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Chris HextonHow-to Use Email To Convert Leads Into Active Subscribers Like A Pro

  • Thursday, October 10, 2013   - Get post updates via email + a special bonus growth hack here

The following four-step process gives you a direct framework you can apply today to get up and running with a campaign that will help you convert leads into customers.

Using an automated email campaign to drive conversions means you can make money while you sleep.

Educational editorial content works to increase your conversions by building trust. It is a great way to get customers from leads that would otherwise be passive readers.

Converting leads sourced from competitions, your blog, social media or other landing pages into paying customers is a challenge all online businesses face.

Getting this funnel right can significantly lift your revenue and help you develop a series of channels to which you can drive new traffic and ultimately get conversions.

But where do you begin?

Learning what to send, when to send it and how to drive customer activity can take a lot of trial and error. Instead, follow this four-step process to get up and running with a successful automated campaign from the start.

Note: at the end of this post you will have enough material to finalise an automated campaign that consists of 5-7 emails over 30 days that will help convert readers of your content or participants in your contents into paying customers. This campaign is the bridge!

What To Write In Your Campaigns

The basic idea here is to: share your secrets and earn your customers’ trust.

Sharing is the best form of online marketing there is.

That doesn’t mean you won’t have a specific goal in mind and it certainly doesn’t mean there won’t be a call to action but you want to be sending emails that are all about the customer and helping them through their ‘pain’.

A great, simple to understand example, comes from Unbounce.

They have an educational email course that they use to turn blog readers into customers.

Unbounce Landing Page Course

Unbounce is software that makes it easy to create (you guessed it) landing pages. Their automated email course teaches you how to create a landing page, how to make it effective and gives tips on what to do next when using Unbounce. It’s a classic example of educational marketing at work and it’s awesome.

Here’s a sample email:

Example educational email campaign

Here are the two things you want to write about:

The Problem

What problem does your business solve? Is it making it easy to setup landing pages? Is it making it easy to create online competitions? Is it teaching people to use Microsoft Word? Is it helping customers photograph their weddings? You, better than anyone, should understand the problems your business solves. Laying out the problem(s) loud and clear for your readers makes it easy for them to appreciate the ‘pain’ they are currently experiencing.

Tell Them Your Secrets

This sounds crazy – but tell your customers how to do your job. Give them everything they need to do it themselves. Tell them how to use a Canon 5D and a tripod to take crisp photos, tell them how to host their own landing page and code the raw HTML, tell them how to setup Facebook connect for your competition. By doing this you’ll make the customer see the value in your business. After all – your business makes their life easier, right? By understanding the problem they see value in the solution: and that’s when they pay you! This may sound counter intuitive but by showing a customer how they can solve the problems themselves you will usually show them how difficult it really is and why your business will make their life easier. This is true for all industries. It works well for online software and also for eCommerce. Take Mr Porter: using editorial content they educate their male readers on ways to dress better using videos and images. This helps their target market understand: shopping at Mr Porter makes your life easier!

Unbounce is the perfect example: by sharing tips on how to design landing pages and set your own up they make you realize the value Unbounce (the software) provides. Killer!

How Much To Send & When To Send It

The basic rule here is: two-to-three emails per week, for four weeks.

Focusing specifically on an automated educational campaign, you should use a structure like the following:

  1. Welcome to the course, provide a basic overview of what is to come and promise some amazing content in the next email (to get them waiting).
  2. Hit them with some honest, powerful help for their problem.
  3. Send more tips that build on point two.
  4. Take a new angle on their problem. (Also offer a higher priced deal in this email).
  5. Go more in-depth on the core of their issues.
  6. Give away your BEST secrets. Tell them course is concluding.
  7. Conclude your content (and offer lower priced deal). Also provide a CTA to re-opt-in to another campaign or get in touch directly.

You might be thinking: isn’t seven emails in 30 days just way too much?

Wrong! If done correctly, a series like this can really lift your conversion rates. Take these statistics from Kareem at SocialWOD. He kindly documented the success of his own educational email campaign. As you can see the click rates lift from a (good starting point) of X% and ultimately reach 25%.

To mirror this kind of success you should ensure that you build momentum. One trick to do this is to use the words ‘Part X’ in the subject line. Here’s an example from GetResponse that does just that:

GetResponse Autoresponder Series

Further to this, don’t hesitate to mention the previous or next email in a series in the copy of an email. Write copy that gets your readers waiting for the next instalment.

How-to Funnel Your Leads Into Your Campaign

At this point you may be wondering: how can I get leads to specifically sign up for this particular automated email campaign.

Most businesses collect leads for specific purposes: for a competition, as part of a blog subscription, via a partnership. Usually there is a specific purpose to these funnels and sending your customers emails out of the blue is the wrong thing to do.

Here are a few ways you can cross-pollinate subscribers to your new educational email list:

Ask Them Upfront

WPEngine use this dedicated landing page to generate leads, the primary focus being a speed test they send WordPress users.

As part of this lead capture they specifically ask whether or not you also want to receive a free, opt-out any time email marketing course on WordPress optimization:

This tactic can be applied in popup form, as part of a competition, on your homepage or anywhere else you are collecting leads.

Retarget With Display Ads

Display retargeting is still relatively cheap. Using tools like Perfect Audience and AdRoll it is easy to retarget customers that visit a particular page, or series of pages, on your website.

We regularly use this at Vero to drive visitors to our blog posts, blog home page, campaign categories or product home page back to our educational email course.

I highlight recommend this approach and the ads don’t have to be fancy. Here’s an example:

Vero Remarketing Ad

Using display remarketing gives you the chance to use standard conversion optimisation strategies for your display ads and also creates an entire new way to ‘recycle’ leads and drive otherwise bounced traffic into a funnel that converts!

Use Your Signature

If you are collecting leads already then there is no doubt you are emailing them at least a few times. Using your signature effectively can be a great way to target customers and cross-pollinate a list.

Adding a little ad for your educational course can work wonders. Either text-based or via a badge is the way to go. If you setup your email software correctly you can also use some filtering to ensure these ‘ads’ are only shown to customers that are not already subscribed to your automated campaign!

How To Ask For Conversions

The final piece of the puzzle is getting conversions. So far we’ve written some great educational copy, setup an automated series of emails that will work while you sleep and are successfully driving our leads to this email campaign.

With the right calls to action you can certainly drive conversion rates from this sort of automated campaign as high as 10-15%. This might be for a free trial, it might be for direct purchases or it might be for some other goal.

Following the formula outlined in part two, the usual place to directly offer your products is mid-way through the campaign and again at the end.

Two things to note here:

  1. Although this is all about education, having a clear CTA in at least two emails will dramatically lift the success of this sort of campaign.
  2. In your first offer, mention a more expensive product. This will help ‘frame’ your later offer and, for those customers that don’t see enough value in the initial offer, make the second seem a lot more cost effective!

Some brainstorming:

  • If you were an eCommerce store and offered a course on “8 steps to dressing better” you should offer a reasonably expensive product in email number four. You could then follow up with a cheaper product (say 30% cheaper) in the final email. You could of course experiment with more offers throughout!
  • A software company offering a course on “How to use Twitter like a pro” should mention their mid-tier pricing option in email number four and sell it’s benefits. They should then follow up and offer their cheapest tier on the final email.
  • A marketplace offering a course on “How to outsource design to save time and money” should offer their mid-priced design option in email four and the cheapest in email number three.

That should give you a flavour. Here’s an example from the WPEngine course where they sell their medium-tier plan.

WPEngine CTA

Here’s another example, this time from GetResponse. It’s much more direct.

GetResponse CTA

Finally, Unbounce link back to content on their site, giving them lots more space to experiment with CTAs. Another great example:

Unbounce CTA

Linking to a post that ends with this:

Unbounce Onpage CTA

Sunday Best are a UK-based retailer that tries lots of novel approaches when it comes to email. Although they don’t strictly use an educational series they sign customers up to their newsletter which is 95% educational and 5% offer-based.

Take this typical example that is purely about trust-building education:

Sunday Best

…then, a few newsletters in, you’ll get something like this:

Sunday Best Coupon

The second email opens with a sale (you should use a coupon) and then carries on with the great educational content. This idea of selling in amongst great educational content is a winner and works across all industries. Use your own coupon code in amongst educational newsletters and watch the results!


So, THAT is how you setup an automated campaign that converts!

After reading this guide you should have a good idea of how to structure an automated campaign, what to write in the campaign and how to insert calls to action that will actually drive conversions. By funneling traffic and leads into this campaign you will most certainly lift the conversion rates for your business.

What do you think? What other ideas have you see that work or would like to test? Let us know in the comments below!

PS – Want more tips like this? Checkout Vero’s own dedicated email marketing landing page and learn how to send automated emails that convert with their free, opt-out-anytime 30 day educational email course.

Next Post: 20 Email List Growth Tips  
Chris Hexton

Chris Hexton is a co-founder of Vero and the online marketer behind their own email marketing campaigns and email marketing blog. He spends his time helping Vero’s customers send emails that convert better.

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