Your audience has trusted you with their email address in exchange for attending your webinar, downloading your gated content, or having a sales call with you.
Now, it’s on you to provide value so they stick around, read every email you send them, and become a paying customer.
A well-timed email nurturing sequence packed with value at every stage is one of the best ways to turn your sales leads into customers.
But if you haven’t created nurturing campaigns before, it’s hard to know where to start.
In this guide, I’m going to show you what an email nurturing sequence is, different types of sequences you can use in your business, how to build compelling campaigns, and much more.
By the end, you’ll be turning leads into customers on autopilot.
What is an Email Nurturing Sequence?
An email nurturing sequence is an automated series of emails designed to move someone towards an action you want them to take.
Caveat: each email has to have a benefit to the recipient and not just your business.
An email you send to sales leads after a consultation call with more details
Emails sent after someone signs up for your free trial with tips on using your product
A series of follow-up emails after your initial client outreach with case studies and information about your services
There are a variety of benefits to email nurturing.
To summarize a few of the benefits, it will help you:
Build trust with your recipients
Generate more sales from your email marketing
Ensure your sales and marketing strategies result in real revenue, not just boosting vanity metrics
Next, let’s expand on those.
Benefits of Lead Nurturing
1. Build Relationships with Your Leads
If you have someone’s email, it’s because they’ve trusted you with it.
Nurturing them with personalized and useful email sequences will keep you top of mind. By reaching out regularly, you build trust. Your email list expects to see your name in their inbox.
With time, they’ll trust you as the expert in your field.
When they’re gearing up to make a purchase, you’ll be the person they go to with questions.
2. Shorten Your Sales Cycle
Sales cycles, particularly in B2B, take time. Studies show that 74.6% of B2B sales to new customers take at least four months to close.
In those four months, your potential customers are:
Researching other options
Comparing your products/services with other vendors
Deciding if they need you at all
But, with value-packed nurturing emails, you’ll continuously prove that you’re a source they can trust.
You’ll help nurture them towards purchasing by agitating pain points, highlighting ways they can improve their business and life, and get the results they want.
3. Boost ROI from Your Marketing & Sales Campaigns
If you’re spending money on ads, running cold email outreach campaigns, or doing any other marketing activities to generate leads, you need to ensure those resources aren’t wasted.
If you only focus on starting conversations and ignore people once they’ve entered your buying journey, you’ll lose them.
The money you spent on ads to bring someone to a landing page and capture their email will be wasted.
To avoid losing potential buyers, nurture them.
You’ll recover sales that would have otherwise been lost.
Considering email marketing drives huge ROI, generating an average of $38 for every $1 spent, setting up a nurturing campaign is an essential part of your marketing strategy.
The Importance of List Segmentation
Before we go any further, it’s vital to understand that you can’t email everyone on your list with the same content.
You need to segment your audience into different campaigns based on actions they’ve taken and information you know about them.
Your cold outreach sequences will look entirely different for a post-event email sequence or an onboarding email sequence.
Data from the Data & Marketing Association found that marketers generate 30% of all email revenue from targeted emails to specific segments of their list.
It’s worth spending the time and effort to build campaigns personalized to your specific audience segments.
The majority of the time investment to build your campaigns is upfront.
Once your drip campaigns start, all you’ll need to do is update them from time-to-time with new content, or make updates if they aren’t performing as you hope.
The time it takes to craft individual campaigns is time well spent.
Lead nurturing emails to specific segments get 4 - 10x more responses than standalone blast emails to a large list.
If your list consists of people matching your buyer persona, that’s going to have a significant impact on your bottom line.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the types of sequences you can create and start using in your business.
Types of Nurturing Email Sequences You Can Use
There is a variety of nurturing sequences you can set up, for different use cases.
With all of these, there’s a common theme.
Your emails help move someone towards a purchase.
It’s not a secret. You know that, and your recipients know it. But, there won’t be any hard feelings, as long as you:
Provide ongoing value
Show that you understand their pain points
Don’t make your emails all about you
Here are some of the most popular types of nurturing sequences you can use. Remember, this isn’t an exhaustive list. You can set up sequences for anything you’d like, for all kinds of business.
1. Webinar Follow-Ups Sequence
If you’re running events like conferences or webinars as a lead generation strategy, you need to follow up with your participants.
A nurture sequence is a powerful way to improve your webinar conversion rate.
Assuming your webinar was successful, your audience wants to hear how they can take the next steps.
Your email sequence should outline that and continue to provide value.
Follow-up email #1: Thank them for attending, Recap the event, and send them any helpful resources you mentioned during the event. Mention how your product/service will help them achieve their goals.
Follow-up email #2: Highlight additional benefits of using your product/service. Will they get more leads, be more productive, or access to resources to help them grow their business?
Follow-up email #3: Send useful resources to help them, even if they’re not sales-ready.
Follow-up email #4: Highlight how your product/service can solve their pain point and send even more useful resources.
Every post-event email should contain content that your recipients are happy to receive, even if they’re not yet ready to become your customer.
Those who are ready to buy will trust you with their money when the time comes.
2. Free Trial to Paying Customer Sequence
So, you’ve got a new trial customer. Email is a powerful channel to boost product activation and increase your trial-to-paid conversions.
After someone signs up, you have a choice:
Hope they see the value and upgrade, or,
Show them the value your product offers and trust that they’ll see it
In your emails, #2 is the key.
Show your newly signed up users how to see results with your product/service.
Highlight features they’ll use, popular integrations, and how their business will improve.
But, nurturing emails aren’t just for leads.
You can use them to continually reinforce the value of your product/service to paying customers.
For example, Zapier sends an email with content related to their product out every week.
They link to useful content they’ve recently created, showing ways you can use their product to automate part of your life and business.
