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Drip Marketing Automation Review (2018)…

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What is Drip all about?

Drip’s main focus is on automation and funnels, and can cover everything your business needs when it comes to email marketing.

But is it a good fit for your business right now? This Drip review should help you make the right decision.

TL;DR: This review will be pretty detailed 😉

Click here to skip right to the Summary of the Review, with Pros and Cons.

Selecting an email marketing platform can be a challenge.

Because it plays a very critical role for an online business.

And that role is making sales!

So you need something that can reliably send emails to the inbox. But also, something to make your life easier and save you loads of time and money.

How?

Through automation of course!

If you aren’t using automation with your emails, you are seriously lagging behind.

I’ve been using Drip to help my clients automate their whole sales funnel. This includes, among other cool things:

  • Doing launches (live and automated)
  • Onboarding sequences
  • Creating advanced email courses
  • Email offers based on user actions

Let’s head in, see if Drip is a good fit for your business at the point where you are right now.

Drip Review:
1. What is Drip all about
2. Initial Setup
3. Platform functionalities:
Forms and list building
Subscriber management
Sending emails
Automation workflows
More on automation
Reporting
4. More cool features in Drip
Liquid language and content snippets
Auto resend
Workflow sharing
Grouping and automation management
Lead scoring
5. Drip pricing and support

6. Drip review summary: Pro’s, Cons and free trial

What Drip is about and what you’ll learn in this review

If you’ve been using an email marketing platform before, you’ll find that Drip is pretty similar. So there shouldn’t be a big learning curve to get you started.

The best thing about Drip is their visual Workflow builder. Since it’s visual, it’s very fun and easy to build out your sequences. As Drip supports Liquid, you can do very advanced and personalized funnels. Liquid is a powerful template language developed by Shopify.

Another thing Drip is different from a lot of other email marketing platforms is that there are no lists. It acts as a CRM, where every unique email is treated as a unique contact. And everything is powered from a tagging system. Meaning, you can segment your subscribers like there’s no tomorrow!

Finally, it’s focus is on automations. There are a lot of rules and triggers you can create to make your business run on autopilot (but do stay behind the wheel).

That said, let me guide you through what Drip can (and can’t) do. We’ll go through this as if we just created a new account.

Here are some of the things we’ll go through:

  • How you can track subscriber actions on your website, and send them triggered emails based of those actions
  • What segmentation and personalization options are available in Drip
  • Multiple ways of sending your emails
  • Powerful visual builder, where you’ll spend most of your fun time
  • And some other awesome features like liquid language support, auto-resends and lead scoring

Initial setup

Here are some of the first things that you’ll need to set up initially before you move forward.

Installing Drip code to help you track visitor stats

When you create a new Drip account, first thing Drip will ask you to do is to install their snippet code on your website.

2 Drip code snippet

If you want to make use of everything Drip can do for you, this is the step you don’t want to skip. It’s like seasoning to food. Sure, food will taste good without seasoning. But it tastes so much better when you season it!

This makes form widgets to collect subscribers (will get to that later) and tracking website actions possible. And best of all, if they are subscribed to your list, you’ll get that data in your Drip account.

Why is that such a good thing?

It gives you the ability to send triggered emails, based on subscribers actions on your website. Or segment subscribers to specific groups.

For example:
I come to your website and read 3 articles about list building. Based on that, you can tag me as interested in list building and send me an automated email about list building or your offer for list building. Of course, taking into account that I’m already subscribed to your emails.

Right message at the right time, very powerful.

Unsubscribe options

Let’s say you are running a specific promotion along with your regular emails.
And let’s say someone isn’t really interested in receiving these kind of emails, but they still want to receive your regular emails.

Usually what happens when they click unsubscribe, they get removed from your list.

But, in Drip, you are able to set the unsubscribe link to lead them to their subscription management page. There, they can opt out of a specific campaign, but still receive your regular emails.

4 unsubscribe options

Analytics setup

If you love checking reports in google analytics, you can easily set up all your Drip links with specific UTM codes. So you can see exactly how your campaigns perform in GA.

1 analytics setup

Sending domain and do you even need to set it up to ensure good deliverability?

If you would prefer to use your own sending domain for emails, you can set that up as well.

What is this exactly?

Have you ever saw that little “via” next to the email address when you receive a marketing email? That just shows you where exactly the message is coming from. When you set up your own sending domain, this goes away and it’s your email address only.

3 sending domain example

Should you use your own sending domain?

