How to Nurture and Convert Leads with Email Automation

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Updated on

July 20, 2021

Email is hands down the best way to nurture leads and convert them into sales.

Here’s the thing.

A staggering 96% of people who visit your website aren’t ready to buy yet. So getting the initial visit is only the beginning. You must first develop a relationship with them so they warm up to your brand before promoting your products.

That’s why lead nurturing is crucial.

Another study by HubSpot revealed consumers need anywhere from 3 to 8 touchpoints before they are ready to buy from a brand for the first time.

In this article, I will show you how to nurture and convert leads with email automation.

What Is Email Lead Nurturing?

Lead nurturing is purposefully developing deeper relationships with your leads over time so they become loyal, buying customers.

The calculated process takes leads by hand and leads them through all stages of the buyer’s journey from the top of the sales funnel to the bottom.

7 Benefits Of Lead Nurturing

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of lead nurturing strategies, let’s find out how it can benefit your business. Here are 7 advantages of lead nurturing.

1. Convenient

Unlike high-maintenance manual email broadcasts, automated lead nurturing is a low-maintenance exercise. Once you set up and deploy your emails, you sit back and let robots do all the work.

2. High ROI

Nurtured leads generate 50% more sales at a 33% reduced cost than non-nurtured leads. If you go straight for the hard sell without developing a relationship with leads first, you must do many follow-ups to convince people to buy.

3. Boosts Engagement

Lead nurturing allows you to engage your users and keep them connected to your brand. An engaged audience is more likely to take you up on your offers because you are always top of mind.

4. Discover selling opportunities

The more you interact with your audience, the more selling opportunities you unearth. You get to know their needs better. Once you’ve locked in their needs, you can increase your order value through upsells and cross-sells.

5. Builds Authority

I’m sure you’ve heard the marketing maxim: people do business with people they know, like, and trust. Nothing makes people trust you more than giving them a steady diet of useful information via their inboxes.

6. Increase Average Order Value (AOV)

Another benefit of lead nurturing is that it increases the average amount of money each time a customer buys from you. Increasing AOV hikes your income without you bringing in new leads. Research by Invesp showed nurtured leads make 47% bigger orders than non-nurtured leads.

lead nurture comparison

Source: Invesp

7. Triggers Word-Of-Mouth Marketing (WOM Marketing)

When you impress subscribed customers with brilliant content and stellar products, they end up marketing your brand for free. They forward your emails to their contacts and recommend your products to friends because they love what you do.

With these lead nurturing benefits in mind, let’s get into the tactics.

5 Must-try Automated Email Lead Nurturing Strategies

Here are five strategies for machine-driven email lead nurturing campaigns. It’s important to realize they aren’t 100% automated. You must put in some work upfront to get the wheels turning.

Taking this into account, let’s dive into the tactics.

#1. Write Scrumptious Emails Your Users Can’t Get Enough Of

Yes, you can’t automate email writing but it’s a vital piece of the puzzle.

At the heart of email automation is one powerful word that undergirds every campaign—email.

Without a firm foundation of excellent emails to drive your lead nurturing strategy, your sleek automation workflows will be duds. You can’t automate lousy emails and expect to get results in your campaigns.

That said, here are 3 fundamentals on how to write delightful emails that get clicked, opened, and read.

1. Have a goal for every email.

Establish the reason you want to write an email before you type a single word. This will make your content focused, relevant, and engaging.

Do you want the reader to:

  • Click-through to a landing page?
  • Download a resource?
  • Buy a product or service?
  • Watch a video or webinar?
  • Schedule an appointment?
  • Sign up for a free trial?

Your goal must drive your whole email creation process. Goal-driven emails convert better than aimless emails.

2. Write a powerful headline.

Your email lives or dies on the quality of your headline.

Make your subject lines:

  • Short

Straightforward headlines drive action better than lengthy ones. Studies show 9 words or fewer is the ideal length in most cases. Plus, short subject lines ensure you communicate your message before the rest of the words get cut off because of limited space.

