What is a Long term Nurture email campaign?

By Lucy Barfoot | Behaviour

Oct 22

Why should you have one, and what should it contain?

A Long Term Nurture email campaign is an automated sequence of emails, triggered by someone joining your list, which delivers value-add emails. 

It should be considered as one of any business' customer engagement strategies. 

In this blog, I’ll be encouraging you to have a Long Term Nurture campaign in place, because it’s a real mistake not to and I don’t want you to make that mistake. Without out, you’ll be missing out on… those sales opportunities (and shifting the crazy stat that on average, 80% of new leads never translate into sales (Invespcro, 2019)

I’m going to share with you some tangible content ideas, the reasons why you should have a Long Term Nurture series in place, some do’s and don’t of a nurture campaign, when and how often to send these emails.

I’ll be talking about the  importance of keeping things evergreen too. I’m going to go a little deeper too and get you thinking about ways to optimise a LTN. I want to get you thinking about how you could use the engagement you get from your LTN emails to (appropriately!) sell. 

Let’s start with a great example 

My vets are totally winning with their Long Term Nurture campaign - let me tell you a bit about what they send through as their long term nurture campaign…

A couple of weeks after signing my puppy up to a ‘Healthy Pet Club’ membership (which gives benefits like free vaccinations, flea and worm treatment and 10% off vet bills) I started receiving an email every 3 weeks from the vet practice, for the last 2 years. 

These emails are personalised - they include my pet’s name throughout (Dusty, thanks for asking), and there is only dog-related content sent to me.

The regular emails share: 

  • Tips (eg. ‘The importance of daily brushing’ and ‘Simple health checks you can do with your dog at home’)
  • Facts (eg. ‘Why Do Dogs Lick You?’) 
  • How-to’s (eg. How to train your dog to do the perfect recall’)

The above pieces of content are teased in the Long Term Nurture emails, and there are ‘read more’ buttons which link to articles on their website. 

There’s a good amount of content shared - without me being overwhelmed by it (overwhelm often leads to an immediate ‘archive’ click from me!) there is attractive imagery used, and there are always a sentence or two reminding me that they are there if I need them. Here’s what they said at the end of their last LTN email: “If you have any questions about anything in this month's newsletter, please visit your practice or give them a call.” 

They’re doing it right. 

How do I feel?

I feel grateful for the often useful information shared, I feel like my vet surgery are the experts, I feel like I’m glad I chose them as my vets, and will likely stick with them and love them longtime. I feel happy to get this email from them, and I don’t feel like they are pushy - (no sales messages in the emails, hurrah!)

Are these things you want your audience to feel?

 Yes? 

Good! Let’s get to it - a Long Term Nurture sequence is a key relationship builder. 

So - why should you have a Long Term Nurture series?

Think of a Long Term Nurture series as the backbone to your marketing:

  • It’s a regular touch point with your customer

  • It’s a way of giving them an experience of who you are as a business

  • A Long Term Nurture series is a way of engaging your list

  • It earns the trust of your consumers

  • It drives traffic to your website

  • It can lead to better conversions

  • It can increased Customer Lifetime Value / retain more customers/ getting them buying more

  • Which means that a good LTN series can increase your profits

  • Plus, a Long Term Nurture series can trickle people into campaigns that convert (more on that later)

What should the goal be for a Long Term Nurture series?

Your goal should be to develop a lifelong relationship with your consumer. 

You need to focus on educating your consumer and adding value to them by encouraging engagement with your (super useful and relevant) content.

If someone comes onto your list and doesn't convert straight away, they’re not a dead lead. Some leads might take years to purchase, and in your marketing automation, you need to design for that. Forrester Research discovered that businesses with great lead nurturing strategies generate 50% more sales leads than their competition, and at a whopping 33% lower cost per lead.Pretty good stats huh? 

And if you’re looking to get ahead, nurture strategies like a Long Term Nurture campaign - especially if you’re in the B2B world -is key to success. Research shows that a huge 65% of B2B marketers have NOT established lead nurturing. (MarketingSherpa) Be the 35%! 

