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A Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing Emails for E-Commerce

  • Email Marketing


You’ve motivated readers enough to take the plunge and sign up for your newsletter.

This is a significant feat considering how selective most people are about forking over their email address. I know I am.

They obviously like your brand and are genuinely interested in your content.

Not only that, they’re now officially email leads and have entered into your sales funnel. That’s great.

But unfortunately, that’s only half of the battle.

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Want More Email Marketing Inspiration?

Let’s face it: writing good marketing emails is TOUGH. To help, we’ve put together an email marketing swipe file, including 41 email marketing examples (organized by category). Plus, a few other goodies not featured below (*cough* killer Facebook Ad examples *cough*).

The Journey from ToFu to BoFu

No I’m not referring to bean curd. I’m talking about the different stages of the sales funnel.

When someone opts in to your email list, they’re usually ToFu (top of the funnel) meaning they’ll need plenty of persuasion and courting until they’re read to buy.

Your goal is to progress them to MoFu (middle of the funnel) and ultimately to BoFu (bottom of the funnel).

But as I’m sure you’re aware, this is often easier said than done.

In fact, Marketo reports that roughly half of all leads in any system are not yet ready to buy.

Maybe that’s why lead conversion is such a high priority for marketers.

HubSpot even found that converting contacts/leads to customers was the top priority for 74 percent of companies.

Top Marketing Priorities

And as you’re also probably aware, this can take some time.

A 2016 survey by Ascend2 points out that 48 percent of organizations have a “complex, long cycle.”

Complex Sales

In other words, there’s a significant gap between the moment a person signs up and and when they ultimately (hopefully) convert.

Getting leads from point A to B requires some intelligent strategizing and an understanding of the trust-building process.

It’s about gradually turning leads from being merely lukewarm and slightly “meh” to scorching hot.

And as you’re about to find out, there’s way more involved than immediately going for the hard sell.

But if you play your cards right, email marketing can be your oyster.

As Marketo also points out, “Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales ready leads at a 33 percent lower cost.”

On top of this, “Nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.”

So now I’d like to get into the fundamentals of email lead nurturing and discuss what I think are some of the most effective strategies, while providing concrete examples for reference.

Tap into Their Deepest Desires

When you get right down to it, the art of email lead nurturing revolves around one key word – engagement.

In fact, “54 percent of email marketers say increasing engagement is their number one priority.”

Increasing Engagement Rates

It’s huge!

You want to take someone from knowing very little about your brand and product/service to knowing a lot.

The idea is that in time, they’ll grow more comfortable with you and a relationship will blossom.

But the only way for that to happen is to get them to engage with your content.

So how do you get them to engage? One approach is to tap into their deepest desires.

That’s exactly what AirBnB did with this email featuring some of their top adventures.

Be Bold in 2018

Kitesurf with a Pro

Unleash Your Wild Side

I think it’s safe to say that the bulk of their demographic enjoys travel and adventure.

So for this particular email, they basically created a roundup of some of their more popular lifestyle and entertainment experiences.

Just imagine if you’re stuck in a cubicle bored with the humdrum and grind of daily life.

This email could easily grab your attention fuel your wanderlust.

With a single click, you can check out all of details of one of these experiences.

Doors-Off Lava _ Rainforest Adventures

If you find something that’s too hard to pass up (like flying over an active volcano in a helicopter), you could book an adventure right then and there.

Of if that wasn’t your cup of tea, you could check out other adventures or simply peruse AirBnB’s site to see what else they have to offer.

Similar Experiences in The Big Island

The main takeaway from this example is that tapping into your readers’ desires is a powerful way to get them to engage with your content and explore your site.

Also, notice that aren’t any annoying sales pitches urging readers to buy right now.

It simply features a handful of experiences that are available and that readers may be interested in without being overly pushy about it.

It’s all about planting a seed.

While you might not make a conversion right away, this allows you to get your foot in the door, which is at the heart of effective lead nurturing.

Curate Top Content from Your Site

I love this technique because it kills two birds with one stone.

Let’s say that you’ve put your heart and soul into creating some amazing content for your site.

You obviously want to circulate it to as many people as possible.

One way to do this while at the same time building valuable rapport with email subscribers is to curate some of the top content from your site. The best of the best.

Here’s a good example from Resource Management Inc. (RMI), a human resource outsourcing firm.

Resource Management Inc.

It’s really simple and straightforward and provides their demographic (in this case SMBs with HR concerns) with helpful information that they can legitimately implement.

Again, there’s no “BUY NOW!” type of angle going on here.

RMI is just serving up some content that the bulk of their readers will have a vested interest in.

And once readers click on a link, they then have access to additional materials where they can learn even more via downloadable guides.

Resource Management Inc. 2

This paves the way for gradual relationship building where RMI can move their leads from ToFu to MoFu to BoFu.

Announce Upcoming Events

I recently received an email from SEMRush—the makers of one of my favorite SEO tools.

It was brief but showcased a couple of upcoming events that were of interest to me and countless other SEO nerds.

