jeanne march 2007

With average open rates in the 20% range and average click-through rates in the single digits, an easy way to increase the reach of your email marketing efforts is by using a series of email messages. We’ll be discussing this more in a Webinar on March 23rd – here’s a preview!

Last year I developed a highly successful email series for a client. We sent six email messages over the course of about three months. Looking at cumulative unique opens and clicks (at least one open/click per person over the course of the series) we found that:

– The six effort series yielded an overall unique open rate nearly twice (+95%) that of the initial email message

– The six effort series yielded an overall unique click-through rate more than three times (+236%) that of the initial email message

A strategic email series is different than a straight resend. Rather than send the same message over and over again, you craft multiple messages with different benefits and/or content, but with the same offer or goal.

Email series can be used effectively in a number of ways:

– Welcome Campaigns

– Reactivation Programs

– Lead Nurturing

– Event Promotions

– Top of Mind Initiatives

– Anytime You Want to Increase Your Reach

Email series provide you the chance to build a case for your product or service offering. They also give you the ability to present much more information that you could in a single email. The key to success is to develop a big-picture strategy for the series, assigning different key messages to each missive.

For another client, I developed a welcome email series to replace a single welcome email they’d been sending. The service was somewhat complicated, so it was helpful to be able to explain it to people a little bit at a time, rather than try to do it in a single email all at once.

The email sign-up was free – the client didn’t get any revenue until subscribers came back to use the service they offered. And the conversion for new subscribers was very low.

In order to create the series, we brainstormed about three things:

– The benefits of the service

– Obstacles to new customers using the service

– Incentives to get people to try the service

We developed some standard copy to be used in the right column of every email which included key information including:

– A list of resources to help readers overcome common obstacles to using the service

– Detailed information on the incentive with a deadline to add urgency

– A prominent button to login and use the service

In the end, we decided on a 4-effort series, sent weekly over the course of a month which consisted of the following:

First Email

Timing: At email sign-up

Topic of body copy: Reiterate the benefits of the service and provide links to resources to overcome common obstacles

Second Email

Timing: one week post sign-up

Topic of body copy: Explain and clarify the various service level options

Third Email

Timing: two weeks post sign-up

Topic of body copy: Provide detailed information on a unique benefit of using the service, which would provide a quantitative, measureable return on their investment

Fourth Email

Timing: three weeks post sign-up

Topic of body copy: Provide a “last chance” reminder about the incentive and reiterate the benefits of the service

When we implemented the series, we saw an almost immediate lift in the rate of conversion from free email subscribers to paid customers.

The best part of many email series is that while they take some time and effort to create initially, they are evergreen. You can use them, without major changes, for years to come, since they’ll be sent to different people on an ongoing basis.

Have you had success with an email series? If so, please share your experience in comment and let’s get a discussion going!

Editor’s Note: Jeanne Jennings ( will be leading a Webinar on “Using Email Series to Boost Response” on March 23rd at 2 pm. Learn More ( or Register Today (