Whether you’re a total newbie who only has a vague idea what a nurture sequence is, or an established pro who has been using sales funnels for years, creating the perfect nurture sequence is of paramount importance to your marketing efforts.
Let’s get a bit of a definition up before we go any further…
A nurture sequence (also called a sales funnel or follow-up sequence) is an automated series of emails sent to every new lead signing up to your mailing list. You can also set up sequences for existing subscribers and clients, in order to drive them to take specific actions.
A nurture sequence is designed to nourish and grow the fledgling relationship between you and your new contact, educating them on your products and services, demonstrating your expertise, and ultimately converting them from lead to paying client.
If that sounds like a big job for a few emails, it is.
Creating an effective nurture sequence requires a plan that is clear, and geared towards achieving your desired outcomes as efficiently as possible. But for a lot of us, this isn’t quite what happens…
The Problem With Creating Sales Funnels
Unfortunately, nurture sequences aren’t fun to make. They’re confusing, and seem to have an alarming number of components. You’re not quite sure how it all fits together or exactly what you’re meant to include in each bit. It can be intimidating, overwhelming, or simply tedious trying to tackle it all.
As a result, new entrepreneurs tend to put off creating nurture sequences. They’re one of those things that drive a lot of us crazy. We resolve to deal with it later, or outsource it to someone who knows what they’re doing when we can afford it.
The trouble is, without your nurture sequence in place, it’s going to be a long time before you can afford it.
Those of us who do manage to put one together rarely achieve the level of order and clarity needed. Sales funnels are often cobbled together using existing content, and shored up over time by adding a piece here and there.
They can lack cohesion and an overarching strategy as a result.
If you’re new to nurture sequences you want to make sure your sales funnel is finely tuned from the start.
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Running a business is a lot like juggling a dozen or more flaming swords; you have to keep them all in the air and moving quickly, or you’ll get badly burned. If you have an existing sequence, it’s likely time you took another look at it.
It’s probably a while since you updated it. You’ve little or no idea which elements are performing well, and which are dragging the rest down.
Whatever your situation, if you’re totally honest, the thought of dealing with it (or dealing with it again) really doesn’t appeal.
So whether you’re starting from scratch or revamping an existing sales funnel, the question remains the same: how do you create the perfect nurture sequence, without totally losing your mind?
Creating The Perfect Nurture Sequence
Your nurture sequence is invaluable to your business. Once it’s up and running, it will automatically care for everyone interested in you and your business, growing those relationships, driving conversions, boosting client satisfaction, and saving you a whole mess of time.
So it’s well worth investing time at the outset to get it spot on.
The good news is, time does not have to mean effort, stress, or overwhelm. I’ve created an easily followed, ten-step process to guide you through the creation of the perfect nurture sequence for your business.
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Step 1: Start Fresh
If you’ve yet to create a nurture sequence, this is already a fresh start for you. But if you have any existing sales funnels, either in operation or percolating in your mind, set them aside and start from scratch.
That may seem counter intuitive if you’ve already worked on, or created elements of, your sequence. But starting from scratch will give you a completely new perspective.
Step 2: Define And Segment Your Audience
To make your nurture sequence as successful as possible, you need to tailor it to your ideal client. Provided your lead generation process is targeted at the right people, the majority of those on your list will be your ideal clients. It’s important to create a series that will speak directly to them, and specifically addresses their needs and desires.
Even if you’ve effectively made sure your list is comprised of ideal clients, the odds are you have segments within your tribe.
You may have more than one product or service, and the specific problem each solves is a little (or very!) different.
Or it could be you cater to people at different levels. For example, you might have a budget, regular, and premium version for people in different income brackets. And you could have a beginner, intermediate, and advanced option for different levels of skill.
Your email list should be segmented, with one segment for each specific type of ideal client. This will allow you to create slightly different versions of your nurture sequence depending on the product, service, or level of product/service required.
Knowing your ideal client is vital, but drilling down even further and segmenting your list before you begin will allow you to be super-specific in your objectives and content.
Step 3: Get Crystal Clear On Your Objective
Over the course of your nurture sequence you may accomplish several things, but each individual sales funnel needs to have a single objective; one action you drive all prospects on that sequence to take.
You may want them to purchase a specific product or service for the first time. That’s one nurture sequence.
Different products and services will require slightly tweaked versions of your sales funnel, so don’t try to create one sequence that sells everything.
You’ll end up selling nothing!
Once your leads are clients, you may want to turn them into repeat business, to upsell them from one level to the next, have them fill in a survey, or leave a review. That requires a second sequence.
Don’t try to achieve more than one objective with a single sequence.
Get crystal clear on your main goal in creating your sales funnel and, if you find you have more than one, create multiple sequences.
Don’t get bogged down or overwhelmed. Tackle one at a time.
It’s a good idea to create two nurture sequences, one for leads, and one for existing clients. Write a brief one-sentence statement for each that clearly summarises exactly what the objective is.
For example: ‘My lead sequence will nurture prospects and lead them to sign up for XXX product/service.’
Step 4: Plan The Journey
The brief statement you created for your new nurture sequence tells you the destination, but it’s important to plan any stops you want your list to make along the way.
The interaction between you and your list over the course of your sequence can have a lot of great benefits. These aren’t your main objective, but build to your core goal. They can also be very beneficial alone.
For example, here are a few common pit stops you might want people to make:
- Build a community
- Build the Know, Like and Trust factor
- Create affiliates
- Drive repeat traffic to your site
- Establish yourself as the go-to expert in your niche
- Grow your social media following
- Identify hot leads
- Increase client retention
- Increase engagement
- Reduce refund requests
Don’t worry about how you’ll do any of this at this stage. Instead, consider all the things your sequence could potentially do for your business and make a wish list of things you would like to come out of your sequence as people move through it.
