If you’re constantly sending out one-off emails, you’re in for a rough ride.
Pretty soon, you’ll find out you’re spending more time writing emails and replying to clients/customers than you are growing your business.
But you’re in luck. With the right email sequence, you can take a big chunk of work off your shoulders and focus on what matters most in your business.
In this article we’ll go over:
- Why email sequences matter
- Different types of sequences
- How to map out your own
- Copywriting tips to make your emails irresistible
Why Do Email Sequences Matter?
Can’t you just send an email every time something comes to mind and be done with it?
Not really. Like we said before, you’ll burn out pretty quickly.
Single emails tend to be hit or miss. Either they’re great, or they’re not. With a sequence, you can fine tune it over time so it becomes a masterpiece.
The biggest advantage, though, is they allow you to automate large parts of your communication. You get to focus on getting more people into your funnel, instead of worrying about how to get people to move through it.
They have other uses as well. They can:
- Build relationships
- Bring leads up to speed
- Help segment your audience
Different Types of Email Sequences
Before we get into creating one ourselves, let’s look at some of the most common types of email series out there.
If people sign up for your list and you don’t talk to them for a long period of time, you run the risk of them forgetting who you are. The next time you send them an email, they won’t recognize your name and unsubscribe.
Which is no bueno.
A nurture series can keep your subscribers engaged by sending them content regularly. You can either tell an engaging story about yourself, or you can take an old blog post and turn it into an email.
Here’s an example from Derek Halpern of Social Triggers:
Emails like this allow people to get used to you and your style.
If you have a product or service that requires some explanation before people can use it effectively, an onboarding series is perfect. You can put in frequently asked questions, address concerns, or teach them how to get the most out of their purchase.
Almost all software companies use onboarding to bring customer up to speed on what they can do with the software. Here’s an example from Evernote.
Sometimes customers put products in their cart, get distracted, and forget they were shopping. A cart abandonment sequence attempts to fix that problem by gently reminding them they haven’t completed the checkout process. The sequence usually goes like this:
- Email 1: Reminder that they have something in their cart
- Email 2: Second reminder
- Email 3: A coupon to persuade people to buy
After that, you can be pretty sure they’re not interested anymore. As you can imagine, this one’s super popular with e-commerce stores.
Email courses are primarily used to educate subscribers with the goal of offering them a product (like in-depth training) later on. The length of the course can range from 5 days to however long you want to make it. 7 to 14 days seems to be the sweet spot.
The great thing about email courses is that they make for awesome lead magnets. An email course has a higher perceived value than a simple PDF or report, so people are more likely to sign up.
If you’re releasing a product, you need to build up some hype before you can launch it. Just telling your customers you created a thing isn’t going to convince them to buy.
And that’s what launch sequences are all about. They help you create buzz and excitement for your product by sending a combination of tips, case studies, and sales emails.The length of the series depends on how expensive the product is.
For example: It doesn’t make a lot of sense to send a 24-part series for a $5 product. But if you have a $1000 product, you have some explaining to do.
Below is an advanced example of a launch sequence created by Bryan Harris from videofruit.
Quick note: Your first launch doesn’t have to be nearly as complicated.
Mapping Out Your Own Sequence
There’s a saying that goes “if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”
And when it comes to creating your own email sequences, it couldn’t be more correct. If you don’t take the time to plan out your series, you’ll end up stuck and with a massive headache.
Taking the time to plan is faster in the long run.
Trello is a great way to organize your emails and get a quick overview of what they‘re going to contain. You can create a list for every email you write and quickly organize or reorganize whatever you want.
Step 1: Determine your goal
Why are you even creating an email sequence? Is it to build a solid relationship with your audience? Is it to sell additional products to your customers? Is it getting to know them?
Your goal will determine what kind of email sequence you need and how long it‘s going to be.
Step 2: Pick the type of sequence that fits your goal
After you’ve figured out what your goal is. It’s time to pick a type of sequence you can use.
You can either pick:
- Nurture sequence
- Cart Abandonment
- Email course
- Launch sequence
Once you’re more advanced, you can mix and match different types to get better results. For now, though, stick with these ones.
Step 3: Determine how long it has to be
Deciding how long an email sequence should be is a gut decision. There’s no right or wrong answer. It largely depends on what you’re trying to do and how much of an explanation is needed.
For example, if you have a complex product that requires quite a bit of explanation, your sequence is going to be longer.
