The DNA of the perfect nurture sequence

The DNA of the perfect nurture sequence
An experienced digital marketer who has owned and run agencies for almost 15 years, Adam is the head of cross-channel marketing automation specialist Force24. Combining his love for cutting-edge tech with a passion for lead nurturing best practice, Adam has developed a platform that is built by marketers, for marketers. An outspoken advocate of the ‘less is more’ approach, Adam is a regular commentator on industry topics including intelligent multichannel marketing, holistic eCRM strategies, optimising customer journeys, personalisation, digital marketing and retargeting.

Whatever the specific objective of an email campaign, the overarching goal of any nurture sequence remains constant – to encourage an individual along a journey to the point of peak engagement. Only then will a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) stand the greatest chance of becoming a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).

However, with so much ‘noise’ in this communication space, this process is easier said than done. So how do marketers achieve that all-important cut through?

At this point, many professionals are turning to things like AI and machine learning in their quest for the ‘holy grail’ email. And with so many advancements in this field, why not? But what many marketers are overlooking in the process is the fact that there are actually a number of fundamental composition principles, which are proven to open doors and educate contacts faster.

So, what exactly forms the ‘DNA of the perfect nurture sequence’?

It actually all comes down to the five core components of an effective human argument – introduce the concept, deliver the social proof, highlight the gains, instil the ‘why’ through fear, and conclude with logic to truly drive the message home.

Armed with these principles, it is possible to craft a five-stage, plain text email journey, which releases the power of this fundamental human argument, via technology.

Email one

The initial contact should be a welcome message that aims to introduce rather than sell, such as:

‘Read how automation can increase new biz’

The goal here should be to deliver a very gentle message that adds value to the reader’s day. The subject line should be clear, concise and – following a lightweight opening verb –indicative of an action or outcome.

deliver a very gentle message that adds value to the reader’s day

The email content itself should have a strong introduction that refers to either a weakness or pain point, to capture attention and set the scene. Keywords – which if read alone, would also tell the story – should also be highlighted in bold.

This lead paragraph should be followed by a reaffirming sub-statement, a CTA (call to action) linking to a piece of value content, an anchor point for later conversations, followed by a summary of the solutions provider.

A final ‘action stations’ CTA should direct the reader forward before a warm closing sign off, which wishes the reader well. It is even worth considering an eye-catching ‘P.S’.

If the individual didn’t engage or reach a ‘hot’ MQL score, they’re ready for the next email.

Email two

This should be a ‘social proof’ follow up that highlights how others have improved their position thanks to a product or service, like:

‘Grow like [company name] grew [Firstname]’

Here, the subject is personalised, indicative of social proof and it has a stronger focus on action. The body content should then lead with a friendly, humanised re-introduction that references the sender and the terminology/theme used in the previous email.

Ideally the message will reference a detailed casing point from the social proof illustration, such as a crucial data-driven outcome of a project. This insight should always be referenced and supported by a reaffirming sub-paragraph.

Once again, short, succinct ‘action station’ CTAs should push the user to proceed, perhaps by taking a look around the website. The sign off should have more personality on this occasion, and a similar point should be emphasised in the P.S.

Email three

The third message should focus on emphasising the gain, e.g:

‘Catch the missing 30% of your pipeline [Firstname]’

This upbeat communication focuses on the help that is available to ensure the outcome that the email promises. Invariably, the pressure to engage with a CTA grows, which is a why a strong piece of downloadable content is often cleverly introduced here.

everything should revert to the ‘gain’ theme

Working on the assumption that the reader hasn’t yet consumed any of the previous email dialogue, the essence of the product/service should be reiterated in the opening paragraph, with evidence/statistics included in paragraph two.

However, everything should revert to the ‘gain’ theme. The CTA should link to ‘must have’ content which supports the argument, and even the anchor point for later conversations should attempt to bounce the user back to this CTA.

Once again, the close should follow the solutions provider summary, action stations sign off, signature and P.S pattern.

Email four

Message number four is all about the instigation of fear.

This message should highlight the consequences of not taking action. However, rather than sounding negative, it is important to remain a support to the reader. The subject line could therefore focus on the same positive ‘gain’ tone as email 3.

A short, direct re-introduction, should be quickly followed by a one paragraph delivery of the problem. Next, the content should pose ‘the scratch’ – content which asks the user if they feel they’ve got this risk covered. If not, they’ll read on to find the solution, which highlights why the supplier is qualified to help.

Then it’s back to the ‘actions stations’ CTA, but the sign off, on this occasion, should make it sound as though the sender is a little less available.

Email five

Your last message should be a perfect, concluding, logical pitch like:

‘Prove to yourself you have marketing automation covered’

It should be assumed at this stage that the reader has digested some content from the previous sends, but not yet reached out. This final email will attempt to push that final action, but it must remain to the point.

An attention-grabbing paragraph is therefore a more important lead in, than a re-introduction, followed immediately by an action paragraph. The CTA in this instance should aim to drive the reader to the top of the sales funnel, perhaps by requesting a demonstration.

the CTA in this instance should aim to drive the reader to the top of the sales funnel

A solution and proof should then be included, before a combined action and sign off. This implies the individual may not be contacted again so the onus is now, crucially, on them to act.

Now, this is a blog for Marketing Tech, so it is perhaps unsurprising that this entire nurture program relies on the use of automation to make it work, with minimal effort.

But the ‘DNA’ of the sequence itself – and the construction of each email – is what marketers really need to understand, if the technology is going to effectively do its job.

You can download a more detailed guide with templates for each of these emails here.

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