Drip is an automation-focused email marketing tool, acquired by the guys behind LeadPages. It also one of the newer tools in this review series (entering the market in 2013).
Despite going up against very established and well-funded competitors, Drip has grown into what many would consider the leading email marketing platform around today.
The question is, how well does Drip work for email marketing?
For this review, I fired up Drip to see how it performs as a standalone tool, and in comparison to popular alternatives.
From here on out, I’ll share my experiences using this software, along with what I liked and didn’t like along the way.
System & Segmentation
As expected, Drip has completely done away with lists, and instead focuses on tags and events. (We’ll get to “events” shortly.)
You can apply tags to your subscribers manually, or you can have tags applied through automation workflows, like so:
And this system makes it painfully easy to set up granular, behavioural-based tagging, just by swapping out the initial trigger.
For example, if I want to tag subscribers who clicked a specific link in one of my emails, I just look for it in the trigger menu.
And after installing the Drip tracking code on your site, these “trigger links” can also be placed on any of your pages as well.
Not only that, but it allows you to track and tag subscribers based on the pages they’ve visited and interacted with on your site.
This is useful for creating things like cart abandonment campaigns, timed info product delivery and even click-based onboarding emails.
The segmentation capabilities of this tool feel almost limitless, and I haven’t even properly covered “events” yet.
Events work similarly to tags, except they’re time-stamped and can be applied multiple times. They also tend to be automatically applied to subscribers via third-party integrations.
An example of this might be if a subscriber purchases a product through ThriveCart, you could use that event information to target anyone who purchased a specific product in the last 6 months (or whatever).
Drip is a segmentation and subscriber management machine. Nuff said.
Being an automation-focused email marketing tool, this is the part I was most excited to dive into.
The first thing to note is that there are TWO ways to build automations. Workflows and Rules.
If you want to set a simple, quick, one-off automation rule, then you’ll probably appreciate the inclusion of a more barebones interface.
But if you’re an automations ninja who’s looking to get the most from this tool, you’ll definitely want to use the Workflow builder.
Now, coming from ActiveCampaign, I immediately noticed a difference in speed performance. There’s really no comparison, Drip is just significantly faster.
In terms of raw power though? It’s a real tough one to judge.
Initially, it looked as though ActiveCampaign had more to offer in terms of conditions and contact actions, but the more I dug into it, the more I attributed that to Drip’s simpler interface.
For example, clicking the “Action” button opens up a bunch of other options to choose from:
Granted, ActiveCampaign does offer slightly more triggers and actions over Drip, but as hard as I looked, I couldn’t find any significant limitations with Drip’s automations in comparison.
This was a note from ActiveCampaign, in a response to one of my emails about Drip:
The only thing I didn’t like was that some automations are created from other areas of the tool. For example, forms have a separate automations builder to, say, campaigns.
I can see this becoming problem knowing where particular automations live as you scale up.
One final thing I’d like to squeeze in here is the ability to automatically resend broadcasts to anyone who didn’t open.
Though you can do this in ActiveCampaign later, Drip makes it easy by simply checking a box before sending.
It’s small but practical things like this that ActiveCampaign seems to overlook, and it allows newer tools, like Drip, to maintain a strong position in the market despite having fewer bells and whistles.
Aside from the slightly confusing management aspect of different automation rules, Drip absolutely delivers on it’s promise of being a straightforward automation-focused email marketing tool.
Under the “Analytics” tab, you can find the option to create a new split-test.
From here you’re able to test different subject lines, ‘from” name, and delivery timing, which is always a good start.
But it’s still pretty basic stuff considering the hype around this tool.
What I was really interested in was testing email content. This is something a lot of email marketing tools skimp on, and unfortunately, Drip doesn’t seem to be an exception to that.
It is technically possible to achieve this kind of test by using tags to break your subscribers into two “buckets”, but this is more of a complicated workaround than a real solution.
As for A/B testing automation workflows…
No luck there.
And it’s worth mentioning this is something you CAN do with ActiveCampaign.
It’s a shame, because judging by what I’ve seen from the rest of the tool, you wouldn’t expect to find these limitations.
Drip offers a reasonably good A/B testing environment, but if you’re looking to test your actual email content then you’ll have a pretty hard time with this tool.
I really like Drip’s forms builder.
Aside from design, which I’ll get to in a sec, you can pretty much control every aspect of your form.
Post sign-up copy, orientation, behaviour, visibility, redirect, triggers… you name it, and you can almost certainly play with it.
