Email marketing through nurture campaigns continues to be one of the best ways businesses can interact with their audience. A nurture campaign allows a brand to develop a relationship with its customers—sharing helpful information, building trust, and earning the right to ask for a sale.
In this article, we provide a complete guide to nurture campaigns and email marketing. First, we’ll share how to strategize a successful campaign and then walk you through the secrets of writing a great email, complete with best practices and a real-life example featuring one of the most successful emails we’ve ever sent.
Table of Contents
What is Email Marketing?
Email marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves sending targeted, strategic messages to a group of people via email. These messages can range from promotional offers and product updates to newsletters and personalized content, all with the goal of building strong relationships with your audience and driving customer engagement.
What is a Nurture Email?
A nurture email is sent to prospects and existing customers to develop a relationship with them. Rather than focusing on sales, these emails are designed to provide useful content. They offer information, provide entertainment, and demonstrate value to the reader. This develops trust and builds brand awareness so that when it comes time to buy, your readers are more likely to engage with your brand.
Nurture emails are specific to the customer journey They meet your audience where they’re already at—addressing problems they’re facing, commenting on ideas they’re interested in, or leading them into the next stage of relationship with your brand.
What is an Email Campaign?
While brands will sometimes send one-off emails, most are sent as part of an email campaign—a series of emails with a unified strategy, theme, and audience. The messages in these nurture campaigns engage your audience over time. They recognize that prospects rarely make buying decisions in an instant; instead, they slowly develop familiarity with and affinity for a brand.
Like any narrative, these messages build on each other. They guide the reader through specific feelings or ideas with the goal of leading them to a specific action.
An email campaign is often organized through an automated email marketing platform.
Why is Email Marketing Important?
While some may argue that email marketing is dead, the truth is that it remains one of the most effective ways to reach and engage with your target audience. This is especially true for b2b or service businesses where prospects need a little more time and information before they commit to the sale.
Why use email marketing? There are several advantages that make email marketing strategy a crucial component of your brand-building efforts:
- High ROI: With an average return on investment (ROI) of $36 for every $1 spent, email marketing offers a cost-effective way to maximize your marketing budget. This is significantly higher than other channels like social media.
- Personalization: Email marketing allows you to tailor your messages to different segments of your audience, ensuring you deliver relevant content that resonates with each recipient. Personalization improves the customer experience and increases engagement.
- Direct communication: Unlike social media platforms, email marketing provides a direct line of communication between your brand and your audience, fostering stronger relationships and building trust. This direct communication makes it easier to build lasting relationships with customers.
- Measurable results: With modern email marketing tools, you can easily track the performance of your campaigns, allowing you to make data-driven decisions and optimize your strategy. This data helps you to make informed decisions about the content that resonates with your customers.
- Increased brand awareness: Consistently sending valuable content to your audience will keep your brand fresh in their minds, making them more likely to think of you when they’re in need of your products or services. This builds brand awareness and customer loyalty.
How to Create an Email Marketing Campaign
Before we show you how to write a great individual email, we’re going to walk you through what is needed to build an effective email marketing campaign.
When most people think of email marketing, they can’t wait to write a clever subject line. But before that, we recommend you spend some time thinking through strategy. Here are some elements you’ll want to consider in your nurture campaign:
Every email needs an occasion or a reason for sending. No one wants to open a message to find 250 words of fluff without any real point to it. When it comes to business this is especially true—just saying hi isn’t a good enough reason to enter someone’s inbox.
You need an occasion. This could be one of many things—you want to announce an upcoming sale, you’re introducing a new team member, you’re telling your audience about a blog you just published, or you’re unsubscribing someone from your list. Your occasion doesn’t have to be something big—it just needs to be clear.
Note that the occasion must be important from the reader’s perspective. You may simply want to nurture a lead, but your audience needs a reason that reading your email is worth their time.
