Email nurturing is one of the most overlooked, yet most effective, ways to grow your business. It’s not just about sending a one-time email and calling it a day. Email nurturing is a sequence of emails, sent over the course of weeks or months, that keep your leads engaged and moving towards becoming clients. Here’s how to write an email nurture sequence that actually works.
The Beginner’s Guide to Email Nurture Sequences
Here is a comprehensive guide to creating an email nurture sequence. From proper content to format, the sequence is broken down with examples of what to include from successful campaigns and years of testing.
Why do I bring up this topic now? Well, you see, I’ve spent the last 20+ years studying marketing communications, and the last five in email marketing specifically, analyzing the data and testing my hypotheses. I have discovered that email marketing, despite being around for over 30 years, is still a massively unexplored area by lots of businesses.
I’ve lost count of the number of shoulder shrugs and puzzled looks I’ve seen when I ask: “how do you communicate with your current clients?” Some really successful business owners completely miss the boat here, never communicating beyond the transaction. Allowing clients to simply drop off a cliff after they have purchased. Let alone nurturing leads before they are ready to buy.
The truth is that many businesses, especially small businesses, are barely scratching the surface when it comes to understanding and mastering email marketing.
And it’s not just about nurturing people to buy. Oh no, email marketing is much bigger than that. Think about the whole journey your clients go on in three phases: Leads, Prospects, Clients.
What’s the difference? Leads are at the start of their journey with you, they are not ‘actively’ making a decision about a purchase. Leads are lost souls searching for solutions to their problems. This is the very top of what in marketing is called a ‘funnel’.
You may have heard the terms lead magnet, opt-in bribe, or freebie. These are enticements, valuable pieces of content used to persuade visitors to give you their email address in exchange for free, valuable information. Once you have a contact’s email address, then the real work of relationship building can begin. Here is an example of a lead magnet…
Prospects are aware of their problem and actively seeking a solution. They are in the market, they have something that separates them from the pool of leads called ‘buyer intent’. Buyer intent is when things get serious, this is where we are weighing up our options in readiness to buy something.
Clients are, well, clients. They have made the decision and gone ahead and purchased. But this is not the end of the journey, it is only the beginning… Clients are 60-70% more likely to repeat purchase. Your clients are your voice in the world, championing your cause, referring friends, buying more of your products. Think about: Customer service, upselling and related products, repeat business, referrals, social shares, and testimonials. This is where businesses are built.
All three of these areas require consideration in your email nurture sequences, not just leads to prospects. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your most precious asset, your clients.
Getting Started With Email
Email nurture can happen on autopilot, at scale. Email nurture sequences and great content allow you to communicate in a very personal way with everyone who enters your world.
When creating an email nurture sequence, it’s important to think of it as more than a one-time piece of marketing. You need to think of it as an ongoing campaign, something that you will iterate, add to and develop over time.
The email sequence itself is defined by what the subscriber needs, not what you’re hoping they’ll buy. Read that sentence again because it is important.
If they don’t need what you’re offering today, they may need it tomorrow. One of the most common challenges is to know what questions and inquiries the subscriber will have and how to respond. What questions do they have? Where do they hang out online? Once you’ve determined their main “dollars, pound, and unit” of the content they consume, this is what you will be serving.
Think about it this way: If you sell a suit, and your first email is a clothing ad, you’ll probably be banging your head against the wall wondering why you’re not getting sales. You haven’t built a relationship. You haven’t delivered any value. Instead, how about a guide to what suits celebs are wearing this season, a guide to the right tailored fit for your body shape, or how the right suit can land you that dream job/relationship… These are just a few off-the-cuff (pun intended) examples of how you can and should switch your focus from the sale and ask yourself: “What content could I create and share that would make my client’s life better?”
Get started now by making a list of valuable content you have or could create related to what you do. What questions are people asking? Type it into Google and check the related search terms.
Hang around in Facebook groups and listen to conversations. All of this information is freely available all around you.
Who do you want to nurture?
Start with the main group you want to work with—your ideal prospects. You want to capture: – Ones who are actively looking for new business – Ones who are willing to pay for your product – Ones who are likely to become customers.
The more you know about them, what their world looks, sounds and feels like, the better you can communicate and create engaging content.
What should you talk about in your emails?
Research has shown that the most effective emails are packed with emotional power. In other words, the more emotionally engaging your emails are, the better.