SEMRush Webinar Email

SEMRush Webinar Email 2

I like this approach because of the fact that it doesn’t beat readers over the head with salesy copy and simply fills them in on events that will improve their knowledge.

So there’s something of practical value there.

And if you think about it, this is a ridiculously potent email lead nurturing strategy.

It’s the perfect way to quickly generate buzz and encourage readers to register for these events.

By clicking on the links, they’ll get the skinny on what’s going on.

Resource Management Inc. 3

The ones who do sign up will partake in a complete brand immersion of SEMrush.

Even if they just signed up and know virtually nothing about their brand, they’ll quickly become up close and personal.

And by the end, the trust and rapport should be palpable.

So if you’re already implementing content marketing techniques like webinars, live videos and so on, they can serve as another weapon in your email lead nurturing arsenal.


Remember that you’re playing the long game here. It’s not about going for the quick sale.

It’s about creating a bond between reader and brand in hopes of making a conversion later on.

So another way to go about this is to educate readers.

Providing genuinely helpful advice on a common pain point is an excellent way to move them through the funnel.

Just take this email from Framebridge for example.

Farmbridge Email

Farmbridge Email 2

Farmbridge Email 3

It offers how-to advice on a simple yet universal conundrum—hanging art on the wall.

Besides offering eye-popping visuals, this email offers readers quick and dirty tips for getting the process done right.

Of course they don’t include every single step in the email.

That would be impractical (and likely to kill the experience for mobile users).

But they did include enough information to lure readers to the full blog post.

After clicking, they get all of the details broken down step-by-step.

Farmbridge Blog Post

Besides that, they get all of the images necessary to fully grasp the process and make the instructions come to life.

Farmbridge Blog Post 2

By the end of the post, even the most inept of interior designers know how to hang wall art like a boss.

Farmbridge Blog Post 3

And if they liked this particular post, there’s a good chance that they’ll explore additional content from Framebridge.

Farmbridge Menu

All the while a relationship is being built.

Include Video

Considering that “52 percent of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI,” it stands to reason that you should incorporate it every chance you get.

So why not work it into your email marketing?

Not only can it help you create an instant connection, it’s the perfect way to nurture leads.

And rather than trying to articulate your thoughts and convey some complex message with text, you can do it with a brief video.

Take this email from Awesome Merchandise for example.

Awesome Merchandise

It gives leads a behind the scenes look at what goes into the t-shirt printing process.

In just under three minutes, they can go from zero knowledge to a pretty solid understanding.

On top of this, viewers get to see the inside of their company, their employees, the equipment they use, how they pack their merchandise and more.

What better way to let leads get a feel for their brand and what they’re all about?

Even if leads aren’t necessarily interested in printing their own product right away, Awesome Merchandise should be on the top of their list whenever they are ready.

And that’s just one idea.

Video is incredibly versatile, and you can use it in a lot of different ways to nurture your leads.

You could create a tutorial like wholesale crafts supplier Bisque Imports did.

Bisque Imports

Or you could use it to demonstrate how customers are using your products/services like Patagonia.


The possibilities are truly endless.

For more on the nuts and bolts of integrating video, check out this resource from Kissmetrics.

Add Testimonials

Up to this point, the strategies I’ve highlighted have been of the more subtle variety.

They involve getting leads more familiar with your brand so that you can in time get them to convert.

But what if you want to move leads from ToFu to BoFu a bit quicker?

What if there’s a particular product that you’re looking to push right now?

One approach I recommend is to feature that product in your email along with a spot on customer testimonial.

A testimonial that speaks to your demographic and eloquently addresses their pain points, while quelling any concerns or skepticism they may have.

Here’s an email from Shape FX that nails it perfectly.

Shape FX

It’s a very straightforward offer.

But rather than simply featuring their product and leaving it at that, they include a superb testimonial that hits all of the right notes.

On top of that, they throw in some additional social proof to add fuel to the fire by casually mentioning that this product has been featured in The Oprah Magazine.

That’s pure street cred!

So if there were any doubts that this brand was a sham or fraud, they are quickly laid to rest.

Free Downloadable Bonus

Want More Email Marketing Inspiration?

Let’s face it: writing good marketing emails is TOUGH. To help, we’ve put together an email marketing swipe file, including 41 email marketing examples (organized by category). Plus, a few other goodies not featured below (*cough* killer Facebook Ad examples *cough*).


I think that a lot of email marketers inadvertently sabotage their own campaigns by being too pushy and salesy.

Sure some subscribers are ready to whip out their credit cards and complete a transaction right away.

But for all of the others, it takes time and patience.

Going for the kill when aren’t really ready can end up turning off would-be customers and negates all of the effort that you’ve put into it up until then.

The key is to get readers comfortable with your brand and to engage with your content.

The lead nurturing email marketing strategies listed here are designed to do this in spades.

They’re intended to chip away at any doubt or skepticism your readers may have, while at the same time educating them on your brand as well the specific products/services you offer.

Although a single email may not always do the trick, a steady stream is what can gradually warm up your leads and get the maximum percentage to convert.

What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered when trying to nurture leads with your email marketing, and how have you overcome them?