10 Factors That Determine the Success of Your Sales Email Sequence

Here is a simple two-step formula to create an email sequence:

  1. Draft a series of emails talking about your product
  2. Send them in predefined intervals

That’s it!

Start reaping the benefits of your email sequence instantly.

Oh, we really wish it was as simple as that!

Did you know that an average individual receives 121 business-related emails each day? 

Now imagine what are the chances of your emails falling under the radar of the recipient? 

10 bucks says your email will be buried in this pile and lost forever. 

So the question is how to make your emails visible to your prospects, or in other words, how to make your email sequence successful?

There are a bunch of factors ranging from personalization to testing, which when done right, lets you experience increased clicks, improved conversion, shorter sales cycles, and better brand visibility.

In this post, we are going to break down 10 such important factors that will make your email sequence to book a sales meeting a grand success. But first, we will understand what an email sequence is and how to create an email sequence template.

Table of Contents

What is a Sales Email Sequence?

A Sales email sequence is a series of emails that are drafted and scheduled to be sent out to cold prospects in an attempt to book a sales meeting with them. Most sales teams use cold email automation software to send these email sequences. 

In the case of a normal email sequence – the emails are automatically sent at predetermined time intervals irrespective of whether a prospect responds or not. 

In advanced cold email platforms like Klenty, you can set up email follow-ups based on the intent of your prospects. If your prospects are not responding to your emails but are engaging with them by opening them, clicking on a link in the email or downloading a resource from it, you can send them a personalized follow-up email sequence. This same can be repeated for various prospects who show different intent levels. 

1. Typical Email sequence:

Image representing a sequence of image sent out in different days

Sample of an email sequence:

Day 1 – Send a cold email

Day 5 – Send an email with a video attachment introducing yourself and the company

Day 9 – Send a customer success story

Day 13 – Send a useful resource

Day 17 – Send a meeting request

Day 21 – Send a break-up email

2. Trigger-based email sequence:

In the case of an email sequence that is trigger-based, emails are sent based on actions such as browsing behaviour of the user, subscribing to your mailing list, downloading content, etc.

Image representing how trigger based email sequence works

Here’s a sample trigger-based email sequence:

  • Mail 1 – Send a cold email
  • Mail 2 – Send a video (when the recipient opens mail 1)
  • Mail 3A – Send a social proof (when the recipient views the video)
  • Mail 3B – Send a useful resource (in case the recipient doesn’t open the video)
  • Mail 4 – Send a demo invite (when the recipient downloads the ebook or views the social proof)
  • Mail 5 – Offer a discount (when the recipient attends the demo but takes no action after that)

Below we will guide you on how to create your own email sequence template.

How to create an email sequence template?

Step 1: Set the objective

Your email sequence should clearly enunciate what you are hoping to achieve. Identify what action you want prospects to take out of your email sequence. A few action-packed goals can be:

  • Encourage a prospect to schedule a meeting
  • Get referrals
  • Reminder mails for demos/ trials after the initial conversation
  • Educate on the benefits of your products to new leads

There is a vital need to fix the objective of an email sequence as this will help you strategize and structure your automation logic, craft your emails, and measure campaign effectiveness.

Step 2: Use a cold email software

Sending sales email sequences using a cold email software is your best bet at booking a meeting. Not only does it automate the time-consuming process of drafting and sending emails at scale, but it also lets you personalize them making it look like they have been sent by a human. 

Here are the three key attributes of an efficient cold email software:

  • It should have a wide range of personalization features that will increase engagement and customer retention.
  • It should have inbuilt email analytics features that will help you monitor and track the efficacy of your email sequence.
  • It should automate the process of sending emails to large mailing lists and execute a triggered sequence of follow-up emails.

Step 3: Set the duration of your email sequences

You need to craft your sequence around the buyer’s journey and always ensure that your email content is on point and has conversion power. Rarely will a new prospect get back to you after your first cold email; most customers often need multiple touches to draw them back into a sales conversation.

Here are some factors that determine how many emails should you send as part of your sequence: 

  • What is the awareness of your target audience about your product/service? 
  • Are you selling an enterprise product?
  • How new is your product to the market?

The frequency of the emails can vary. For example, in the initial days, send emails once in a while. But as days pass by and your customers are more aware about your product and brand, send emails more frequently. 

💡Pro-tip: You can safely set any working day mornings (Tuesday to Thursday) as your ‘send days’ for the email sequence. Usually, people are busy on Mondays, and there is usually low engagement on Fridays and weekends.

