who composes, produces, and records original music. He enjoys photography, videography, fine art, and cinema.

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