Do you remember back to the time you registered your first email address (AOL or Hotmail, if you are of, ahem, a certain age)? You’d get an email from that long-lost friend who disappeared off to Australia?
Do you remember how excited you felt to see that name appear in your inbox? Do you remember how you’d sneak a look at that email during your working hours, hoping your boss wouldn’t notice?
But what’s happened since then? Emails have become a burden to many of us. We are bombarded with hundreds of identikit emails every week from businesses, shouting from the rooftops to buy their latest and greatest invention.
What if we could get back to how things used to be? What if our customers could get that same buzz from an email that we used to experience when seeing an email from an old friend?
Well, we’ve put together this definitive guide to help you achieve just that in your lead generation.
In this article, we will take you step-by-step about what email marketing truly means.
We’ll show you how to make email authentic, fun, and engaging, and most importantly, the trick to turning email into a lead-attraction machine.
That way, your lovingly-crafted messages won’t end up suffering the dreaded delete button.
The Rise of the Email Autoresponder
Hugely popular amongst digital marketing experts, email marketing has been one of the most consistently popular methods for growing a business.
As social media platforms fall in and out of favor, email has remained a steady presence in most of our lives. Here’s a brief snapshot of why this is going to continue.
The Email Marketing Statistics You Must Know
If you want to grasp the importance of email marketing, look no further than the most recent business statistics.
Let’s start with a sneak peek at the money side of things. Is email marketing profitable? The answer, according to the statistics, is a firm “yes.”
You might have already heard that for every dollar spent on email marketing, businesses typically get around $42 back. That ROI is impossible to ignore and hard to match elsewhere.
But is email still popular with customers? According to Statista, email usage worldwide grew from 3.9 to 4.3 billion users between 2019 and 2020. Commentators expect that trend to continue.
So, in short, if you want to reach your audience, an email will still be the best method for your business, and (when done right), it will still make you money.
Before You Start: Autoresponder Tools
Let’s take a step back now from the why, and explore the how. Because it’s one thing to know, you need to email your audience.
Still, it’s quite another to know the best way to get it done, especially if you are a relatively new business.
Before you get to grips with any of the tricks of the trade, you need to own the right tools.
Here is a quick introduction to the single most crucial tool you’ll need to master using emails for lead generation: the email autoresponder.
An autoresponder is a nifty piece of software that will allow you to capture the email addresses of your prospective customers and send those leads automated emails or follow-up emails.
Automation is the only sensible, long-term way to approach email marketing.
It means you can email thousands of leads at once. You can send emails according to automated rules, such as sending a welcome email to any new prospect who signs up to your email list.
You’ve probably seen welcome emails before if you’ve ever signed up for a website. An email autoresponder will power those.
Here are some of the most well-known autoresponders on the market:
Top Email Autoresponders
The following isn’t a definitive list. But it will provide a starting point when seeking the right tool:
- Pandarus (full blown CRM)
It’s vital to lay some ground rules before you start your search. Consider setting your maximum budget early. It is tempting to get drawn into purchasing expensive packages when you might not need every feature.
Prioritize the list of features you need for your business and the ones that are only a nice-to-have. That will make it easier to narrow your shortlist.
Digital Marketing and The Trust Challenge
Now you know the whys and hows of email marketing, it’s time to move on to the fine print. That is, how email fits in the context of generating business leads.
And here, we start with a bit of elementary psychology.
Because good marketing is about knowing what thought process is going on in your customer’s mind, and it’s also about learning how to tailor your messages.
As a business owner and a marketer, your job is to entice that prospective customer into your business and everything you have to offer.
What Makes Customers Buy Online?
At the very heart of customer psychology are a couple of very straightforward questions:
What is that special something that makes customers buy from an online business? And why are some online companies so wildly successful at bewitching customers in when others repeatedly struggle?
Perhaps you assume that there is an equally straightforward answer. Surely, most customers simply choose to buy the best product or service?