The success of an email marketing campaign largely depends on how well the audience is understood and targeted. The audience is the group of people who will receive the email messages. They fit a certain demographic, psychographic, and occasion. The email should be tailored to meet the specific needs of its target audience. It should also use the content, tone, and timing that is most likely to resonate with them.
Sometimes the audience will include your entire email list, but more often it will be smaller segments that have been grouped by shared characteristics—maybe those that live in a certain region, have purchased a certain product, or have shown interest in a specific service. The more specific the audience, the more customizable the content, and the greater the chances of engagement and conversion.
Effective email marketing strategies will involve scheduling—both the time and day an individual email is sent and the frequency of emails in a campaign/time in between messages. Smart marketers will learn to strike a balance between keeping a lead warm and overwhelming them with too much.
What is the best time to send marketing emails? How about the best frequency for messages in an email campaign? While there are some general industry guidelines, the answer will depend on your campaign and goal. You’ll want to account for how engaged your audience is and how urgent your occasion is. If someone is more engaged with your brand, they won’t mind more frequent messages. But if they’re just learning about your business, they might consider a daily email akin to spam. Similarly, if you have a limited-time offer, your audience will be okay with a few reminders grouped more closely together.
Most email software offers the ability to test different send times and dates. We encourage using this feature to determine what works best for your audience.
Voice and Tone
All of your marketing materials should be consistent in voice and tone. But this is especially true across a campaign. Readers should be able to identify an email as part of a campaign based on its content and the way you talk about it—similar wording, the same level of humor, etc.
Again, voice and tone should reflect your audience. It should also be specific to your goal. Consider what you want your audience to do, then think about how you would ask them to take action.
Test aspects of your email campaigns to figure out what works best. Most software allows you to A/B test subject lines, calls to action, and even email formats. You can send different versions of the same email to see what receives the best open and click rates. Then, it’s easy to modify the rest of your campaign accordingly.
How to Write a Marketing Email
Now it’s time to dive into how to write an email. In the following sections, we break down the different parts, sharing best practices and using one of our successful emails as an example.
The subject line is the first thing your recipients will see and it plays a significant role in determining whether they’ll open your email or not. If people don’t open your email, it won’t matter how great the content or offer inside is.
Subject Line Best Practices
- Keep it short: Aim for 50 characters or less to ensure your subject line isn’t cut off on mobile devices.
- Create a hook: Your subject line should pique your reader’s interest. Introduce an idea or ask a question that readers need to know more about.
- Be specific: Your audience likely gets hundreds of emails each week. If your subject line is vague, your reader won’t take the time to bother with yours. A good subject line should give readers a clear idea of what’s inside.
Subject Line Example
Check out this subject line from an email our team sent out a few weeks ago:
Preheader TextThe preheader text is a short snippet that appears after the subject line in most emails. Use this space to provide a preview of your email’s content or reinforce your subject line.
Preheader Text Best Practices
- Use original copy: Don’t copy and paste the subject line and resist the urge to borrow from your email body. Instead, try to bridge the gap between the two.
- Keep it relevant: Sometimes a subject line is cute or clever, but preheader text should be clear. Keep your message on point.
Preheader ExampleHere is the preview text for our example email: There are two secret messages to discover. Did you spot them?
This preview text is short and simple. But it does add some new information to the subject line. There’s not just one hidden meaning, but two! That’s just enough to drive the narrative forward and compel readers to open. Notice how it bridges the gap between the subject line and body copy.
Body CopyThe body of your email is where you’ll convey the main message and engage with your audience. The length and style of content will vary depending on your audience and goal.
Body Copy Best Practices
- Personalize your message: Use the recipient’s name in your greeting and personalize your message wherever possible. This will make your message feel more relevant to the reader.
- Break up your content with subheadings and bullet points: Use subheadings and bullet points to break up your content into easily digestible sections. This will make it easier for readers to scan your email and quickly understand the main points.
- Focus on being engaging: A good email is one that people want to read. Use stories, examples, and images to capture and keep your audience’s attention. If you have a clear purpose behind your message it’s much easier to be engaging!
