February 09, 2023

What Is an Email Nurture Sequence? And Why It’s Essential To Your Marketing & Growth

What Is an Email Nurture Sequence? And Why It’s Essential To Your Marketing & Growth

As a business strategy, nurture has flown under the radar for decades. Why? The word “nurturing” sounds soft – like something your gentle, sweet grandmother does. 

But when we want anything to thrive, we nurture them – kids, plants, and yep, even customer relationships! Nurture is love with laced-up running shoes. It’s active.

The big picture here? Companies that prioritize their customers become industry leaders. By nurturing those relationships, they grow their itty-bitty seed capital into BIG biz profits. (You could say nurture knows a thing or two about producing all things green!)

Those people you see driving around with an Apple logo on the back glass of their car? They feel seen. They’re telling the world: “Hey, this brand gets me.” In turn, the biz gets a loyal customer – and a hefty bottom line! – as long as they continue to nurture that relationship.

So how can you turn customer interest into an ongoing relationship that evolves and deepens over time? 

Meet the Nurture Sequence . . . 

How To Take Your Biz To The Next Level

Nurture sequences (aka “email nurture campaigns”) are the Miracle-Gro of the digital marketing world. Asking if you need one is like asking if your plants need oxygen or your kids need chicken nuggies. They do. And so do you.

It’s not one of those to-do list items you can file under “I’ll get to it eventually.” But the longer a new lead goes without nurture, the faster it begins to die on the vine – along with all those potential sales! In fact, a recent study showed that up to 50% of sales go to the vendor who responds FIRST to an inquiry. (Early bird? Meet your big, fat, juicy worm!)

A nurture sequence is how you give your fledgling connections the time, attention, and value they need to grow into solid brand believers. Not only do true fans stick around for future sales, but they also spread that priceless word-of-mouth every company craves.

The best-written nurture emails inspire readers to hit that “forward” button. 

And *BOOM* – before you can say, “You’ve got mail!” – coworkers and friends grow into referrals.

“But Wait – How Does A Nurture Campaign Work?!”

An email nurture sequence can vary in length, but most are somewhere between 5 to 10 messages delivered over a set time. The most common trigger that kicks off a nurture sequence is when a new user signs up on your email list or starts a free trial. 

Heads up though! Nurturing sequences can and should be used at every point of the buying cycle – not just during promotions. Don’t make the “love ‘em and leave ‘em” mistake of ghosting customers after they purchase from you.

The good news is that this time-intensive email strategy pays off (literally!).

The Nature Behind The Nurture Sequence

There’s a guiding force behind every great nurture sequence. It’s like sunlight for seedlings. Pureed bananas for babies. Or spell-check for words nerds like us. (Cue the choir of angelic “Aaahs!”) 

Your nurture sequence MUST be based on your Unique Selling Proposition – or “USP” as the cool kids in marketing school call it. And before you ask, the answer is yes. You really, really need a good USP – just as much as you need a solid nurture sequence! 

Simply put, your USP frames why your product or service is better than what the competition is selling. That doesn’t always mean your product has to be more affordable. In many instances, it won’t be. (Pricepoint certainly hasn’t stopped Patagonia from selling tons of jackets, has it?)

So if competitive pricing isn’t the number one reason to buy your product or service, what is?

  • Your depth of expertise?
  • Customer service? 
  • A certain characteristic of your product?
  • The convenience of the way your product is delivered? 
  • A certain promotional strategy?

Once you’re certain about your unique selling proposition, it should inform how you position your product or service – to stand out from others in the same field. Think of it as the main thread that runs through every piece of content and messaging (including your nurture sequence!).

No amount of expertly-timed emails can magically fix an unclear USP. So figure that out first. And the rest? Well, we’re getting there . . .

Why Nurture Sequences Matter 

You know that ol’ saying “Out of sight, out of mind?” People spend a LOT of time looking at their email inboxes. If you’re not showing up with value, you won’t be top-of-mind with potential customers. 

Nurture sequences give you the perfect platform to position your biz as the trusted authority in your industry. If you want to be on your client’s Rolodex of go-to pros, give them reasons why you deserve that spot. Share your hard-won expertise – along with personal stories that make your messages more memorable.

Remember: these emails are like personal notes from a pen pal. They help your potential customers get to know you. That’s why the overall tone and voice should reflect your unique brand personality.