But in fact, this isn’t the case. Because in the human brain, it isn’t rational thinking that drives decision making, and we don’t make sensible purchases based on what is – objectively – the best product or service.
Instead, our emotional brain governs our decisions, and our purchases are emotionally driven. And one emotion at the center of online behavior is trust. We buy from those we trust.
How to Win Trust with Your Audience
The topic of trust brings us full circle in our exploration of email marketing and writing effective follow-up emails.
Because if a business can communicate to its audience via email, that will either help develop trust (if that business communicates effectively) or destroy it (if that communication goes wrong).
Before you write a single word in a follow-up email, start with one purpose in mind. How can I use this email to build trust with my audience?
By doing that, you’ll avoid your emails becoming a transparent sales tool that irritates customers and causes them to turn away from your messages (or unsubscribe).
To build trust, consider how to build a bridge between you and your audience. And it’s not dissimilar to building a trusted relationship in real life.
It’s about getting to know your customer and them getting to know you. It’s about writing emails in an authentic voice, one that feels like a natural conversation instead of a slick sales tagline.
It’s about sharing content that makes customers feel important; they won’t see the information elsewhere.
And similarly, it’s about sharing offers and promotions that feel so exclusive and special that a customer experiences a sense of gratitude to discover them in their inbox.
Trust is also about honesty. Create a brand and a voice that feels honest in your email communications. By doing that, your audience is more likely to trust you and become your next business lead.
And lastly, trust is about putting your audience first. It’s your first opportunity to show your audience the level of customer service they can expect to receive if they become your next customer.
You have the chance to demonstrate to your email list that your business is a cut above what they might have experienced elsewhere.
How to Generate High-Quality Leads
Of course, it’s not enough to use follow-up emails to bond with your audience. You need to be able to turn that into something tangible.
You need to guide your audience to taking action, taking that next step with you, and stepping up to become a qualified business lead.
That might mean booking a call, booking a face-to-face consultation, or perhaps sharing their phone number. But whatever the method, if you don’t ask people to take that step, they won’t become your next business lead.
Your email marketing needs to be a progressive path for your audience.
As you build trust, you can start getting small commitments from your prospect to help them take that next step. This approach is about your email marketing forming part of your overall business sales funnel.
That sales funnel is simply your end-to-end process of turning a stranger into a paying customer. Email marketing sits in the middle of that process after a stranger has shown some interest, but before they know, like, and trust you.
By writing effective email sequences, you can bridge that gap. You can show the best of what you have to offer and move that prospect closer towards the final point of your funnel: the purchase.
Aligning With Your Business Goals
There is one more step to master before you are ready to start writing effective follow-up emails. And that is your business strategy.
Until you know your high-level end goal, you won’t know which direction you want your customer to head. Your email writing will end up confused and disjointed, without a clear path for your customer.
There is another reason why your business strategy is so critical. It will help you measure how effective your marketing tactics are and whether to continue with the same plan or switch it up to boost your results.
Setting a Goal
Two questions will help you shape your goal. First, what are your high-level business goals for the next twelve months? Second, how will follow-up emails help you achieve that?
What you should ideally end up with is a clear target to aim for in your email marketing. It might be something like this:
Follow-up emails will help us generate one new lead per week over the next twelve months.
Of course, the specifics will depend on your business, but this example should provide a helpful starting point.
You’ll notice that in the example we’ve shown, the goal is both measurable and specific.
By writing out this goal, you can ensure that every email campaign helps you get closer to your target. It’s also a goal you can communicate to the rest of your sales and marketing team.
How to Create Effective Follow-Up Email Campaigns
Let’s move on to the emails themselves and outline a clear plan of attack for writing and sending your follow-up emails. First, we’ll explain what we mean when we refer to follow-up emails.
Email Newsletter Vs. Email Sequences
Traditionally, businesses started using emails to send newsletters to their customers. Some companies still do this, but it’s becoming less popular.
