What is it that keeps your subscribers hanging on eagerly for more?
Is it the freebies you offer? The valuable content? Yes and yes, but you need to foster something greater for long-term loyalty. We’re talking, of course, about trustworthiness.
As you engage with and nurture your leads, you want each one to feel individual and special. This practice will continue to grow your email list, meaning you have more and more potential customers to nurture. After a while, it gets to be too much to do on your own.
Enter the email nurture sequence. This form of email automation has the personal touch you programmed into it. You can continue to build relationships with all your leads and customers without having to manually manage each one.
Doing so all starts with building a killer email sequence. What traits do the best nurturing sequences share? We found 12 characteristics you can borrow to build your own email autoresponder that nurtures and converts.
12 Characteristics of a Killer Email Nurturing Sequence
Defined Buyer Personas
The buyer persona, the avatar, whatever you want to call it, it’s certainly an element of successful email nurturing sequences. After all, in relying on email automation, you want to ensure the right messages go to the right audience segments. Creating buying personas is the first step.
What does your current target market look like? Is it filled with small business owners, freelancers, or Fortune 500 influencers? You might even create buyer personas based on your audiences’ respective occupations. You can also arrange them in the following ways:
- Motivations and buying history
- Behavior patterns
Introductions That Set Expectations
Your leads and customers have their own lives and don’t want to hear from you all the time. Once they opt in to your email newsletter, you should send a message tempering their expectations. This is also known as the welcome email.
Here’s an example from Zapier that should give you some pointers on how to write your own welcome email.
Photo via Customer.io
In it, Zapier tells the new subscriber everything they need to know. They start by thanking the lead for subscribing. Next, they explain what kind of content they’ll get (“in-depth, actionable articles”) and how often (no more than three times a week).
This conditions the lead or customer to expect your emails on certain days. They’ll also come to expect a certain level of quality from you.
Emails are great and all, but today’s average consumer expects more. If they have a question, they no longer reach for the phone to call your hotline number. Instead, they’ll contact you via your website’s chat widget or send you a message on social media. They’ll leave comments on your wall or tweet at you.
You should certainly do your best to respond to the emails you receive, especially the pressing ones. Don’t just limit your communication to email, though. Engage on social media. Respond to messages, tweets, and comments in a timely manner.
Also, make it easy for your customers to find your social profiles. Include these profiles in your automated emails, as so.
Photo via Pinterest
Frequent Email Sending, But Not Too Frequent
There is such thing as over-sending emails. Your fervent attempts at nurturing your lead can quickly go awry with too-frequent messages.
You have to trust that in this instance, out of sight isn’t always out of mind. Emailing daily will destroy your relationship with leads and customers alike. You could instead send messages weekly. Some companies opt to send monthly emails, and others still might message customers on a 45-day basis.
No matter which frequency you’re most comfortable with, consistency is key. Choose to send emails weekly, biweekly, or less often and then stick with it.
Email Personalization for a killer email nurturing sequence
There are countless statistics attributing to the success of email personalization. This is one little change that can make a world of difference, boosting open rates, click-through rates, and sometimes even conversions.
You might start your personalization in the email subject line (which is highly effective), in the body of the email, or even both. Here are some examples to inspire you.
Photo via Pinterest
Photo via Betaout
A Consistent Editorial Calendar with Segmented Content
Here’s another item to check off before you set up your email nurturing sequence: you should have a decent amount of content to share. Depending on your team and your content needs, you may publish on your blog once or twice weekly. You certainly don’t have to publish daily, as that gets to be a bit much.
This content should be written with all your buyer personas in mind. Maybe one week you write tips for freelancers, which should appeal to your freelance audience. Then the next week you publish a resources list for small business owners. All these articles appear on your blog, but you’d only email them to the specific personas.
Another reason you might send curated, segmented content in your emails is to create value. When a new, tentative lead signs up to your newsletter, they have a resonating question in the back of their minds. “What’s in it for me?”
They’ve just given you their email address and thus their consent to send them future emails. Now what do they get for doing it?
You need to be able to offer something of value to these would-be customers. Don’t just stop at blog posts and other written resources. Here are some great ideas for giving your leads and customers value:
- Case studies
- Webinar replays
- White papers
Newsjacking may sound like a scary term, but it really isn’t. It’s simply paying attention to current events and weaving them around your marketing campaign. There has to be alignment between what your business does and the event for this to work.
If you’re thinking about using newsjacking, it doesn’t solely have to be related to news. Other current pop culture phenomenon is fair game as well.
One great example comes from digital design company InVision. They rolled out an email highlighting the typography of popular Netflix program Stranger Things. Even if you’ve never watched the show, surely you’ve heard of it. That may make you more likely to check out InVision.
Photo via Venture Harbour
The Inclusion of Images
There is a concept known as the Picture Superiority Effect. It was written about on Huffington Post in 2015. According to the article, it refers to a person’s ability to learn better when viewing pictures rather than reading words. Recollection can be as high as 65 percent with images, even several days after viewing the image. Compare that to just reading the information, where recollection after three days is only 10 percent.
You can use the Picture Superiority Effect by displaying images of your product or service in the foreground of your emails. Here’s an example.
Photo via VerticalResponse
Brand Voice and Consistency
Everything that is written and immortalized online from your company should have the same brand voice. Perhaps you keep that voice as more of an everyman to appeal to a broad audience. Maybe your brand voice is a little sassy. Whatever it is that works for your company, don’t deviate from it.
Brand voice can be easy to maintain if it’s one person doing it, but it very rarely is. Other employees might respond to emails or social media comments. They all need to write in the same chosen brand voice. Then, since you’re using automation, you need to make sure your emails don’t come across as too stilted.
Of course, brand voice is about more than just the written word. It’s in the consistency of your design, too. If your company is known for certain colors, then these should appear in your emails and on your social profiles. Your logos should be included in all correspondence. This consistency and reliability builds trust.
A Fearlessness to Reengage
If you’re tracking your email sequences, you will undoubtedly notice some unresponsive customers. This is nothing to be taken personally, as it happens to all companies at some stage or another.
This is when you’d start a reengagement campaign. You can go about this several ways. One method is sending a brief but frank email inquiring into the lead’s mindset. Was there something about your product/service they didn’t like? Maybe they had an issue with your customer service.
If you’re fortunate, you’ll get valuable feedback. You can then use that to inform your future campaigns.
Another option you can try is tantalizing the lead back with a freebie or discount. You may also attempt to reengage by showing them new products, such as in the example below.
Photo via Pinterest
With most people perusing email via mobile (56 percent as of 2016, says email marketing company Litmus), your emails should be mobile-friendly. Even if you have large images, videos, HTML, and other elements, they all need to be optimized for mobile users.
Then you’re free to send emails with plenty of eye-catching images, such as this one.
Image via Venture Harbour
Creating an email nurturing sequence is a key means of building trust. Once you achieve that, the likelihood of leads converting to customers increases. By implementing any of the above 12 characteristics, you can engage or even reengage with your audience.
About the Author:
Billy Lucas is a passionate blogger sharing marketing tips on behalf of EngageBay. He writes primarily on email marketing, CRM, marketing automation and covers the entire gamut of marketing.