Using email sequences paired with email automation is an incredible tool to maximize your time as a small business. It can develop leads, book calls, make sales – essentially, it can grow your business. However, you need to take control of how you’re using it as it can easily get away from you.
I chose five email sequences that can be broadly applied (to a variety of businesses) but you should also consider those sequences that may be specific to your business e.g. a launch sequence.
What is an email sequence?
A series of sequential emails that feed into each other and deepen the know/like/trust factor with your prospects. This sequence should be voluntarily opted-in to so you avoid any spamming regulations.
How long should an email sequence be?
Email sequences vary in length depending upon the type of sequence you are building. On average a good rule of thumb is between 4 and 6 emails in a sequence. This helps you build a less sales-ly relationship with the prospect and focus on overcoming specific objections within each email.
How do I use email automation?
Email automations are what deliver your email sequences. When you set up your automation everything is done for you and you begin to build a relationship with your prospect without even knowing it! This is why the quality and content of your email is key (and high priority).
Any automation starts with a trigger. It could be filling in a form, joining a list or adding a tag. It could even be when another automation is completed.
Once the automation has started then you need to pace it out by adding ‘Wait’ times. You can do this in different ways: a specific amount of time (e.g. 2 days or 2 hours) or it could be when a specific action has been taken (e.g. link is clicked).
Then you pace out your emails in a way that feels natural. For example, if you are sending a lot of information with a download then you may want to allow some time to read and digest that email. If it’s a shorter email with an action you’re asking them to take then you may want to follow up sooner to remind them to take that action.
Use behavioural workflows in your automation (if/else)
Email automations that contain If/Or else workflows feel more personalized and unique to the prospect. It also gives you more accurate insight into their level of interest. This is a ‘conditional’ that monitors the sent email for a specific action (that you decide on ahead of time) and if the action is completed then email A is sent. But if the action isn’t completed then email B is sent. This reduces the number of ‘follow-ups’ you do on prospects that ARE taking action and they feel that they are being ‘listened to’ – in a good way. It also means that you’re not sending superfluous emails that add dead weight to your communication.
The 5 Sequences
Now that the above questions have been answered, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of these sequences. You should apply the above to all of the sequences. So, think 4-6 emails over about two months using behavioural workflows to ensure the emails are relevant to any action or inaction.
1. Welcome/Onboarding Email Sequence
This one is shorter. You want to give them a feel for your personality and be clear about what they can expect from you.
For example, I have a Monthly Marketing Email that I send out and its content revolves around monthly themes e.g. Opt-in Funnels, Email Marketing, SEO for Blogs, etc. My welcome email is sent (after a double opt-in email) that just says ‘hi’ and ‘thanks’ and reminds them what to expect from me each month. I also include a short paragraph about me because it helps to build trust. Just one email. However, if your welcome email is sent after a purchase (or something that doesn’t have emails built-in) then you’ll want to expand your welcome sequence a bit.
2. Nurture Email Sequence
(leads or sales that aren’t sales ready)
This is a long sequence. Sometimes called a ‘drip sequence’, this is used after your lead-in sequence has expired but the prospect has taken no action. It helps keep them ‘warm’ and keeps your emails coming into their inbox so your name stays top-of-mind.
Often, you’ll see blog post emails here but I don’t necessarily recommend that action. You want to make sure your topics target the prospects pain points or objections and brings them closer to the point of purchase. Hyperlinking to a relevant post can work but make sure the email content and subject line get the appropriate amount of effort in their creation.
3. Re-engagement Email Sequence
(stopped opening your emails)
This is a short sequence. If you have a large percentage of unresponsive emails on your list, this is a great sequence to use before you cut them loose from actively sending them emails. Low open rates can hurt your email delivery so it’s important to make sure that whatever number of subscribers you have are active and opening your emails.
In this sequence, you need to be short and to the point. However, you will send follow-ups with similarly reworded messages – but asking for the same action. You want them to take ANY action. So, asking them to click something if they still want to receive your emails is a small enough action that even the laziest of prospects will acquiesce to! (Only slightly kidding.)
A subject line with a pointed question like “Are you still interested in this?” or something to that effect will get their attention. Then follow-up with 1-3 sentences inside asking them to click the link to re-confirm their interest.
Of course, there are other options here like offering a tantalizing freebie or access to something as a VIP. But the first suggestion has a really good success track record.
4. Follow-up Email Sequence
(inaction to a Call-To-Action)
Like the Re-engagement sequence, this one is short (2-3 emails) and encourages a specific action to be taken. Just make sure there’s obvious value-add to the content. It should be gentle, educating, and encouraging with specific points that would overcome objections.
5. Conversion Email Sequence
(want a specific action from existing list e.g. Attend a webinar)
This sequence is worth the effort. It’s 4-6 emails that are planned to help overcome objections and encourage action. Like a Follow-up sequence, but a bit longer, this sequence is used before the expiration of an offer (real or imaginary). These are my favorites to write because they require a bit of research, finesse and tweaking. When done well you will see good conversions (duh)!
An easy way to plan this out is to list out objections in order of popularity then order the emails accordingly. It’s important to make sure you have strong material to help blast their objections and don’t be afraid to use it! You should also blend in testimonials. Maybe not in the first email but definitely in the second.
How do I know my sequences are working?
Each email within each sequence will have an open rate (how many have been opened out of how many you’ve sent). And of course you will also be tracking their actions within the emails as best you can (how many have taken the desired action out of how many opened). Make sure any action you want them to take is tagged and will initiate the stop of that sequence (and probably the beginning of another). Nothing is worse than continuing to receive emails asking for something you’ve already given! UGH.
You should be looking at your conversion rates for opens as well as the desired action. If it’s not converting well then you tweak the language until it’s acceptable. Check to see what your benchmarks are for conversions. If you don’t have your own conversion rates at this point you can find out the industry standards with an online search. Be mindful that industry numbers may be country specific so if you’re in the UK try to find UK benchmarks unless you are targeting prospects in another country. Got it?
The unsubscribe sequence is a great bonus sequence. This isn’t really a sequence of emails but rather is an option within all of your emails and can help you retain more prospects. It’s done by allowing them to be in control of which emails they want to receive. For example, if they opt-in to receive marketing emails and you send a variety of marketing emails e.g. reports, blog posts, event invites, etc. You can break these down into categories and have them unsubscribe to the ones they don’t want. They can also subscribe to the ones they want and expand their interest in your business J
Another option here is to add something fun to the unsubscribe confirmation page. For example, when someone unsubscribes the next screen asks them to confirm their request but also gives them the option to continue to subscribe (or re-subscribe). I’ve seen effective videos used here that add some humour and help re-engage the prospect.
Note that they cannot unsubscribe from transactional emails e.g. purchase related, receipts, etc.
Make sure you have a record of these sequences and their content/flow. This makes it a lot easier to review and know what to update. I use Trello as my Content Keeper and it holds all my content with links, full copy, notes around promotion, and notes around what links to it. All good things to track! You can use anything to do this. I like Trello. 🙂