Sometimes it feels like every email you get is either spam or a rushed, badly put together offer sent to a million people in the hopes a few of them will take it. It seems like nobody cares to put in the effort anymore.

Old-school sales tactics had something that many people consider is lacking in today’s digital marketing – the heart. Email marketing campaigns should reflect that they were made by humans with a clear intent and purpose, not by a cold, calculating machine. Back then, it was all about establishing a connection with the prospective client – a person would come to your living room or invite you to their nice, welcoming office, and you would talk for quite a while before closing a deal.

well-thought-out email sequence (sometimes referred to as a “drip campaign”) is the modern-day equivalent of that nice chat that establishes a connection with the prospect and primes them to make a purchase. It is far from “the next best thing” compared to in-person sales meetings, though. It is a total upgrade since taking advantage of current technology means having that convincing talk with hundreds of thousands of people at the same time, regardless of time zone or location. Even Facebook’s user count pales in comparison to how many people use email, making it the number one platform in terms of potential reach. It’s not surprising then that, according to a study done by the DMA (Data & Marketing Association), email gives on average a $38 return on investment for every $1 spent

You must be getting tons of emails in your inbox, most of it advertising materials, telling you about a price drop, a new product or service you should buy or reminding you of an unfinished purchase you meant to make, but most likely only a fraction of them result in you getting your credit card out and committing to a purchase. What is that X factor, the thing that makes you resonate with an email and respond positively to a call to action (CTA)? We cannot talk about one single thing that will determine your success, but rather a checklist of best practices to ensure your email sequences drastically increase trust, engagement and, of course, profits. Let’s jump straight into it! 

How To Build A Profitable Email Sequence

Know Your Audience – Segment Your List – Personalize 

The more data you have on your potential and past customers, the more accurately you can deduce which design choices and tactics they would respond best to in a given email sequence. The way to gather this information ethically and sustainably is through first-party cookies on your website (we talk more about why that is necessary in our current times right here). Another way is to design a questionnaire and incentivize people to fill it out by offering a reward upon completion (a free PDF, a coupon code, access to a member’s area etc.). 

Now you can use that information to personalize your messages and give the readers a sense of familiarity and dispel the misconception that they are just a statistic, part of a faceless, nameless crowd of consumers for you to market to. You are there to offer a solution to a problem they have, so take the extra time to make your genuine intention come across in your written words.

The people in your email list have already shown an interest in your product and a willingness to learn more about it. You are not starting from scratch when trying to create a rapport with these people. At the very least, they are already aware of your brand, so it would be counterproductive to squander that goodwill with bland, generic messaging targeting everyone and no one in particular. 

The more data you have on your potential and past customers, the more accurately you can deduce which design choices and tactics they would respond best to in a given email sequence. The way to gather this information ethically and sustainably is through the use of first-party cookies on your website (we talk more about why that is necessary in our current times right here). Another way is to design a questionnaire and incentivize people to fill it out by offering a reward upon completion (a free PDF, a coupon code, access to a member’s area etc.). 

Now you can use that information to personalize your messages and give the readers a sense of familiarity and dispel the misconception that they are just a statistic, part of a faceless, nameless crowd of consumers for you to market to. You are there to offer a solution to a problem they have, so take the extra time to make your genuine intention come across in your written words.

The people in your email list have already shown an interest in your product and a willingness to learn more about it. You are not starting from scratch when trying to create a rapport with them. At the very least, they are already aware of your brand, so it would be counterproductive to squander that goodwill with bland, generic messaging targeting everyone and no one in particular. 

There is only so much difference a few bits of personal information sprinkled throughout will make, though. If you send the same message to everybody on your list, it will 100% not resonate with them all. They all have different needs and interact with your products differently; some are past customers while others have yet to come aboard. Some are looking for a deal; others wish to keep up with your company’s activity. To make the best out of this situation, group people by their main interest and have a range of email sequences set up to cater to these segments of your list. Segmented emails have been proven to have a 14% higher open rate than their non-segmented counterparts, so think of a few core groups you could arrange all those email addresses into and what they would all enjoy getting in their inbox!

Plan – Test – Improve 

When crafting the email series, have a clear goal in mind of what you want to achieve with it. It can be a welcome sequence, onboarding sequence, an autoresponder series, etc., but you should lock in the type early on since it changes the layout and purpose of what you are creating in a big way.  

Most people focus on the beginning and ending emails, choosing a “You’ve got to start and finish strong” approach. Still, the whole concept of drip campaigns is more akin to a war of attrition than a Blitzkrieg – a sustained effort across several days and emails, aiming to increase the chance of the reader taking the action you wish them to at the end of the sequence.

Engagement is also a goal in itself (you can have it as the goal of a single email in a larger ensemble, or you could create a whole engagement sequence), you could compare the steps in a sequence with the beats of a song, or the narrative beats of a story. If you miss one by having a prospect not open an email, the whole thing loses steam and impact. 

The email sequence as a whole has the main goal it seeks to achieve at the end, but on the way there, you can softly direct them to take smaller actions like checking out a blog, following your social channels, filling out forms, leaving reviews, etc. Every email should have a clear objective, even if that is to have it opened and read all the way through. 

There should be no “gap-filler” mails in the middle of the email sequence. You should also aim to map the emails to relevant customer journey points and integrate them into your existing marketing funnel. If you design the sales funnel with email sequences in mind instead of adding them as an after-thought, they might soon become the backbone of your whole operation.

Use A/B testing, a.k.a. split testing, to see what variations on the subject line or call to action work. This means having typically 2-3 different options for some aspects of the email and sending these variants to other groups of people to see which perform better and should be adopted in the long run. You may find that the group that had less time between emails in a nurturing sequence were more likely to make a purchase, or that emails offering a limited-time offer tend to have higher open rates when people see a person’s name in the “from” field instead of just the name of the company. 

Styling & Formatting For Your Email Sequence

A few things will take you leaps and bounds over the din of low-effort spam marketing in the eyes of the customer. Since we’re talking about emails, let’s start with the subject line. Try and aim for 4-7 words/40 characters as a general guideline (avoid using too many punctuation marks or emojis – they are fine for emphasis when used sparingly, but spam-senders have abused them, and people’s brains have become accustomed to glossing over them not to waste their attention and time on trivial things. Don’t let your outreach efforts fall into the same trap and fade into obscurity).

You want your content to be ever-green and not dated by too many references that your average reader won’t recognize, thus making your message lose impact. Instead, rely on clear, concise messaging and CTA’s, and we’re sure those emails will convert at the same high pace even months from now! 

Final words

All in all, if you treat the people on your list like people (by not talking down to them, being respectful and attentive to their preferences), you will find sustained and significant success in the long run! 

We know all too well how difficult setting up multiple email sequences can be, so just know that we are always open to having one of those old-fashioned chats we talked about in the beginning. You can get in touch with us on the right side of this blog post or this page right here, and we’ll schedule a call to talk about how you can use email sequences to your advantage and have them propel your business to the top!