How to Nurture Leads with Email Marketing

Email marketing remains an incredibly powerful tool that has the potential to transform the way you connect with your customers and the way you do business. It offers a high return on your overall investment – higher, in fact, than many other forms of marketing. Find out how to leverage your email marketing campaigns to nurture leads for increased conversions.

by Rholene Gerber

Content Marketing | Email Marketing | Inbound Marketing

| 9 min

Email marketing offers an average of $42 ROI for every $1 spent in marketing, making it one of the most useful marketing tools at your disposal. In fact, it’s one of the most effective ways to nurture leads and bring them through the buyer’s journey, since you can use email marketing to nurture leads in a highly personalized manner.

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of lead nurture campaign you can use to move leads along your sale’s pipeline.

Table of contents

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the process of developing your connection to your potential customers as you guide them through the sales funnel. Once you capture a lead and bring them into your sales funnel, you want to keep them there. While buyers can fall away at any point in the journey, your lead nurturing efforts increase the odds that interested consumers will stick with your business through the entire buyer’s journey.

The importance of lead scoring

Lead scoring defines, often using a numeric point system, the estimated, perceived value of a particular lead to your business and the likeliness they are to convert. It helps you gauge the conversion readiness of your existing leads, so your sales and marketing teams can know where best to focus their lead nurturing efforts.

As the likelihood of a purchase increases, a lead’s corresponding score also increases. A lead scoring system clearly defines the most important leads to your business, making it easier for you to target those leads and prevent them from falling off your radar – and out of your sales funnel.

How do I score a lead?

To score your leads, your business needs a solid understanding of the characteristics your leads may share and actions that they may take along the buyer’s journey, which indicate good odds they will ultimately purchase from your brand.

Once these characteristics and behaviors are defined, you can allocate each characteristic and action in your sales funnel a set number of points. If a prospect or lead in your sales funnel shares a characteristic or takes any of these actions, you can assign them the associated points. Once a lead has reached a pre-determined lead score, the likelihood that they will purchase from you or sign up for your services is almost guaranteed.

You can use this simple point system to segment your leads to deliver content to them that is relevant to their current needs and readiness to convert. You can also tailor your strategies to test which of your marketing strategies work best for different lead types, and at which stages in the sales funnel.

Your lead scoring system will be unique to your business, since you’ll find that there are specific elements of a buyer that you want to highlight.

In general, however, you will want to consider these three key elements.

Demographics

Who are the buyers who are most likely either to purchase from you or sign up for your services, and what do they often have in common? Where do they live, how old are they, and what are their needs according to their age and stage? All of these questions relate to the demographics of your target market, which will also tell you where and how you need to focus your marketing efforts, and what these efforts need to be.

Consider, for example, baby gear. If you’re a boutique shop that offers higher-quality, higher-priced clothing, you may find that your target demographic is young parents and grandparents in a certain income range. While buyers in another income range might view your product range – and even periodically make small purchases – those buyers with more disposable income may better fit your target demographic and, therefore, have a higher likelihood of making a purchase.

Likewise, if you offer B2B manufacturing services or products, your ideal customer will fall within a specific age range, income bracket, and physical location. Leads who fit your demographic will automatically get a higher score than those who don’t.

Buyer’s journey stage

Buyers in the later stages of the buyer’s journey are more likely to purchase from your business. Buyers in the awareness stage are still in the early steps of making a decision, and they might not yet know whether they will buy from you – or even whether you have the potential to solve their problem effectively. Buyers in the decision stage, on the other hand, are close to deciding on the product they feel is the right choice, and are more likely to convert.

Lead scoring helps you track where each lead is perceived to be in the buyer’s journey so you can target them appropriately.

Behavior

A lead’s online behavior – their actions – is a high indicator of whether or not they’ll move forward with your business in the future. They may click on an ad, visit specific pages on your site, submit their information via an online form, or visit your site more often than customers who are unlikely to make a purchase. It’s up to you to develop a lead scoring system around this online behavior to allocate points and quantify how ready a lead is to convert.

The importance of audience segmentation

As you’re scoring your leads, make sure you segment your audience. You may want to segment them based on where they are in the buyer’s journey, the specific products or services they seem interested in, or behaviors they engage in online. The better you know your audience, the better you can segment them to deliver effective lead nurturing emails that encourage them to move through your sales funnel.

What is a lead nurture email campaign?

