Whether you have just started out building your email list or you’ve been marketing to your list for a long time, you may have asked yourself this question: “How many emails should I have in my nurturing sequences?” (If you’re not using nurturing sequences, or if you’re stuck with old-fashioned “autoresponder” tech, you’re not building relationships like you could be. See more on that here: An Autoresponder is Not What You Want) Can one email be a nurturing sequence? Do you need thirty emails? Twelve?
To make sure we’re talking about the same thing – nurturing sequences are made up of a series of emails that are automatically sent on a schedule you define, in response to a triggering event – like an opt-in, a page view, or a document download. Nurturing sequences can be suspended based on new triggering events. Automatically recording and reacting to various triggering events is the true power of nurturing. Once set up, it’s almost hands-free marketing. For more definition, read the article from our sister site that I linked above.
What’s the magic number?
Odds are you are on someone’s email list. Perhaps they send a new message to your inbox every day. Maybe they only send out 2 emails per month. You know that person is a successful Internet marketer, so you wonder if you should be following in their footsteps as far as your nurturing sequence length is concerned.
Some marketers believe in short sequences. Others have involved nurturing sequences that take a year for you to make it through. Which of these marketers is right? What is the ideal length for your nurturing sequence?
I don’t mean to foreshadow, but the real answer is “it depends.”
There is an old marketing saying known as the Rule of Seven. It is based on a lot of research which shows a prospect needs to be contacted at least 7 times before they will buy from you. Does that mean you should have precisely seven emails in your nurturing sequence?
The truth is, the key cannot be found in a specific number, but rather the relationships you develop.
Nurturing sequences build relationships
Think about your own inbox. If someone consistently delivers great information and “speaks” in a voice you can identify with, will you ever get tired of them sending you an email? Probably not. You have connected with that marketer in some way. They have done a great job of answering your questions and providing value that really means something to you. As long as the emails deliver content you are looking for, and they are not sales-oriented most of the time, you might stay on that email list forever.
Some people are different. They opted into a particular list because that marketer promised to deliver special discounted sales offers to their inbox each and every day. Those people are bargain hunters. They fully expect to see some type of sales oriented content when they open their emails. Those individuals might buy something from the first email they received. They might not need to be contacted 7 times.
The key is in giving your perfect potential customer exactly what he or she is looking for. If they downloaded a document, what would they want to know next? What other information can you provide that will deepen the conversation? If they viewed a certain page on your website, what does that tell you about their interests? Your nurturing sequence expands on those interests. The flow of the RIGHT information (not just any information) is what builds relationships with the people on your list.
Take a look at your opt-in page. What does it offer? What does it promise? The answers to these questions can give you an idea of how many emails you should have in the nurturing sequence that follows that particular opt-in. You should also look at your fulfillment email. Does it deliver on your promise? Does it appropriately set up additional communication on that topic? You don’t need to tell people you’ll communicate daily or weekly (unless they opted in to something you called a daily or weekly email, of course), but it’s good to mention that you’ll have more information headed their way in a day or two (or whenever your first email in your nurturing sequence will be sent).
So really, how many emails?
The Rule of Seven suggests that seven is the right minimum number of emails to have in each of your nurturing sequences. But let’s get real. You need to get something flowing right now. So start with three emails – three emails that deepen the conversation in the particular topic the person on your list has expressed an interest in. Get three done and get your sequence delivering. If you’ve got good marketing automation software (like Genoo), you can always add emails to the end of your sequence and cause them to be delivered to people who have already received the first three.
If you’ve got people who have opted in to receive an eBook, your nurturing sequence draws out the points made in the eBook. Did you make twenty different points? Then a final sequence of twenty emails is appropriate. If you only made five points, five emails is fine.
No matter how many emails you decide on, make them relevant to the reader and fluff-free. Keep them information-packed, with links to relevant blog articles you’ve written or informational pages on your website. While you can softly include a way for someone to skip right to the bottom of your sales funnel and ask for a meeting or make a purchase, don’t make that the focus of your nurturing emails.
Above all, deliver what your perfect potential customers want to hear. Listen to their interests by automatically tracking their behaviors, and trigger people into nurturing sequences based on the interests they are telling you they have by their opt-ins, their page views, their downloads, even their email clicks. Learn from them and you will know what to do.