Drip uses high reputation servers and it is in their interest to provide their clients with the best deliverability possible. I never had deliverability issues with Drip and don’t feel the need to use my own domain. One less thing I have to worry about. But if you have huge lists, it might be a good idea if you want more control over your deliverability.

below is the sender score which was assigned to my emails from Drip:

5 sender score

Templates and building emails

Drip didn’t have drag & drop builder for a long time. And it was in my opinion one of the biggest deal breakers for people who didn’t know how to code their own emails.

But, they listen to their customers and just recently, they pushed out an update with drag and drop builder.

At first look, it’s pretty flexible. You can drag and drop different sections and create any layout you might need. It also allows you to add background images too (unlike some other email platforms).

Since this is still very fresh, you can’t create a custom design and add Drip’s drag and drop functionalities. But this might change over time. Right now, it’s just limited to one box for editable content if you’d like to use your custom template.

6 template editable

So email templates with multiple editable columns are a no go.

But, if their new drag and drop builder doesn’t suit your fancy, you can still code out a complete email and import the code (without editable areas in it) and send beautifully designed emails. Alternatively you can use an external responsive email editor. It’s just that you’ll have to code it out manually and import every time you want to use different email.

What if you don’t know how to write code, is there a way to make it work?

Yes! You can always use one of the free responsive email editors listed here – easily build out your email, grab the code and just paste it in Drip. Done!

But I actually prefer to use more simple text based emails since they usually get better positioning in Gmail’s inbox. This was also why Drip team didn’t really push towards HTML emails, since all the data has shown that text based emails usually perform better.

Forms and list building options

To get people on your list, you usually get them to sign up through an opt-in form.
And to create that form, you use Drip’s form builder, which gives a lot more options than some other email platforms.

7 form example
The form editor is pretty simple to use. It allows you to add more custom fields, custom images and set up post sign up actions. Here is also where you enable/disable the double opt-in (which I recommend to use to keep your list clean).

Once you’ve created your form, grab the code and place it on your website. Or if you use WordPress, you can do it through Drip’s plugin. All the forms are also self hosted, so you can just grab the form link and send people there.

But the best thing I like about the form builder, and what I haven’t really seen on other email platforms, is their widget.

List building pop-up Widget

Usually, if you wanted to use a pop-up, you would have to turn to some other external service.

But you have everything you need in Drip with their widget.
It even allows you to set up the placement on your website and set up its behavior.

drip list building pop up

For example, you can set the widget to appear after a certain time delay, or on exit trigger.

You can make it hidden for mobile devices (very important for SEO / google ranking). And you can set it to appear only on specific pages. This way, it’s very easy to have personalized lead magnets for each page, helping you with your conversions.

Quick example, you have two articles, one that talks about cats and one that talks about dogs. You can create two different forms, and set the widgets to appear for each of those pages. That way, people who read your cat article get offered a lead magnet for cat owners, and people who read about dogs get the lead magnet for dog owners.

Sweet stuff if you ask me, and it comes for free with Drip.

You are not able to create full blown screen overlays or choose from loads of layouts. But the current options are usually enough for most of the people to get the job done and build their list.

Automation rules in forms

One more cool thing you can do with your forms is to immediately set up automation rules (we will get to these soon). This allows you to do all kind of crazy automated things. And not just within Drip!

Here are just few examples you can do:

  • When someone signs up through your form, you can tell Drip to add them to your Facebook custom audience. Now you can instantly start targeting them with your ads.
  • Send your new subscribers to your sales CRM, like Salesforce
  • Move subscribers from different workflows in Drip, trigger off custom events or add tags for instant segmentation

9 form rules

Subscriber management

CRM based and not list based system

This is one of the areas where Drip really shines and is different from other popular email platforms, like Mailchimp.

If we take MailChimp for example, you have lists there, and if you have the same email on two different lists, they’ll get counted as two subscribers. And your whole account will get charged more, because it counts the total amount of subscribers you have.

In Drip, one email is one email. There are no multiple lists. Just one database of your emails.

Usually, you would use multiple lists for segmentation. Here, you use tags (among other options) to do that. Much easier to manage.

And if you click on a specific subscriber, you’ll be able to see a complete timeline, every action the user has made with your emails and on your website.

10-subscriber-example
You can also see what tags are applied to that user and what events happened, which leads me to the next part.

Tags and events

I really love this about Drip. Tagging subscribers is like segmentation on steroids.

You are able to tag them for just about any action that happens. And using those tags help you send specific automated emails, add personalized content or you can use them for segmentation.

10 tags
I find best use of tags when I want to add some personalized content in emails. Or when I want to create different decision paths in automation workflows. Simple example would be, if user is tagged with A, send him A, if he has tag B, send him B.

11 tag content example

The thing with tags is, they can only be applied once per action.

