What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing builds a relationship with the leads you’ve captured in a lead generation campaign. The aim is to guide them down your sales funnel and convert them into a paying customer. This can be done through various processes but is most commonly used in email marketing programs such as lead nurture streams.

You’ll get a powerful view of where your leads are in their customer journey when you pair lead nurturing with lead scoring. This way, you can provide the most relevant content to your leads at the right time, and avoid showing people something they already know.

We can also help you rocket your lead capture strategy beyond what’s considered normal once those leads are in. Let’s imagine you’ve hit the jackpot in a tremendously successful lead-generation campaign, and are now looking at what to do next.

How to create an effective lead nurturing strategy

Like a green shoot that needs water and sunlight to blossom, leads need TLC to transform into loyal customers. And what’s the leads’ source of nourishment? Meaningful, memorable content. Strategic distribution and strong workflow design are essential but without a bed of insight-driven content, your nurture streams are bound to run dry.

Figure out your flow

Before you dive into content creation, solidify your product offering and how that makes you stand out from competitors. Ask questions like:

  • How can our product impact our customers’ business outcomes?
  • What problems does our product solve?
  • What’s our unique value proposition?

When you know these answers, you can design a content sequence that brings leads on a coherent journey and convinces them why they should buy.

Show, don’t tell 

Study after study proves that pairing visual information with written makes a massive impact on message retention. So when you create content for nurture streams, work with human nature, not against it. Illustrate your product’s key features with videos, share research findings in infographics, host customer success stories in visually engaging content formats – whatever way you nurture, make it a feast for their minds and their eyes.

Keep it consistent

You’ve heard it a million times but it rings true; consistency is key. Scheduled outreach aligned with target time zones builds an organized, dependable communication cadence with potential customers. Just make sure your lead nurturing email frequency doesn’t overwhelm prospects.

Don’t be scared to experiment

Diversify nurture methods beyond traditional emails; avenues like newsletters, social posts, and educational courses can also be a great way to boost engagement and drive meaningful interactions with potential customers.

This being said, email has always been and will continue to be the foundational channel of effective lead nurturing. That’s why we’re going to dive into exactly how to get it right below. 

Email lead nurturing

A digital nurturing stream is often a series of automated emails based upon certain actions or behaviors by a lead. Workflows can be automated so that when a person interacts with content on a certain topic, they are shown more content on the subject they’re engaging with.

Why do email marketers nurture leads?

In the world of B2B marketing, lead nurturing can mean the difference between making a sale and losing a potential customer. For B2B and SaaS businesses, a lead nurturing email campaign is especially important as buying decisions take a lot longer and aren’t as impulsive as they are in B2C.

Understanding the best practices for lead nurturing emails is especially important. You want people to actually open your email for a start and then read what you’ve sent, ideally clicking any CTAs (calls to action) and traveling off to your other content – on their way down your marketing funnel.

What is a good email open rate?

‘Good’ entirely depends on your industry, customer base, and how your leads’ behavior affects conversions. We spoke to our resident email expert, Paul Fellows, to get his perspective on what good looks like.

“This differs by industry, whether you’re working in B2C or B2B, on the cleanliness of your data, and on what it is you’re sending. I see 20% as a base rate for newsletters, but always like to get my data as clean as possible to be hitting 30-40%. More relevant comms, like abandon basket automations in B2C can reach incredibly high open rates (70-90%) so long as the data is clean and the timing is spot on.”

Paul Fellowes, CRM Marketing Manager at Turtl

Paul helped us put together a detailed Email masterclass guide, please dive in.


Click to read Email masterclass guide

Email marketing best practices

Email tone and voice

Every company has a certain tone of voice for outbound materials, often depending on their industry or customer base. Digital nurturing campaigns are as much a representation of the company as how a salesperson might talk to prospective customers, so nailing the right tone of voice is essential.

If you don’t have a set-in-stone tone of voice, look at other businesses in your industry, and consider how they write and talk about their product. You may decide it’s too stuffy and formal and so choose to go with a more relaxed tone, or perhaps the exact opposite.

Decisions about tone and voice should be based on your customer base and how they communicate. Talk to your sales team, survey your customers, listen to them on sales calls, and look at your email analytics to inform decisions about tone.

Email cadence

In terms of lead nurturing email frequency, you never want to overload your customer with too much correspondence. Eventually, they will stop reading emails if you send one a day, and likely never open them if it’s more than that. Here at Turtl, we find that emails 2-3 days apart yield the best results, however, this will change depending on your content and how well you know your audience. For instance in regards to newsletters, once a week is ample.

“Automations should only be sent once, maybe twice a week, but that can intertwine with the newsletters – making sure you have a robust contact strategy overlooking everything you’re sending is very important. I’ve heard of businesses that send 5-7 times per week, and that is poor practice.”

Paul Fellowes, CRM Marketing Manager at Turtl

Email Content

Before you start a lead nurturing email campaign, ask yourself the following: Are we actually offering this lead anything? If the answer is less than a yes, go back and restart. If you aren’t offering a lead anything in your emails, they aren’t as likely to engage with them, let alone open them if they receive several emails.