If you noticed someone abandoned their cart, maybe a single email will do.
A good rule of thumb is to give 3 things for every ask. So if you want to send a pitch, send 3 emails with something of value (tips, tools, entertainment) in them.
This prevents people from getting tired of your pitches.
Step 4: Decide what you’re going to say
For most people, this is the part where they get stuck. Figuring out if you need an email sequence is the easy part. Figuring out what to write about is a lot harder.
If you’re creating a nurture sequence that‘s going to last you a long time, it’s important you use evergreen content. You don’t want to send holiday tips mid-June.
In this step, it helps to rely on a couple of copywriting frameworks to help you out. Here are a bunch of them.
The most common ones are:
- Problem – Agitate – Solve
- Picture – Promise – Prove – Push
- Attention – Interest – Desire – Action
Each part of those frameworks can be a separate email. So you write one email about the problem your target audience has, one email agitating the problem, and one email explaining how to solve it.
Very basic, but it works.
Step 5: Write the thing
Now it’s finally time to write.
It helps to write as many emails as you can in one session. This ensures all the emails have the same tone of voice and are all created with the same goal in mind.
Let’s look at some copywriting techniques that make your emails really stand out.
Copywriting Tips to Make Your Sequence Irresistible
Have you ever wondered how shows like Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead can keep people interested time after time?
Right before the season ends, something happens that generates so much interest, you can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen next. But to find out, you’ll have to wait until next season. They start an interesting idea or thought, but they don’t finish it until later on.
This is called an open loop and it gets used everywhere. From movies, to books, to – you guessed it – email.
Putting in an open loop isn’t just great for getting people to read your emails, it also help generate buzz for your product. Take a look at this example from Brian Dean:
This was part of a launch sequence he did in 2015. When you first read this email, you have no clue what CSM or VCM stand for.
But Brian used these techniques himself to build a giant traffic generating website, so you can’t help but wonder what those acronyms mean. But in order to find out, you’ll have to read next week’s email.
That’s an open loop in its simplest form.
You and I
One of the biggest advantages of email marketing is that it’s a lot more personal than any other form of digital marketing.
When you write a tweet or post something on Facebook, everyone can see you’re talking to a group of people. But with email, it feels like you’re talking just to them (if you do it right, that is. More on that in the next point).
Capitalize on that by making your copy as personal as possible. And the way you do that is by using the words “you” and “I” (or “we” if you’re an organization) a lot.
Taking the previous step a bit further, it also helps to personalize your emails. It’s another way of making the email feel like it was sent to you personally instead of a mass mailing.
You can go absolutely crazy and customize the entire email, but if you’re new to this, just stick to personalizing the names.
Keep emails as short as possible
How long your copy should be is something copywriters have been arguing about for decades. Does short copy sell better? Or does long copy sell better? The honest answer is: it depends.
It might sound like a lame answer, but it’s the truth. If you have a product that requires you to explain a lot to your customer, you’ll have to write more copy. If everyone knows what it does, you can just give them the price.
Apple, for example, doesn’t need to explain what an iPhone is because everyone already knows.
In general, explain everything you need to explain but keep it as short as possible.
Read your emails out loud
Whenever we read something, we use what’s called subvocalization. In other words, we read the text “out loud” in our head. It makes it easier for us to understand and remember what we’re reading.
So one of the best things you can do if you want to improve your copy is to take your email and read it out loud.
You’ll quickly notice when things can be improved. Often something looks good on paper, but when you hear it out loud, it doesn’t make much sense. Maybe the sentences are too long, or the meaning of the sentence isn’t exactly clear.
Every time you get hung up on a word, or a sentence doesn’t sound good, you edit it until it does. It makes your copy a lot easier to read and it makes it pack a bigger punch.
Your Business + Email Sequences = Growth
Now you’ve got everything you need to write your first email sequence.
It sounds complicated at first. After all, you have to figure out how to use your email marketing service, you have to figure out what your goal is, and you have to figure out how to write good emails.
But once you get the hang of it, you’ll experience the true power of email sequences. They can take care of the selling part of your business while you work on growing it.
So start small, and have fun with it.
What part of creating email sequences have you struggled with in the past? Let us know in the comments below.
About the author:
Robin Geuens is a freelance content marketer who helps businesses write content that gets more traffic, subscribers, and leads. You can find him at Atompilot.com.