Drip Review: Email Marketing. But Can It REALLY Beat MailChimp?

Does your website get high traffic? Looking to improve your email marketing? Read our review of Drip to find out if it's the right tool to get your venture to the next level.

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Dale Cudmore
Dale has over 5 years of experience writing for some of the most well-known digital marketing sites. He focuses on actionable marketing strategies and tactics for small businesses that help them reach the customers they deserve. He plays the cowbell in our imaginary band.

Last Updated on October 22, 2020

What is Drip?

A lot of email marketing tools are extremely similar to each other.

Drip is not.

It’s uniquely built for marketeers and certain small businesses. A lot of tools like to highlight their automation features, but in all my experience, no other tool comes even close to the level of automation that Drip offers.

Up until now, if you wanted something remotely similar, you had to invest in enterprise software, with an enterprise price tag. Not realistic for the vast majority of small businesses.

What Can Drip Do for You In a Nutshell?

We are going to give a first-perspective in-depth review, although we’d like to give you an idea of what Drip can do for you and your business.

So what can it do?

  • Assistance in creating personalized e-mails
  • Tag users based on a variety of customized categories
  • Ability to gamify your user’s experience via e-mail funnels
  • Track categorized e-mails and funnels
  • Create a customized points system depending on your user’s actions, to rate their strength as a lead
  • Drip feed content and alerts to your users, conditional to their actions
  • Cross-platform marketing funnel via mobile, tablet, desktop and more
  • Advanced segmentation
  • Conversion tracking dashboard to track performance

Why Use Email Marketing?

Before we discuss Drip, let’s take a quick look at email marketing. Email marketing has a bad reputation.

Newsletters get trashed before they’ve even been opened. Annoyed customers frustrated by the torrent of useless emails flooding their box. But there’s a big difference between spam and an effective email marketing strategy.

Drip Automation
Drip allows you to automate tedious but useful processes. 

Email marketing done right starts with express permission. Your customer or prospect has selected to receive information from you, and in exchange, for their time you provide quality content and relevant offers.

Email marketing done right means shelving the old “batch-n-blast” (or “spray-and-pray” as it was called) approach of always sending everyone the same exact email.

Today’s competitive environment requires that we send email content that the individual finds highly valuable and relevant.

This kind of email marketing works. But how do we do that? Read on!

It Delivers a High R.O.I.

Every U.S. dollar spent on email marketing produces a $38 return. Part of the reason why it delivers such great results is that you’re communicating with an engaged audience. At least 91% of consumers check their email every day.

It’s even more profitable than Facebook. Email orders are worth three times more than orders won through social media.

How to Run an Email Campaign in 10 Steps

The success of your business’s email campaign depends on your content. We are able to break this down into detailed steps and they are as follows:

  1. Build trust and credibility before you pitch
  2. Research your audience and who they are
  3. Find out what your audience needs
  4. Segment your visitors into categories
  5. Create email funnels based on factors like behavior, action, and triggers
  6. Create email content that helps your audience
  7. Edit your email content to perfect it
  8. Add call-to-actions (CTAs)
  9. Test your campaign
  10. Launch your campaign

Drip campaigns are a method of email marketing where you send a series of pre-written emails over a longer period of time.

The automated emails are sent based on timelines or triggers (actions your customer takes). And this where email marketing automation comes in.

Why Use Email Marketing Automation?

You may be wondering where you’d find the time to manage an email marketing strategy while running your business. Email marketing automation helps business to run successful campaigns, without having to manually send a new batch of emails each day.

You will need to devote time to define your goals, and an effective email marketing strategy demands commitment and dedication.

But once you create your content and decide on your triggers, email marketing automation software takes over.

Examples of Email Marketing Automation

The most basic form of email marketing automation is an email autoresponder. An email autoresponder is an automated response to recipients who’ve taken a specified action, such as filling out a form or purchasing a product.

An autoresponder could be:

  • A purchase confirmation
  • A promise of a follow-up
  • An email with a link to download an e-book or digital product
  • An email with delivery tracking information
  • A reminder of an appointment
  • A thank you message

The most sophisticated type of automation responds to specific user behaviors on your website. You can personalize email content according to recent purchases or personal details like a location.

Marketing Automation That Turns Leads into Sales

Marketing automation is an important part of a lead nurturing campaign.

Lead nurturing is the process of developing a relationship with a customer throughout the buyer’s journey. If you’re not familiar with the buyer’s journey, it has three broad stages:

  • Awareness: when your lead (potential customer) is becoming aware of the problem or need for a service or product
  • Consideration: customers are researching their options to find the best solution.
  • Decision: they decide on a product

A well-designed lead nurturing campaign responds to the lead’s questions and concerns as they move through the buyer’s journey.

