In the world of email marketing, there’s a concept called “drip email.” No one’s really sure who named the concept, but the idea has caught on: Drip messages on your prospects until it’s a good time for them to buy.

The concept is a good one: Follow up with potential customers to grow your business. Whether you’re selling real estate, building windmills or exporting commodities across continents, there are always people who will do business with you if you follow up with them at the right time.

With drip email, you send emails to prospects automatically on a given schedule. Usually that means every two to three weeks — not necessarily a bad idea. That might be the right amount of time to re-engage; it depends on your prospects’ buying cycles.

The problem with drip emails is that they are usually boring. And irrelevant. And pretty much a waste of everyone’s time. What tends to happen is that, instead of helping you stay top of mind, your drip emails backfire. Instead of helping you follow up, they train your prospect to think you’re pretty annoying, which in any industry means you end up making less money.

Try sending tips not drips. Get to know your prospects well enough that you can send helpful ideas for ways to grow their businesses, ways for them to do better. Send tips about what their competitors are doing, tips about the growth of their industries, tips about new ideas for leveraging their brands for revenue growth.

Most drip emails just annoy people. So stop sending them — all of them, as soon as possible. Instead, send tips. It’s hard to find a prospect who won’t be delighted when he opens up his email and finds a tidbit designed to help him reach his goals.

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Dan Waldschmidt is an international business strategist, speaker and author.  He is author of the soon-to-be-released Edgy Conversations: How Ordinary People Achieve Outrageous Success. For more information, go to danwaldschmidt.com.