Step 4: Set the conditions for follow-ups

Follow up sequences is made of email series that you can set to trigger whenever customers perform a specific action, such as:

  • Updating profile
  • Making a purchase
  • Opened an email

In other words, this is the stage where you set up criteria for your email automation software to execute. You have two responsibilities in this phase: 

  • Designate which actions to perform and at what time. 
  • Set up if/then logic or how much time should elapse between each action and when specific scenarios happen.

Step 5: Draft the content

An email sequence should ideally include messaging that is tailored to the targeted audience. Here are some essential tips for drafting the perfect content for an email sequence template:

  1. Subject lines should be carefully crafted and optimized.
  2. Make your email opener compelling and make it count.
  3. Ensure that the content of email sequences is constantly updated and is timely. Avoid reference to current news or specific years. In other words, create sequences that are timeless.
  4. The ultimate destination of any email sequence is to make your prospect or customer take action. Writing an excellent sales email without a call to action is pretty much useless.
  5. Personalize to make your email sequences more impactful. 
Image representing how to create an email sequence in 5 steps

10 Factors that determine the success of your Sales Email Sequence

#1 Setting up your email infrastructure

Email infrastructure is nothing but the basic foundation you create that facilitate the delivery of the email. Because at the end of it all you don’t want your emails to fall into spam. So you’ll need to ensure everything is in place so that your email is delivered straight to the inbox. There are four essential steps you need to follow while setting up your email infrastructure:

  1. Configure your mail agent: A mail agent is simply a tool that is responsible for viewing, replying, or transferring emails between a sender and a recipient. A quintessential email infrastructure employs a myriad of mail agents during different stages of an email’s journey. For example, a mail user agent is used to read and reply to messages, delete them or even flag them as spam. A mail transfer agent helps in the exchange of emails between the sender and recipient’s device. A mail delivery agent accepts an email from the transfer agent and stores it in the inbox.
  1. Set up your SMTP Server: This is a tool that is picked by the email client to exchange emails between users. It processes email data and transfers it to the receiver’s inbox by validating criteria such as –  
  • Whether the sender’s account is active
  • Whether the recipient’s address is valid
  • How strong the email reputation is

Whenever you send an email via an SMTP host such as Gmail, the server processes your email and picks the server to which the message has to be sent to, and finally relays the message. The receiver’s inbox service provider (Outlook, for example) downloads the message and stores it in the receiver’s inbox.

  1. Warm-up your IP Address: Warming up will help build credibility and reputation for your email inbox. This involves sending small volumes of emails from a new email address and slowly increasing the volume as the deliverability improves. Here’s a simple strategy that you can follow:
  • In weeks one and two, send emails to only those who have opened the email in the last one month.
  • In weeks three and four, send emails to those who have opened the email in the last two months.

📝Note: Do not send emails in the first six weeks to those who have not opened your email in the last three months. 

  1. Set up a feedback loop: Here’s how a feedback loop works – it informs the sender about any spam complaints submitted by the email receivers. By doing this, one can weed out all those email subscribers who are not interested in your brand. This will also prevent your email address from getting blacklisted due to too many spam complaints.

#2 Personalization

Personalization is the holy grail of the cold email outreach process. In a world where your prospects’ inbox is inundated with so many emails screaming for attention, personalization can be the real game-changer. It is the key to achieving higher open rates and reply rates.

Here are some ways you can personalize your emails in a sequence: 

  • Set up liquid templates that allow you to personalize every email by time, name, date, industry.
  • Add videos to the emails. This will improve engagement and humanize your emails. (backlink) 
  • You can introduce yourself, or talk about your value propositions
  • Add photos or GIFs to introduce yourself or your company
  • Asking questions such as their reasons for visiting the website, registering, subscribing to the trial version, etc.

You should infuse personalization throughout your email sequence, right from the subject line all the way to the signature. Additionally, employing customized CTAs in the email will further engage the prospect and lead to higher response rates. 

Customized CTAs are the exact opposite of basic CTAs. While basic CTAs look the same for every receiver, personalized CTAs are tailored as per individual persona and body copy. For example, a customer who is interested in your product, who doesn’t know much about your brand needs a CTA to learn more about the product. However, someone who is well aware of the brand needs a CTA for a quote or a discount. Personalized CTAs offer the following advantages – 

  • They increase the Click Through Rate (CTR). Personalized CTAs convert 202% better than basic CTAs
  • Customized CTAs trigger positive emotions and make emails look more natural
  • Customized CTAs make it clear on what you want from your recipients.

#3 Deliverability

Simply put, deliverability is the ability of your emails to reach your prospect’s inbox without being filtered out as spam by the email provider.

An unavoidable part of any email sequence is tracking. Tracking is nothing but the process of checking whether a prospect has opened an email or clicked a link or not. Mostly, this is achieved by inserting a URL from a different domain in all the emails. Now, this is a red flag for spam filters as the email is coming from one domain while the URL inside it is from another one. 

