What email sequences do I need to grow my business?

As small business owners we are usually our own marketing team. And, regardless of what you might hear, email marketing is still an important tool in your marketing kit. 

The value of email marketing

Email marketing is still valuable! Why? Because you’re more in control of communicating with directly with your clients than if you connect with them through ANY social media site. With social media you’re under control of the algorithms about who and when they show your posts to. A well set up email list will go straight to your clients’ email inbox (yes, occasionally the promotions, social or even spam folder).

And for those who regularly open your emails, you have the chance to grow your business by giving them value and making them aware of services and products you offer.

The key to a successful email marketing campaign is to make sure it’s valuable to your clients.

Emails or email sequences

Emails that you send your clients from week to week (or month to month) are not email sequences. They may be newsletters, blog updates or short information bites.

Email sequences are a series of emails that you set up to run automatically based on a trigger. Email sequences are great because once they’re set up they can run for YEARS! Without you doing a lot more to it.

These days you can easily set up email sequences in free/paid email platforms like MailerLite (my current favourite), MailChimp, Active Campaign, Klavio and many others.

The triggers for automated email sequences can be

  • Signing up for a lead magnet (free download, video, webinar etc)
  • Opting in to be on a mailing list
  • Making a purchase

What email sequences do I need to grow my business?

There are seven types of email sequences that every business should have in place:

  1. Welcome and upsell emails
  2. Welcome emails
  3. Sales emails
  4. Re-engagement emails
  5. Review/testimonial emails
  6. Nurture emails
  7. Re-targeting abandoned carts emails

Welcome and sell email sequence

Your welcome and upsell email sequence is the perfect stepping stone between your lead magnet and the service or product you want them to purchase.

Apart from when you’ve converted them into raving fans who devour everything you put out there and then share it with their friends, the most connected with you that your client will ever be is when they first reach out to you. So it’s a great time to introduce your business and encourage them to explore a product or service that may help solve their problems.

‘Welcome to my list’ email open rates are typically twice normal email open rates.

Welcome and sell email sequences are typically around 6-8 emails in length, sent over 7-10 days. Don’t be concerned that this is too frequent to be emailing your new reader. Remember, they’re wanting to learn more about you during this time. And giving high value content that relates to your client and solving their problem is going to win hearts and minds. Not send them clicking on the ‘unsubscribe’ button. The key to this success is sending relevant emails.

The goal of the welcome and sell email sequences in to show value to your clients. To start the relationship with them, allowing future emails to be sent (and opened) and to encourage purchase of a product or service.

Welcome email sequence

Welcome emails are email sequences set up with the goal of introducing your business to the new client without selling to them. Welcome email sequences are a good sequence to send if you’ve got a regular email newsletter calendar with a promotional campaign built in. Email sequences are also good to introduce your brand if you’ve got nothing to sell (yet).

People expect to get an email thanking them for signing up. But many businesses miss out this opportunity to get to know their new subscriber better.

Welcome email sequences are short. Often only three emails sent over 3-4 days.

The goals for the welcome sequence are to start the relationship with your new client, allowing future emails to be sent (and opened), and to show value to your clients.

​The sales emails

When you have an engaged email list it’s time to sell to them. You may have heard the saying ‘the money’s in the list’. Well, it is. There is money in having an engaged email list, but to help them you have to sell to them.

Sending week after week of value is a great way to lead your tribe. But you’re still a business. You still need to pay your bills (and more). Often we shy away from selling to our tribe because to us it seems salesy or awkward. But remember, your email list and your tribe are there for your help. If you’ve got something to sell to them that can help them, they NEED to hear about it.

In among your usual value-laden email newsletters it’s important to have a sequence that runs alongside your promotional campaign to direct your tribe to your services and products. You can run this sales email sequence several times a year for different products or services. You can link this sequence to calendar events (such as Christmas, National Women's Day, Fathers Day etc) or to help you book clients coming up to quiet times of the year.

This email sequence leads your reader up to purchase your product or service over three emails. Remember that this is your engaged list.  Before you send this upsell email sequence it’s well worth sending the re-engagement sequence to your email list. The re-engagement sequence will remove any unengaged readers and reinvigorate anyone who does re-engage with you. And improve your return on investment (ROI).

The re-engagement email sequence

We’ve all been the one to subscribe to someone’s email list or download their freebie and then never open another email from them again. Why don’t we just unsubscribe?

And now our clients are doing it to us! Why don’t they just unsubscribe? Well, sometimes they still want to get your emails, they’re just hoarding them to binge-read another time. Sometimes they just plain run out of time in their day, but know that they’ll find them valuable. Other times, yes, they just haven’t got round to hitting ‘unsubscribe’.

Normally you could expect your email list to have around 20-30% unsubscribes each year.

Around ⅓ of your emails may never be opened.

Why should you try and re-engage unengaged clients?

There may be value in sending emails that may never be opened, just in case they need you in the future. But ...

Having a high number of unengaged readers on your email list can cause your data to become skewed. If you have a high number of unengaged readers then your open and click rates (which are calculated based on the total number on your list) will be unrealistically low. Not helping you monitor the effectiveness of your marketing

Having unengaged readers means you’re more likely to have your email marked as ‘spam’ by someone. Being marked as spam influences whether email providers flag you as spam and head you straight to that folder. Not just for that person but every person you have on your email list

The same with bounce rates. Cleaning up your email list means you’re likely to get less bounced emails from wrongly written or fake email addresses. Another factor that can affect whether your email ends up in all your readers' spam folder

Keeping your email list engaged is important if you want to monetise your list. In other words, you want them to buy your product or sign up for your service. Sell to those who want to hear your message

This last point becomes even more important if you’re paying for email services, as your return on investment will be lower if you’re trying to sell to people who aren’t engaged

And, on a similar point. If you’re paying for emails services and your numbers determine how much you pay, why pay for clients who aren’t engaged?

The goal of a re-engagement email sequence is to get your reader to open the email and re-subscribe. To stick their hand up and say “Yes! I might not be opening your emails, yet, but I like what I see”.

Usually you can expect around 2-5% of your unengaged list to re-engage with you. So expect to lose some. Remember, 20-30% natural decline in your email list over a year is normal. 

How long does someone need to sit on your email list before you send re-engagement email sequence?

If you email your clients once a month then choose to send a re-engagement sequence after three unopened emails (i.e. three months)

If you send weekly emails to your clients then choose to send a re-engagement sequence after four unopened email (i.e. one month)

You MUST unsubscribe those at the end of the list who have not opened their emails if that’s what you’ve told them you’ll do.   

Getting reviews or testimonials emails

Social proof in the form of customer reviews or testimonials is a powerful encouragement for others to sign up with you or buy from you. Around 90% of people will read online reviews before engaging with you. Why? People trust people more than they trust the business themselves!

Okay, so before we go any further I just have to put a warning out there. 

Before you go and gather a heap of social proof to share with your customers or clients you have to make sure that you CAN SHARE IT. Yes, there are some businesses that CAN’T legally share testimonials or client reviews. These are mainly professionals regulated under the Health Professions Act (New Zealand). It is YOUR responsibility to make sure you are legally able to share client testimonials and reviews.

Even if you can’t share, it can be useful to get feedback from clients to improve your client experience and improve your business processes. 

Nurture email sequences

If you have a service-based business your client contacts you, have a discovery call and you send them a quote. What next? What happens if it’s a few days before you hear from them again? How do you nurture them to sign the contract? Nurture email sequences make sure you follow up the quote and remind clients to sign the thing! If they still ghost you, then you can draw a line under that experience and not spend more time fretting about it.

And if you have a product-based business someone buys a product. Woo hoo! But you know the value of repeat customers, so you want to nurture them to become a repeat customer. Nurture sequences in e-commerce can help you reward loyal customers and attract them back for more sales. 

​Re-targeting your abandoned carts

This is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT e-commerce email sequences. And many e-commerce platforms have the ability to set up these emails targeted to products that were in the cart.

A retargeting email or abandoned cart email is a sequence that reminds your customer what they left in their cart and encourages them back to complete the sale. They entered their email address, but then they failed to complete the order. Make the most of having their email address by encouraging them to complete the sale.

It’s common to find that around 70% of people who start filling their cart abandon it and leave your store without completing their purchase. How frustrating is that?! But you’re not alone.

The first thing we can assume is that they ARE looking for what you’ve got. So that’s all good. The second assumption we can make is that SOMETHING has got in the way of them completing the purchase.

Before setting up an email sequence to attract them back to their purchase we need to think about the other potential barriers that may be keeping them from buying.

Here are some common reasons:

  • They were checking out your prices and products and using their cart as a wish list
  • They got distracted by something happening around them
  • They didn’t like the payment portal
  • They didn’t want to create an account
  • They didn’t see the value in the price
  • Additional prices such as shipping and tax were too high
  • They had five carts on the go with you and your competitors and were comparing prices
  • They’re just not ready to make the commitment

Try and think of every barrier that stands between them and completing the sale. And put in place something that removes, minimises or addresses the barrier. 

What to do next?

So, those are the email sequences you small business needs to help you connect, convert and transform lives.

Need help? I've created a range of email templates for sale at The Helpful Academy. 

  • 8 fill-in-the-blanks email sequence templates, examples and videos covering all the emails you need to connect with your clients. 
  • Buy the bundle for only NZ$146 and save $100 on buying the individual emails
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Just want your emails edited or written for you? Tailored to your business and your clients. Written with clear goals in mind.

[Heads up: This blog may contain affiliate links. That means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase from one of these links, at no extra cost to you. Regardless of this payment, these courses come from a respected and trusted expert in marketing strategy. And me!]