How to Write an Effective Email Nurture Series

by Michelle Hunter

Building trust after people join your list


Contrary to the occasional blog post I see from marketing experts and gurus, email marketing is not dead. Sure, we are all pretty good at setting up folders for promotional emails or unsubscribing after we receive a desired free tool or resource. Reading the doom-and-gloom advice out there can make writing an email nurture series seem like a wasted effort. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Email marketing (when done properly) is a powerful way to engage your audience, build trusting relationships with potential buyers, and generate leads for your business. The key is moving beyond the hype and the canned approach to truly connect with your people.

In other words, you need to be strategic in order to succeed.  So, let’s take a strategic approach, okay?

What is an email nurture series?

An email nurture series is a sequence of emails sent after people join your list in order to introduce them to your work, build trust with them, and invite them to engage further with your business. It is typically a set of 3-5 emails that are sent automatically within a few days or weeks of subscription.

So, why are you building a list? Your intention behind list building is actually the foundational logic for your email nurture series. The more clearly defined your purpose, the easier your email nurture campaign is to write.

People build an email list in order to…

  • Share thoughts and ideas with interested people through regularly published content such as blog posts, podcast episodes, or videos.
  • Create a community of brand advocates who will attend events, engage via social media or in person, and/or support and encourage one another.
  • Generate leads, conduct market research, share information about products and services, and provide customer service.

This is not an all-inclusive list. In fact, I’ve failed to mention the most common motivation for list building – – > because someone I trust suggested it.

Many of my marketing strategy clients are actively engaged in list building of some kind. They gather email information through a variety of methods without a clear plan or purpose in mind. As a result, those emails simply sit inside a platform like MailChimp, ConvertKit, or Constant Contact and gather virtual dust. Sound wasteful? It is… but I digress.

The purpose of an email nurture series is directly tied to your overall goals for list building. Want to build engagement? Fill your nurture series with opportunities to comment, post, join, and share. Interested in sharing ideas? Share your background, perspective, and experience to give those ideas context.

Want to generate leads for your business? Intentionally build trust and relationship. Spoiler alert – – > the focus of the rest of this article is on using the nurture series for marketing and lead generation. Not your purpose? No worries… read on anyway. These tips will help you too, trust me.

Open the email nurture series with additional value.

Most of us are pretty savvy online consumers. When we exchange our email information for something free, we expect to receive a sales offer of some kind. It’s the way of the world these days. That’s why I recommend moving beyond the mercenary to open your email nurture series with additional value rather than the expected sales message. Positioning yourself (and your business) as unexpectedly helpful and supportive is much more effective in the long run than an immediate upsell.

I recommend connecting your first few emails to the original freebie and offering additional value by simply…

  • sharing implementation tips or a bit more explanation to help them take action.
  • providing encouragement to support them as they implement the information.
  • suggesting additional resources (ideally free) they might also enjoy.

Taking this approach puts the reader at ease and demonstrates your desire to serve clients first, before making a sale. This ‘others-focused’ approach will set you apart in the marketplace.

Fill emails with warm, conversational language.

I smile when I see an email from a trusted colleague or a friend. I click on it enthusiastically, and consume the content with an open mind and a willingness to communicate. The language used in these emails is friendly, welcoming, and engaging. Just what I would expect from people I trust.

The BEST tone to take in nurture emails – even though the relationship is just beginning – is warm, friendly, and conversational. It’s the way you would write to a trusted friend or colleague.

Nurture series emails are about building relationships. That’s why I recommend setting a warm, friendly tone from the very beginning. Welcome readers into your circle of trusted friends simply by dropping the formal language of business emails and textbooks. Fill your writing with first-person stories, anecdotes, and friendly invitations to draw a bit closer.

Not sure what I mean by conversational writing? Recently I shared my system for writing conversationally. Check out this recent post here. You’ll find my tips for filling your emails (and any writing, really) with welcoming, friendly language.

Intentionally build a relationship before suggesting sales.

Every email you send to existing and potential clients should contain an invitation, a suggested next step – a call to action. Your email nurture series is not exempt from this rule; however, the type of call to action you include here is relevant. Your goal is not to sell, sell, sell. Your goal is to select the right call to action for the level of relationship you’ve established thus far.

Here’s what I mean…

Early in the relationship (the first few emails) your potential client is learning about your business and evaluating your character. That’s why I recommend offering additional information or value in these emails. Nothing sales related. No strong pitches or upsells. Just a warm invitation to draw a little closer, learn a little more, and get connected.

As the relationship progresses, it is appropriate to ask for a little more. Maybe suggest a reason to reply or comment. Perhaps extend an invitation to a free consultation or a chat. You might even suggest a small product or service here – something directly tied to the freebie you provided at the point of opt-in. The potential client expressed interest in your freebie, so it’s reasonable to offer something related.

Interested in a bigger sale or level of service? Save those calls to action for the last few emails in the series. Provide a compelling anecdote or client success story as a foundation to warm up the ask. Demonstrate the value you provide in the marketplace… and then invite the reader to take action and learn more.

This measured approach will build a strong relationship of trust with your potential client and reduce the number of unsubscribes you receive in the first few weeks of the relationship.

Use the email nurture series to invite engagement.

In my experience, the best email nurture series is actually not promotional in nature. (You’ve probably picked up on this already, right? ) Instead, it invites engagement with your brand and builds a long-term relationship with your audience. Rather than quick hits and fast sales, carefully crafted nurture emails expand a potential client’s awareness of your capability and opens his or her mind to the possibilities created when you work together.

Spend some time thinking about the types of engagement you wish to encourage. Do people typically buy from you after engaging with you on a social media platform? Use your email nurture series to promote the platform and encourage engagement. Do you convert clients after speaking with them in a free consultation? Sprinkle invitations to chat with you inside your nurture series.

Consider inviting people to an intermediary event or activity such as a free workshop, site visit, or event (either in person or virtually). Use your email nurture series for this level of promotion (free stuff), then follow up after this level of engagement with a promotional series targeted to a specific product or service.

Trusting relationships are the foundation of sustainable sales revenue.

In my experience, consistent revenue generation is a long game. Sure, you might be able to get some quick wins with a well-timed promotional email to a relatively cold list. But, those results won’t last. Real revenue growth happens when you build trusting relationships in your industry with potential clients, referral partners, and brand advocates. Your email nurture series is the entry point to the profitable relationships your business needs in order to grow.

Ready to move beyond slick sales funnels that feel misaligned with your brand? Thinking about creating a sustainable email marketing system to build relationships and generate consistent revenue for your creative business? Let’s talk.

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