4 Hallmarks of a Great Lead Nurturing Email

4 Hallmarks of a Great Lead Nurturing Email

By John McTigueMay 29 /2012

It makes me shudder a bit to use the words "great" and "email" in the same sentence, but every now and then you get an email that catches your attention and prompts you to action. Mission accomplished by the creator of the email. The question is, why was that email so effective and how can you accomplish the same thing in your lead nurturing campaigns?

4 ways to improve your lead nurturing emails

Relevance and Timing

I don't know about you, but my first email filter (other than obvious spam) is relevance. Does the subject and title of the email resonate with me in some way? I'm interested in buying some new golf clubs to add 10-20 yards to my game and shave several strokes off my handicap. If you've been following my online visits, preferred pages, blog comments and questions and social media follows, you should know by now that I'm a golf nut and looking to improve. This is what lead scoring, lead segmentation and event tracking are all about. The minute I trigger a "buy indicator" such as a second visit to your product page or a download of your Golf Club Sizing Chart, you should be sending me an email with your latest offers. What have you accomplished?

  • You have identified me as a targeted lead with a high likelihood of purchase
  • You have correctly diagnosed an immediate intent to purchase
  • You have sent me everything I need to prompt me to immediate action

For B2B sales with bigger price tags and longer sales cycles, timing and relevance are still essential ingredients. Make sure your emails are appropriate for each stage of the buy cycle and provide the right kind of information to help nurture the recipient to the next stage. If I were selling golf course architecture services instead of golf clubs, I would be providing examples of golf courses I have designed, testimonials from professional and amateur players and course owners, and detailed methodology to help prospective buyers.

Quality and Authenticity

Second only to relevance is the quality of your email. A poorly put together email is a huge turn-off and is likely to be discarded without consideration. Your email should be branded with a design that is consistent with your website. If your company and brand aren't easily recognizable at a glance, your chances of being read are slim. Similarly, the return email address should be from your company's email address, preferably a real person to ensure its authenticity. You can further enhance this through personalization, making the salutation and introductory remarks appear to be completely customized.

Your email should get the same care and feeding as the landing page it points to, so work hard on message, layout and professionalism. Keep it short and to the point. Remember that many email recipients use Outlook and automatically block images, so don't go too heavy on the graphics. Make sure that every image has an "alt" tag that accurately describes its content. Use only images that are relevant to the content of the email and convey its primary message. For example, if the email I receive shows an image of the golf clubs I want to buy, a discounted price tag, and an obvious call to action, you have greatly increased your chances of making a sale.

Call to Action

I have taken the time to open your email, so don't waste any more of my time. Tell me what you are offering and why it's important to me. Tell me how to get the offer quickly, easily and safely. Make sure that your CTA is highly visible and compelling. I know that your golf clubs are for sale online. I know that thousands of people buy them, and I know that they will probably take a few strokes off my score. I already did that research. Tell me why I should make my move right now. Remember that people are suspicious of links in emails, so don't use generic link text like "click here now." Instead, use something relevant and timely, like "Purchase Your Golf Clubs Online Now and Get an Additional 20% Off." Now we're talking. If you use an image for your CTA, don't forget to put the offer text in the "alt" tag so that it shows up even if the image is blocked.


Often missed in email engagements is a simple follow-up and thank you for opening an email and especially for responding to it. Your marketing automation system should be able to tell you who opened your email and who clicked through on your call to action. You should set up immediate, personalized lead nurturing emails to thank them and offer them something else that's relevant and valuable. I should be getting something a bit better than a shipping notice when I buy my new clubs. How about a free copy of your "How to Shave 10 Strokes Off Your Average" ebook or a $20 coupon for my next purchase? Simple things can often lead to customer loyalty and increased lifetime value. In a B2B scenario, we're talking about an immediate thank you call, scheduling of training and support and an invitation to something special, like lunch or an upcoming event for new users. In any case, staying in touch is just as important post-sale as it is pre-sale.

Most of us hate receiving spammy emails, so you should go to great lengths to avoid contributing to that flow of garbage. Spend as much time and thought on your emails as you do on your other lead conversion content, and you will reap the benefits of higher conversion rates and improved customer satisfaction.

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Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg

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The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn and Twitter.