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Drip is an odd beast. It positively excels in some areas, especially the general construction of its features and its analytics…only to completely drop the ball in other areas, like its templates. I’m also not a huge fan of how the pricing plans scale and change in weird ways.
Still, if you need a mail service to partner with your e-commerce site, Drip might be the one for you.
Yep, that’s the whole pitch for Drip: send emails with its platform and grow your e-commerce business. It even asks you to select your favorite e-commerce platform* on sign-up. And, honestly, I thought this was a really interesting idea, so I was excited to jump into testing out the platform.
There were a few questions I wanted to answer from the get-go. How is Drip better suited to e-commerce businesses than other email marketing services? Does it really do that much differently from the rest? And the ultimate be-all and end-all question: is it right for you?
Here’s the obligatory spoiler. Drip does do a couple things differently…but not by much. It’s good enough, but missing a couple of features. Read on to see whether those are features you can do without.
* Note you can select an “I don’t sell online” option if you need to.
What Features There Are, Are Pretty Good
Drip’s focus on e-commerce marketing has led it to create a pretty darned good email editor, decent subscriber management features, and a solid set of automation workflows. Plus, you know, tight e-commerce integration.
Unfortunately, there are almost no templates to choose from, and there’s no landing page builder, either.
That’s the thing: Drip is a highly focused platform, with a bit of a DIY philosophy. That’s okay for some people, but may be a dealbreaker for others.
Email Campaigns, Templates, and Personalization
Drip’s email campaign publishing options are simple yet effective. You can send out a blast with a single email, create a series of emails to be sent over time, or you can create a campaign that follows a specific automation workflow (more on that below).
You can also send out your campaigns via SMS, as long as you have any of the paid plans. Publishing your latest social media via newsletter would probably be easiest via third-party integrations like Zapier.
The email designs come in two flavors: plain text and the fancy, visual kind. And, well, the fancy visual templates are good. They’re modern, attractive, and I’d be tempted to look based on how pretty they are.
Unfortunately, I could only find 7 premade templates, and the rest were just basic frameworks to help you get started creating your own templates.
Now, I don’t mind a heavy emphasis on DIY, but man I could go for a larger selection of starter templates. Don’t forget that AWeber has 700+ email templates.
Luckily, the template editor makes up (a little) for the template problem by being one of the better template editors I’ve encountered. You can create fairly complex layouts (for email), and add the usual images, text, buttons, and social links.
You can also customize the overall design of the email, including default font styles and sizes, colors, button styles, and the overall layout width. All the templates you build will be mobile-friendly, and you can preview/modify the mobile version of the template as you build it.
There’s also a pretty decent font selection for an email editor. I’ve seen competitors with a much smaller list. Also, the editor seems to have at least some support for right-to-left (RTL) languages like Hebrew and Arabic. At least, it worked when I copied and pasted some Hebrew characters in…
You can personalize your emails for your customers in a couple of ways. First, you can use variables to input each subscriber’s name, email address, location, values from custom fields, and more. Then, you can add information like your business address, the title of the email campaign, unsubscribe links (kind of essential), “View in Browser” URLs, and a whole bunch of other options.
Secondly, you can create snippets of custom content that can be used across emails to quickly fill out content that needs to be repeated. I love this feature every time I see it.
Once you’ve created a template and a campaign, you can choose if you want to A/B test (or split test) your email before you send it. A/B testing means sending out two or more versions of an email to different people, in order to see which email performs better with your subscribers.
You can split test everything from email layouts, to slightly different copy, to simple color scheme changes. This can help you figure out how to best engage with your readers.
Drip allows you to split test both the subject line and the content of an email. This is pretty good – many services will only allow you to split test the subject lines. And, well, I need more than that from my split tests, so I was pleased to discover that Drip delivers here.
Overall, my experience designing emails with Drip was simple and easy, and I almost enjoyed it. The lack of starter templates is a rather large blow, but if you like making your own designs, Drip isn’t a bad option.
Mailing Lists and Segmentation
You can add people to your mailing lists one by one, copy and paste a bunch of addresses in, import them from a CSV file, or import them directly from Mailchimp if you have an account there.
Note that you cannot import contacts from any other format, such as text or Excel files. Here at Website Planet, we consider the lack of Excel file support to be downright wrong. And it is going to hurt the score a bit.
Now, here’s something I do like. Not only do you get to map all the columns in your CSV files to specific fields, but you can also add tags and perform other automation actions on import. I’ll get into automation further down.
You can add or find all sorts of information on each subscriber’s profile, including their name, address, phone number, and how their address was added into the system. You can even see if they’ve given you consent to use their data according to EU rules.
Mind you, you’d have to get that sort of information via a sign-up form, for example. Then you can add tags, as well as custom fields for further subscriber-sorting possibilities.
Speaking of sorting your subscribers, you can easily use the main menu to see which of your subscribers are active, which are inactive, and sort them by tags or fields.
Further sorting is via filters at the top of the “People” page. You can then chain filters together to see, for example, a list of people in Belgium who opened your last email, and have a set value in the “ice_cream” custom field.
Once you chain these filters together, you can save them as “segments”. Segments are dynamically populated lists of subscribers who meet certain criteria. If you saved the above filter chain as a segment, for example, you could always see which of your subscribers like your emails, live in Belgium, and want ice cream.
This, I suspect, would be every subscriber in Belgium. I mean, who doesn’t like ice cream?
Segmentation is super important in helping you send the right emails to the right subscribers. It’s also useful in automation, which I’ll get into below.
Also important is keeping your subscriber list healthy. You don’t want to keep people who aren’t interacting with your emails on your list because they count toward your subscriber limit and because people who don’t want your emails anymore might be prone to lodging complaints.
Thankfully, Drip makes it easy enough to identify inactive or disengaged contacts and to unsubscribe or delete them from your system with bulk actions (which are quite versatile).
But now we come to suppression lists. These are what you need when you absolutely, positively want to make sure you never send another email to a particular contact. This is usually used to ensure compliance with spam laws in some countries, but you might also do it if you just don’t like the person, I guess.
There is nothing labeled as a “suppression list” on Drip, but you can “Deactivate” contacts both individually and in bulk, which is pretty much the same thing.
All in all, Drip’s contact management and sorting systems are streamlined and well made. I approve.
I normally would review the landing page feature here…but there isn’t one.
Honestly, most of the big email marketing services include this feature for a reason. People need easy ways to advertise their newsletters, and landing pages can help with that. I’m sorry to say Drip doesn’t offer anything here.
Automation is one of those awesome tools that makes email marketing a lot less tedious than it would otherwise be. Basically, it lets you set up entire pre-programmed email processes and campaigns, meaning you can let these campaigns run themselves.
Drip calls its automation system “Workflows” and it’s very useful. Let’s say someone signs up for your email learning course. An automated workflow can send them a welcome email immediately, then send them the next email in the course once a week, every week, until it’s done. And you don’t have to do much more than create the initial emails.
Another workflow might involve sending reminder emails to people who abandoned their cart in your online store. Another might send emails about your kitchen appliance deals to subscribers who buy an ice cream maker from your store.
Honestly, Drip’s automation system is where the focus on e-commerce really comes into play. You can use your store to help manage and sort your subscribers, to tell you who’s more interested in what you sell, and to learn which products they like. But then…so can a lot of other e-commerce platforms.
To get you started, Drip has nearly 30 automation templates to choose from. These include everything from automatically unsubscribing contacts whose emails don’t work, to abandoned cart emails for several stores, to first-time purchase welcome emails.
Like all the best automation editors for email marketing, Drip’s automation and workflow editor looks like mind mapping software. This makes it much easier to visualize the process that users will go through when each particular workflow is triggered.
I was duly satisfied with Drip’s automation feature. It’s no better than the competition, but it’s certainly no worse either.
Cool extras from Drip include things like the form builder. You can make newsletter sign-up forms for your campaigns and workflows, then embed them on your website.
But the main extra feature is the third-party integration system. Obviously, a lot of effort was put into integrating e-commerce platforms, as that’s Drip’s whole major selling point – it integrates with stores. It’s specifically made to play nice with Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce, as well as a number of others.
But beyond that, you can connect with over 100 services in total, including non-e-commerce options like Facebook, Zapier, PayPal, Gravity Forms, and more. And that’s not counting how many services can be integrated through Zapier.
All in all, Drip has a strong set of features, but some of those missing bits – like templates and the landing page creator – kind of hurt the overall experience. Not to mention the lack of Excel file support. Nevertheless, Drip does a lot right.
Your Emails Will Most Likely Get To Their Destination
Talking about deliverability is complicated. Obviously, we want our emails to go straight to our subscribers’ inboxes, if at all possible. Even if we can’t bypass the Promotions tab in Gmail (a tab which I actually greatly appreciate), we at least want to avoid our emails going straight to the junk or spam folders.
Even the most relevant email and most innocent newsletter are at risk, so we want to give them the best chance possible.
Still, no service can guarantee 100% deliverability. In fact, due to the nature of the technology involved, percentage-based deliverability ratings are pretty much worthless. There are just too many technologies, servers, and people in play to make any percentage-based claim.
The best I can do (and this is our approach at Website Planet) is tell you whether Drip offers a few specific features that can seriously improve your odds of your emails getting through. And, well, that’s what I’m doing here.
As always, we begin with DKIM. In layman’s terms, DKIM is an encryption-based method of telling email providers (Gmail, Outlook, and so on) that your email is coming from your domain name. This makes email providers more likely to trust your emails aren’t harmful…especially if your domain has a good digital reputation.