  • Clear

Clarity always trumps complexity. Users quickly grasp easy-to-understand subject lines and open the email to check out what’s in store for them. Complicated ones slow down or frustrate readers and don’t inspire them to open the email.

  • Benefit-driven

Humans are selfish by nature. They are always asking what’s in it for me (WIIFM) at the back of their minds before they do anything. If your subject lines show them how they will benefit from consuming your content, they’ll gladly open your emails.

3. Keep messages short and sweet

We live in an uber-busy world. So most people don’t read emails, they skim through them.

At least that’s what they do in the beginning before they decide whether to consume the entire message line by line. To increase the chances of getting your emails read, keep them brief and format them for easy reading by using:

  • Short sentences.
  • Brief paragraphs.
  • Bulleted lists.
  • A lot of white space.
  • A prominent call-to-action.

Now that you’ve got email copywriting dialed in, let’s get into the mechanics of how to nurture and convert leads through smart email automation.

#2. Woo New Users With Warm Welcome Email Series

Your first email to new users who’ve just subscribed or made their first transaction with your brand is crucial.

It sets the tone of your relationship with them.

The best part?

Welcome emails have stratospheric open and click-through rates of 91.43% and 26.9% respectively.

welcome email stats


That’s over 5x the average open rate and 10x the click-through rate of regular email campaigns. So including a welcome series in your email automation workflow can boost conversions significantly.

Here’s how to do it.

  • Tell your brand story

Naturally, new users want to know a bit more about you. Share your brand story memorably so users fall in love with your brand. Focus on your unique selling proposition or USP.

  • Set expectations

Tell new subscribers exactly what to expect from you. For instance, what kind of emails will you be sending e.g. tips, free downloads, or curated content? How often will you be emailing them e.g. twice a week, five times a month, etc.?

  • Promote your best content

Use the excitement and goodwill of a fresh relationship with new users to drive traffic to your prime content assets. Point out your best and conversion-optimized posts and case studies so they consume them and also get impressed by your brilliance.

  • Ask them to whitelist you

To ensure your audience receives all your upcoming emails, you can use your initial email to tell them how to whitelist you. Explicitly instruct users on how they can add you to the approved senders’ list.

  • Bolster benefits

Welcome emails give you a tremendous chance to brag about the value you provide. When they see how valuable connecting with you will be, they will stay on your list and you will sell to them repeatedly.

Below are examples of eCommerce welcome email workflows merged with upsells and other marketing scenarios depending on the lead’s action or inaction.

ecommerce welcome email flow

Source: StoreYa

Whatever you do in your welcome email sequence, make sure you make a superb first impression on your audience. Send 4-6 emails in your series. That’s enough to build trust without overwhelming your audience.

#3. Segment your email list For Relevant, Personalized Content

Email personalization is the open secret of high-converting emails.

The foundation of personalization is segmentation.

You can’t send blanket emails to your entire list and expect users to engage with them. Segmentation and personalized content improve your conversion numbers all around as these stats from Backlinko reveal:

  • Segmented email campaigns generate 100.95% higher click-through rates than non-segmented campaigns.
  • Segmented email marketing campaigns boost revenue by as much as 760%.
  • Trigger-based emails perform 3x better than batch and blast emails.
  • Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened.

Let’s look at how to nurture leads and prospects through various segmentation tactics.

4 Email Segmentation Types

market segmentation types

Source: Alexa

Here are the four segmentation types and how to nail each one.

1. Demographic Segmentation

Demographic segmentation categorizes your email list according to their age, gender, ethnicity, religion, education, and income.

People who share these traits have similar goals, struggles, and dreams.

Therefore, if you group them appropriately, your emails will resonate with them. They will be more likely to enjoy your content and respond to your offers.

2. Geographic Segmentation

Geographic segmentation divides consumers according to where they live.

You can determine your customers’ physical location using intelligent geolocation software. Such programs can group people through:

  • Country
  • Region
  • City

Knowing where your customers come from sharpens your marketing communications. For example, certain products are popular in certain areas. So, through the geographical location, you will send the right offers to the right people and hike conversions.