So for example, if someone buys something and you tag them as “bought something” it will be applied just once.

But what if they bought again, wouldn’t you want to know that?

This is where events come in. They record the date and how many times something has happened.

Events are best used as triggers for automations. An example would be if someone bought something, send him thank you email. And if they made a purchase again, the event will fire the automation again and they’ll receive thank you email for that purchase too.

Imports and bulk operations

Let’s say you are switching to Drip from another provider. How easy is it to import your new subscribers in?

Dead easy. Just a few clicks and they’re in.

But you can do way more with these operations, and this is what I use bulk ops the most.

With bulk ops, you can do things like:

  • Applying/removing a tag to a group of subscribers
  • Adding/removing a group of subscribers to an automation workflow
  • Manually record event for a group of subscribers

This is how it looks like:

Drip subscriber bulk list operation

And these actions are not just limited to actions inside Drip. For example, if you have Facebook account connected, you can filter out a segment of subscribers and add them to a custom audience.

Basically, if anything requires you to do some stuff manually, you can save time with bulk ops, very handy.

Sending emails with Drip

For new users, this may be a bit confusing. There are 3 points from where you can send emails to your list: Campaigns, Broadcasts and Workflows.

Let’s go over each one and see when should you use them.

Broadcast emails

These are your one-off emails. It’s what most email marketing platforms have by default for sending emails. You choose your list, create an email and schedule it for send.

Useful when you have an announcement or just write emails as you go. Or when your emails are related to what’s going on right now, for example a daily or weekly digest. I use these for sending email tips to my list.

Campaigns (triggered email series)

If you’ve ever used Mailchimp, this is almost the same like their ongoing emails section.
You can create a specific campaign, and inside it, set up a series of emails which will go out periodically.

These are best used if you want some simple automated emails going out. Think onboarding series, cart abandonment series or just a weekend sales campaign.

In case you are stuck with ideas, Drip has Blueprints to get your creativity going. Blueprints give you ideas on how your email sequence should look like.

Drip marketing automation campaign blueprints

And they also include a template for each email copy – so you kick that writer’s block ass.

Drip campaign copy template

Here are just some of the blueprints you can choose from:

  • Email mini course
  • Follow-ups (post-demo, free report, subscription trial)
  • Cart abandonment series
  • Flash sales

Automation Workflows

Ah, automation workflows.

These are in my opinion what makes Drip such a powerful platform for email marketing automation.

With workflows, you are able to automate almost anything in your email marketing. This is the secret behind “making money while you sleep”. And you can geek out here for hours.

Workflows can be used to make almost anything on autopilot. From simple things like capitalizing first names to full blown evergreen sales funnels.

One thing I’m really missing in the workflows is the ability to A/B test your emails.

Actually, you can set up A/B testing, but you have to hack your way with liquid language. While this is no problem for really advanced users, 90% of the users won’t know how to do this.

I personally prefer to build everything that is automation related inside workflows. Even simple sequence emails I can do in campaigns, I prefer to do them in workflows. It just depends on how advanced you want to get with automation.

If you want simple email series, without any branching logic (like if user does this, send this), use campaigns. If you want to go more advanced than this, use workflows.

Now, those automations can get quite complicated and setting all of that without any visual map would be horror. This leads us to second awesome part of workflows, the visual builder.

More on automation

Visual Workflow builder

With visual editor, it’s very simple to see how your automation is set up and what path your subscribers will take once they enter it.

There are loads of options you can use here, for more in depth info, check this.

Here is an example how a workflow may look like:

Automation visual workflow builder

What I also like about it, and is really helpful, are some basic stats which show you how many subscribers have gone through a specific step. And you can also export those subscribers in case you need to do some moving around.

And why you’d need to export subscribers if you want to move stuff around?

An example, you have created a cool sales funnel, but you want to add or remove some additional steps. You won’t be able to remove a step if there are subscribers currently in it. That’s how the system works. So it will take some manual work, where you export the subscribers out so you can do the editing. And then you can use bulk ops to get them back to a specific step.

It might get tricky if you don’t know what you are doing, so it’s not really newbie friendly.

Other thing that sucks is that it isn’t drag and drop builder. So if you want to adjust some steps, it will take you a bit more time. For example, if I want to move a specific email to be sent at some different step in workflow, I can’t just drag it and move it there. I have to open that email, copy the contents and then create a new email where I want it to be and paste the contents there.

To sum it up, if you want to do edits in existing workflows, you’ll have to:

  1. Manually get the people out of the workflow
  2. Create new steps
  3. Import people back in the workflow at the steps they were at.

