Email Marketing

Nurture Email Subscribers to Drive Downstream Conversions

Converting a prospect into a customer is a process. It can take time and multiple touch points. Prospects that are email subscribers are at various stages in their lifecycle with your brand. Some may not be looking to purchase. Some may be researching and gathering information. Others are ready to buy now.

Designing an email program that addresses each subscriber’s needs is challenging — but extremely effective. In this post, I’ll explain how to address those needs by designing and executing an email nurture program.

React to Behaviors

All email nurture programs all have one common element: react to the behavior of subscribers. Certain behaviors imply future actions by subscribers. We can isolate subscribers by those behaviors and filter them into appropriate funnels.

Take, for example, subscribers who have opened or clicked on an email. Those actions indicate at least an interest in the content. They can be a starting point for a nurture program.  We could group subscribers by those actions, such as:

  • Opened an email.
  • Clicked on an email.
  • Has not opened in a certain number of days, weeks, months.
  • Has not clicked in a certain number of days, weeks, or months.

Once an email subscriber has indicated his initial interest, a nurture program would place him in a path to receive messages that are designed for the actions you want him to take.

Subject Lines and Content

Drafting a nurture path will isolate areas in which you can use subject lines and content tactics more effectively. For example, attention-grabbing subject lines may be better used on those who have not opened an email for the second or third time, versus someone who opens emails consistently. Likewise, revamping creative or optimizing the offer in the body of an email is best for subscribers who tend to open — but not click.

The more relevant an email is to a subscriber’s behavior, the more it will entice her to your desired action.


Testing can help email marketers perfect their nurture paths. Testing can help understand the reactions of subscribers, to guide them into the desired behavior. One example is a subject line test to the individuals who are not opening emails.

Other options are creative and frequency tests for subscribers who are opening emails, but not clicking. These individuals have interest, but they are not taking action for one reason or another. Perhaps there is a restriction in the body of the email, the product selection is not appealing, or the individual is simply too busy or not in the market to purchase at that moment.

Adding tests to the nurture path will provide much insight into the actions of subscribers. Testing in a nurture path is much better than a traditional A/B test on your entire file. And testing small groups could lead to better performance.


Nurture paths can help improve downstream conversions. But they require much planning, organization, and time. Automating your nurture path will help.

Many email service providers can facilitate nurture paths, to easily execute. In addition, if you have created triggered or automated email campaigns, such as an abandoned cart emails or an abandoned browse or search emails, your nurture path can focus on filtering as many people into those existing triggered streams as possible.

Start Slow

Develop a simple nurture path. See how the process works with your email service provider and your subscriber list. It could be a simple two-step process, separating purchasers from non-purchasers. Start slow and build up to more complex paths, to drive more purchases.

Carolyn Nye
Carolyn Nye
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