Step 5: A Method For Every Goal
Now you have your list of goals it’s time to figure out what content will best accomplish each. For example, if you are looking to establish yourself as the expert in your niche, emails rich with your best tips and advice will do this.
If you’re looking to direct traffic to your website, your emails need to entice people to click through to content on the site.
Building the know, like and trust factor is best done by sharing something of yourself. Your emails should tell personal stories that directly relate your own experiences to your ideal clients’ pain points.
Those same stories should then show how you overcame the problem(s) and how you can do the same for your prospects.
Go through your list of goals systematically and consider what content will best achieve your each. Don’t focus on content you already have, simply brainstorm the content you would use in an ideal world. If you already have it, great, if not you can create it.
Step 6: Value Before Sales Pitch
You’ve already given your leads something of value to convert them to subscribers. It can be tempting to ply them with a sales pitch immediately. You have ‘earnt’ it, after all, by providing them with something they needed or wanted.
But if you jump right in with a pitch, you will frighten them off.
Deliver on your original promise; whatever content upgrade or lead magnet enticed them onto your list, ensure they receive it in full.
Your nurture sequence does not begin until after they have received their gift. Once it does begin, you want to provide even more value.
Your leads are expecting what you promised them. They’ve already ‘paid’ for that by handing over their email.
Getting asked for more immediately after signup is a lot like discovering hidden fees in a product or service you’ve bought. You paid the asking price, you got what you asked for, but now you’ve been hit by a bill for more than you anticipated.
Everyone hates hidden costs!
Instead of hitting your leads up for further payment, give them more than they bargained for in a positive way.
Offer even more value.
Step 7: Map Your Nurture Sequence
Before you put pen to paper and start crafting your emails and the accompanying content, you need to map out your sequence.
What’s the most logical order to put things in?
What do your clients need to know, feel, and think before they can make that crucial leap and take the action you’re ultimately driving them towards?
For example, it’s often a good idea to build the know, like and trust factor before you try to establish your expertise in detail. The stories you use to increase the KLT factor will begin the process, naturally leading into the delivery of more information.
But people will be more receptive to accepting your expertise if they know a little about you, have come to like you, and trust your sincerity. For that reason, building the KLT factor should come before an attempt to demonstrate your expertise or the value of your product/service.
Effective nurture sequences are usually complex – that’s why we avoid them so much! If you reach this stage and find you can very simply map out your sequence, you’ve likely not been ambitious enough in your goals, or considered all the elements that have to come together before your leads take that vital action.
Step 8: Plan Your Strategy
Now you know exactly what you want to achieve, and how you will achieve each element, make an exhaustive list of everything that needs doing in order to complete your sequence. It should include:
- The emails you need to write
- Any additional value-items you will be providing your list (i.e. an exclusive video or training session, a downloadable workbook, membership of a group, access to a webinar, etc.)
- The content that needs creating or re-working to go with those emails (don’t forget everything will need writing and designing)
- The technical requirements of your sales funnel
This part can easily become overwhelming, so take a deep breath. You don’t have to do it all at once, and you don’t have to do it all yourself.
If you hate writing or aren’t confident in your abilities, outsource the writing to a copywriter once you have a clear understanding of exactly what’s needed.
And if you find the technical aspects of setting up a sales funnel frustrating or tedious, hire technical support to handle it for you, once all the content has been created.
Use a task manager like Asana to break the whole thing down into tasks and assign each to a member of your team.
Step 9: Write Your Nurture Sequence
This is often the hardest step for people to complete. You can absolutely outsource it, but if you prefer to write all your own content, or don’t currently have the budget for a copywriter, you can write your own emails.
There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for this, as every business is so different, but there are certain core things each of your emails needs to achieve. There are also particular ways that are best suited to achieving your goals and core objective.
Aim for five emails in your sequence, each with it’s own function:
Email 1 should provide extra value to your readers.
Email 2 should provide social proof of the effectiveness of the product or service you will ultimately be pitching.
Email 3 should illustrate the payoff your clients will receive it they take the action you’re driving them towards.
Email 4 should instill a little fear in your reader – the fear of what will happen if they don’t solve their problem, and the fear that your solution won’t be available forever, so they should jump on it while they have the chance.
Email 5 should deliver the pitch, which should feel like the completely natural action to take in light of everything your reader has learned over the course of your nurture sequence.
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Step 10: Mind Your Metrics
Implementing your new nurture sequence will take some time, especially if you’re doing everything yourself. Use that time to consider exactly how you will measure its success.
It’s important to have quantifiable ways of determining how well your sales funnel is converting. You will also want to keep track of how well each separate component of the funnel is working. This will enable you to tweak it until it is working perfectly.
Identify the core metrics you will use as a measurement of your sequences’ performance. For example, you might use any (or all!) of the following:
- Open rates
- Link clicks
- Unsubscribe rates
- Website traffic driven by emails
- Referrals driven by emails
- Average time to taking action
- Average lead scores
Make sure you have a simple platform for collecting, measuring and analysing data. Google Analytics is usually the best option, particularly because it integrates with most software.
Take a little extra time to set up split tests of different aspects of your nurture sequence. Try various subject titles, send times, images, and emails with no fancy formatting (headers, footers, etc.) and highly designed formats.
Email nurture sequences don’t have to be terrifying, stressful, or overwhelming.
I’ve put a workbook together to help you totally nail your nurture sequences, and bid goodbye to all that stress and worry. It includes 5 email templates to construct your first nurture sequence.