Issue #25

5 relationship building email sequence types

Build Your Audience Email Marketing
22 min read
In this Article

We consider email marketing to be the heart of your marketing funnel.

Although a lead magnet, landing page, or email opt-in form may attract new email subscribers, the relationship begins with your email sequence.

These pre-scheduled emails will meet your audience where they currently are and provide helpful, educational information to help them get to their desired destination. And when filled with valuable, educational content, sequences are a great way to prime your audience to purchase your product or service.

But before you pitch your offering, you must build the “like-know-trust” factor with them.

People want to feel like you understand their pain points, see where they may be struggling, and are passionate about creating a solution that uniquely helps them.

Once you fulfill these needs, your email subscriber is that much closer to making a purchase inside your email marketing funnel.

Before we create your first email sequence, let’s talk about the different types of email sequences you may want to use.

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5 types of email sequences for your email marketing funnel

Email sequences are not only used to build your email list. They can also be used to engage with your current customers while giving them helpful information and additional upsell opportunities to increase their lifetime customer value.

You can create email sequences specific to being a service provider, a product creator, or a content creator. You can also create email sequences that are connected to your lead magnets, but we have five sequences here that span industries to help you create a stronger bond between you and your new email subscribers.

Welcome email sequence

Since 74.4% of email subscribers expect a welcome email, it’s important that you take the time to introduce who you are, what you do, and how it is relevant to your target audience.

But it’s not enough to just have a single welcome email. You’ll want to craft a welcome email sequence to nurture your new email subscribers.

Creating a welcome email sequence is less about making money right away and more about sharing personal stories with your target audience to build the like-know-trust factor.

  • If you are an educator, you can use this time to share more information about your niche expertise and give your audience tips that they can implement into whatever they are learning.
  • If you are a blogger, you can share links to your favorite or most relevant blog posts that are worth digging into.
  • While you have your subscriber’s attention as a coach or a freelancer, you can talk more about the unique philosophy behind your work and how your process is unique.
  • If you are a podcaster, you can highlight your favorite episodes and why they are a great place to start learning more about your brand.

When you share the more personal side of your business through your welcome email sequence, it helps email subscribers make a stronger emotional connection to you.

When you start to plan out your welcome email sequence, make a list of stories and tips you would like to share. Then you can start to determine what flow of content you want to have inside the email sequence.

We recommend starting with an introduction to you, but you’ll always want to relate your writing back to who your target audience member is and why it matters to them.

Your email marketing funnel with take your audience through a customer journey

Onboarding email sequence

Once someone makes a purchase from you or becomes a client, you will want to send them an onboarding email sequence. This can be much easier than manually sending the same emails to your clients or customers each time someone buys something from you.

If your customer purchased your digital or physical product, you can send them an onboarding email sequence that helps them understand how to effectively use the product. As the creator, you never want to assume that the customer knows how to use your product.

Think of your onboarding email sequence as a list of instructions, only with more personality and helpful advice. If you sell software or a product that needs to be physically built, your onboarding sequence will help your customers feel prepared to utilize each set of tools and materials.

Even if you sell a more simple and straightforward product, your customer could still benefit from an onboarding sequence that gives them tips on how to implement the product into their everyday life.

What if you sell a product that allows your email subscribers to sign up for a free trial before they make a purchase? You can use an onboarding sequence to also give more information, advice, and share tutorials to help the new user get started.

Once the user has had enough time to implement the advice and determine if your product is a good fit for them, you can follow up with a soft and hard sales pitch that will help to convert them into paying customers.

How are onboarding email sequences relevant to service providers?

If your client recently booked a freelance project with you or started a coaching partnership, you can follow up with an onboarding email sequence that sets boundaries and tells them what to expect for the duration of your collaboration. You can send information about:

  • Your communication hours
  • Upcoming deadlines
  • Any client homework they need to complete

As you can see, onboarding email sequences can be flexible to fit your needs as a product creator or service provider. It is simply an automated tool to equip people in your target audience who have already taken action (by making a purchase or signing up for a free trial) by building their trust in your overall customer experience.

Abandon cart email sequence

This email sequence can be beneficial for digital and physical product creators who want to re-engage potential buyers who left items in their shopping cart. Since 75.5% of shopping carts are abandoned, it’s no surprise that many marketers turn to email marketing to increase their conversions.

This is why many ecommerce shops will send an abandoned cart email sequence to the online shopper. This will remind the shopper of the item left in their shopping cart to increase their abandoned cart conversions. While one abandoned cart email is good, creating an automated email sequence is even better.

Inside your abandoned cart email sequence, you may open with a light reminder that the item is still waiting for them in their shopping cart with a link to visit and purchase it.

If the person opens the email but doesn’t make their purchase, it can trigger another set of emails that could include special offers or an additional sales pitch so your potential customer feels comfortable making the purchase.

Do abandoned cart emails work?

Are they worth the effort? Yes!

On average, 46.1% of people open cart abandonment emails, 13.3% click the call-to-action link inside the email, and of those clicks, more than 35% make their purchase.

Since placing an item in a shopping cart is seen as engaging with your brand and expressing interest in what you are selling, you could be missing out on converting strong leads without this important email sequence.

We have an abandoned cart email sequence template here if you want to write your own.

Event email sequence

Are you hosting an in-person event, like a conference or a live workshop? If so, you’ll want to create two separate event email sequences to prepare for the big event.

The first event email sequence can be sent to your current list of email subscribers. Inside the event email sequence, you can:

  • Share details about the event
  • Highlight attendee benefits
  • Share feature stories from your last event
  • Make the sales pitch for your event

You'll send the second event email sequence to attendees who have already purchased tickets to your event. This is when you can provide helpful information, answer any frequently asked questions, and help them come prepared.