A newsletter would often contain formatting to give it a professional design. It would have numerous bits of information in it.
Business newsletters might include general updates, information about people, website launches, or products.
In other words, newsletters were pretty generic. They were essentially a way to convey information instead of being a marketing tool.
Businesses have steadily replaced the old-fashioned email newsletter with something more sales-focused: the email sequence.
The email sequence is a stream of individual emails. Each email has one single topic and one purpose.
The email is part of a specific schedule, often one a day or once a week. It’s all automated, so the platform sends at a date and time of your choosing.
Sometimes, a group of emails will form part of a broader theme (like the run-up to a Black Friday promotion, for example). Still, sometimes they are standalone (for example, a one-day flash sale).
Unlike newsletters, their purpose is to promote the business’s products and services and get the reader to take action (e.g., making a purchase, booking an appointment).
Sometimes, that purpose will be subtle, the sales message low-key, and the overall theme will be more about showcasing the business brand (a behind-the-scenes email, for example).
Here, the content is more about helping to build trust with the audience. However, the emails still form part of that broader business goal to generate new leads for the business.
This guide explicitly refers to email sequences, not newsletters, when we talk about follow-up emails.
General Tips for Effective Emails
If you want to write effective follow-up emails, there are a few rules to bear in mind.
These rules will help your emails get to the right people. This guidance will help protect your business reputation and avoid your email getting classified by people or email platforms as spam.
Data privacy is a rather hot topic at the moment, and if you’ve followed the business news in the past 12-24 months, you’ll know why.
Big names like Facebook have come under criticism for the amount of data they hold on their users.
Other big household brands have suffered problems with hacking. Customers have found their information appearing on the dark web, with the spam and security issues that follow such a breach.
So data privacy for your customers must be a primary concern. There are two things you want to tell your visitors before they sign up, and you must abide by these two principles.
First, never hold more information than you need. If you don’t need a date of birth, don’t ask for one. If you are simply emailing your leads, don’t ask for a physical address or telephone number. Treat personal data as sacrosanct.
Second, hold that data securely. That means using a good autoresponder that will include data protection to keep your business in line with government regulations, such as a one-click unsubscribe option.
When you put together your email sequence, you’ll need to decide how you want to time your emails. In other words, when the autoresponder sends the emails to your audience.
Email too frequently, and you might find yourself with a high number of unsubscribers.
Email too infrequently, and you will find that your audience forgets about you and your brand and that ultimately hurts your email marketing efforts. So good timing is about creating a balance.
Here are a few suggestions to help you find the perfect timing:
Welcome email: You should always send the welcome email as soon as your new visitor subscribers. And especially if you have offered a gift or lead magnet in exchange for their email.
Welcome sequence: Good welcome sequences are typically 5-10 days long. Aim to send emails daily, but not all of them should be promotional.
Non-promotional sequences: Non-promotional emails will help generate brand awareness, so choose a high frequency. Most businesses opt for once a week or once a fortnight.
Ad-hoc small promotions: Small promotional sequences are most effective as short sequences but with high frequency. For example, two emails per day over three days is a typical schedule.
Scheduled big or flagship promotions: A big flagship promotion needs plenty of build-ups. Start with emails a week apart, and increase the frequency as you get closer to your product or service launch.
Cleaning Your Email List
When growing an extensive list of leads, think quality over quantity. If your list of email subscribers is growing large, but your open rates are dropping, chances are you have some cold subscribers.
Cold subscribers are people who aren’t engaging with any of your emails. The emails you sent are sitting in their inbox, unopened or deleted. They may even drop into the spam folder.
High numbers of cold subscribers will hurt your deliverability rate. So you need to do some regular housekeeping with your email list to keep cold subscribers at a minimum, and there are two ways to do that.