What Is Lead Scoring?

To help direct resources, many marketing automation tools use lead scoring. Lead scoring is a methodology used to identify the most valuable leads based on their engagement with your content.

And email isn’t the only communication channel that can benefit from marketing automation.

There’s marketing automation that lets you send messages to your customers on their mobile phones or while they’re browsing your website. Full-scale marketing automation platforms will even manage your social media marketing and take care of SEO.

Who is Drip For?

This review will look at both the strengths and weaknesses of Drip, as it relates to the development of the strategies discussed above. My goal is to help you learn if your business will be best off with Drip, or if you should continue looking at other email marketing options.

Does this describe you?

  • You have high levels of traffic
  • You have many different segments (types of people) of traffic
  • You’d like to use more advanced marketing techniques.

But if you only get a few hundred visitors per month, or just want a tool that sends out basic emails, you won’t be able to get the most out of Drip. Let’s get more specific now and look at the most remarkable features.

Workflows Make Automation Simple

The workflows in Drip honestly blew me away when I first saw them. Compared to the alternative methods that other tools have for automation, workflows are simpler, faster, and easier to understand.

Drip Automation

A workflow in this context is a diagram full of “actions” within Drip.

Customize Actions As You Wish

You can add and drag around any actions you’d like at any time.

An action could be:

  • A subscriber opens an email
  • Someone navigates to a certain page
  • A certain time elapses
  • Someone adds a tag to a subscriber.

Just about any trigger that you can think of can be added to spark an action.

Even “If Statements” are Available

To take it even further, you can add the equivalent of “if statements” into your workflows. For example, if a subscriber is tagged as a customer, send them an email asking for feedback. If they’re not tagged, send them an email with a coupon for the product.

Each action is color-coded based on the type of action it is.

All this together makes it really simple to see which emails your subscribers should subscribe based on their actions.

Browse Drip

Integrations

By default, you already have access to many actions to add to your workflows.

However, you can get even more, including:

Drip integrates with many marketing tools.

Drip Integration

Once you connect to another tool, you can use those in your workflows as well.

For example, if you use Facebook Ads, you can connect to the platform. Then, if subscribers take a certain action, you can add or remove them from a custom audience on Facebook. You could add all customers to a “customer” custom audience automatically.

Tags

I wanted to quickly expand upon tagging, which I mentioned just above.

They work just like on other email marketing platforms for the most part. You can add tags to subscribers so that you can target them through actions in your workflow, or through standard broadcast emails.

Tagging Options

You have two options for assigning tags:

  1. Handle them all through workflows
  2. Add them manually.

To manually create a segment, you go to the bulk operations section of your “subscribers” area. You then identify the segment you wish to tag (again based on actions) and assign a tag to it that can be used later.

What About Sending Emails?

At the core of all email marketing tools is the ability to send emails.

You can use pre-made templates or make your own if the design is important to you.

Templates in Drip

There are fewer options than some other competitors, so decide how important pre-designed templates are for your business. But there is one aspect of email creation on Drip that is particularly useful.

You can change the email that you send based on the receiver. In other words, put an “if statement” in your email.

Drip email templating

For example, if someone receiving this email has a “customer” tag, you can include a login link instead of a signup link.

Creating Emails Triggered by Actions

You can create emails that are only triggered by actions, or you can create one-off broadcasts and send them manually.

For one-offs, you target a segment of your list, just like when you create a new tag.

Email segment builder

Split Testing in Drip

Basic split testing is also available in Drip.

You can test:

  • Subject lines
  • Send times
  • From names.

It’s not quite as thorough as some competitors who offer multivariate testing but is still sufficient for most uses.

See All Drip Features

Reporting Options in Drip

There are a few analytics

First off, you can generate reports on a variety of metrics:

  • Subscriber count
  • Email engagement
  • Return on investment
  • Tag growth.

But the most important feature is that reports show you metrics based on all the actions associated with that type of report. For example, conversion reports show you your total visitors, how many saw a sign-up form, how many filled it out, and more.

Drip reporting

Most other platforms give you an overall conversion rate and expect you to figure out which steps played which part.

Lead Score Generation

The other neat aspect of analytics is that Drip automatically generates lead scores for each of your subscribers. This does exactly what it says it does, by giving your leads a score based on sets of data which determine the overall quality of your lead.

Drip lead score

This score is based on how much they interact with your content and are therefore likely to convert lower down in your sales funnel. It can help you gain insights into the type of people that are most interested in your content and products, and help you target them directly.

