When I first created my Drip account, there was no billing code written yet to actually charge users and support meant Skyping the founder.
Since then, Drip’s growth — both as a company and as a product — has been massive, and just recently they were acquired by Leadpages. And the product has matured to the point where I trust it to power my 7-figure a year online business.
This isn’t going to be your usual “OMG this is awesome, here’s my affiliate link, go buy” sort of review. (Full disclosure: here IS my affiliate link. I’ll send you a goodie if you sign up with it… details below.)
Rather, I want to talk about how I ended up being able to ditch Infusionsoft with its venture backing and market penetration for an upstart like Drip. And I want to share with you why I’m so excited about the product and where it’s going.
What Does Drip Do?
If you’re reading this post, you probably already know what Drip’s supposed to do.
It does what all the other email marketing automation tools do: opt-in new subscribers, subscribe them to drip email campaigns, and send out the occasional broadcast email.
Drip also integrates with a number of 3rd party tools, so it’s a piece of cake to make sure new customers of your online course get tagged appropriately and sent out product update emails.
But that’s not what makes Drip unique.
I’m going to focus on a few killer features of Drip that aren’t always immediately obvious.
These are features that made the pain of abandoning Infusionsoft and all the custom integration code I had written worth it. These are also the features that, when used appropriately, can make you a lot more money.
Killer Feature #1: Events, Not Just Tags
Most people moved away from tools like Mailchimp because they want to manage their database of contacts as a folksonomy, rather than a taxonomy.
This means that instead of having, say, 10 different “lists” — one for customers of Product A, one for customers of Product B, one for your newsletter, one for people you’ve met at an event, etc. — you’d just have a database of contacts, with tags describing your relationship with a customer.
The reason for this migration away from lists to tags is obvious:
- You no longer have duplicate contacts. It’s pretty silly to have the same person exist 3 times because they’ve interacted with your organization in 3 ways.
- You get a better, more unified profile of someone.
- You can do things like, “send an email to every customer of Product A who hasn’t bought Product B, and who have attended one of our events”. It becomes as easy as just looking for the presence (or non-presence) of tags.
Drip supports tags, but they go a step further with events.
The problem with tags is that they don’t hold any data about the circumstances of when a tag was applied, or why it was applied. Tags are either there, or they’re not there.
Tagging people as “Customer – Product A” is all good and well… until you find yourself needing to find people who become a customer of Product A between January 1st and 30th.
Additionally, tags don’t have metadata. You can’t easily tell if that person used a coupon to buy Product A, or how much they spent. You could generously tag (which I recommend) by tagging someone as “Customer – Product A” and “Customer – Product A – Black Friday Sale” to signify that they’re both a customer and that they bought using the Black Friday Sale coupon code, but that can get a bit messy.
With Drip events, you get the action performed (like “Purchased Product A”), the date and time it happened, and any metadata you want to pass along with that event.
An example Drip event:
- Name: Purchased Product A
- Date/time: January 1, 2016 @ 1pm Eastern Time
- Price: 297
- Coupon: get20off
- Affiliate: johndoe
This allows you to easily query people based on when they did something and how they did something, and not just that they did something.
When used correctly, events give you a much more detailed picture of how people interacted with your organization in a way that simple tagging just can’t do.
Killer Feature #2: Drip.js
Most Drip users just use this library to get access to the toaster widget — that little popup thing that you’ve probably seen floating at the bottom right corner of so many websites. It’s an easy and effective way to immediately get a lead form on your website.
But Drip.js is much more than just a fancy way of getting popup opt-in forms on your website.
Whenever you include a link in a Drip email, Drip appends a tracking code that specifies who’s clicking through.
This means that if I’m on your email list and receive an email from you that links to your website, if I click through you know I’m currently looking at your website… and you can tailor the copy and design of the entire site based on what you want to show me.
Let that sink in for a second.
On my website (the one you’re reading this article on), I show call-to-actions that promote my various email courses to anonymous visitors. To visitors I know about, I show call-to-actions that reflect where they are in my funnel.
This level of personalization is a pipe dream for many marketers, but it’s one of the single most powerful tools you have at your disposal. If you consider that a web page is a fixed amount of real estate, making sure that the right people see the right stuff should be paramount.
Drip gives you this out of the box.
Drip.js can let you know who’s currently looking at your site, what their email address is, what tags they have applied to them, and any custom attributes you choose to expose.
This means that you’re theoretically able to show content that upsells customers and tries to make that first sale to non-customers.
(If you sign up for Drip and use my affiliate link, which I use throughout this article, drop me an email and I’ll send you the custom code I use on this website to do just that.)
This is powerful stuff.
Additionally, Drip.js knows what pages on your website people visit. Out of the box and with no coding, you can automatically send a coupon email to people who visit your product page and don’t buy within 24 hours.
Killer Feature #3: Visual Workflows
My biggest hangup in migrating to Drip was the lack of a visual workflow editor (what Infusionsoft calls its Campaign Builder.)
When I first started using Drip, they only supported linear campaigns, which are the typical sort of drip sequences you’d expect: Send an email, wait X days, send another email, wait X days, send another email, etc.
And I had weird requirements that I had grown used to having used Infusionsoft. I wanted to send a particular email if so-and-so was true, and another email if it wasn’t. I also wanted to let some people skip whole sets of emails based on what I knew about them.
This required setting up a complicated ruleset of automation rules that would glue together a bunch of flat email campaigns, and while I had a pretty good picture in my head of how it all worked together, making any edits to this system was always a bit scary.
Drip now supports visual Workflows, which are amazing.
They allow you to have sophisticated branching logic, with actions triggered by delays (“wait 1 day”) or events (“wait until the ‘Purchased Product A’ event is fired”).
And actions don’t need to just be sending emails.