First, try a re-engagement sequence. You send that sequence to those on your cold list to entice the subscriber to start opening your emails again. These emails might say something like: are you still interested in receiving these?
Second, clean your list. Most autoresponders will helpfully filter your list of subscribers. It will show you anyone flagged as “cold,” and you can select those emails and delete them from your list.
You might feel reluctant to do this since you probably worked hard to get those subscribers on your list.
But if those people aren’t interested in your emails, you are far better off removing them. Focus instead on that smaller number of highly engaged email readers.
As you grow your list of email subscribers, you want to ensure that your emails are still getting delivered to your audiences’ inboxes. You don’t want them ending up in their spam folder.
Here are some tips to stop email providers incorrectly flagging your email as “spam”:
- Use a professional autoresponder tool with a solid reputation and ability to maintain high email deliverability
- Clean your list regularly to remove cold subscribers and bounced email addresses
- Ask your audience to safelist your email when they receive the first welcome message
- Make sure you abide by all relevant laws governing email, including the option to unsubscribe and to provide double opt-ins where necessary
- Run your emails through Grammarly, or a similar grammar checker, to ensure they are appropriately written and contain the correct spelling
- Avoid certain subject line keywords that often get flagged as spam, including “free”, “click here”, “please read”, “winner”, “prize”, “dear friend” and “urgent”
Always keep one eye on your open rate to check for potential problems with your email. Even long-established businesses can inadvertently fall into the spam category if they ignore email quality.
It’s now time to examine some of the more practical guidance to help you master the art of good email writing.
Earlier, we touched on the concept of customer psychology and mentioned how customers tend to think emotionally rather than rationally when making purchasing decisions.
You can use this knowledge to shape how you communicate with your customers via email by turning to the age-old concept of storytelling.
Storytelling grabs attention in a way that information sharing does not.
When someone listens to a story, they know that it will take them on an emotional journey, and their minds are open to learning about that journey.
In contrast, reams of information can make people feel disinterested. If sales-focused, it will naturally make them put up their barriers and stop listening.
So think about how to write emails that weave stories in and out of the content. Can you start with a story in your emails? Before naturally linking to an offer or an update about your business?
If you feel stuck for a bit of marketing inspiration, take a look on YouTube at some classic TV advertisements from big brands. Spot how often those advertisements include a story at the heart of the ad.
The ads might feel dated, but the marketing principles are still relevant today.
Borrow that principle and apply it to your emails; your audience will respond better, and you’ll generate more business leads.
You’ll have subscribers who enjoy opening your email and being entertained by a story instead of an aggressive sales message.
Showcasing Your Products and Services
You might be thinking that as good as it might feel to entertain your audience, you still need to use emails to generate business leads.
At some point, you need to tell your audience about your products and services. So how best to do that?
First, avoid turning your email into a sales page.
An email is a personal conversation. So it shouldn’t look like an extensive, shiny list of unique features your customers can expect, however fantastic you think your service is.
Instead, rewrite your service or product from the perspective of what benefits it will offer to your audience.
For example, if you are a dental practice, don’t talk about veneers or whitening; talk about a bright, Hollywood smile transformation.
Another helpful tip is to avoid overwhelming your audience. Each email should have one single topic, so even if you sell multiple products and services, only mention one of these in a single email.
That helps grab your audience’s attention and focus on the benefits of what that product or service will offer to them. In contrast, a list of services will dilute these benefits, leaving your reader feeling confused and disinterested.
Testimonials and Social Proof
As the saying goes, show, don’t tell. And when it comes to promoting via email, there’s no better way to do that than to use testimonials and social proof to tell the world about your latest product or service.
That is a classic marketing technique and still highly effective, especially in the era of social media influencers.
Perhaps you can email your audience with a quote from a recent happy customer.
If you do, you are far more likely to generate new business leads than if you sent that audience a few bullet points about why they should sign with you.