When choosing the subject matter for your emails, make sure to include subjects that make people laugh, cry, feel inspired, and so on. While you want to include subject lines that will grab your leads’ attention, the subject lines themselves don’t make the difference.
The best emails are the ones that make the reader feel something, which they then remember and think about for the rest of the day.
While you will be weaving emotion into your emails, what should you actually include in a good email nurture sequence? Here is a list of emails to include in your nurture sequence:
- Welcome them into your world
- Tell your origin story
- Share success stories from clients you’ve helped
- Bust a myth about what you do (Most people believe this…)
- Share your most valuable content
- Share your process – how you can solve their problems
- Answer the most common questions
- Invite the contact to take the next steps – the CTA (Call To Action) ‘Do This’
- Re-Engage – Hey did you see this?
Write subject lines that get your emails opened
Keep these things in mind when choosing your subject lines: Subject lines should be specific and should also illicit curiosity.
The goal of a great subject line is to grab attention and get people to read the contents. From a psychological perspective this happens when you pique interest, pose a question, or create what is called an ‘open loop’. “Did you see this FIRSTNAME?” is an example – FIRSTNAME is where you personalise the email so it speaks directly to the contact.
Here are some ideas for interest-piquing subject lines as food for thought:
- Do you do this?
- Are you missing out?
- This isn’t good…
- Wow! That was intense…
- I checked it twice…
How often should you send emails?
As a general rule, the answer to this question is simple: As often as you can. What, you ask? Why, as often as you can? If you don’t email your prospects over a period of time, they will forget who you are, or the timing might not be quite right. There’s a whole host of reasons.
Since we can’t predict the exact buyer journey it pays dividends to create a wonderland of valuable and engaging content that your contacts can enjoy, and when the time is right, the pathway to becoming a client is always there. All roads lead to Rome. Rome being the start of the ‘Client’ part of the customer journey.
I always recommend that marketers aim for an email nurturing sequence of at least once a week, sometimes every day, or every couple of days. It really does depend on what is called the ‘buying cycle’ of what you sell. Some high-value buying decisions can take months, so bombarding someone’s inbox every day for months would be overkill. An email every week wouldn’t.
There is a cadence you need to find and the best way to find it is to test, test, test. Start with a frequency you feel comfortable with and go higher. Then let the data tell you the rest. Are the emails being opened? Do we have unusually high unsubscribe rates? All of the answers lie in the testing part of creating your sequences.
Business-growing email sequences aren’t born perfect, they evolve and develop over time with testing and constant iteration.
If you want to have higher engagement rates from your leads, then it’s really worth having a sequence of emails that the recipient will be able to relate to and is appropriate for the thing they are buying.
Don’t rush to get to the CTA (Call To Action) either. The CTA can always be there subtly (in the PS area of the email, for example:
Did you know there is one thing you MUST include in every email you send?
I’ll tell you what it is in tomorrow’s email.
PS Looking for help right now? I’d love to offer you a free 30-minute Clarity Call. Click here to set that up (link to book a call)
What should your emails look like?
I recommend using a personal approach every time. Plain text emails work well because they feel real. Fancy templated emails look like, well, templated emails. They might be nice to look at, but they often have poor open rates because they don’t create a personal connection in the same way. The secret is to express you in your emails. There’s nothing wrong with having your logo in the email and even a picture of you in the signature.
No hard and fast rule here except to make it feel personal. Your emails should be sent from a person, not a brand. ‘Hey, it’s Gina from Apple here…’ See how that has a nice, personal feel to it.
Yes you can make your emails look pretty, but ultimately it’s about finding the right balance and making a personal connection with your list.
Create at least TWO email nurture sequences. One that nurtures new clients, this is called an ‘onboarding sequence’, and one that nurtures leads and prospects towards becoming a client, often called a ‘welcome sequence’ or ‘lead nurture sequence’.
Set them to work. Create compelling content and continuously iterate your sequences so you can nurture prospects, leads and clients on autopilot. While you sleep relationships and connections are being made and your business will grow.
Remember, your client is the most important person in your company. Help your clients succeed and they’ll help you succeed. Put them at the center of everything you do. Create email nurture sequences that help them to succeed, point them to your products and services as the ideal solution to their problems along the way.
Now go write some compelling and helpful emails…