In one of my email courses, I pitch one of my courses every Monday at 10am. Subscribers get an email letting them know that the sale is active, and then I immediately text them if I have their phone number.
While Drip isn’t able to send SMS messages, it integrates with 3rd party services like Zapier that can monitor for Drip events that, in turn, will tell services like Twilio to fire off an SMS. (More on this in Killer Feature #6)
Visual workflows also allow you to drill down and see who’s currently moving through your workflow. And while there’s no way to perform a bulk operation on a result-set of people who are currently queued up in one stage of a workflow, I’m sure that’s a feature that’s under development.
Killer Feature #4: Custom Fields
Because Drip is my database of customers and subscribers, there’s only so much I can know about someone just by the presence of tags or events.
I want to know how much money someone has spent (their lifetime value). What city, state, and country they live in. Their name and phone number. I also want to know what articles they’ve read of mine, what sort of topics they’re most interested in, what kind of business they run, etc.
Again, some of the above could be done with tags. But not everything can be reduced to a simple tag.
Infusionsoft required a lot of prep work to add a custom field to a contact, and it was always a bit of a pain. Many marketing automation tools don’t even support applying custom fields to a contact.
With Drip, custom fields are flexible key/value stores, which means that I can arbitrarily assign whatever custom field I’d like to a new contact at any time. And adding a new custom field to a particular contact doesn’t populate that field as blank across my entire contacts database.
Here’s an idea of the sort of data I track using Drip’s custom fields:
I use custom fields for the usual things marketers care about, like where they opted in from, how long they’ve been freelancing, and so on. But I also use custom fields to individually track how someone engages with my content.
For example, I wanted to track what type of content my readers are most interested in. To do this, I serialize a list of all the article IDs that subscribers read in each blog category. When a subscriber reads a new article of mine, I simply calculate how many articles they’ve read and contrast this to how many articles are available in that category. From this I’m able to generate a category score — you can see an example of this in the screenshot above (e.g. “community_score = 7.69%”)
Because Drip can use the updating of a custom field as a trigger for an automation rule, I could make it so when someone has read 50% of my articles on pricing I enroll them in a campaign that promotes my course on pricing.
Killer Feature #5: Liquid Templating
Arghhh, so… Infusionsoft.
Let’s say I wanted to include a paragraph of text in an email if someone is a customer of mine. Guess what I’d have to do in Infusionsoft?
I’d need to create a brand new email with 90% of the same content and wire together a decision tree that would send customers to the email with the additional paragraph, and everyone else to the other email.
Drip supports Liquid templating, which is a lightweight way of either having conditional blocks (“if this is true, show this, otherwise…”) or to spit out variable data, like a custom attribute.
Liquid is chainable, which means that you can take some data and add a lot of formatting.
In the below example, you can see how I’m using Liquid to set a custom attribute that I use to determine an individualized sale window for a subscriber that’s moving through one of my email courses:
Let’s break down what’s happening above:
- We’re getting a time representation of “now”, which based on my Workflow is always going to be Monday at 10am local time for a subscriber.
- We’re taking that time zone and casting it into the subscriber’s time zone (I believe the default is whatever your Drip account’s default is)
- We’re then advancing that timestamp to next Friday, which will be Friday at 10am (since it’s now Monday at 10am)
- We’re then going to midnight, which is Friday at 00:00
- We’re then getting the timestamp representation, which is the number of seconds elapsed since January 1, 1970 (computers are weird)
The value that comes out — the “UNIX timestamp” — is then stored as the “cwyw_offer_expires” custom attribute, which I then pass over to my sales page and create a pretty countdown timer with.
This timer is specific to that subscriber who’s currently moving through my email course and tied to their time zone.
Pretty awesome, eh?
Killer Feature #6: Leadpages + Center
At the moment, I’m using Zapier and a few WordPress plugins to drive a lot of the automation that I have going on with Drip.
For instance, when someone buys one of my products, WooCommerce sends an event to Drip, and I have automation rules setup in Drip that parses out that event payload to add the right tags and attributes.
I sometimes need to push out of Drip. Like I mentioned above, I want to not only send emails to my subscribers, but I want to sometimes text them if I have their phone number (as a custom attribute.) Or maybe I want to write to a Google Spreadsheet whenever somebody buys so my VA has an easy order sheet that contains all of my customers.
Since Drip isn’t an SMS platform or a jack-of-all-trades tool, integrations like this are key.
Because of the relationship Drip now has with Leadpages and Center, soon Drip will deeply integrate with just about everything a business owner / marketer needs. Stripe, PayPal, webinar platforms, Wistia, etc.
This means that you’ll be able to use Drip and its Workflows as a customized scheduling tool for your contacts. (Want to send out a gift in the post to subscriber’s on their birthday? Sure. Use a Workflow to schedule all of that, and then use Center to make that happen.)
And Center is aiming to be more than just a tool that glues lots of things together with Drip.
It gives you birds eye view of your subscribers and customers in a way that Drip can’t. While Drip will show you the tags applied on a contact, what custom attributes they have, what emails they were sent, and so on, it won’t show you that you SMSed them or that you received a $997 payment from them on Stripe.
If you’re just starting out with marketing automation and building an audience, there’s a good chance a lot of what I demonstrated above isn’t something you need to worry about yet.
But you will, especially as your business and automation needs begin to grow.
That’s why I encourage you to try out Drip. It does everything that all the other email marketing automation tools do, but then some. So when you’re ready to start dynamically generating custom attributes on subscriber records and personalizing your website’s content based on who someone is and what they’ve done and haven’t done, you won’t need to go through the pain of migrating to Drip.
Plans start at just $1/month.
If you sign up using my link, shoot me an email once your billing kicks in and I’ll send you the code library I use on this website to do a lot of the advanced personalization work that I talked about in the above review.