Get in touch with recent clients, explain that you will be running a new marketing campaign, and ask if they would be happy to provide a testimonial.
Ask your clients to respond to specific question prompts. That will often yield a more detailed testimonial than a generic positive comment from a client.
For example, you could ask your existing client: what part of your experience with us most impressed you?
It also helps you ask your client what reservations they had before signing, as these are often the same reservations other customer leads will have.
It will make your testimonials more honest and helpful to potential customers when they see them in a follow-up email from you.
Writing a Powerful Call to Action
Think about how you can turn your product or service’s benefits into your audience wanting to take action and sign with you.
The trick to the perfect product or service promotion is to help your audience take the next step on the journey with you and make that step easy and small.
So if you have a premium-priced service, you’ll put off potential leads by pushing a purchase on them in an email, especially without first warming that audience to the idea of buying.
Instead, think about the next step you can get your lead to take that asks for slightly more commitment without that being too overwhelming.
That is known as micro-commitments in marketing circles. It’s the concept that people are more likely to say yes to something if asked to make a series of small commitments instead of one big commitment.
Try adding that concept into your emails.
Start with a story, move on to talk about your product or service in general terms, perhaps with a few sentences about some of the fantastic benefits, and then push for a small commitment:
- Register your interest in our upcoming offer
- Book a free consultation
- check our calendar for the next available appointment
- Join our Facebook community
- Like our Instagram page
Remember, any type of small commitment will help build that bridge. It might not instantly create a new customer lead for your business, but they’ll be one step closer to becoming your next lead.
It will help you strike that vital balance between building trust with your audience and generating more long-term leads (and revenue) for your business.
Have you ever jumped at a Black Friday deal because you didn’t know if you’d see such a good offer again? That’s the classic sales tactic of urgency in action, and it’s something you can effectively use in your follow-up emails too.
Urgency doesn’t need to feel forced, and it doesn’t need to be a heavy sales tactic.
By simply adding a deadline to an offer, you won’t come across as too pushy, but you will help your audience make that commitment if they are sitting on the fence.
Sometimes people need a deadline to take action when they feel indecisive, and that’s what urgency can offer when you do it well in a marketing email.
Here are some examples of how to add a little urgency into your follow-up emails to your subscribers:
- We have six consultations still available next month, so book yours now!
- This bonus is only available for bookings made before 10 pm tonight
- By ordering now, you can get [the service] up and running before the start of 2022!
- Our new prices are coming into effect next month, so it’s the last chance to order [this service] at this price
- We have an extra slot available next week on a first-come, first-served basis!
Test these out in your emails and watch your email click-through rates. If you use this effectively but sparingly in your emails, they can significantly positively impact your business.
Six Proven Email Content Ideas
Since we’ve looked at some general tips, it’s now time to explore the more practical suggestions for writing marketing emails.
To help you put together your follow-up emails, here are six proven structures that work for any type of professional online business. Use these to start drafting your email templates:
Email Sequence 1: The Perfect Welcome Sequence
The welcome sequence is the classic autoresponder sequence, and it kicks in when someone new signs up to your email list.
It’s the perfect follow-up to send your audience after they’ve discovered you online and sign up to learn more about your business and what you can offer.
A welcome sequence runs between 5-10 days, typically with one email per day. The emails should be a combination of “getting to know you” informal emails and a point towards what products and services you offer.
A top tip to boost engagement in your welcome sequence is to ask your reader a question and invite them to contact you directly with their answer.
Something like: “how can I best help you?” is a great way to build a more personal rapport with your new subscriber.
You’ll notice that your email open rate tends to drop as the sequence continues, with the highest open rate at the start and the lowest open rate for the final welcome email.
Use this information to find a catchy subject heading in your final email that will help boost that open rate.
Any subject that invites curiosity is always a good way to entice your reader to take a look.
Email Sequence 2: The Perfect Post-Pitch Follow-Up
After pitching to a lead, either by phone or in person, you may find that you wonder where to go next and how best to convert that lead into your next paying customer.
