Resources Hub » Blog » How to Use Email Marketing for Lead Nurturing

On average, 50% of the leads in any system aren’t ready to buy. But how do you make the most of this information, instead of letting it intimidate and overwhelm you? Email marketing for lead nurturing allows your brand to stay in frequent communication with prospects, keeping you and your products top of mind. That way, when the prospect is ready to buy, they’ll go straight to you.

Email marketing, when done well, is remarkably effective: for every $1 spent, email marketing yields $44 ROI. Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost. Email marketing can not only help you nurture your leads, but it can also help you qualify those leads in the first place.

Then, automation and personalization will allow you to build brand loyalty and increase awareness of your products and/or services, ultimately bringing in as much revenue as you can from subscribers you know are already interested in what you have to offer.

Keep reading to discover the steps you can follow to make email marketing for lead nurturing your secret weapon and ultimately generate more revenue:

1. Qualify leads

The first step to nurturing leads in your system is figuring out where your prospects are in the sales funnel. The right message at the wrong time can be just as disastrous as the wrong message, and sometimes worse than no message at all.

Whenever someone new subscribes to your emails, asking for key information can help you score where they are in the buying process. Especially at the beginning of your relationship with a prospect, it’s important to ask only for the most pertinent information. In fact, Marketing Sherpa found that each additional form field decreases conversion 11%.

For example, if you don’t need to know a prospect’s last name for your email marketing campaign, consider dropping it from your subscribe form and asking for their occupation instead. This can help you better understand who your prospect is and what content they’re most interested in; all it costs you is a bit of information you probably weren’t going to use anyway.

Instead of viewing your opt-in emails and forms as a necessity, think about how you can utilize these for lead qualification. Ask for the information you and your company need to qualify prospects based on:

  • Your lead’s fit
  • Your lead’s interest
  • Your lead’s behavior
  • Your lead’s buying stage

Just remember, your subscribers aren’t willing to give you an endless amount of data up-front. Opt-in forms are most effective when they have only 2-4 form fields. Customers don’t like to give out their personal information unless they know they’re getting something of high value in return. Think reciprocity: what can you give your subscribers in exchange for their information?

In the future, try offering gated content, like a free download, in exchange for more information. Once your subscribers are familiar with your content and recognize its quality, they’ll be more willing to trust you with the information you need in order to receive something helpful in return.

Once you have the information about your prospects, you can move to the next step in email marketing for lead nurturing.

2. Segment leads

Probably the most effective aspect of email marketing is how efficient it is when using email marketing for lead nurturing, made possible by segmentation and automation.

Segmentation allows you to send your prospects exactly what they want without spending hours and hours crafting individual emails for each of your subscribers. Instead, break your prospects into segments and use automation to make the process a breeze.

Segmentation splits your prospects into categories, such as gender, age, or location—whatever works best for your company and industry. But don’t stop segmenting there! Aim for hyper-segmentation. Use the data you’re collecting about your prospects–such as their stated preferences, their past activity, etc.—and aim to create a segment of one.

In this example, Adidas segmented their list by gender in order to ensure their female customers received content that was most relevant to them:

For instance, instead of creating a segment for female users between the ages of 20-30, you can target female customers, age 25-30, living in Nashville, who bought one of your products. Or you can target male millennials who work in tech. You can even develop segments based on where they are in the sales process.

When it comes to segments, you can get as specific as you want and create whatever segments make the most sense for your industry and products. It’s easy to see how marketing to these individual groups will help you know for sure what content they want and what services or products they need and then deliver exactly that.

The idea is to get as personal as possible with your prospects in order to deliver exactly what they want and nothing else. The better content you deliver, the more likely your customer is to come back for me, which in turn gives you more information and allows you to segment even better, and the cycle continues.

In this example, the company Flight Centre sent this email to their customers who expressed interest in cruises:


We live and work in the age of data, and your customers know it as well as you do. They know you’re gathering data and expect you to use it to their advantage.

Sending the right content to the right prospects not only builds trust and associates your brand with value, it also improves your deliverability which will give you better inbox placement, all proven ways to see better results from your email campaign.

Today, the concept of spam has evolved to include not only Nigerian princes, but also to refer to any unsolicited or irrelevant email. Segmentation is a simple idea that generates big revenue for brands.

3. Automate your campaigns

Once you’ve qualified your subscribers and placed them into relevant segments, take advantage of automation to make the most of email marketing for your lead nurturing. Automating your email campaigns ensures you never miss an opportunity to reach out to a prospect and thus never miss a conversion.

If you’re offering a discount for a certain holiday, consider scheduling your emails in advance to ensure your prospect sees your email at the opportune time:


But automation means more for your email campaigns than merely letting you “set it and forget it.”

Marketing automation also allows you to track customer behavior, letting you see which of your prospects opened your email, who followed links to your website and how they behaved once they got there. Did you convert your prospect into a customer? No more guesses or assumptions about how email click-throughs translated into revenue; now you know. All this information enables you to improve your content and increase your revenue.

In addition to saving you time and delivering results, automation also lets you send your emails at the time and the day customers are most likely to respond. Studies show that the time you send your emails has an effect on opens, click-throughs, and, yes, even revenue.

Even if you live in a different timezone as your customers, they’ll still receive your emails at a good time for them, ensuring your emails won’t get buried at the bottom of their inbox. Scheduling your emails regularly also improves deliverability, meaning you’ll get better inbox placement and fewer spam filters targeting your emails incorrectly.

Not even a well-designed, targeted email like this one will get much action if it’s buried at the bottom of your subscriber’s inbox:

4. Personalize email campaigns

The genius of segmentation and automation lies with your ability to deliver content that’s tailored to your individual prospects. The good news is personalization doesn’t have to take hours of man time. Instead, take your personalization to the next level with dynamic content that’s simple to create.

