Chances are, emails will make up the majority of your lead nurturing efforts. And rightfully so—past research has shown email to be the most effective form of marketing. One study even found email to be six times more effective than social media. Yup, you read that right.

But how can you create emails that really build relationships with your leads and move them through the sales funnel? How can you nurture them into buyers? And what kinds of emails should you be sending out?

The answer of course will depend on your business and objectives. But there are six emails that every business should send out. Here’s what they are…

1. The Welcome Series

The Welcome Series is not just one email, but a series of three emails that you send to your lead after they become a lead (or provide you with their contact information).

Think of the welcome series as the shaking hands part of meeting someone for the first time. This is where you introduce yourself to your lead.

You might be wondering…Why bother sending out multiple emails instead of just one? Because if you just send out one email—and then nothing after—your contacts might forget about you soon after.

Also, have you ever gotten those emails that are so long that you delete it before even finishing the first paragraph? I know I have. Emails are not meant to be super content-heavy. If you barrage your contacts with information in the first email, chances are, they won’t read it—nor will they take any action. A more effective approach is to send out a series of short emails one by one. Here’s how to do it:

The first email, which is sent out after your lead has provided you with their contact information, affirms that they are now on your email list and will be receiving regular emails from you. Remind them of why they signed up in the first place, and tell them about the benefits that they will be getting now that they’re a part of your email list. For example, here’s an email that I received shortly after signing up with the educational site, Lynda.com:

About two days after you send out that first email, you’ll want to send out another email, providing your leads with links to your social media. Tell them how they can reach out to you if they need to. Let them know that you are there if they need anything.

About four or five days after the second email, send out the third and final email of the welcome series. In this email, you’re trying to get to know your prospects a little better so that you can better personalize the subsequent emails you send out. What are they interested in? When is their birthday? Ask them one simple question and they will be more likely to respond.

2. The Educating Email

This is the most important lead nurturing email of all and the one that is most frequently sent out.

This email is where you should provide your lead with valuable information tailored to their interests (the third email of your welcome series email can find out more about what those interests are).

Send your contacts blog post updates…webinar sign-ups…links to helpful resources…the list goes on and on.

Below is the typical type of email that I get from Pocket, an app that lets you save articles and videos for later.

I actually save all of these emails and look forward to getting them, because the articles they reference are generally interesting and thought-provoking.

One thing Pocket really does well is consistency. The subject lines are always in the same format (three different lines that summarize the main points or articles referenced in the email). This particular one read, “Prepare Your Future. Disrupt the Citizen. Data-Driven Culture.” The subject line entices me, while giving me a little taste of what that email is about.

3. The “Come Back” Email

This email is for those leads who you haven’t seen in a while. The ones who expressed interest in your company at some point in time, but have since fallen off the radar a bit. For e-commerce companies, this email is sent out after the lead leaves a few things in their shopping cart but didn’t follow through and purchase anything. It can be sent even after they browse certain web pages.

The point of this email is to remind your leads what they are missing out on. A visual reminder is always powerful. Then give them an incentive to come back. Offer them a discount, free shipping or a small freebie with their order.

I received the above email a while ago from the language-learning app, Duolingo. Personally, I love it because in addition to the friendly and playful language, the crying owl (which is the brand’s logo) is endearing and a cute way to convey the message. How can you read that email and not want to “get back on track”? It’s short and to-the-point but highly effective.

4. The Holiday Email

The holidays are the perfect time to nurture your leads, since they are generally in a good mood and ready to buy. Capitalize on that by sending out timely, holiday-themed emails. Like this email that I received last year from the hotel-booking app, HotelTonight:

Why does this email work so well? For starters, HotelTonight recognized the fact that many people have a love-hate relationship with their families, and they used this idea as the basis of their campaign.

Notice how this entire email has one goal: to make the recipient laugh. HotelTonight uses humor to try and fortify their relationships with their leads.

And it works because it is relatable. Almost everyone thinks that they have crazy families (or at least that one crazy relative who spices up the holidays a bit); the second CTA in the email acknowledges that.

HotelTonight takes a non-aggressive approach, which is also very appealing to the person reading the email on the other end. The email doesn’t show the latest hotel offers (even though they could, and many of their other emails do take that approach). They don’t immediately try to sell people anything; it’s only at the end of the email that they lean a bit in that direction, but even then, they do so in a way that provides the recipient with a very clear benefit.