That’s where the post-pitch email follow-up comes in.
The post-pitch follow-up helps to move your lead along that sales funnel, so they are close to the end goal of signing up as a customer. Here are some helpful subject ideas to help you get started:
Undecided? Here is what [customer name] had to say: include a client testimonial in the email
Did you want to grab this final space?: if you have limited availability in your calendar, use an email to let the prospect know that there is some urgency to their decision
We’d love to answer your burning questions: refer back to questions the lead asked during the pitch and invite them to ask any other questions they might have
Don’t be afraid to send a sequence of emails after a pitch. People are busy, and you might not be at the top of their agenda for that week, so email is an excellent way to remind your prospect that they need to take that next step.
Email Sequence 3: The Perfect Catch-Up After Silence
You will probably be familiar with a customer lead who shows a lot of interest in your business, only to disappear into radio silence before they’ve made a decision.
When you have these types of leads, a catch-up email sequence is a helpful way to revive interest in your business.
As this lead has stepped back, your job here isn’t to push that person towards a sale. It’s to get them to take an interest in the business. In other words, they are higher up in that sales funnel.
So use these emails to talk more about your brand, perhaps showcasing the benefits of your flagship product. Maybe share a new product or service release you have coming soon in which they might be interested.
Email Sequence 4: The Perfect Brand-Builder
Don’t forget. Your email strategy isn’t simply there to help you generate a sale. It’s also there to grow your brand so that your business is at the forefront of people’s minds, even if they are not quite ready to buy just yet.
Building your brand is about showcasing your business’s personality. That needs to shine through in the tone of voice you use in your email.
Make it human, and write it yourself, even if you have little experience in marketing. Your email, however imperfect, will come across as more authentic and natural, and that will help you build a bond with your audience.
Don’t forget that brand-building emails are also the perfect opportunity to use stories in your marketing copy. Think about a funny or interesting story that you can share.
Maybe it’s a story about how you started your business. You could share something unusual about your first big product launch, or perhaps it is even a story about something that went wrong.
Make it engaging, and you will become a brand that gets noticed.
Email Sequence 5: The Perfect Flash Promotion
Our penultimate email sequence is all about sales emails. The flash promotion is the ideal opportunity to move an undecided customer lead into the paying customer category.
These emails should be short and sweet. They must include a compelling, irresistible offer that you haven’t shared in the past and something the reader won’t be able to find by browsing your website.
Think about the type of offer people want to see in a Black Friday event, and you’ll get the idea.
Don’t overdo these emails. They should be limited in number and infrequent. Otherwise, they will lose their impact.
When writing the copy, stick to your brand voice and don’t take your promotion too seriously. People like to see an uplifting, positive message in their inbox, so make your promotion fun and engaging.
Email Sequence 6: The Perfect Launch Sequence
Finally, let’s talk about the email sequence that every business owner wants to send. And that’s the launch emails for your flagship product that you hope will transform your business fortunes.
While these email campaigns can be highly effective, the trick to getting them perfect is to plan these promotions well ahead of time.
Launch promotions tend to be lengthy, and you want to start with subtle hints to your audience about what is to come.
That will help build a gradual buzz about your product or service so that when your emails become more sales-focused, your audience isn’t surprised or taken aback.
Ensure you include urgency, testimonials, social proof, and invitations to ask questions in your promotional email sequence. These tactics will drive up your conversion rates.
Email for Lead Generation
It’s not enough to send a few emails to your audience and expect your messages to bring a few new leads to your business. Actual lead generation starts with a comprehensive email marketing strategy.
Use our guide as your reference point to create your first professional email campaign and see first-hand the impact it can have on your business.
Don’t forget that we have designed our lead generation services to get you more high-quality leads faster. So before you go, order a free marketing audit from us to help you get your marketing strategy off to that flying start.