To give you an example, just look at these behaviour settings:
And even with all these options to sift through, it somehow never feels messy or overwhelming.
You can also choose between installing your form as a widget, embed code or just using a hosted version.
As I said though, the one thing I didn’t really click with is the design customizer. It’s way too basic, especially in comparison to everything else you can do with the form builder.
Finally — and I mentioned this earlier in the review – you can build form automations directly from the form builder.
While it does open up some problems with organizing and managing your automations across the platform, I did like being able to create tailored automation rules for individual forms.
Drip’s form builder is admittedly lacking in design customization, and that could be a deal breaker for some. But, personally, there’s so much more to like here that I can almost forgive the design limitations. Almost.
What else is there to say? It’s just plain bad. (Pun intended)
Straight away I could see that Drip’s integrations weren’t as comprehensive as other tools.
(Not a huge surprise considering how relatively new this company is, but still worth noting.)
It does hook up to Zapier though, which opens up a bunch of other potential integrations through their “Zap” system.
Even though the numbers don’t favor Drip in this case, it’s important to keep in mind that the more popular integrations almost always get priority.
I mentioned this in my ConvertKit review, but it’s almost like the 80/20 of integrations. For most people and most technical setups, they’ll have you covered.
Tracking & Reporting
Your main Drip dashboard shows a complete breakdown of your site from an email marketing perspective.
That’s everything from page visits, form opens, subscriptions and conversions.
Keep in mind, you’ll have to install the code snippet provided in order for this – and various other features – to work.
So far so good.
From there, you can head into your “broadcasts” (essentially just one-off emails) to see individual reports.
From here you can get a sense of how each email performed in terms of opens, clicks, conversions and unsubscribes.
For “campaigns” (or autoresponders), you get access to pretty much the same thing, just with a few tweaks to the metrics being tracked.
In that case, you’ll only see subscriptions and conversions.
Last, but certainly not least, you have a dedicated “Reports” page that breaks down a series of other email marketing aspects.
These include things like subscriber growth, hard bounces, and even opens by hour.
If you like diggin’ into the numbers, this is where you’ll get your fix.
It’s safe to say that it goes well beyond the basics, but more importantly, it’s a piece of cake to carve out the exact data you want.
Definitely one of the better email marketing tools when it comes to tracking and reporting.
Support & Documentation
For a lot of people, this is a HUGE factor to consider when taking the plunge with any tool, let alone something that’ll likely be at the helm of your marketing strategy.
So what support channels are available?
Well, as you would expect, you can contact Drip via email using their contact form.
I shot a couple emails off to test the response time, and I found it to typically be anywhere from 24-48 hours which is not terrible.
Fortunately, the responses I got back were excellent, so there was no need for a ton of back and forth communication.
One thing to be aware of, however, is that email support is limited on the free plan.
Outside of that, you can search the knowledge base which I actually found to be super thorough.
There’s also the Facebook community with over 16,000 members, and it’s officially listed as a support option.
The only downside to the group is that it’s a “LeadPages” group and not a “Drip” group. Sure, it’s all owned by the same company but it means a broader scope of discussion amongst members. Not ideal.
And the last listed support option is something called “Drip Live Coaching”, which basically gets you to sign up for live training webinars over at ConvertedU.com
The webinars are based on various topics around marketing (not just email marketing) and you can even watch past replays.
Not bad if you ask me.
Finally, Drip do offer live chat support option for paying customers. (If you’re on the free plan, you won’t see this as an option.)
For me, live chat is my go-to when it comes to support, and although I find it tough to catch them online at the right time, the support rep clearly knew his stuff.
One thing I should point out is that, as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t find a phone number on their website. Could be a deal breaker if you prefer this support option.
Apart from a certain lack of support for anyone on the free plan, which I think is totally understandable, and the whole “no phone number” thing, Drip’s support as a whole is up to scratch.
One thing we really wanted to test with all the email marketing tools in this series was deliverability.
As you can imagine, this is quite a difficult thing to test and we spent a lot of time coming on with various ways to do it, but we eventually settled on two separate methods
- Run the same campaign across all tools and measure open rates
- Use GlockApps to get a more instant, analytical result
I cover our exact process in more detail in the email marketing tools roundup review, so I recommend you check it out if you’re interested in the specifics of these tests.
From our own testing, Drip achieved a respectable open rate of 36.1% in the given time frame.
