Why Lead Nurturing Emails Need Content Marketing

Feature image with text lead nurturing emails and content marketing

Lead nurture is a hot topic in marketing recently, and for good reason. For brands sitting on a database of leads who are interested, but not quite ready to become customers, lead nurturing presents the perfect opportunity to warm them up and build a relationship with them until they are ready to convert.

Most lead databases primarily include email addresses, and for several reasons email is the go-to channel for many organisations’ lead nurturing plans. If your organisation is looking to dive into lead nurturing emails, here’s why it should go hand-in-hand with your content marketing strategy.

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurture is the practice of engaging with your leads with the intention of moving them from the top of the sales funnel towards conversion.

It’s particularly effective when you have leads who are not yet ready to commit to your product or service, but who are interested enough to have begun their process of research and discovery.

AIDA sales funnel diagramLike a lot of digital marketing, lead nurturing is most effective when it is bespoke and personalised to your audiences. A best-practice lead nurture program will be segmented both by:

  • Demographics, for example where your audience lives or what their job function is, and
  • Behavioural indicators, namely their stage in the decision towards conversion,  which could be defined by measures like how often they have engaged with you, how long since they have engaged with you, or their previous purchase history. 

Say, for example, your business sells tools requested and used by front-line employees and purchased by small business owners:

Your lead nurturing email plans would be segmented for both audiences, and would plot out several communications streams depending on what stage of their journey each audience is at. 

At an early stage of their journey towards decision, neither audience would be open to hard sales messaging, and instead would likely prefer more general content thematically linked to your product/service. However, the front-line employee segment would get different value out of your offering than the CEO segment would, so the general content served at this stage would be tailored towards that value. 

Whatever your business, your system for classifying your leads’ stage of journey needs to be dynamic to re-classify leads into new stages once they meet set criteria. When this happens, the new communications your leads receive should not be repetitive to what they have previously received at their previous stage, or else you risk them switching off to ‘old news’.

Why use email for lead nurturing?

Email is an often overlooked digital marketing channel. In the digital space, it’s one of the oldest channels so brands can often lose enthusiasm for it in the face of newer, sexier channels. In reality, there are a lot of factors which make email a perfect channel for lead nurturing. 


Looking at volume alone, there are three times more email accounts than there are Facebook and Twitter accounts combined. 

With organic (non-paid) reach on social media down to just 2% on some channels, the organic reach of email and the opportunity to reach such a wide range of people online is particularly attractive. 

Low cost for high return

With the exception of email marketing platform subscriptions and any costs associated with creating HTML email templates, graphics, and copywriting, email is a free channel.

As Campaign Monitor explains, studies have found that for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in return on investment and that generally, email drives the best ROI of any digital channel for brands.

Consumers like it

77% of people would rather receive permission-based promotional messages via email (according to Salesforce). 

Research by the Data & Marketing Association also found that email topped every channel when customers were asked their preference for receiving information, including new products.

Brands are in control of content

Keeping up with and pleasing social media algorithms is a job in itself. One tweak to an algorithm or a social media policy can completely hinder a brand’s content and ruin their strategy.

This is not the case with email marketing. Whilst brands need to adhere to best practices to avoid having their emails sent to the junk folder, the actual content of the email is completely down to the brand and doesn’t need to consider how best to ‘reach’ a recipient. There’s no need for keyword or hashtag research to boost visibility, for example. 

The role of content marketing in lead nurture emails

Content marketing is an inbound marketing tactic which aims to establish trust and build a relationship with an audience through the delivery of useful content, relevant to both the audience and brand.

Effective content marketing considers an audience’s interests, needs and channel preferences at all stages of their customer journey. In this way, if content marketing and lead nurture programs are both created based on the same understanding about an audience’s journey then the targeted content created in your content marketing program can be repurposed for your lead nurture efforts, too.

Of course, your content marketing strategy will aim to fulfil much more than just your lead nurture plans, but with a mature lead nurture program, email will be considered a key distribution channel for whatever content you create. 

Great content marketing considers amplification and distribution during the production stage. So, if your content marketing strategy centres heavily on blogs or written content, you’ll want to make sure you write short copy for your email templates when you create your content. If the strategy hinges off graphics and/or video, make sure you create thumbnails and image grabs which will pique your audience’s attention in your email templates.

If you really want to level-up the relationship between your online content and your lead nurturing emails, you might start to look at combining this approach with other digital marketing tactics, like remarketing to people who have visited certain pages (or content pieces) on your website. This is where your lead nurture strategy can begin to move into a multi-channel, sophisticated digital marketing program. 

Want to learn more about lead nurture and content marketing?

If you’re reading this blog and realising just how much you’d like to know about lead nurturing emails and content marketing, get in touch with us! We combine digital marketing strategy with bespoke training to make sure you and your colleagues upskill in the areas presenting the most strategic opportunity for your organisation.


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