Bottom line: Get creative with your holiday campaigns. Humor might not be appropriate for your business, but try to think of ways that you can really bond with your audience one way or another, like HotelTonight succeeded in doing.

5. The Update Email

Whenever you launch or update a new product or service, you’ll want to let your leads (and current customers) know about it.

But don’t just stop there. Convince them why it’s useful. What problem does it solve for them?

Source: AdEspresso

In this email, Sprout Social, a social media management software business, keeps it short and sweet. Under the description, they briefly outline the key features of their new service, along with the principal benefit of that feature. Notice that the email uses the least amount of copy necessary to get across the message. Extensive use of white space and beautiful, eye-catching design help to balance out the copy. Finally, by offering a free trial, they are promoting the fact that the readers have nothing to lose by trying the service out.

While this type of email is more internally focused, the end goal is the same: to provide your lead with value and make it clear what that value is.

6. The Closing Email

Once your leads get warm, you’ll want to send out this email, also known as the sales email. How do you know when they are warm? Once they have downloaded a certain content asset, read several of your blog posts, or attended several webinars, you’ll know that your lead is ready to take the next step.

For instance, if your business sells bikes and equipment gear, and your lead downloaded your catalog, you’ll know that they are probably looking to buy pretty soon.

In this email, you should cut to the chase and outline the next steps that your lead should take. Maybe ask them to get back to you with the times that they are available to chat further. It should also be very personal; so instead of sending this email from your company name, send it from an individual point of contact at your company.

Last Words of Advice

Be personable

As you’re writing these emails, remember to be personable. Especially when your leads are further along in the sales funnel (ie: in your closing emails), you might want to send the email from a single person (as opposed to your entire company).

Personalize your emails

Segment all of your emails and personalize them to the recipient. Personalized emails are 6x more successful than non-personalized emails, so the importance of this cannot be overestimated.

Keep it casual

Keep the tone casual and light. A survey found that 65% of customers prefer a more casual and playful tone to a formal tone, no matter the age.

At the same time, keep in mind the message that you are delivering and your business. Some businesses (like law firms, for instance) are inherently more formal, and a casual tone probably wouldn’t be very appropriate. The same survey also discovered that, “…if you need to deny a claim and do so with an overly casual tone, 78% of participants say it will negatively impact customer satisfaction. On the other hand, if you grant a claim or request using an overly formal tone, 65% of participants say it will negatively impact customer satisfaction.”

So if you are delivering bad news to your lead, tread lightly. You’ll probably want to deliver that message with a more formal tone.

Whatever tone you decide to take, make sure that your emails are humanizing. In other words, don’t be a robot.

Stay top-of-mind

 Be consistent and send out emails regularly. Why does this matter? The “mere exposure effect” says that, “the more you see or hear something, the more you like it. In other words, we tend to like things more when they’re familiar to us.” This means that the more you send out high-quality and valuable emails, the more your customers will become familiar with your brand and the more they will like you. But remember that there’s a limit to this rule—if you’re bombarding your leads with emails multiple times a day, you can expect the unsubscribe rate to skyrocket pretty fast.

Keep it simple

And when it comes to design, note that more images are not necessarily better. Hubspot actually found that purely text-based emails perform best. There are obviously exceptions to this. If your business is highly image-based, then it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to go with a template that is exclusively text-based. The important thing is to test and find out what works best for your business.

Finally, remember that less is often more. I recently received this email that was extremely copy-heavy, with so many links in it that I didn’t know where to focus my attention:

Your leads are short on time and still getting to know your business, so don’t scare them off with an incredibly long, copy-heavy email. Limit the number of calls-to-action (CTAs). In some cases, it’s fine to have more than one CTA. The important thing is to put yourself in the shoes of the person reading the email and consider how the email might look to them.

Test, test and test some more!

Lastly, remember that the end results will be different for every business, so be sure to test to find out what works best for your business.

And now, it’s your turn to share…Is there any type of email that I didn’t include in this blog post that you have found to be particularly effective in your lead nurturing? If so, please share in the comments below! I’d love to hear about it.

Mary Blackiston
About the author of this post - Mary Blackiston
Mary Blackiston is the Content Marketing Specialist for SUCCESS agency.
View all posts by Mary Blackiston
About the author of this post
Mary Blackiston
Mary Blackiston
Mary Blackiston is the Content Marketing Specialist for SUCCESS agency.
View all posts by Mary Blackiston