The potential for future sales is too great to not invest time / money / resources in an engaging nurture series. 

 In short, if you’re just leaving leads to die in your CRM, you are:

  1. Silly

  2. Missing out

Let’s dive in… and if you’re feeling challenged by the idea of creating relevant content, let me help… 

Start out right

I encourage you to make a little doc to guide you. Like a ‘Long Term Nurture brief.’ It’s so easy to go off piste with your Long Term Nurture campaign, you’ll really benefit from keeping some guidelines in place. 

What should your brief doc contain? 

  • Summary of who the business is

  • Summary of who the audience is. 

    • What are their interests? 

    • What tone do they like being spoken to in? 

    • Where do they live? 

    • How much do they earn? 

    • Get deep into the psychographics here 

  • How do you want the LTN to feel? Do you want it to be inspiring? Useful? Authentic? Knowledge giving? A mixture of theses things?

  • Draw out any stats you have on your best performing blogs to date - and let that guide you. 

The bonus of having this brief is when you’re so wildly successful that you haven’t an iota of time in your biz to create content, you can march right up to a content creator with your brief. Simple. Efficient. We like this.

How do you decide what to write about for your Long Term Nurture Series?

We’ve got a handy little blog all about that - ‘How to start blogging for your business’. That blog will give you a real guide to choosing and planning content. Don’t miss it! 

In the meantime, before you put a content plan together, or if you’re looking for a refresh of ideas, I’ve put together a list of tangible ideas for content to include in an LTN series for you for a made up small business. It’s an online store selling soft furnishings - cushions and bedding. All designed in-house. Here are some ideas for the content a soft furnishings company could share in their LTN:

  • Series of stories from other small business owners in your area

  • Xmas/Birthday gift guides

  • Share stories > great way to being emotion in to your LTN. Ask one of your best customers to share their living space, interview them.

  • Talk about colour - ie. ‘this is Pantone’s new colour of the year’

  • Blog about how you can bring more colour into your home

  • Share images and descriptions of what celebs bedrooms look like 

  • Create Pinterest boards on specialist homeware related things, share a new pin board

  • Video content! Give a house tour. Satisfy the voyeurs!

  • More video content! Give a house tour of someone with a fancy house

  • Behind the scenes - what goes into designing a new collection

  • Top 10’s of home products you don’t sell - ie 10 best smelling candles / 10 hilarious tea towels

  • Show taste and personality by sending a roundup of your favourite (home related, or general) Instagram accounts to follow. Including a bit of a ‘why I like them’ will allow people to get to know you more. 

  • Same with your favourite podcasts

  • Talk about working for yourself and why you love it

  • Note down the FAQs and use as content ideas. Ie. a homewares company might get asked a lot about the sizes of their bedding - as different countries call different sizes different names, so write a guide to bedding sizing!

  • Interview an expert - a designer who makes beautiful homeware product. Interview them about their creative process. 

Once you get started, you can’t stop, as I found with the above list. Sorry!

Note that lots of the ideas above are about sharing other people’s things. This is not only a nice thing to do in this cutthroat internet world but means that some of the people you mention may give you a bit of a shout-out back. Double bubble! 

But what if you run out of ideas? There are so many out there! Model what other companies do - who sends you great nurturing emails? Keep a lot of their content topics and mould them to match your business. 

I’m going to cover some other important things LTN related now... 

Frequency? 

How often? Sending too much, too quickly - that’s a nono. 

And the opposite is true too - don’t leave it so long that they forget who you are - we’ve all been there, when you get an email from something you signed up to many moons ago, and you just don’t remember them.

You’re likely to feel a bit irked, and you ask yourself  ‘how am I on your list?’ you unsubscribe, or worse still - report the email or mark as spam. 

Don’t be that business! 