A lead nurture email campaign is designed to nurture leads: to provide them with the information, feedback, and encouragement they need to begin engaging more with your brand and offerings. Lead nurture email campaigns are specifically designed to inform customers, bring them back to your website, or offer them support on their journey. It focuses on your existing leads and keeping them in your sales funnel, rather than reaching out to new parties who might be interested in your services.

The different types of lead nurture email campaigns

Lead nurturing email campaigns can break down into several key categories:

  • Welcome campaigns are for new leads. Often, these campaigns will provide specific information about your brand and offer a discount or incentive for first-time buyers or customers. Below is an example from Be The Match welcoming a contact who recently joined their donor list, and informing them about the donor processes and encouraging them to invite friends to join the donor list.
Thank you for joining the world's best waiting list!
  • Top-of-mind campaigns help you reengage with interested leads and keep your brand at the forefront of their minds. These are also an excellent way to engage with customers who may have fallen out of your sales funnel at some point, but who might still be interested in your product or services.

    Chewy Pharmacy’s mailer is a great example of an email campaign for nudging subscribers to remember the pet pharmacy when gearing up for flea and tick season. The email includes a clever call to action, inviting recipients to contact a Chewy vet directly for advice.
  • Educational campaigns provide greater insight into your products, your industry as a whole, or the solutions that consumers need. These campaigns can help build confidence in your brand, establish why consumers should trust you, and create an emotional connection that can encourage customers to choose you over your competitors.
  • Promotional nurturing campaigns offer deals, coupons, and promotions that can help encourage consumers to make a purchase, or sign up for a service, especially if they’re on the fence for any reason.

    Quay’s email below reminds subscribers about their current promotion, creating a sense of urgency to click-through and purchase before the sale ends that evening.
  • Upselling, or remarketing campaigns encourage consumers who have shown an interest in your products and services, or who have already purchased from you, to complete a purchase, or buy additional products.

    The automated Abandoned Cart mailer from American Eagle reminds customers to check out items from their online shopping carts to finish their purchase.
  • Renewal campaigns encourage existing customers to renew their contracts or make a new purchase, often as contracts come near expiration.

How to create a lead-nurturing email marketing strategy

To develop a highly effective lead nurturing email marketing strategy, try these key steps.

1. Clearly define your audience

Who are you reaching out to, and what type of content do they need to see? The types of lead nurturing emails that work for your business may depend on the specific customers who most need your services.

2. Set clear goals for your campaigns and individual emails.

Use SMART goals to define what you want to accomplish with your emails: both for the campaign as a whole and each email in your campaign sequence. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.

3. Create a timeline

Decide when you want those emails to go out, including how often you should send them. Remember, you do not want to overwhelm potential leads, leading them to delete or ignore your future emails. Set up rules for what actions should trigger specific email chains, and set up different responses for different outcomes, including replies, bounces, and unopened emails.

4. Write your emails

Once you know what you need to put together, construct your emails and design the campaign. Some lead nurturing emails will be part of an overall promotion, while others may go out to any customer at a specific point in the sales funnel.

5. Optimize your campaigns over time

Test your emails regularly to ensure that they’re working the way you had hoped. As you learn more about your target audience and their needs, take steps to optimize your lead nurturing emails. This could be improving email subject lines, changing calls to action, rewording text, or creating additional emails for your campaign sequence.

A few tips for writing great lead nurturing emails

  • Segment your audience and database clearly. A nurturing email that works well for one segment of your audience may not provide the same value to another segment.
  • Make sure your emails always add value to your target audience. You want to craft emails that your audience is eager to open, not ones that will sit ignored or get deleted without being opened.
  • Set out clear timings for your emails. Don’t send out a flood of emails to a new lead’s inbox, which could result in your emails ending up in the spam folder or your lead leaving your email list before you have a chance to connect with them.

You may find this overview of the best email lead generation tools in 2021 another helpful read. If you’re uncertain about how to get your email account ready for sending emails in batches, head on over to this blog on how to warm up a cold email address.

At the end of the day, creating a great lead nurturing email campaign is an excellent way to connect more deeply with your target audience and lead potential customers through your sales funnel. Need help with your strategy?

Contact us today to learn more about the value of email lead nurturing and how we can better help you along the way.

Contact SiteCare

Rholene Gerber | Email Marketing Strategist

Rholene is SiteCare's Email Marketing Strategist. Rholene has worked in Digital Marketing for 10+ years, six of these as a head strategist and media solutions managing director. She is passionate about aligning campaign-related marketing strategies to smash client goals. In her spare time, Rholene enjoys crafting, staying fit, and unhealthily obsessing about coffee.

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