This is where custom domain tracking can help. When using cold email software or a sales engagement software you can use your own domain to track opens and clicks instead of using a 3rd party domain. As a result, the filters will not be suspicious anymore and your deliverability improves. 

💡7 Tips to Improve the deliverability of your emails: 

  • Send email messages only to addresses that you know can be engaged. With an increase in open rates, your IP will garner trust, and you can scale up your email sequences slowly.
  • Build a subdomain as it will allow for domain-specific monitoring of your IP.
  • Install a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) as this will prevent your email from being rejected. It can increase your legitimacy in the eyes of the receiving email server. 
  • Keep a close watch on your sender score. A low score is one of the main reasons for email not getting delivered. Check your sender score here.
  • Closely watch your feedback loops and try to avoid sending emails to those who have marked you as spam.
  • Send emails at the right frequency (preferably once a week).
  • Whenever you encounter send problems, check the DNS blacklists and ensure that your IP is not in this list. Click here to check whether you have been blacklisted or not.

#4 Value Proposition

The main goal of your email should be to inform and educate the prospect about your value proposition rather than to make an outright sale, especially when they do not know you. This is the part where you’re telling why you are reaching out to the recipient. You need to write a little about yourself and at the same time focus on the recipient.

Here are some ideas to talk about the value proposition in your emails:

  1. Why did you reach out to them and not someone else? This will make the email more personal and valuable.
  2. What you can do specifically for them.
  3. Why starting a business relationship with you is important for them and what they can gain by this partnership.
  4. How other companies benefited by partnering with you. Give some stats or testimonials to support your claims.

Try the PAS (Pain Agitate Solve) methodology to communicate your value proposition effectively. First, understand the audience’s problem by putting yourself in their shoes. Then make the problem seem scarier and strike an emotional chord with them. Share the effects of not solving the problem on time. Lastly, offer your product/service as the ideal solution to solve the problem.

#5 Frequency of follow-ups

Follow-up emails can significantly improve brand recall, awareness and convey your value proposition to your cold prospects. This means timing your follow-up emails is critical.

Now you must understand that your prospects too have a job, hence, they might be busy. So they may not have ample time to respond to emails that they don’t prioritize, such is the case with cold prospects. Therefore there’s no point in following up too frequently, or too late, in which case they might forget about your existence. The trick is to find the sweet spot in the frequency. 

In other words, choose a frequency that works best for you. Send emails once in a while during the initial days, but increase frequency as the days go by. The frequency can vary anywhere between a few days to a few hours. 

The best way to do it is by running experiments. Keep testing different frequencies and identify the time gap that works for you.

#6 Proper management of prospect databases

When you send the same email to the same prospect multiple times, you are more likely to have your messages flagged as spam. This is why effective management of your prospect database is critical. You know your email list is not maintained well or needs cleaning when you experience lower than average open rates and lower than average click rates. An unclean database is characterized by the presence of duplicate records and incorrect email addresses. 

There are tools you can use to automatically remove duplicate records through duplicate detection features. By regularly checking the prospect list, you can remove those who are inactive, and weed out any spam-y email addresses.  

Similarly, it is important to segment your prospects in the database and tag them according to their action or their buying stage. For example, you can add tags like ‘responded’, ‘downloaded ebook’, ‘no action’, etc. 

It is also important to manage OOO replies in your database. For example, if the email subject includes terms like ‘Out of office’, ‘Autoreply’, ‘Undeliverable’, have a separate tag for them such as ‘Robot Replies’. 

#7 Subject lines that improve open rates

Here are two subject lines –

  • Dave, want to talk about poor conversions?
  • Hey there!

Which email will you open out of the two purely based on viewing the subject line? 9 out of 10 would choose the 1st option. Why?

Because it’s personalized, relevant to the recipient and more importantly it is crisp and to the point. The subject line of an email decides whether a person will read the mail or not. Period. 

So ensure that your subject line is relevant without compromising on the attractiveness quotient. Also, keep it short.

Think of subject lines like your blog title. They should inform the recipient about what exactly to expect from the email when they open it.

📝Quick tips to nail your subject lines:

  1. Keep your subject lines short, simple, and ideally less than 50 characters
  2. Use personalization in your subject lines. It increases open rates by 50%
  3. Do not go into a frenzy with capital letters and exclamation points in your subject lines
  4. Know your ideal customer profile and ensure your use of an appropriate tone. Subject lines with higher open rates normally use conversational tones. A study shows that interactive subject lines have 70% higher conversion rates
  5. Subject lines that have emotional content can garner higher open rates. For instance, companies that use emojis in their subject lines enjoy a 56% rise in open rate over companies that don’t
  6. Finally, always A/B test subject lines to ensure you use the ones with the highest open rates

And here are some really powerful subject lines that you can use – 

  • {First Name} x {Company Name}
  • {First Name}, {Pain Point}
  • How are you dealing with {Pain Point}?
  • Thinking about {specific goal}?
  • Are you making these mistakes?
  • {Mutual Connection} asked me to get in touch with you.
  • {Prospect’s Name}, it’s finally nice to connect with {Common Ground}.
  • Build your {team} like {favorite sports team}
  • Get ready for {event}!
  • Only two weeks until {regulation law}.
  • One last quarter to go, on track to hit {specific target}?
  • Key challenges in implementing {solution}.
  • {Prospect Name}, want to learn more about {solution}?
  • Resources to help with {pain point} 
  • NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!!
  • What are your views on Crocs?
  • How you doin’?
  • Guess who ranked us #1…
  • Heard what {partnering company/another client} said about us?
  • Celebrating {number of products sold} in {country}!

For the complete list of subject lines, click here.

#8 Click-worthiness of CTAs

A successful email sequence isn’t complete without a powerful Call To Action (CTA). A recipient has a higher likelihood to respond to your email if you provide them with specific and clear next steps. The simplest call to action that you can offer to your recipients is proposing a time and date for a meeting, call, or product demonstration.

Here are some handy tips to make your CTAs stand out – 

  1. Provide a Specific Date and Time
  2. Provide a Calendar Link
  3. Provide a Multiple Choice Option
  4. Reiterate your Value Proposition in the CTA
  5. Request a Connection
  6. Ask a Simple Yes/No Confirmation Question
  7. Ask an Open-Ended Question
  8. Use Humor
  9. Ask Permission to Share Something of Value
  10. Add Some Urgency

Here is a list of popular CTAs that you can use in your email sequences:

  • Are you available for a chat or call?
  • Feel free to book a 15 mins slot at your convenience. Here is a link to my calendar.
  • Reserve your seat
  • Register now
  • Watch this video and learn how our product can help you
  • Learn more about us by clicking on this link below
  • Download our eBook on {Topic} and learn how we can help you.

#9 Testing

Testing your email sequence is as important as sending them. A/B testing, a popular testing method in the SaaS industry, lets you send one email to a set of recipients and a variation of it to another set. The ultimate goal is to figure out which email template has a better open rate. You could A/B test the subject line, an image used in the body, or even the colour of a CTA button. 

Essential tips to run A/B testing

  • Always pick only a single variable to run an A/B test. It could be the subject line or the time of your email. When you test more than one variable, it becomes impossible to identify which parameter caused the change. 
  • It’s always important to pick a large sample size. The higher the number, the more accurate your results will be. Ideally, the count should be more than 100. If you don’t have that many recipients, you can use the same test over a long period of time with different people.
  • Always run the A/B simultaneously. In other words, run the tests for both the groups together to avoid the interference of any time-based factors. 

#10 Intent-based follow-ups

Most of your prospects are at different stages of their buyer journey. So sending the same follow-up email to all your prospects would be like giving key chains as Christmas gifts to everyone you know. Would you gift your partner or your mother a key chain for Christmas? The only person who’d appreciate it is that one guy from accounts you meet at the parking lot every day. 

Blindly following up with your cold prospects is the same thing. 

You should have a more personalized follow-up approach for “high intent” prospects and a general personalized follow-up approach for “low intent” prospects. 

A prospect who has opened 5 out of 6 emails has a higher buying intent than one who has opened only one email. Clearly, you cannot send the same email to both prospects as they are in different stages of the buying journey. 

For instance, you cannot send a subscription discount to someone who doesn’t even know a lot about your product. On the other hand, it will be a perfect option for someone who is very close to subscribing to your product but needs that final push to take action. 

Many sales engagement platforms intelligently detect this by tracking activity metrics like clicks, opens, replies, and even frequency. They automatically send one type of email to a group with higher buying intent and another type to those with lower intent. All you have to do is create a different set of emails for prospects with different buying intents. 

For the complete list of follow-up email templates.

Conclusion

Crafting an email sequence is easy. But crafting a great email sequence takes time and effort. Focusing on all the ten parameters discussed in this post can help differentiate your email sequence from others. When used strategically, a well-crafted email sequence can be your own online salesperson who works silently and diligently and sells in the background for you. And the best part? Instead of spending hours each week on different channels and dreaming up new ways to sell your product, you can just create and schedule an email sequence and forget all about it. Rest assured that your online salesperson is doing the sale for you. 

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