Growing your email marketing list is a huge goal… even an obsession for many wellpreneurs, and for very good reason – your mailing list is arguably the MOST POWERFUL asset you can develop for your business.
Once you’ve got readers on your list, how exactly do you convert them into paying clients?
Without the conversion, all the effort of creating amazing content and giving away great stuff to your audience to entice them to sign-up, will never actually pay off. At least, not in a literal sense.
And that sucks!
Yes, your growing list will allow you to create a community, position yourself as a leader in your niche, and attract a loyal tribe, but unless you’re running a non-profit you need to ensure you are getting monetary value from your tribe in exchange for the value you are providing them.
And, in fact, even if you are running a non-profit there are still expenses to cover, so creating a regular income from your mailing is paramount.
It can feel a bit nasty though, can’t it?
Start to talk about turning a healthy profit and suddenly it’s like all our talk of authenticity and serving others is a load of BS and we’re really just in it for the money.
But this is the beauty of a content marketing strategy – it doesn’t need to be ‘salesy’ or hard-sell at all! It’s all about value: the value you bring your tribe, and the value they return to you in order to benefit even more from your wisdom.
It’s not about convincing them to buy from you on your blog.
Not at all.
Effective content marketing is about nurturing the relationship that starts on your blog by continuing to stay in touch and offer consistent value, until you reach the point your readers naturally want to buy from you, not because you’ve pushed them, but because they love your stuff so much they can’t wait to get their hands on more.
You do this by leveraging all that amazing talent for content creation (whether it’s your own or someone you outsource your content to) and actively putting it to good use on your list in the form of a nurture sequence.
A what now?
What Is A Nurture Sequence?
You may be more familiar with it being called a ‘sales funnel’ or even ‘follow-up sequence’, but I much prefer ‘nurture sequence’ because it encapsulates the truest intent behind it: to nurture the budding relationship between you and your readers.
Simply put, a nurture sequence is nothing more than a series of automated emails that are received by every reader who subscribes to your email list. You can create one and use it for all subscribers, or you can create different versions, depending on how or why people signup to your list.
The power of your email list comes from your ability to make direct contact with people who have already expressed an interest in your business, products and services. While a regular newsletter can do this to some extent, it is your nurture sequence that will do the real heavy lifting where conversions are concerned.
Why We Struggle With Nurture Sequences
Despite the huge benefits of a nurture sequence a lot of people really struggle with them. They take time to create, can be confusing, and seem to involve a lot of moving parts. Writing one is a really daunting prospect, partly because there’s so much to do, and partly because you’re not quite sure how all those parts fit together.
Fear kicks in and suddenly there’s a natural impulse to avoid doing them altogether, or put them off until you can pay someone else to handle it for you. That leads to a terrible Catch 22, because your business is unlikely to grow to the point where you can afford to pay a professional to create a genius nurture sequence, without a nurture sequence.
Which means at the start, the majority of us need to DIY our own nurture sequences effectively, efficiently, and with the least amount of stress possible.
If you’re not careful the thought of your nurture sequence can quickly become overwhelming, leading you to avoiding setting one up completely, rushing to get it done so it’s over with, or having a genuinely good stab at it but not quite getting it right.
How To Easily Convert Readers With A Nurture Sequence
Given how much potential your nurture sequence has. It’s well worth investing a good chunk of time in creating it. That being said, you don’t want to spend endless hours on it, so follow these simple steps to make sure you don’t miss a trick, but get it all done and dusted as soon as possible,
Step 1: A Fresh Start
If you have an existing email list and you’ve already tried your hand at marketing to it, you may well already have an auto-responder sequence in place, or at least the beginnings of one. Rather than trying to tweak what’s already there, I suggest to start afresh. If you’ve yet to create a nurture sequence, this is already a fresh start for you.
That might feel counterintuitive, like you’re needlessly spending time doing something you’ve already done, but a fresh start will give you a totally new perspective, and allow you to build a truly solid framework designed to meet your current business goals as effectively as possible.
Step 2: Define Your Audience And Segment
If you’re already growing your list effectively you will have spent some time figuring out who your ideal client is, what kind of content they’re most interested in, and created some enticing lead magnets and content upgrades to get them on your list.
This is a REALLY important aspect of effectively nurturing your leads, so if you haven’t done it already (or you’re not 100% certain you got it right), take a little time now to make sure the people on your list are actually the clients you want to work with, and that you understand what they genuinely want and need from you.
Step 3: The Utter Importance Of A Single Objective
As a whole, your nurture sequence will accomplish several things for you business, all of them invaluable. However, it’s a really good idea to have a single objective in mind when you’re designing it. For example, if you have a specific product or service you want people to buy, your objective is selling that one thing.
You may have other offers, but trying to sell everything will end up selling nothing, so choose a single action you will drive your prospects to take throughout your sequence.
If you’re finding it impossible to choose between objectives, either because you have multiple offers you want to promote, or you want to sell different things to existing clients, you will need more than one nurture sequence.
One sequence for every objective. Yes, yes, I know, it’s a lot of work, but trust me on this one. It really works.
And you do not need to do them all at once! Once you have one done you will find it is easily adapted to fit your other objectives by tweaking some of the content you send out.
Focus on one sequence at a time, or chances are you’ll feel overwhelmed and never get anything finished.
Step 4: Plan Your Client Journey
The conversion process that takes people from reader to paying customer is a journey. And like any journey, it’s important to know the route you’re going to take before you set off. The objective you set for your nurture sequence is the destination, but you also need to be aware of the stops you’re going to make along the way.
There are loads of great benefits to the interactions that take place between you and your subscribers through the course of your nurture sequence. So while you have a core objective, which on its own is great, you can work in little ‘pit stops’ along the way that add additional goals to your sequence.