Email program tips:

You wouldn’t be completely off the mark to assume that offers for free trials, discounts, or other financially beneficial gifts work well. You can also send leads educational material about your product or industry, free templates for documents or emails, or even invites to events.

An offer is anything that a lead can engage with, download, or use to help them not only in their work but to understand your business and product. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Watch our webinar
  • Download our latest white paper
  • Get your free templates

Keep copy succinct

No one wants to spend lots of time reading through a wall of text, especially in an email. Keeping your content short and sweet is guaranteed to help increase click-through rates. Much like in the world of cinema – show don’t tell. Let your content do the talking; after all, you don’t want to spend hours on creating a beautiful piece of content only for someone to read all they need to in an email and then not engage with the actual content.

Quick and concise descriptions of the offerings that will pique the interest of the lead are much more likely to get engagement. This also applies to the CTAs themselves and subject lines.

Should I use GIFs in emails?

In a professional setting, most people don’t want to scroll through GIF after GIF as though the email were a BuzzFeed listicle. GIFs may work for B2C emails, and depending on your customer base and testing you may find these work in B2B. Best practice is to keep your information straightforward and on topic. If you’ve found that GIFs increase engagement, then keep them small and somewhat sparse to save on email load time, and ensure that you have good alt text for accessibility.

What about emojis in emails?

It’s more and more common for emojis to be used in both subject lines and the main content of an email. For subject lines, the maximum of one emoji is enough to be visually appealing to a reader, but remember that with different devices, OS systems, and screen readers, emojis don’t always show up exactly the same or, in some cases, at all.

And video in email?

Videos within emails aren’t possible with standard HTML emails. This means linking out to a third-party video hosting website, such as YouTube or Vimeo is your best option.

Email CTAs, subject lines, and the art of grabbing attention

Now that we know what kind of content to offer, and how best to write about it, we need to look at how to actually grab the attention of your lead in the first place.

The first thing someone sees when you send an email is the subject line, this is the make-or-break moment between whether or not they open your email. This will partially depend on your industry and customer base, however, there are certain dos and don’ts with subject lines that are worth considering.

“Clearly introducing what is to be expected in the email will almost always work best. I’d always recommend Send Check It if you’re not sure how your subject line is likely to perform!”

Paul Fellowes, CRM Marketing Manager at Turtl

What about preview text?

“Your preview text should be related to your subject line, but with additional context to give more flavor of what’s to expect. This can afford to be longer, but remember is only complementary to the subject line, not everyone will see, or read them, and shouldn’t be a necessity to understand what is in the email.”

Paul Fellowes, CRM Marketing Manager at Turtl

Do: Keep CTA copy short and sweet

Keeping email CTAs clear and concise is essential in getting someone to click through to your content. A short phrase that captures their attention or explains succinctly what they’re getting from a click is exactly what you want. Consider CTAs you see often: Buy Now, See Here, Download the Guide.

Don’t: Overcomplicate CTA copy

If it’s too complicated to put into a short phrase, using something generic like Click Here will do the job and make the desired action clear. Many CTAs are based on UX tests that prove they work best for users, so go ahead and test yours.

Do: Make it visible

It goes without saying, but if a lead cannot find your CTA easily then they aren’t going to go looking for it. A big simple button is likely the best candidate for style. If you’re only including one CTA, consider putting a button at the top and bottom of your email.

Don’t: Overload with too many CTAs

Sometimes you need to offer several things in the same email. Reaching out with hundreds of resources is just going to intimidate your lead. We’d recommend a maximum of three options.

Do: Keep consistent branding

This may seem obvious, but keeping your CTA buttons in your brand colors helps retain brand cohesion . . If a customer is engaging with your emails often, they will know what to look for if they want to quickly click through, and that consistency will stick in their mind.

Don’t: Lose recognition

Don’t use inconsistent messaging or buttons. Help people recognize email elements quickly so they can navigate your content easily. Put guidelines and processes in place with your team to keep everyone on track.

What makes a good email subject line?

There is no written rule about the perfect subject line, but staying concise and clear on the email’s topic is always best practice.

Under 60 characters is the ideal subject line length. This keeps your messaging short and promises that subject lines don’t trail off into the UI ether on any average email platform.

It is worth playing with A/B testing on this as you may find questions as subject lines work best for your customers, or perhaps they prefer a clear-cut phrase that explains the email’s content so they don’t have to second guess opening it.

Turtl takeaway

“There’s no one-size-fits-all. Emails take a long time to master and perform completely differently for each business. I’d recommend testing as much as possible and really learning about your performance and your data, rather than simply comparing to another business when you don’t know the ins and outs of their operations. There are always improvements to be made, and it’s a never-ending learning process – keep at it!”Paul Fellowes, CRM Marketing Manager at Turtl

Learn how to master emails with Paul from Turtl


Subscribe to the Turtl newsletter

A round up of insights, trends, and tips on the world of content marketing