If readers like what they see, they’ll look forward to even more juicy tips in their inbox!

Watch, Learn, & Segment

A nurture sequence isn’t ONLY about sharing your knowledge. It’s also about what you learn from potential customers. 

Long story short, the best nurture sequences are based on behaviors. Use heat maps and other tools to gather valuable insights about the journey of your website visitors. You can also keep track of which emails are getting clicks from certain members of the list (and more importantly, why).

Next, it’s time to slice and dice that information to create the perfect marketing soufflé. You’ve already gathered the ingredients. Now, combine those observations to craft – *chef’s kiss* – exquisite emails that will resonate with a newly created segment of your list. 

And the best part? You’ll know what these particular users want because their behaviors will have shown you. (Mmm . . . yep, that’s the scent of freshly baked conversions!)

One Size Does NOT Fit All

If only a nurture sequence was a simple “set it and forget it” task – ahh, things would be SO much easier! 

. . . But this isn’t your basic email blast. Nurture campaigns are more nuanced. They’re designed to appeal to real humans – each with their own sparkling personality and preferences. Your emails should consider what resonates with each group of people. 

Ever received a phone call asking about your student loan debt? ‘Cept you didn’t even HAVE student debt?! If so, you probably hung up immediately. Clearly, the telemarketer didn’t know you. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have offered something completely irrelevant. It’s one of the reasons calls like that fit into the “spam” category. 

Speaking of fit, make sure your nurture sequence looks great on a small screen. Email open rates on smartphones have grown more than 100% since 2011. But did you know only 20% of email campaigns are optimized for viewing on a mobile device? (*Sad face* right?!) That’s a HUGE chunk of recipients who end up deleting emails that aren’t pocket-sized. 

Moral of the story? Design your messages with smartphones in mind – so they can be seen on any screen!

How Much Is Too Much? 

Bet you’re thinking, “But I don't want to be one of those annoying people who blow up someone’s inbox!”

. . . We get it. And seriously, we thank you for being the kind of person who cares about keeping our inboxes from exploding. 

But – PSST! We’ve got a secret for ya. 

There’s a way to walk the line between barely-showin’-up and Just. Plain. Obnoxious. And sure, what’s right for some biz owners might not work for others. In general though, the length of your product’s buying cycle should play a role in how often your nurture sequence shows up. 

Our advice? Use a frequency that feels right to you at the start. Then adjust it gradually to be a bit more frequent.

Finally, after taking a gander at your open rates and unsubscribe rates, let the data decide what to do next. (It might surprise ya!)

Nurturing Is Personal 

At the end of the day, what you say is as important as how often you say it. (Remember: Content is key!) 

Avoid “checking in” for no real reason. If you’re asking someone to read, give them something valuable in return. Otherwise, they’ll discover there’s nothing in it for them. And *WHOOSH* – they’ll high-tail it faster than Wile E. Coyote. 

Wondering what to include in your nurture sequence? Here’s some ideas:

  • Tell the story of how you grew into your position. 
  • Share the journey of one of your most successful clients. 
  • Answer the questions most customers are already asking. 
  • Pull back the curtain to give readers a behind-the-scenes tour of your biz.
  • Get inspiration from the most popular content on your website and social media pages. 

Bonus tip: Without a good subject line, even a Pulitzer Prize-worthy newsletter is destined to fail. Craft a stellar email subject line to boost your email open rate (and click-through rate) on the regThis small block of text has a BIG job. The SparkNotes version? Get that email opened so the content inside can be used to grow relationships (and revenue!). 

Can I Get A Little Help Here?

Okay, so you love the idea of showering your email list with the attention it needs to grow. But you’re just SO busy! You already spend most of your time nurturing everything else – your family, company, clients, and home. Even that needy orchid on your desk! (Orchids are such divas, right?)  

Well, we’ve got good news – er, wait. Scratch that.

We’ve got GREAT news!

You can get an ah-mazing nurture sequence withOUT the DIY hassle. (Here’s your cake. Go ahead. Eat it, too!) 

Our dedicated copywriting pros know how to create an email campaign that honors your unique voice while communicating the right message to each segment of your list.

Delivering high-converting, customized copy – on a deadline! – is what we do best. 

Clients call our copywriting agency their “best-kept secret.” We’d love to be yours, too.

Let’s do it! Get your amazing new nurture sequence today

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