Drip has this feature…sort of. It actually uses a different technology called DMARC, or Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. DMARC is based on DKIM, so you’re getting a lot of the same protection.
And yes, Drip has a handy guide to setting up your domain name to take advantage of this technology.
Next up, I checked to see how Drip handles spam coming from its own users and servers. After all, if your emails come from the same server as a ton of spam, email providers are a lot more likely to filter your emails to the spam folder too, or to block them entirely.
Well, the short answer is that Drip does not like that spam, Sam-I-Am. It does not like that evil spam. That’s right, I’m bringing the Dr. Seuss.
Accounts with high rates of complaints or other issues will be flat-out banned. And the first time you send out a campaign, it can be delayed up to 30 minutes in order to check for best practices, and make sure new Drip customers aren’t sending out spam. I literally used the description field of my campaign to beg the Drip team to let my test emails through.
My emails got through. I appreciated that.
Another test we like to run here at Website Planet involves uploading fake or nonsense emails to see if the system will catch them. I personally use a list of known spam email addresses, so that’s what I did.
Sadly, Drip did not pass this test. All of the suspicious email addresses were uploaded and put into the system without incident.
Next up, affiliate marketing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with affiliate marketing, as such, but some people tend to spam as many affiliate links around as they can, hoping to get lucky. It’s a good old shotgun advertising technique, and it usually goes down about as well as a bunch of lead pellets.
And, well, if affiliate marketing spam is coming from the same servers as your emails… you know the rest.
Drip does allow affiliate marketing. To its credit, however, any account that engages in affiliate marketing will be subjected to extra scrutiny and monitoring, to catch any bad behavior before it becomes too big a problem. So, there’s a risk here, but it seems to be at least somewhat mitigated.
Lastly comes the question of dedicated IP addresses. Getting your own IP address for the emails you send out means that they are separated from all the other emails sent from the same server. That way, the emails you send out will stand on their own digital reputation, and that can be hugely beneficial.
Drip does offer dedicated IPs, but only when you’re sending out a whole ton of emails, all the time. Specifically, the support team recommends sticking with the Drip IPs unless you’re sending out more than 12,500,000 individual emails per month.
Analytics & Reporting
Analytics Can Be Fairly Detailed
Analytics are kind of a big deal. After all, you need to know how your customers are interacting with your emails, and which kinds of emails sell your product or business best. Data is the lifeblood of any modern marketing effort, so you need lots.
And Drip delivers a pretty hefty amount of data, with a strong emphasis on integrating with your online store to track purchases. The idea, of course, is to help you build email campaigns that focus on your store products.
To start, there’s an easy overview of how everything’s going:
You can see how much revenue is being made through sales on your integrated store. You can also, of course, see how many people are opening your emails, and clicking on links. You can see which links perform best, and keep track of hourly engagement trends.
You can even use Drip to track some of your website’s analytics. And if you really want to get down and dirty, you can keep track of automated workflows that are being completed, how many tags are being added to profiles automatically, how many people are being tagged as “prospects”, how many checkouts are completed or abandoned, and so much more.
Naturally, you can also go to individual campaigns to see how they’re performing. In fact, this might be preferable most of the time, as some of the more general reports can take longer to generate and update their data.
These are actually some of the more detailed analytics that I’ve seen at this price point, namely from AWeberand Benchmark, and I was pretty happy with them. The store-based analytics are a bit more advanced than I’ve seen on most other email platforms, too.
The Support Team Was Helpful
Drip offers a blog, a library of workflows, and an in-depth user manual. I actually really like the classic documentation style of the user manual, and I wish more online services would write this sort of documentation, and organize it this well.
Person-to-person customer support comes in two flavors: email (sent via the app itself) and live chat. Both are available from 9AM to 5PM Central Time, Monday through Friday.
On the downside, you have to pay for at least 5,000 contacts to get access to live chat support. By comparison, much of the competition will give you access to live chat support, and even phone support. ActiveCampaign gives you both, along with email, right off the bat.
For this review, I didn’t have the kind of budget to test Drip phone support, so I sent a lot of support requests to the email address. Truth be told, a lot of people who are just starting out with email marketing would be restricted to email on Drip, and I did want to see just how well they treat their “low-end” customers.
What can I say? I used to live on cheap bulk food, five-dollar hosting for my web design portfolio site, and a long-suffering roommate who covered for me until I could pay back my share of the bills. The treatment of low-budget customers matters to me.
Also… Shinji, you’re awesome.
Anyway, here’s how the email support went. First, I asked if the email designer could support RTL languages.
I got a response in an hour, which is okay for email support. Not amazing, but okay. The support team ran some tests themselves, and provided helpful links and resources should I have any trouble. The tone was helpful and polite, and I was quite happy with the response.
Next, I asked exactly how suppression lists work on Drip, and if they were related to deactivating a contact, because I wasn’t completely sure that it was the same thing. The response to this email (and the next) took a lot longer… but that’s my own darned fault.
I wasn’t looking at the time, and sent my question outside of the support team’s business hours, so the responses reached me early-ish the next day.
One day, I won’t make these rookie reviewer mistakes anymore. One day…
Lastly, I asked whether Drip offered dedicated IPs, because I couldn’t find information about that anywhere on the site. Short answer: yes it does, but only if you’re sending a lot of emails.
All in all, I was quite happy with my support experience, even if it was email only.
Support got back to me in a timely enough fashion (when I emailed them during business hours), and the responses were helpful and informative. Heck, the team went above and beyond for my first question.
The Prices Are Okay… But I’ve Definitely Seen Better Plans
First up, let’s clarify that Drip doesn’t offer a free plan. However, the 14-day free trial gets you access to every feature but SMS publishing, and doesn’t require a credit card to sign up. This means you have at least some time to decide whether you like the platform as a whole.
The cheapest plan costs $19.00per month for up to 500 subscribers and gets you access to every feature, while letting you send unlimited emails. You can scale that plan up to 27,500 contacts by paying more.
Then, the pricing situation gets weird.
If you pay for the plan that starts at 30,000 subscribers or more, Drip will actually startlimiting the number of emails you can send per month. Once you get past 140,000 contacts (and up to 10,000,000), there’s no listed price. You have to set up a custom deal of some kind.
Oh, and you still get a limited number of email sends per month. It’s honestly a bit confusing, not to mention a little disappointing. ActiveCampaign, Benchmark, ConstantContact, and AWeberall let you send unlimited emails on their paid plans.
If you do decide to go for Drip, you can pay for it with any major credit card.
Cancellation and Refunds
There are no refunds at all, except for in “extenuating circumstances”. Even then, Drip decides what “extenuating circumstances” means. I’m not going to lie, this hurts the score a bit.
On the upside, you can easily cancel your subscription from the dashboard at any time. You have to fill out a small cancellation survey, but you don’t need to contact support or anything.
Drip is an odd beast that positively excels in some areas, such as the general construction of its features, and its analytics. The support team is good, too. On the other hand, it completely drops the ball on templates, and doesn’t have certain nice-to-haves like landing pages.
And honestly? I’m not a huge fan of how the pricing plans scale and change in weird ways.
I’d say that if you’re dedicated to e-commerce, don’t mind designing all of your own templates, and don’t mind the email sending limits on the more expensive plans, Drip might be right for you.
But that’s a lot of “ifs”, and it’d be far easier to go with ActiveCampaign or most of the other options on our list of the best email marketing services. Chances are that you’ll find something better for your needs, even if you run an e-commerce business.
With some analytics and slightly tighter e-commerce integration aside, Drip doesn’t actually do all that much that’s different.
What is Drip email?
Drip is an email marketing platform designed to help you grow your business. Specifically, it’s supposed to be designed around e-commerce, and growing online stores. That said, while it does have some interesting integrations with major e-commerce platforms, frankly it doesn’t do that much differently.
How much does Drip cost?
The cheapest plan starts at $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers. You can send unlimited emails…up to a point. 30,000 subscribers, to be exact. After that, prices start scaling weirdly, and there are – bizarrely – limits on how many emails you can send per month on more expensive plans.
On the plus side, there’s a 14-day free trial so you can test it out for free. No strings attached, no credit card needed, and you actually get to test almost all of the features. On the other hand, there are also no refunds.
If you want a cheaper deal on email marketing in general, check out our coupon page. It could save you a pretty penny.
What features does Drip offer?
Drip actually has some pretty good features on offer. There’s a pretty darned good email designer, marred slightly by the fact that there are only 7 starter templates to choose from. The automation system is solid, and the analytics and reporting are pretty good.
All in all, it’s not a bad platform, but there are better. My top recommendation would always be ActiveCampaign for its all-around great performance in every category.
Which is better: Drip vs Mailchimp?
In some ways, it’s rather close. The features that Drip does have are far more refined, in my opinion, and the customer service experience is a bit better. That said, unlike Drip, Mailchimp actually has something of a template library and it has a landing page creator.
If I’m being honest, neither of these services quite match up to ActiveCampaign, GetResponse, Benchmark, or some of the other competitors that we’ve reviewed. See our list of the best email marketing services here.
Ezequiel Bruni is biologically Canadian, legally Mexican, and self identifies as a total nerd. He’s been a web and experience designer off and on since he was a teenager, and loves sharing the kind of beginner’s advice he really wishes he’d had when he first started. He also loves video games, tacos, open source software, video games, sci-fi and fantasy in all their forms, and video games. He does not love writing in the third person.