5 Steps to Building an Email Nurturing Strategy

Marian Sahakyan
Marian Sahakyan

Content Manager

About the author

Published on: May 5, 2022

Last updated on: March 4, 2024

When it comes to email strategy, we all know that best practices and focus change every single day. But despite the ever-changing nature of our industry, some things, like email nurturing tactics, always seem to keep something in common – their customer-focused approach.

Earlier this year, we learned more about that when Kelly Trantow, Cisco Meraki’s Email Marketing Strategist, joined us at the recent MailCon to walk us through her five proven strategies and steps for email nurturing.

In a collective sense, Trantow’s session unveiled just how easy email nurturing can be if you understand your client’s needs for personalization and are willing to integrate customer journey strategies for the best results.

What follows are Trantow’s five-step strategies for effective email nurturing.

Do you want to learn about the latest email and omnichannel marketing trends? Stay tuned and connected with MailCon for great content and industry insights. 

Defining a Nurture Campaign

According to Trantow, a nurturing email campaign should be adaptive enough to move an audience through an experience that meets their needs and increases their willingness and excitement to purchase whatever’s being advertised.

But to get to that point, you should deliver or transition based on the audience’s behaviors or actions through fluid and automated experiences to guide them through the buying process.

To further visualize the idea of email nurturing, Trantow introduced the “Nurture Bus” to draw up the concept of different-colored bus lines filled with people headed toward different destinations. That imagery sums up the buyer journey and the need to treat consumers differently on each of those journeys.

With each bus having an ultimate destination, we are pointed to the fact that each segment of email lists also has a different strategy or point to get to.

With that, it’s also essential to identify the differences between nurture campaigns and drip campaigns. A nurturing email campaign is adaptive to move the audience through an experience that meets their needs and increases their willingness to purchase.

On the other hand, a drip campaign delivers a series of scheduled and personalized emails to a predefined audience over an extended period.

Knowing when and how to use each type will set any marketer up for success.

Understanding the Different Types of Nurture Campaigns

Knowing the varying types and stages of nurture campaigns will help you identify where your clients are in their sales funnel. The following are some areas you should consider:

  • Funnel Stages: moves leads or contacts through the sales funnel by providing stage-specific content and engagement opportunities
  • Welcome: introduces the prospect to the brand, products, and services available to establish a credible buyer relationship
  • Lead Qualification: aims to qualify the valuable leads or contacts from those that are unlikely to become customers
  • Progressive Profile: use forms and behavior to gather more information to determine if they qualify as a lead
  • Reawaken: focuses on leads who have gone silent during the sales cycle and offers content to get one engagement
  • Sales Support: triggered by requests from sales teams after an interaction
  • New Customer: make your new leads feel confident in their purchase to ensure that their touchpoints with your brand are positive and memorable
  • Onboarding: align with your company’s onboarding strategy and provide resources on the product, explaining how to use the strategies to avoid typical pitfalls
  • Upselling/Cross-Selling: identify potential upsell and cross-sell customers who will later be approached by the sales team or account management team

Email Marketing Strategist Kelly Trantow

Steps to Build a Nurture Campaign

The following are the five steps to building successful nurturing strategies:

1. Set the Objective

Setting SMART strategies to cover Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals and objectives will help you identify the next steps in your nurture campaigns to align each objective to a customer journey stream.

When in doubt, ask yourself the following question: What do I want the audience to do in each journey stream?

Some conversion metrics can be filling out forms, downloading assets, visiting a specific webpage, or even clicking on a particular button.

2. Identify Your Audience

The following are some questions you should ask to identify your target audiences for each of your journey streams:

  • What audience is appropriate for each nurture bus?
  • What are the data sources I will use?
  • What will we know about the audience/what data values are available?
  • Do you have the data to trigger adding the person to the journey?

Once you’ve identified your audiences, funnel them through the three stages of awareness, consideration, and evaluation to get them acclimated with your brand. As you evaluate your leads through each of the stages in the sales funnel, remember to assign lead scoring tactics to each stage and only push them through to the next level once they’ve collected enough lead scores.

3. Align Content to Each Stage of the Lead Sales Funnel

Compile a list of existing content that you can leverage to get the attention of all of your clients. But let’s suppose you don’t have existing content for each stage of your sales funnel. In that case, you need to identify new content needs and categorize them according to categories like gated assets, articles, industry guides, or other written communication to map out the content journey.

4. Consider Plan Transitions

Transition your leads from one bus stream to another if the objective of the current nurture is met, if the audience criteria no longer qualifies for a given consumer, or when the audience has completed all content in the stream.

If that’s ever the case, transition a given audience into another nurture stream, a different campaign, another audience segment, a sales stream, or holding space for future relevancy.

5. Establish an Exit Criteria

The communication should either transition to another stream or exit the flow at this stage. If the nurture stream objective has been met and created sales or collaboration opportunities, you can consider an outcome successful or positive.

On the other hand, a negative stream outcome can result in an unsubscribe, invalid email disqualification, inactivity, bounce, or if the journey has been completed without reaching the objective.

At this stage, you should consider what’s next in content, transition, offers, or additional marketing channels. Alternatively, you can create additional audience segments to reach this given audience so you can research the cause of audience inactivity.

Ultimately, implementing a few of these tactics will give you all that you need to successfully target different audiences and nurture them with content, offers, and other deliverables.

Follow MailCon on LinkedIn for announcements, news, and updates on upcoming events and community initiatives.

About the author

Marian Sahakyan
Marian Sahakyan

Content Manager

Marian Sahakyan is a Content Manager at MailCon. She’s a journalism graduate from California State University, Long Beach with a background in marketing, technology, as well as writing for Business-to-Business audiences.


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