Remember - you should have successfully established a real connection in your indoctrination campaign (See the Ninja blog ’What Should Every Welcome or Indoctrination Email Series Contain?’ for all things Indoctrination) but don’t leave a big gap between that and your LTN. Ride the wave, they’ve recently signed up to get an email from you, they’re into you. 

I like the emails to be regular - ie. weekly / fortnightly / monthly. But other people, businesses and industries have a real personal preference.

Here’s a little pep talk if you’re worried about sending too many emails - the potential is huge here, not to get people keeping your business front-of-mind, but also for people to really enjoy (and look forward to!) your emails. 

We’ve had clients reporting that people respond directly back to their LTN emails with thank you’s because they found it eye-opening / useful / inspiring. It’s possible that people will feel really grateful towards you for your LTN. How lovely! 

Worried that  people will unsubscribe and you’ll lose them? Think of a LTN campaign as a bit of a filter - you’ll be sending all this value to your consumer, and so if they unsubscribe, then you’re just not their cup of tea - and they also are not an ideal customer of yours. Don’t be precious about it - It’s good really - they’re not sat there bloating your list.

And the best thing? It’s all happening automatically. And here’s something important about that…

Evergreen-ness: 

Your Long Term Nurture should be fully automated.

You can bulk-write and add a year’s worth of content all at once if you like (satisfying!) but please, please make sure that everything you add to your LTN series is fresh. 

There may be cases where some of your content - and emails sharing that content, will need to be updated - ie. If I was running that homewares company in my example, and wrote a piece of content for my LTN about my favourite Instagrammers, I may put a note in my diary 6 months later to check that they are still active Instagram accounts, and no one has changed their usernames. If I was writing about top tea-towels, I might check that they are all still for sale and have a look for some on-trend new ones to share after 6 months.

Resist the temptation to add non- evergreen messaging to your LTN. ie. The lure to add  a quick PS to mention your half price sale… That ain’t evergreen. An opening line of ‘Welcome to Autumn!...’ that ain’t evergreen. Talking about an upcoming local event... that ain’t evergreen! Stop it! The place for things like this is in your sales messaging, or your newsletter. 

Make it a clear series: 

Add a way of distinguishing this email series from the other emails you send - I like using brackets, ie. [Home Zone] before the subject line itself. Or how about add an emoji - eg:

Subject: Home zone 🏠 

More on that in my blog Why use Emojis in email subject lines?

Make it pretty. 

Make people really want to open the content shared in the email. Make an effort with your imagery - perhaps every email has the same style of artwork to share the ‘read me’ content CTA (I find Canva so quick and easy for this).

Collecting click data

Future -proof your LTN! 

You may not be ready now, but you’ll be missing a trick if you don’t plan to do something with the engagement on your LTN. Tagging is your friend - Tag who clicks on which content. I find a blog numbering system, and a ‘Clicked on LTN #4’ is all you need for this. What would you do with those tag clicks? Well this is my #1 way to optimise an LTN. 

Back to my homewares biz, imagine if I have someone on my list who has clicked on 5 pieces of content I send  about cushions, and yet has never bought a cushion from me. I think they would be a prime candidate to receive sales messages about my cushions. Perhaps a discount voucher would go down well…

We call this type of thing a ‘Short Term Nurture’ which is off the back of your Long Term Nurture. Your audience could be eligible to go into various different Short term nurture campaigns based on their engagement with the LTN. Kenda wrote a blog all about this profiling method. It’s great - you should read it. In fact, you can read it here: Progressive Profiling: Behavioural Segmentation From Customer Behaviour.


Here’s a little snippet: 

"Depending on what topics the content covers, engagement with the information tells us what they are interested in.  We use those engagements to progressively profile. 

And when the engagements hit a specific threshold, they automatically trigger segment based sales campaigns, or notify the sales team that an engagement threshold has been reached. 

These smaller campaigns are called short term nurture sequences, they get people ready for sales. 

Suddenly - BAM - you’re progressive profiling based on behavioural segmentation."

Yes. I know. It’s exciting. People are filtering themselves into different sales channels. As you can imagine, the potential is huge here. 