Your core objective is selling something. It doesn’t matter what it is or how much it costs, that’s the ultimate goal. But there’s no reason you can’t achieve a few other things along the way, such as:
Ask people to follow you on social media
Ask people to join your Facebook Group (if you have one)
Ask people to share the email with their friends
Create affiliates to help promote your business
Drive repeat website traffic to your blog
And don’t forget, that all the while you’ll also be:
Building trust and allowing your subscribers to get to know you better
Establishing yourself as a thought-leader and go-to expert in your niche
Increasing your list retention
Growing your engagement
Don’t start worrying about how you will achieve any of this with a few emails. Instead identify any extra bonus goals you’d like your nurture sequence to hit and make a note of them.
Think of this as a wish list – if you get everything on it, great. If you don’t, it’s not the end of the world because these things aren’t your focus, they’re just happy bonuses.
Step 5: Align Your Goals With The Right Method
Take a look at your core objective and the wish list of goals you created. It’s time to figure out exactly how you’re going to achieve each.
For example, if you want to position yourself as a thought-leader in your niche, including all your best (and most original!) advice, tips, and methods is a great way to achieve this. Driving traffic can be accomplished by providing lots of great incentives to click away from the email and visit your site. Social links will encourage growth in your social following, and providing testimonials and case studies will build faith in your abilities. Sharing stories of your successes and failures, as well as your business journey is a great way to build trust and help people get to know you, your values, personality, and what they can expect from your business.
Look at everything on your list and try to think of content that will help you achieve the goal. If you don’t have existing content that will do the job, you will need to create some new stuff, specifically designed for the purpose.
Step 6: Value First, Sell Later
The most important thing to remember when crafting a nurture sequence is that your readers come first.
It’s not about you, and what you want. Not really. It’s about them and what they need.
Provide them with what they need, give them real value, solve their problems for them, and they will happily buy from you. Try to sell to them before you’ve created that bond of trust and truly helped them, and you risk alienating them.
For that reason you need to deliver value first, and worry about selling later.
When your readers subscribed to your list they did so in exchange for something of value to them – a lead magnet, content upgrade, or freebie. They were curious about what you could offer them.
Your nurture sequence needs to show them that you are indeed as awesome as you claim to be! Reward your reader for joining your list and prove to them that you are,- beyond a shadow of a doubt the BEST person to help them learn, do or achieve their own business goals.
Delivering value is great, but if you want your nurture sequence to be SUPER effective you’re going to have to deliver a lot more value than your reader expects. In fact, they should be totally blown away! They’ve already ‘paid’ for it, as it were, by signing up. What you need to do now is send them more, on top of that. Unexpected value that goes above and beyond what they thought they were getting.
Remember, if you hit them with a sales pitch right away it will feel like a hidden ‘cost’ of signing up.
They agreed to give you their email address.They didn’t agree to buy anything from you, so avoid being pushy. Hold off on the sales pitch (for now), focus on sending some really high-value emails before you even think of pitching a product or service.
Step 7: Map Out Your Email Sequence
All successful journeys need a map. You know your objective and the goals you want to achieve along the way. You’ve figured out the best content to achieve each, and you know you need to deliver as much value as possible first.
So what’s the logical order to put it all in?
If you’re struggling to figure it out try looking at it from your readers’ perspective. What do your clients need to know, feel, and think before they become ready to make the jump and buy from you?
For example, it’s unlikely your readers will buy from you if they don’t feel they know you, trust you, and like you. You’ll often hear ‘build the know, like, trust factor’ thrown around in marketing circles for this very reason. So the very first thing you should aim to do in your nurture sequence is help your readers get to know you, show them that you’re likeable, and demonstrate that you’re trustworthy.
It’s also important to demonstrate your expertise, and the value of what you’re offering, but doing both of these once people already know, like, and trust you will be far more effective. Likewise, demonstrating your product or service’s value is edging closer to sales territory, so you either want to leave this til last, right before you pitch, or (ideally) find ways of subtly working it in throughout.
Step 8: Planning and Writing Your Nurture Sequence
Once you reach this stage you should have a clear idea of exactly what you want to achieve, how you plan to achieve it, and the best order to lay everything out in.
Phew! We’re nearly there! Take a really deep breath, then another, because this next part is where most people tend to get derailed.
Have another look at all of that and make a thorough list of everything you’re going to need to do to create your nurture sequence. Make sure you to include:
Every email that needs writing
Any extra materials you will be sending to your list to add more value (i.e. a downloadable workbook, an exclusive video or training session, access to a webinar, membership of a group, etc.)
All content you’ll need to create or re-work to go with your emails (i.e. blog posts, videos, podcasts etc. to link out to from your email)
Any testimonials you need to collect to provide social proof
Any case studies you need to create based on your success stories
The technical requirements of your nurture sequence
Anything that requires a design element as well as simply writing
Before this big long list of tasks starts to overwhelm you, just remember:
You don’t have to do everything in one go!
You don’t have to do everything yourself!
While I have every confidence you can do every single thing on your list without help, that doesn’t mean you should be doing everything. If you seriously hate writing, or feel your writing skills aren’t up to the task, hire a copywriter. If you’re fine writing and creating but can’t deal with the technical side of things, get someone to hook everything up for you.
Use a task manager like Asana to break down your whole nurture sequence according to the tasks that need completing and who will be doing each.
Now you’re ready to start writing. This is the part it’s all been building to and it’s generally the part people dread the most. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all formula to use here because every business is different, and every entrepreneur’s content and personality are unique. Write the content that fits with your business and your personality.