Other than that, having everything laid out as a visual map makes creating automations so much easier.

Automation Rules

Rules are part of automation. And they can perform most of the things you can do with workflows.

But while workflows focus more on the actual email funnel, rules focus more on performing actions based on certain triggers.

They are awesome if you want to set up some global automations that will apply to everyone in your Drip account.

For example, when I talked about tracking which pages people visit on your site. You can set up a rule to monitor when that happens and then record an event (or tag them). And this will then trigger some other automation you got set up for that specific event.

Drip rules example
Things might get confusing because when you go into rules, you have to open each rule individually to see what it does. So naming them very specific to what they do is best practice (ignore my Rule #2 name in the picture above, that’s the opposite of how you should do it!).

This will give you a clear overview on what rules you have active because it’s easy to forget when you have bunch of automations and funnels running at the same time.

Reporting

As for reporting, it’s one of the rare things I don’t really like about Drip.

When you head into the analytics section, you can choose various reports from the drop down menu. I don’t know why they couldn’t do a better job here, because some of these things should be combined together in a report.

Drip reporting
It’s weird actually, because you can get a basic overview of some stats on both campaigns and broadcasts sections. But the only way to see the workflow email stats, even the most basic ones like opens and clicks is through this reporting section.

And it’s a mess, because you have to find your email from the drop down menu, which is hard to navigate if you have loads of automation emails. My advice here is to always name your emails categorized and specific, so it’s easier to find them, just like you would with rules.

It would be way better if you had a list of emails all on the same page with those basic stats shown, like in campaigns or broadcasts. And then, if you want to know more details, you can click on a specific email and see what’s up.

This is something I hope will improve over time.

You can do a bulk download of all the stats over a specific time period.

18 reporting 2

But who wants to download every time they want to see some basic stats? Because that’s what you get in the CSV, same basic stats, because these reports are split up so much. If I already went through the trouble of downloading a report, I would hope for a complete set of stats here. Also, minor thing, but you’ll have to convert numbers to percentages yourself, because nothing is formatted in the report.

Another option to make your life and reporting easier is to connect your analytics tool through integrations. If the integration is not available, use Zapier to get the data from Drip going there and have it all visually laid out.

Other cool features

Here are some of the things that make Drip really special and different from other ESPs.

Liquid language

Drip supports liquid language. And this by itself makes it so much more powerful for automations than other ESPs. It has a learning curve, so if you are unfamiliar with writing code, you’ll have a hard time.

But if you dig in a bit into their liquid reference article for adding dynamic subscriber data, you’ll find most of the things you need. This includes conditional logic, for showing personalized content based on user tags. Here is their full guide on liquid.

But, liquid can get way more advanced than this, so anyone who wants to geek out over it will be able to do some amazing automations.

Content snippets

And I know, a lot of people will be afraid of just the thought of writing liquid code.

Even if you know what’s going on, if you aren’t writing them on a daily basis, it’s easy to forget some details. And if you miss details, they won’t work, because it’s case sensitive.

But remembering all that liquid code is not something to worry about, because you have content snippets.

It’s like your own library of all the techy liquid stuff you want to use. Once you have written liquid code for what you need, just throw it in the content snippet and you won’t have to bother typing that code ever again. When you create an email, just hit the “personalize” menu and select your content snippet.

19 content snippets

And yeah, you can use snippets for any kind of text, not just liquid code. But I find these best suited for saving various liquid code.

Here is a more simple use case for greeting people in email.

20 content snippets

Drip Integrations

Drip has you covered here. As it integrates well with a lot of popular services. You can see the full list here. And if you’re missing some app, you can always connect it through Zapier, which integrates well with Drip and has a bunch of options for other apps.

Auto resend broadcast

This is neat. When you send out a broadcast, you have the option to also set up a follow up to non-opens. You get to use different subject line as well.

21 resend feature

Remember, follow ups will always give you a profit boost to your offers (or just more clicks to your article). Because a lot of people just forget to take action or don’t see the first email they received in their inbox.

This little thing can save so much time in the long run! It’s available only with Broadcasts for now though.

Expiring links

Talk about cool stuff. Let’s say you have an offer and you want to set a deadline to it. Expiring links will do that job.

You can set a link to your landing page, and then set the deadline for when it should expire. Then you select the redirect page you want to use once the deadline is over and you’re done.

Anyone who clicks your link in the email after the deadline will get redirected to a different page.

22 expiring links

Lead scoring

How do you know who are your top quality subscribers? It would be a pain in the ass to go over each subscriber and then see how many emails they’ve opened and clicked on.