Dynamic content allows you to create one email and customize various pieces of it based on whoever is receiving the email. For instance, when creating an email for your travel company, keep all the copy the same, but change the banner image depending on the location of your subscribers.

Tempt subscribers living in colder climates with images of beaches and warm weather, while your clientele living in the heat sees pictures of mountains and snow. Dynamic content puts all your data, segmentation, and automation to work.

The main image in this email from Fiji Airways showcases deals from prospects’ home airport:


This assumes you know what works for each of your segments. One easy way to test your content is to use A/B testing to see what type of content delivers the best results. A/B testing is simple: design an email, then change one small feature (like the subject line) before sending these two emails out to a small list of subscribers you already know are engaged with your brand.

Once you see which email performs best, you can send that option out to the bulk of your subscribers, ensuring you reap the best results possible from your current email marketing campaign.

Dynamic content is also the perfect opportunity to make recommendations based on past behavior. Did you know only 39% of online retailers send personalized product recommendations via email? Dynamic content provides a clear way for you to stand out from other companies and impress your leads.

If you know one segment responds more strongly to images than blog posts, you can shift your dynamic content to include more pictures than text. Or if one segment buys mostly shoes, your new arrivals email can feature your newest sneakers, content you know they will respond to.

An email like this one utilizes the data most companies already collect by featuring similar products, products your prospects are most likely to be interested in:


Personalization goes beyond including a subscriber’s name. Don’t just tell prospects you’re listening to them, prove it. You’ll see far better results when you do.

5. Customize nurture journeys

To make the most of email marketing to nurture your leads, set up automated customer journeys. To do this, you will define triggers that, when performed by your prospects, will automatically send an email or a series of emails based on a prospect’s actions or behaviors.

This means you can design an email campaign one time and, with relevant triggers, all of your prospects get personalized emails based on where they are in the sales process without you so much as lifting a finger. After the initial design, of course.

Customer journeys offer a great way to build brand loyalty without requiring any extra work on your part. For instance, you can offer a special download or discount once customers reach a certain threshold of activity or spend a certain amount of money.

Who wouldn’t want to win a trip to Paris with a friend? An offer like this one from Sephora is a great way to reward your VIP customers:


Customer actions can be triggers, such as signing up for your newsletter, but other types of triggers exist as well, like dates and time. For example, you can automatically send an email one week after a customer makes a purchase from your site to request feedback or a review.

Impress your prospects by designing a customer journey that goes above and beyond the care and service they’re used to receiving. According to ThinkJar, 55% of customers say they’d pay more for a guaranteed good experience.

Your business and your industry will define what your customer journeys ought to be, but here are a few examples:

  • Order follow-up
  • Abandoned cart emails
  • Feedback/surveys/suggestions
  • Thank you
  • Re-engagement

All of these journeys begin with automation and end with your prospect completing the desired action, whether that’s making a purchase or simply re-engaging with your content. There’s a reason customers spend 138% more when they purchase through email than those who don’t subscribe to your email list.

Automating these customer journeys allows you to build a consistent narrative throughout an entire series and also across your email campaigns, building brand recognition and loyalty.

Brooklinen sends an email to their customers featuring products they viewed but didn’t buy. They even include a special offer to entice their prospects into making a purchase:

6. Add a compelling CTA

However you design your next email marketing campaign, be sure your emails end with a clear Call To Action (CTA) in order to convert your leads. After you’ve nurtured your leads and assisted them through the sales funnel, you want to end on a CTA that tells your customer what you want them to do and removes any confusion or need for clarification.

The CTA in this email from Stumptown Coffee is impossible to miss:


Being direct also helps you judge how well your email marketing campaign performs. Are you converting your prospects? Are you leading them to the next stage in the buying process? Are they opening your emails only to delete them? A specific CTA with an associated metric simplifies assessing how effective your email marketing campaign has been and how well you’ve converted.

Utilize this data and you’ll be able to build better campaigns as you continue to learn what works for your audience and evolve your marketing strategies to better deliver.

In general, CTA buttons out-perform text links, often because so many people scan emails instead of reading them. CTA buttons stand out  Additionally, you don’t want to include too many CTAs and confuse your prospects. Studies show that having too many CTAs can actually decrease engagement.

Remember, the function of a CTA is to make it as easy as possible for your subscriber to perform whatever action you’re promoting. After you’ve gone to the trouble of splitting your leads into segments and nurturing them, you want to make converting simple and attractive. You don’t want to qualify and nurture your leads only to lose them on the last step.

The CTAs in this email from the Goorin Brothers are bold and clear. If you aren’t ready to buy, keep reading. If you are ready, skip ahead to the finish line:


Whether you want your audience to purchase an item or share an email with a friend, a clear and direct CTA will improve your results in your current campaign as well as in the future, driving better engagement and generating more revenue.

Wrap up

Smarter, more effective lead nurturing ensures you are converting as many new leads into customers as possible, bringing in the maximum amount of revenue for your company. After all, a study performed by the Annuitas Group shows that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

The same study by the Annuitas Group also reveals that nurture emails have double the open rates of one-off emails.  Your customers want to get to know you before they commit to buying, but once they do, they’re willing to spend far more money. Utilize email marketing for your lead nurturing and you’ll not only convert more leads, but you’ll also see bigger purchases when they do.

In order to make the most out of email marketing for lead nurturing, be sure you:

  1. Qualify leads
  2. Break them into smaller segments
  3. Automate your delivery
  4. Personalize your content
  5. Deliver consistent customer journeys
  6. Provide a clear CTA

By following these steps, you’ll tap into one of your greatest resources, building brand loyalty and awareness and generating more revenue for your company.

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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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