Email marketing remains one of the best ways to communicate with an audience. Equipped with an email address, your content can be received directly in someone’s inbox – a place where people spend a lot of time. Email is an easy way to stay top of mind and in front of your prospects and customers.

But, not all email marketing tactics are equal. Here’s why:

All emails – regardless of topic – fall under one of two categories:

  1. Broadcast emails
  2. Automated emails

What’s the difference?

Broadcast emails are a one-time send, and often to a group. Think of a general newsletter you may be sending to your email list on a monthly basis.

Automated emails, on the other hand, are trigger-sent. Someone has to do something to get the email – like, download an eBook. These emails are highly relevant to the person receiving them, providing one-to-one messaging that is tied to what the person is interested in at that moment.

According to Jupiter Research, relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails. This is why automated emails are ideal for lead nurturing.

The Importance of Nurturing Your Leads

Why is lead nurturing so important?

50% of qualified leads are not ready to purchase immediately (Gleanster Research), but 75% of leads buy within 18-24 months (MarketingSherpa).

This means that only a small segment of leads might be ready to purchase today. The others, with some nurturing, could be ready in the future – maybe within the year. It’s a matter of getting in front of them and staying in front of them. Automated lead nurturing lets you do this.

A lead-nurturing campaign allows you to send a series of automated emails to top-funnel leads (who may have exchanged an email address for a lead magnet) in order to qualify them. Using marketing automation, you can introduce a closely associated sequence of emails that provide useful, relevant and engaging content over a period of time.

Ready to get started on writing your first automated campaign? Keep reading.

Understanding Lead Nurturing & The Buying Cycle

People have different informational needs depending on what stage in the buying cycle they are in. Someone who is ready to purchase will require entirely different content than someone who has been introduced to your brand for the first time. Your lead-nurturing campaign should reflect this.

Though individual companies break down their buying cycle into multiple stages that differ from one to the next, HubSpot has boiled it down to three main stages, universal to all businesses, that are helpful for mapping out content. These stages are:

1. Awareness: A lead knows about your product or service and understands they have a problem that needs a solution.

2. Evaluation: A lead knows you might be able to solve their problem, meet their needs, but want to determine if you are the best choice.

3. Purchase: A lead is ready to buy from you.

Your campaign should move leads from awareness, to evaluation, and finally to purchase through the content you send.

However, before starting to write you’ll need to determine how long it typically takes a lead to become a customer after their first inquiry. In other words, how long does it take to move a lead from awareness to purchase? This is unique to your company. Use that number as the length of your campaign.

As an example: if a lead typically takes 6 months to make a purchase, your communications need to engage them throughout a 6-month period. Determine how many emails you want to write and span that number across the length of your campaign.

Choosing the most appropriate content, relevant to each stage, will help you speak to the needs of your leads with the right conversation at the right time.

The Types of Emails You Should Write & When

Here are four types of emails you can use to nurture your leads:

1. Educational Content

The bulk of your campaign should focus on providing educational content. This type of email demonstrates value and is not sales-driven. You can share blog posts, videos, infographics, white papers, webinars, best practices, or a curated list of external, credible industry resources.

For awareness-driven emails, focus on blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers, how-to videos and educational webinars.

2. Promotional Content

Current offers should be used sparingly within a campaign and be mixed in with the educational content you’re sending. There is a right time and place for sales-oriented content, and it likely won’t be well received if it’s one of the first emails a lead gets. You’ll want to avoid being “spam-y” and ensure the content has a clear connection with the rest of your campaign.

If you have a new promotion that is relevant to the original topic, add it in as an email in your campaign.

3. Product / Demo Content

Like promotional content, product-specific emails or demo/ free trial invitations should also be used sparingly and mixed in with educational content.

If buyers are in the evaluation stage, consider sharing product webinars, case studies, data sheets or demo videos. You can offer free trials, live demos and consultations as leads get closer to the purchase stage.

4. Personal Content

Send personal emails to targeted leads that are moving closer to the end of your sales funnel. This type of email could come from a sales team member to humanize your company. Ask the lead specific questions and gauge their response. This could be a great way to set up a face-to-face meeting.

Bonus Writing Tips:

  • Keep it short. Don’t overload an email with information. The recipient should be able to understand the purpose of the email within a few seconds of opening it, with the call-to-action clear.
  • Make automation as personal as possible.
    • Send emails from a real person in your company rather than from a generic email.
    • Include the lead’s first name.
    • Be authentic, approachable and human in your tone of voice.
  • Write content that is closely related to why you have their email address in the first place. Your lead-nurturing campaign must be related to the initial topic that drew them in.
  • Repurpose existing content whenever possible. You don’t necessarily have to write new content for each call-to-action in your email. Leverage evergreen blog content, webinar recordings, white papers and industry content. Plan your campaign content with your editorial calendar for the year.
  • The most compelling part of the message needs to be the subject line. If the subject line is not engaging they’ll never see what’s inside. Spend time testing and playing with your subject lines to see what resonates with your audience.

Want more email copywriting tips?

Read our blog post, How to Write Remarkable Email Copy that Converts, for four tips to start writing better emails.