As for the GlockApps test, here’s a summary screenshot of how it performed in terms of email placement:
To give you a better picture of how this stacks up, I put together a table that shows and compares the results across all tools in this series.
Here’s what that looks like for Drip:
Note: Aweber is missing some results because they repeatedly refused my import of the GlockApps seed list, meaning I was unable to run the test. Very frustrating to say the least.
Is Drip Right For You?
Now that I’ve covered all the different features and functions of Drip, weighing up the pros and cons and giving my experience along the way — let’s talk about YOU.
As with any tool, Drip isn’t going to be the right choice for everyone, so I’d like to get to the bottom of who exactly this email marketing tool is suitable for.
If you’re looking for email marketing on a budget, Drip is a bit of a tricky one to decipher.
First, let’s take a look at the numbers, based on the lowest-tier plan for popular alternatives:
|Tools||Free Plan||1,000 subs||10,000 subs||25,000 subs||50,000 subs||100,000 subs|
|No||$29 p/m||$139 p/m||$225 p/m||$299 p/m||$459 p/m|
|No||$29 p/m||$69 p/m||$149 p/m||$392 p/m||$792 p/m|
|No||$45 p/m||$95 p/m||$295 p/m||$335 p/m||$595 p/m|
|No||$29 p/m||$119 p/m||$199 p/m||$379 p/m||$679 p/m|
|Yes||$49 p/m||$149 p/m||$254 p/m||$429 p/m||$779 p/m|
|No||$15 p/m||$65 p/m||$145 p/m||$250 p/m||$450 p/m|
|Yes||$15 p/m||$75 p/m||$150 p/m||$240 p/m||$475 p/m|
Looking at this alone, it’s clear that Drip is easily one of the more expensive options on the market.
What keeps this horse in the budget-friendly race, however, is the fact that they have a full-featured free plan for up to 100 subscribers.
It won’t take long before you exceed that limit. Could be weeks, or possibly a couple months if you’re growing at snails pace. After that, you’ll be forced to pay $49/month to continue using the service.
So, as great as the free plan is, it may feel like a bit of a bait and switch for anyone on a tight budget. (But then again, I guess that’s how most freemium products feel?)
If you want something a little more powerful and you are willing to cough up some dough in the near future, Drip will be a solid choice.
Otherwise, and I suspect most money-conscious entrepreneurs will fit into this category, you’ll likely be better off with a free MailChimp account (which now includes automation features.)
One of the key reasons I love Drip is that it manages to keep things fairly simple without holding back on functionality.
It has most of the raw power you’ll find in ActiveCampaign, except it’s faster, cleaner and more intuitive on so many levels.
That said, there’s still a slight learning curve to Drip that I think some beginners would struggle with, which is why I recommend having at least some experience with email marketing before tackling this beast.
If you’re fresh off the boat, I’d suggest something like ConvertKit or MailChimp to get started. Besides, it’s unlikely you’ll need the more advanced features of tools like Drip and ActiveCampaign at such an early stage.
THIS is where I can go full ham on recommending Drip.
Look, if you know me, you’ll know that I’m a massive advocate of ActiveCampaign. It’s not perfect, but it’s an email marketing powerhouse nonetheless.
For me, Drip feels like a slicker, somewhat lighter version of ActiveCampaign that’ll still handle virtually anything you can throw at it.
Yes, it’s lacking things like email templates, custom lead scoring, a built-in CRM, and slightly more advanced automation capabilities — but these things do come at a cost.
Drip is considerably faster than ActiveCampaign, and building marketing automations at scale is INFINITELY more efficient with Drip. Time is money, after all.
Of course, the reason many people put up with the sluggishness of ActiveCampaign is mainly due to price. A Drip subscription is roughly 50% more expensive than ActiveCampaign.
The bottom line is, If moolah isn’t a factor and you value raw speed and efficiency above all, get Drip.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for a high-level email marketing tool at a fraction of the cost and you can overlook the quirks, get ActiveCampaign.
Drip is one of those tools that I couldn’t stop hearing about, but just never got around to testing… until now.
Fortunately, it turned out to be one of the few tools that managed to live up to the hype, and it’s easy to see why it’s as popular as it is.
Despite a marginal defeat by ActiveCampaign in my roundup comparison, Drip has a magic about it that, for some reason, I can’t quite depict with a data-driven approach.
The good news is, you don’t have to take my word for it. With Drip offering fully-featured free account, you have nothing to lose by simply giving it a try.