That’s why Drip has integrated lead scoring in it’s system, so you’ll immediately see who are your top quality subscribers and who is getting cold.

23 lead score
If you go to the settings, you can get a lot more advanced. Like setting lead scoring points when someone visits a specific page on your website or does a certain action.

Drip lead scoring settings
And if someone is inactive, Drip will automatically reduce their score every week.

25 lead scoring inactivity

Workflow sharing

Yes, you can share your workflows with other people.

26 workflow sharing
This is a really cool feature and helps out those who are new with automation.

Someone creates a cool workflow, shares it, you grab it and import into your Drip account (really easy with a couple of clicks) and you’re ready to go. All you need to do is adjust the content.

It’s also great for anyone who wants to learn what you can do with Drip workflows from advanced users.

Grouping and Automation Management

Once you go full on automation in Drip, things can get pretty hectic. Because there will be so much going on! If there was no way to sort it, trust me, you’d get lost and forget a lot of things you set up.

Groups are here to help you navigate through everything you create, and you can also use different colors for different groups.

You can create groups for just about anything you have in Drip. This includes all the campaigns, broadcasts, forms and automations like workflows and rules.

Awesome when you do a specific promo campaign and you want to have everything organized in one place.

27 groups

How is Drip pricing and support?

Pricing for Drip

For everything that Drip offers, pricing is fair in my opinion. Especially when you compare it to other similar platforms. There is no feature lock in different tiers. Everyone gets to use everything in Drip, no matter what plan they’re on. You’ll only pay more as your subscriber base grows.

And best of all, you can sign up for a free plan with all the features unlocked for up to 100 subscribers.

Now the limit may be small for anyone serious with their emails, but, it gives you the ability to get in and try everything out for free. Which should help your decision if you want to switch over.

Drip pricing overview

Support

I’ve never had any problems with their support. On paid plans, you get to chat with the support too and they know their stuff (read – they’ll be able to help you with all the geeky techy things you want to do). Their email support responds usually inside 24 hours too.

Drip Marketing Automation review summary

To complete this review, here are the things to love (or not) about Drip.

The Good

  • Automation powerhouse for a decent price
  • Great support and deliverability
  • A free plan with all the features unlocked
  • Can have multiple domains under one account
  • Content snippets and groups to keep your sanity
  • Auto-resend broadcasts
  • Integrates with a lot of other popular apps
  • Has built in lead scoring
  • Easy to import your subscribers and do the segmentation
  • Subscription management page for unsubscribe link
  • Drag & drop builder for HTML emails

The not so Good

  • Custom email templates can’t have multiple editable sections
  • Confusion on where you should send your emails from, since almost everything you do in Campaigns can be done with Workflows
  • Doing A/B testing not be easy as it could be
  • Reporting is a bit difficult to navigate
  • If writing code is giving you nightmares, you’ll miss out on extra cool features
  • Visual workflow builder can be more flexible with drag and drop options

The Awesome

  • Visual workflow builder – makes creating email funnels easy
  • CRM based system – forget about the lists
  • Tags and events for advanced segmentation
  • Ability to track what people do on your website and trigger automations based on that
  • Campaign blueprints and shareable workflows to help you get started
  • Liquid language support for awesome dynamic content
  • Expiring links – really cool for promotions with deadlines
  • No need for external pop-up service for list building

You can sign up for a free Drip account here and have a look around

Final thoughts from this Drip review

Drip is so much more than just a platform to send your emails from. If used correctly, it can be an automation powerhouse which will run your whole business. But to make use of everything Drip has to offer, you have to go on the geek side of things.

Sending simple emails is easy for anyone who wants to get started, but that’s not what you’ll sign up for when you choose Drip.

You’ll sign up for powerful automations.

When I first discovered Drip, my heart was filled with joy. Because I finally found something that will be able to support everything I’ve set my mind to when it comes to creating email automations.

It’s not perfect though. Reports suck, that’s what I don’t like the most about it. That, and no A/B testing in Broadcasts or Workflows (unless you go liquid hack route, but your average user won’t have any idea how to do that).

Overall, if you’re into automating your email marketing to a whole new level, Drip will be able to support you all the way.

If you’ll need help and are willing to do the heavy lifting yourself, support is great and they know their stuff. They are constantly working on improving the platform. And I’m sure, with time, they’ll sort out the confusion with Campaigns-Broadcasts-Workflows triangle and upgrade reporting to make more sense.

Zoran Orak

About Zoran Orak

Zoran is an email marketing consultant, with a geeky background of email development, specializing in funnels and automation. He believes that when you truly understand your market, everything else is easy. Read more about sending better emails on his blog http://zoranorak.com.

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