Invite comments/replies. 

Ask questions in your LTN emails which incite a reply. Encourage engagement in that way, it shows you’re human, and interested in your consumers. Depending on your business/industry, you might want to  offer other easy ways for your contact to contact you- perhaps a ‘schedule a call’ button, or a reminder of your opening hours. 

Comments on the content you’re sharing in your LTN is great too, so ask people to leave a comment, and always reply to any you receive. 

Keep an eye on the stats

Tracking the performance of your LTN is so important. Make space to regularly look at your LTN open rates,  click through rates, and time-on-site stats. What are people most interested in? Write more around that topic! What’s flatlining? Is the topic not interesting, or was the CTA to read that blog a bit dull? 

Obviously subject lines come into this too, so make tweaks as you see fit and track any improvements. Tweak tweak tweak. 

No Sales

Your LTN is not the place to add sales messages. It’s tempting, I know, but don’t. You’ll need to keep yourself really strict with this. Just keep providing value, build that relationship, build trust. You need to earn the relationship before you ask for the sale.

Don’t overcommit

Getting an LTN up and running means creating a lot of content. We recommend always being 2-3 pieces of content ahead of yourself. And ideally, much more. We encourage anything which takes the stress away a little bit. 

It’s a good idea to schedule in the time to create this content too… This should be all part of your LTN brief too. So if you’re sending 1 LTN email out  a week, that’s 52 pieces of content on your website, and 52 emails to share that content. If each of those content + email pieces takes you roughly 5 hours to write, edit, proofread, create images for, upload, then… 

52 x 5 = 260 hours. In 8 hour days, that’s 32.5 days. 

Which is a lot.

Getting clear about the time commitment before you start is key. Having a great LTN can transform businesses, so remember - it’s so worth it. 

Ways to optimise a Long Term Nurture:

If you have a business where there is a clear split of customers - eg. an estate agent with people buying houses and also people looking to rent, you’ll need to ideally have 2 seperate nurtures of each, or include a mix of relevant content in each email. (I like that my vet’s Nurture emails does not include cat-related things, as it’s not relevant to me, but I imagine some people would like a mixture)

If people join your list through a lead magnet, you’ll have an idea of their awareness level, so perhaps they skip some emails on your LTN which you know wouldn’t be relevant to them, or they may have a totally different LTN designed just for them. 

Those are 2 ways you can optimise your LTN, let’s talk about some more… 

  • A different LTN series for leads vs customers
  • As I mentioned above in the ‘Collect Click Data’ section, and will reiterate here as it’s a real sales opportunity… Create a ‘short term nurture’ series which is triggered by engagement with topics in the LTN, ie. they click on 4 pieces of content about how to keep your dogs teeth clean, they are delivered a short series giving them more info about teeth cleaning methods/equipment, and nudging them to buy a doggie dentist session. 
  • Send a LTN which is relevant to their awareness level - more on how to find out their awareness level and segmenting on it in the engage playbook. Print it out, fill it out, it’s a massive shortcut which I still can’t believe we’re giving away for free!
  • Optimise - maybe you want the best performing blogs at the beginning of the LTN sequence. Switch the order around after, say 6 months of campaign delivery to really get your contact’s interest and encourage them to open every email in your LTN series because they know they’re getting something good.  

Thank you for reading. If you’re ready to create your LTN, then just get started. This is a real backbone of email marketing, and the sooner you have something live, the sooner you’re engaging your list. 

I’m going to be working on a second blog more about the nitty gritty of Long Term Nurture campaigns, expect flowcharts, opting out strategies, the works. 

And a little reminder that I also want to point you in the direction of something Kenda recently wrote for the Ninja  blog- ‘Progressive Profiling: Behavioural Segmentation From Customer Behaviour.’ which links very much to the ideal of watching what people engage with in your LTN series. This blog will tell you everything you need to know to profile your customers for more sales opportunities, higher engagement and more sales. Without annoying people… 

Until then… 

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