The psychology behind why email nurture sequences increase conversion rates
Creating a quality email nurture sequence is not something we see often. Businesses often put time and effort into Nurture purely because they’ve heard that nurturing their audience can increase conversion rates, but are they doing it properly?
Nurture is the art of educating and adding value to your audience to further your relationship with them.
With stats like the following, why wouldn’t you be investing in nurture?
- Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (Source: The Annuitas Group)
- Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails. (Source: Jupiter Research)
- Personalised emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%. (Source: Aberdeen Group)
- Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. (Source: DemandGen Report)
We know from hands on experience with our clients that nurture is vital to increasing conversion rates. For instance our own New Zealand Natural Clothing doubled their conversion rates and their average order value through a nurture first strategy.
But why does it work so well?
Nurture increases engagement, conversion rates and customer lifetime value because it skews the purchase formula the brain uses in your favour.
So to understand why email nurture sequences work, we must understand the purchase process.
We’re going to take a look at how nurture works in the purchase process, what this means for you and how and where you can add the biggest impact with your nurture.
How an Email Nurture Sequence will Increase Conversion Rates - The Purchase Formula
When we go to purchase a product or service, there is a very specific process the brain goes through to decide whether or not to buy.
Professor Brian Knutson and colleagues at Stanford university ran some fascinating experiments into how the brain makes a purchase decision. They popped people into an fMRI scanner, showed them a picture of a product first, and then the price, and then asked them whether or not they would buy.
The results gave us phenomenal insight into how the brain chooses to buy.
When participants saw the product, the reward centres of the brain lit up like a Christmas tree. This makes sense, you see something you want to buy - your brain emulates having that, and you get a nice little hormonal boost that triggers a stronger desire for the product.
But… It was when brains saw the price that the real funkiness came into play.
When participants saw the price of the product, we expected that the logic centres would be activated.
Perhaps some of the emotional centres too (especially if you’re following the Antonio Demasio train of thought). Neither of these things happened.
Instead, the pain centres of the brain were activated. Literally the part of the brain that deals with physical or emotional trauma.
This study laid bare that there is no “purchase” section to the brain.
We evolved to survive, not buy stuff - especially not online. To thrive in a modern world the brain needs to hack itself every day to get by. Using processes and systems that were never intended to be utilised in this way.
But the insights did not stop there.
Looking at the level of activation in the reward centre vs the activation in the pain centre in the brain scans of participants, researchers were able to predict whether or not that person would buy that product before they had decided they were going to buy.
This insight led to discovery of the purchase formula:
Net Value = Reward - Pain
Without getting all mathematical, the likelihood of purchase is influenced by how much reward activation your consumers have about your product or service in relation to the amount of pain activation the price gives them.
The researchers found two things:
- 1The Net value must be positive - in other words the reward value must outweigh the pain value
- 2The Net value must be high - in other words your consumers have to have a much higher reward activation to pain activation.
As businesses we tend to focus on price - making that seem as enticing as possible. We want to soften the blow, because we’re nice like that!
But this is the area we don’t have a huge amount of control over. While the pain activation can be reduced, we can’t get rid of it entirely.
The area we have so much more potential to impact, and the one thing that we can do to increase our conversion rates - is to increase the reward activation that your prospects have in relation to your products and services.
That’s where nurture comes in. Having an email nurture sequence in your marketing mix increases the value of your brand and your products to your audience.
This is also why content marketing works so well. It adds value and increases the perceived reward. It skews the reward activation in your favour.
Adding value and educating your audience through nurture means you’re utilising quality content to increase the reward activation in your prospects brains.
Nurturing emails hack the purchase formula.
So how do you apply this to your marketing automation?
To start, map out the entry points to your marketing automation. Each point that someone can gain access to your system should have its own nurture in place.
That first interaction with you and your brand is vital to create positive interactions and perceptions.
The Two Different Types of Email Nurture Sequence for Marketing Automation
The first type of Email Nurture Sequence: Short Term Nurture
Here are some examples of Short Term Nurture (or STN for short)
Have a Lead Magnet opt in?
Your lead magnets need their own follow up and nurture in place.
Focus on educating them and adding value on top of what they have already signed up for. Not only does this increase the consumption of your lead magnets, it also increases your call to action conversions.
Good lead magnet nurture will increase your engagement long after they have opted in the first time round.
Have a Contact form?
Your contact forms are another entry point, and need nurture too.
Very often the only thing that contacts will hear from you when they fill out a contact us form is a little bit of sales.
Instead, add a little bit of nurture into the mix too with a welcome series that makes them feel at home, offers of further content and more ways for them to get to know you as a personable brand.
Have New Customers?
If you have the potential for prospects to buy from you without getting to know you first, you need to welcome them on board and get to know them.
New customer nurture allows you to start your relationship on the right foot with your brand new customer.
Great new customer nurture will increase the likelihood of a second purchase, increasing your customer lifetime value.
Have a Sales Process?
If you have a sales pipeline, a longer sales cycle, or you’re looking to add value to your prospects and teach them about your services, a good sales nurture series will significantly increase your conversion rates.
We like to call this motivational sales nurture. It’s the place where you educate and add value while gently positioning yourselves, dealing with objections and clarifying exactly how you’ll help your prospects solve their specific challenges.
These 4 forms of nurture are called short term nurture. You do short term nurture for a brief period of time to get a prospect to know, like and trust you. Want a deeper dive into Short Term Nurture? Get it here.
But stopping there means you’ll miss out on the power to leverage that purchase formula, and you’ll be missing out on some sweet customer lifetime value.
How to Increase Engagement, Customer Lifetime Value and Create Loyal Customers with Engagement
Nurture isn’t just good for increasing your conversion rates - it’s also good for your customer lifetime value, your engagement and your loyalty.
The second type of Email Nurture Sequence: Long Term Nurture
…or LTN for short.
As it says on the tin, this is nurture that goes over a much longer period of time. We aim to provide long term nurture for as long as your contact is on your list.
It’s this form of nurture that has the biggest impact on the purchase formula.
This nurturing email sequence is the backbone of your marketing automation - everyone from everywhere should end up in your long term nurture.
It’s here that you send out all that amazing content that you might be creating to bring people in.
Or if you’re not into content marketing, it’s here where you’d add value through insight driven emails.
However you’re communicating - this should be going forever, consistently adding value to your audience on things they care about. The important thing is that you should be focusing on increasing the reward value in the minds of your consumers.
Pro Tip: You can utilise engagement with your long term nurture to progressively profile your audience, and to behaviourally trigger your contacts into sales sequences.
Are you after some tangible ideas? Get them here in our blog all about Long Term Nurture Campaigns.
Nurture and the Customer Journey
Nurture and the purchase formula go hand in hand.
Whether you’re honing in on short term nurture, or fixing up your long game - good nurture is indispensable to your customer journey and your marketing automation.
World class customer journeys are full of nurture.
We help our clients create powerful journeys and marketing automation using the Life Cycle Marketing framework. 'Engage' is what we use to nurture within this framework.
The underlying principle behind 'Engage' is to add value and educate your audience. Building a relationship by helping them progress to the next stages of their journey.
Focusing on continually increasing your positioning and the reward value they perceive.
Want to know a little more about the customer journey? You can grab our free customer journey download below: