Build a SaaS lead-nurturing email sequence

1. Define the objectives of your email marketing sequence based on where in your marketing funnel it takes place.

This will allow you to plan for the email sequence in a more coordinated manner, including the topic of each email and the call to actions you’re using. A CTA supporting the objectives should be present in all your emails, regardless of where the email occurs in the sequence. Common objectives for a SaaS email sequence include:  Reading an expert review of your SaaS solution. Scheduling a demo. Downloading a case study. Downloading a white paper. Starting a free trial.

2. Use available data about your customer journey and typical sales cycle to decide whether the timing of emails in your sequence will be based on time, behavior, or a combination of both.

SaaS purchasing decisions often take longer than consumer products and may need a longer timeline of emails, although this also varies greatly based on the SaaS product itself. For example, products that have a trial would have the opportunity to drive to product qualified leads, which arguably are much more engaged leads to pass to sales teams.

3. Map out the number and order of emails in the sequence. Use a graph or charting tool to visualize the email sequence and any potential branches based on reader actions.

Often, SaaS email sequences: Start with a thank-you or welcome email with an awareness building and brand reinforcing introduction. Follow up the initial email with emails that have content relevant to the lead or original lead source. Move into emails with product specific education. End with a conversion-focused email that has a call-to-action to request a demo or start a trial. Visualizing the sequence also helps to ensure you’re addressing the key objections, questions or concerns as identified in your buyer personas and customer journey. The most important criteria will be that the email sequence meets your reader’s needs. For example, if this SaaS lead-nurturing email sequence is part of the solutions awareness phase of the customer journey, refer to your target persona’s specific needs in this stage. You might see that you’ve previously identified five core things the target persona looks for in a solution. You may then choose to do a welcome email, five individual emails addressing each of the five things your persona needs to know, and a closing email.

4. Work with your sales team to identify any actions that should remove a lead from the sequence.

Emails sent to poor-quality leads, or leads who don’t want to receive your emails, will affect overall email metrics and deliverability. Include an unsubscribe option in every email in the sequence. Your team should also be regularly documenting these scenarios and ensuring that either manual or automated processes move leads out of the sequence, when appropriate. For example, if a lead has just purchased and becomes a customer, that lead should not receive an email with a CTA to buy. Similarly, someone who has just scheduled a demo should not be prompted to request a demo. If any lead is removed from the sequence, give them a specific tag in your email platform to mark them as being removed and avoid them being added into the same sequence at a future date.

5. Establish a lead scoring model and rules with your sales and marketing teams to define the relative weight of different types of interactions and their frequency.

For example, it might specify how many emails in the sequence a lead must open before being considered a warm lead for sales, or whether downloading a white paper is worth more than opening an email. Combining a lead scoring model with a lead nurturing sequence helps indicate when a customer is ready to be handed over to sales. If you already have a lead scoring model, decide how this email sequence will fit into it.

6. Choose or build a template for the email sequence that have a consistent look and feel that is representative of the SaaS brand.

Most major email marketing automation platforms will have both customizable templates that can be modified for your brand elements and a drag and drop email builder that can be used to make templates of your own quickly. You can also make templates with HTML and import them into platforms.

7. Build each email in the sequence, starting with the template and customizing the subject line, copy, imagery, and calls to action.

Set the trigger for each email to match the time elapsed or user action for that email, in the sequence.

8. Test your email sequence by taking the actions a lead would take to enter and move through the sequence.

Look for typos, broken links, and errors in the firing of emails in the sequence. Verify reporting and any connectivity between systems such as email marketing automation and CRMs, for example, is functioning as expected.

9. Schedule follow-up emails for leads who have received all the emails in the sequence, yet have not taken an action.

Re-engagement can be time based or triggered by news such as product updates, updated customer reviews, and new case studies. For the best results, conduct A/B tests on timing and re-engagement after your lead-nurturing email sequence has been running for a few weeks. You’ll then have the baseline data to determine how to adjust your follow-up plans for peak open rates and clicks.