Body Copy ExampleRead through the body copy of the email from the Hughes Integrated team:
The body copy of this email is 366 words broken up by images and headlines. This structure makes it very easy to scan and absorb the content. The copy speaks directly to the reader, providing a compelling answer to the topic brought up in the subject line. Not only is this information interesting, but we also make sure to make it directly applicable to the reader.
A CTA (call to action) is what you want your audience to do after reading your email. You may guide them to your website, invite them to read a blog post, or encourage them to buy a product or service. A CTA is usually presented as a button or link.
CTA Best Practices
- Make it easy to find: The easier it is to find, the more likely people are to take action. Use big text, a bright button color, and a prominent position for your CTA to stand out.
- Use actionable language: Copy should tell your audience exactly what the CTA is. Use strong verbs like “buy”, “download”, or “subscribe”.
- Emphasize benefits: If an action doesn’t have clear benefits, your readers won’t take it. Use surrounding copy to reinforce what readers get by taking action.
The call to action in our example email is subtle, but that’s by design. We included it in the P.S. at the end of the email (more on that in a moment). This helps set it apart from the body copy and draws the reader’s eyes to it. Notice that although we don’t use a button, we very clearly state what will happen when the link is clicked.
A P.S. or postscript might seem outdated, but a P.S. at the end of an email can be widely effective. Research has shown that the P.S. section of an email is often the second most read section after the subject line, making it a powerful tool for capturing the recipient’s attention and reinforcing the message. Use a postscript in your email to emphasize something, reinforce a CTA, or add a personal touch.
P.S. Best Practices
- Be clear and concise: In order to be effective, a P.S. should only be a few sentences long. More than that and it just looks like extra body copy.
- Stay relevant: While you want your P.S. to stand out from the rest of the email, it needs to be consistent with the rest of the message. Refer back to ideas in the body copy or repeat your CTA (with different wording or added incentive) and your P.S. will compel your audience to go back and read the rest of your message.
- Include emotion: Many effective P.S. sections use emotion to hook the reader. They may arouse curiosity, express scarcity, or share contagious excitement..
We mentioned the CTA in the postscript example above, but there are a few more things that make this work. We invite the reader in with a question and then spring new and exciting information on them. To a reader who opened an email about discovering hidden meaning, this jewel at the end feels like the prize at the end of a treasure hunt. We use both exclusivity and urgency to compel emotion.
Design and Images
Many marketing emails will choose to include design and images. These features help make an email easier to read and more engaging for the audience. However, we strongly recommend that when writing a message copy is primary and email design is secondary. Email marketing design should enhance the email, not distract from the content.
- Stay on brand: Any images or design elements need to fit in with your overall brand. If your brand is professional, your images should look that way. If your brand is informal, then it may be okay to use gifs and more vibrant colors and images.
- Don’t compromise clarity: No abstract art here. If you’re including a design or an image, your audience should be able to immediately understand what it is and how it relates to the content.
- Make use of white space: It may be tempting to fill every inch of the screen with text, colors, images, and patterns. But if you do, you’ll overwhelm your readers. Effective use of white space makes an email design easier on the eyes. It helps readers scan and absorb your content. Plus, it doesn’t require a graphic designer to implement!
Take another look at the design of our high-performing email:
Notice how the design is clean and scannable. It incorporates elements from our brand palette (arrows and colors) without distracting from the main content. The images we used are directly related to the topic of the email. They add something important to the story instead of just filling space. Finally, note how the entire email is structured to move your eye downward through the content. This shape compels viewers to keep reading and see the content all the way through.
Email marketing is an invaluable tool for building your brand and connecting with your audience. By understanding the various components of an email and following best practices, you can craft compelling emails that drive engagement and nurture lasting relationships with your customers.
Take your brand to new heights by harnessing the power of email marketing, and watch as your business reaps the rewards of increased brand awareness, stronger customer relationships, and ultimately, greater success.