Key Metrics: Improving Open Rates and Click-Through Rates

An open rate is a rate at which your customer accepts and reads your email. Drip can help increase an open rate by split testing things like sending times and subject lines.

A click-through rate shows the number of times customers clicked on the links in your email campaigns. This is probably one of the most important indicators of the performance of your email messages.

Using Drip you can try personalization (including the customer’s name) to improve click-through rates.

Double Opt-In

Drip Marketing lets you ensure your customers want to receive your email campaigns. Drip Marketing uses double opt-in, meaning once customers select to receive your emails by clicking on a link on your site, they will also have to confirm via email.

To ensure that businesses comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) governing data belonging to EU citizens, Drip has a step-by-step process for small businesses to obtain consent from subscribers.

Adding Subscribers to Your Account

Importing existing subscribers is straightforward, but be aware that all imports require a manual approval. This can take up to 48 hours, although will usually be quicker.

Drip just wants to make sure you’re not trying to do anything spam-related, but it is still inconvenient.

How To Increase Subscriber Counts

As far as adding new subscribers to your list, you have two options:

  1. You can do it programmatically using the Drip API. The documentation is very good, and it’s a straightforward task for any web developer. This is comparable to all the other leading email marketing tools.
  2. You can create a form manually in your Drip account.

If you go to the “forms” area of your account, you can create a new form with any fields you’d like.

Form fields in Drip

Then, it will spit out the HTML that you need to paste on your website.

Form HTML in Drip

Be warned that no CSS is provided. You’re completely on your own to style your sign-up forms. It’s not a huge deal, but you’ll still have to spend more time on your part.

That being said, remember integrations? You can integrate tools like LeadPages into your account, which allows you to create a design using a drag and drop editor:

Leadpages integration in Drip

Customer Service and Price Plans

If you’re a small business new to email marketing automation, Drip has you covered. The email marketing software has a learning section filled with articles and videos with detailed information on how to get started with marketing automation.

Pricing

Drip is not the cheapest if all you’re looking for is a basic email marketing tool. But it’s also not incredibly expensive. However, to justify the extra expense you really need to be getting serious value out of the automation features.

There’s a free account level that you can start with, and also a three week free trial on every other plan.

Every plan gives you access to all features. The only difference is the number of subscribers that you’re allowed to have.

What are Some Good Alternatives to Drip?

During your search, you may have heard of popular email marketing platforms like MailChimp, AWeber, and GetResponse and you’re wondering how Drip stacks up.

MailChimp

MailChimp is a popular option for small businesses. It’s easy to use and is known for offering a simple way to do email marketing. It comes with a range of templates and some advanced marketing automation.

MailChimp
MailChimp has custom plans, which is a competitive factor to consider. 

MailChimp is a more affordable option, and you can try their free plan. You can send up to 12,000 emails and host 2,000 subscribers on the free plan. Only the higher tier plans come with multivariate testing to measure the impact of various emails.

AWeber

AWeber is another affordable email marketing service. You can select from 700 templates and get access to a drag and drop editor. Its entry-level plan comes with a 500-email limit, but there’s no limit to the number of subscribers.

GetResponse

GetResponse has 500 templates and you can browse through a stock library filled with over 1000 images. The price of the plans increases as your list gets larger.

MailChimp vs. Drip

If you’re looking for a simple email marketing solution to get a feel for email services, you might want to give MailChimp a try. It also features some advanced marketing automation. Drip has the edge when it comes to more powerful marketing intelligence.

But first, let’s compare the winner of the alternatives against Drip:

Setup Fee Number of Users (Default) Extra User Costs Integrations Cost (Starting Paid Plan)
MailChimp No Multiple (plan specific) Yes Available $10/month
Drip No Unlimited No (Free) Available $49/month

Automation Tools

There are also automation tools that bundle several marketing services. A service like HubSpot manages email marketing, social media marketing, and content management.

Drip’s focus is on email marketing, and it does that well. Some suggest opting for marketing automation that takes care of all marketing functions, adding that this approach is more cost-effective.

Summary

Of all the email marketing platforms I’ve used, Drip is the one that gets me the most excited talking about it.

If your small business has reached the point where you have thousands of subscribers and monthly visitors to your site, you can likely benefit from the advanced automation that Drip offers.

Visit Drip to Learn More

In addition, it can help you understand your customers, and deliver more targeted emails to improve conversion rates.

But if you don’t have much traffic yet, or don’t have much time to spend on marketing, there’s likely a more affordable competitor that’s better suited for you.