They help existing customers see success, make their product more sticky, and increase the chance of you staying with them over a competitor.
3. Gathering Feedback from Customer Sequence
Your nurturing sequence is an ideal place to learn from your customers and leads.
You can gather feedback on:
What type of content they want to see from you
If you want to maximize the amount of feedback you receive, use a simple plain-text email.
It won’t look like it’s part of a typical marketing campaign.
For example, if you sign up to Iubenda but don’t complete their onboarding flow to become a user, they’ll send an email asking for feedback and offering help.
The email does several things:
Ask if I had a problem when signing up
Include extra resources (a webinar) that could be useful if I don’t want to talk to someone right now
Allow me to respond directly to the email with questions or feedback
The email isn’t perfect - they can personalize it more with attributes like a first name, or a company name. But, it’s a great starting point to gather feedback.
4. Lead Magnet Follow Up
If you’re using lead magnets to collect email addresses, following up with everyone who downloaded it is an excellent way to convert them into customers.
Sending emails to people who have proven they’re interested in a particular topic gives you lots of opportunities.
You can use your email series to:
Send them your most popular blog posts on related topics
Ask for feedback on the lead magnet
Nurture them towards an upsell
Send them information on the product/services you offer
Why is this so important?
If you’ve created a lead magnet but don’t have an email campaign to follow it up, the lead magnet isn’t doing anything for your business.
If someone has proven they’re interested in a topic your product/service is related to, the best time to follow-up is now. Not in several months.
Over time, your emails will provide so much value that they’ll trust you as an expert. When they’re ready to buy (or when you send an email with a sales-related call-to-action), converting them will be simple.
5. Cold Email Follow-Up Sequence
You can’t send a single prospecting email and expect an avalanche of responses.
55% of replies to email outreach come from a follow-up email.
But, how does this look in practice?
Each new email in your sequence should:
Add ongoing value in a new way
Be clear about how you can help them
Show how you’ve helped similar companies get results
Ask questions to encourage a reply
Crafting an outreach campaign that’s personalized and relevant takes time.
But, the results are worth it.
If you can create a campaign with multiple compelling steps, you’ll see far more replies to your sales emails and close more deals.
Your cold email sequence could look like:
Initial outreach email
Follow-up with a case study
Follow-up where you highlight similar companies you’ve worked with
Follow-up with some humor to catch their attention
“Breakup” email letting them know it’s the last email you’ll send
As you drip out your emails, you increase your chances of getting a reply - as long as each one has information you know your recipient will be interested in.
How Long Should a Nurture Campaign Be?
The answer to this question depends on your situation.
Some nurture campaigns, such as a campaign sending weekly product tips after someone signs up, can go on forever. Your customer will start to expect to hear from you every Friday with advice or useful tips to help them.
On the other hand, if you send a cold email prospect a follow-up at the same time every week for a year, that’s going to annoy them.
You can base the length of your nurture campaigns on data you have.
For example, in QuickMail, you can see how many people are opening, clicking, replying, and unsubscribing to your emails.
If you notice your first five emails have high open and click-through rates, but after that, you see a high unsubscribe rate, you can update, improve it, or pause it.
If you’re managing your nurturing campaigns in QuickMail you can add, remove, or edit emails in your campaign at any time.
How to Build Your Lead Nurturing Email Campaign
Anyone can create a nurturing sequence. But, the most successful campaigns will be highly segmented, personalized, and leave your recipient grateful you emailed them.
Here’s how you can do it:
1. Creating Your Campaign
You can’t send a complex nurturing sequence without the right marketing or email automation tools.
Here’s how to do it inside QuickMail.
First, head to your campaigns tab and Create new campaign.
Next, you need to create the emails for your campaign.
I’d advise planning out your campaign using a text editor beforehand.
Ask your team for feedback, and when you’re happy with every email in the sequence, it’s time to upload them.
Once your emails are ready, add a step to your campaign. If your subscribers have opted to hear from you, you can start with a Welcome Email to let them know what to expect.
When it’s ready, hit Create step.
Between each email, make sure to add a ‘Wait’ step.
The delay can be as long or as short as you like.
Next, you’ll finish adding your extra Email steps, with a Wait step in between each one.
Make sure every email in your email nurture sequence:
Contains content your list will find valuable
Makes it easy for your recipient to take action
The more emails you add, the longer your campaign will go on for. You can also add extra rules, like removing people if they reply.
2. Deciding Who Receives Your Nurture Sequence
If the recipients aren't a fit for the content you’re sending them, you won’t get results.
Your subscribers won’t take any action - apart from unsubscribing.
Your email nurture sequence needs to be tailored to your email list.
For example, if you have an email list of people who downloaded a lead magnet on the topic of cold email, you can’t send them the same email sequence as those who attended your webinar on social media ads.
Successful sales and marketing teams will have email sequences tailored to their recipients.
To make sure your subscribers receive emails tailored to them, use Zapier to add subscribers to QuickMail campaigns automatically.
For example, suppose you had a landing page built with Leadpages (or any other lead capture system).
In that case, you can automatically add prospects that submitted a form to QuickMail to a campaign.
Then, you can automatically add subscribers who filled out that exact form to a Campaign.
Then, choose the campaign you want them to be in, make sure you’ve filled in all of the details, and start your Zap.
Your email nurturing sequence will be sent to everyone who submits your form.
Email nurturing is vital if you want to ensure your sales and marketing activities lead to sales.
Your campaigns will enable your sales process to run smoothly, but be flexible enough that you can jump in at any time and reply directly to your leads.
I’d advise creating sequences for any segment of your email list that will be genuinely interested in hearing from you and closely resembles your ideal customer.
That will help you boost your success rates and avoid annoying anyone who didn’t expect to hear from you.