3. Psychographic Segmentation

Psychographic segmentation groups buyers based on their psychological traits such as interests, values, beliefs, and lifestyle.

Such characteristics make it easier for shrewd marketers to hone in on their audience’s pain points and longings. When you wrap your messaging around your leads’ pain points and dreams, your content scratches their itches.

They become more responsive to your campaigns.

4. Behavioral Segmentation

Behavioral segmentation splits customers based on the actions they take when interacting with your brand.

Those actions can be on your blog, online store, or email content.

Base your segmentation on hyper-specific behavior like:

  • Purchase history.
  • Browsing habits.
  • Content likes and dislikes.
  • Engagement levels like opens vs non-opens.
  • Sales funnel stage.
  • Past product ratings.

Segmentation fills your funnels with hyper-focused categories.

You then drip feed these handpicked groups of leads with relevant content on autopilot. Email by email, content piece by content piece, offer by offer, you build trust and eventually close more sales.

#4. Tie your free content giveaways to different products

Generic offers don’t convert well.

Automate your lead nurturing campaigns from the prospects’ first touch. Catch them when they make micro-commitments like downloading your free resources. Instead of broad lead magnets, have laser-specific freebies that perfectly match certain products or services you provide.

Each lead magnet leads to prospects down a specific funnel.

  • A case study prompts an email trail that leads to product A.
  • A free webinar triggers an email series that leads to product B.
  • An ebook sets off emails that coax users towards product C.
  • A video demo activates an email sequence tied to product D.

Get the idea?

Through smart email automation, each lead magnet activates a pre-planned path that guides users towards specific products. Because you’ve crafted the buyer journey with care and paved it with on-point content, conversions, and sales skyrocket.

The good news?

Once you’ve written and set up all the email sequences, you sit back and let your email service provider automation powers get to work. You nurture and close leads without lifting a finger.

Below is a sample lead magnet automation workflow.

lead magnet blueprint flow

Source: Free Movement Marketing

Your lead magnet workflow can do more than deliver the resource. It can deepen your relationship with leads and sell your products.

#5. Let Data Guide Your Email Automation Efforts

In modern marketing, there’s no need to fly blind.

Clever email service providers and lead capture tools like Mailmunch produce gobs of data you can use to automate lead generation and nurturing.

There are so many ways to automate lead nurturing through data.

  • Automatically resend an email with a different subject line to prospects who didn’t open the original email.
  • Offer discounts or bonuses to customers who buy goods that meet a certain order value threshold e.g. orders worth $200+
  • Send content to potential customers who downloaded a particular lead magnet.
  • Present gifts to loyal users who meet a preset number of opens or click-throughs over a certain period.
  • Determine the right email cadence for your audience by digesting the numbers. As a case in point, you can test which sales/welcome series performs best between a 5-part or a 7-part one and automatically deploy the winner.
  • Follow up with people who haven’t engaged with a specified number of emails for a particular period.
  • Automatically pick important dates in the life of your prospects and reach out to them then, e.g. send happy birthday wishes or give them a gift after they’ve used your product for a year.
  • Use eCommerce data to create magnetic abandoned cart email campaigns to recover lost sales.

There are endless automation possibilities.

Source: Smartsheet

You can set up many dynamic email lead nurturing campaigns that suit your marketing context as shown above.

Adopt Email Lead Nurturing Automation Today

Thanks to modern technologies, you don’t have to cultivate relationships with your prospects manually.

Email automation takes the grunt work out of lead nurturing.

Through intelligent email automation you can:

  • Segment your email list.
  • Send personalized content and offers.
  • Follow-up on disengaged leads.
  • Reward users who take the desired actions.
  • Get leads to consume your best content.

If you play your automation cards right, you will reap the rewards. You will generate more leads and convert them into sales 24/7 without breaking a sweat.

Author Bio

Author Headshot

Hanson Cheng is the founder of Freedom to Ascend. He empowers online entrepreneurs and business owners to 10x their business and become financially independent. You can connect with him here.


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