Writing this event email sequence ahead of time will help you limit the number of questions you have to manually answer by directing people to the automated email sequence. It will save you hours of time whenever you plan an in-person event.

You can also plan a digital event and use the same principles.

If you want to host a virtual summit or plan a live webinar, you can create an email sequence for your live attendees to remind them of the date and give them a sneak peek at what they will be learning.

Since virtual summits and live webinars frequently include a sales pitch, it will also help you to have a soft and hard pitch email inside your digital event email sequence after the webinar or virtual summit is over. Just make sure to segment out the people on your list who have already purchased what you are pitching!

You can do this easily in ConvertKit.

Cold subscriber re-engagement email sequence

What are cold subscribers, and why should you care about them?

We define cold email subscribers as anyone who hasn’t opened or clicked an email in the last 90 days and has been on your email list for at least 30 days.

You don’t want to have an email list full of cold subscribers who never engage with your email. Not only are you paying for email subscribers who aren’t going to take action, but you are also hurting your open and click rates since it is reflecting a skewed percentage.

To re-engage cold subscribers, we recommend sending an email sequence that will only be sent to cold subscribers. Inside the first email, you can send what we call a “potential breakup broadcast” to your cold subscribers that invites them to reactivate their email subscription.

Here is an email template to help you write an email to your cold subscribers:

Hi there,

I want to make sure that I'm only sending emails to my readers who really want to hear from me.

If you're reading this and 1. Have no idea who I am or 2. Don't care to keep hearing from me, let me do you a solid and take you off my list.

If you fall into those either of those two categories, no action is required. You'll get removed sometime next week.

But if you're freaking out right now thinking, “Wait! I love your emails!”, then just click the link below to stay on my list.

[ Link ]


[ Your Name ]

If they haven’t clicked the link to re-join your email list, you can consider deleting the rest of the cold subscribers. You can do this all automatically in ConvertKit by using the visual automation tool. This is what it could look like:

ConvertKit Visual Automations email sequence

Once you’ve sent the cold subscriber re-engagement email sequence, you can continue to keep a clean and healthy email list.

Best practices when creating an email sequence for email automation

With these lead nurturing and sales conversion email sequences in mind, choose an email sequence type you would like to create in the next week. While you may want to create multiple at one time, we recommend identifying which email sequence type is the most beneficial or timely for you to create and start there.

Each email sequence you create will give you data and experience to bring into the other email sequences you will create.

  • If you are a product creator, you may want to start with the abandoned cart email sequence since it can help you turn leads into conversions right away.
  • As you are a content creator, you may choose to create a welcome email sequence to follow up with your new subscribers after you deliver a content upgrade or lead magnet. Then you can begin creating a strong connection with your email subscriber by sharing more of a behind-the-scenes look into your business.
  • If you are a freelancer or service provider, an onboarding email sequence could be a great start since it will likely save you hours of time. Having the whole onboarding process on autopilot will give you more energy to focus on serving your clients with more purpose and clarity.

Once you have chosen your email sequence type, let’s cover some best practices so you can create your first email sequence from a strategic foundation.

8 automated emails for your email sequence

Include these essential automated email types

Knowing what email sequence type you want to create is helpful, but what if you don’t know what emails you should be including in the email sequence?

If you aren’t sure where to start with creating an introductory email sequence, we have a tried-and-true method for crafting emails that help you educate your audience and sell more of your offerings. You can use our automated email sequence template to start.

Email 1: Introduction content

Just like a blog post begins with an introduction, your email sequence should have an email dedicated to introducing your email subscriber to your email list.

Since this email is the start of a more personal relationship with your email subscriber, you want to start it off right with this introduction content. In your introduction content, you can share more about your brand, your personal story, and give them an idea of what they can expect from your email content.

As you thank them for joining your community of email subscribers, you can also offer them an additional freebie that will give them more of the “surprise and delight” factor.

Email 2: Educational content

In your second email, you only want to provide helpful and valuable information. The purpose of this email is to educate your audience and give them actionable advice they can immediately implement. The more value you can pack into this email, the more trust you will build with your audience.

You want them to walk away thinking “Wow, if this is what I get for free, I can’t imagine how valuable their paid content is.” There should be no sales pitch or mention of your product until the next email.

Email 3: Educational content with mention of your product

You want to continue sharing educational knowledge in this third email and have it be the main focus. Sharing personal experiences and practical wisdom will show how much expertise you have in the subject while giving your audience member immense value.

Toward the end of this email, you can mention your product in a way that is relevant to your audience.

Don’t give your sales pitch just yet. That will come later. For now, lightly introduce your product and say that you will be sharing more information about it soon.

Email 4: Soft sell

Much like the third email, you can keep this fourth email simple by giving a soft pitch at the end of your email. Since your audience is already aware of your product after reading the last message, you can include a light sales pitch that explains more of what it is and who it is for.

Otherwise, the rest of this email should be focused on telling a story and giving your audience more valuable educational information. This foundation of trust, authority, and credibility will come in handy for the last few emails.

Email 5: Educational content

Most subscribers would expect you to hard pitch your product after soft selling it in the email before, but we recommend including one more education-based email before you share your sales pitch.

Keep giving your audience incredible content that they can trust!

Email 6: Hard sell

Now it’s time to put those selling skills into action with your hard sales pitch. Since your email subscriber is still opening your emails and hasn’t unsubscribed, it means they are interested in hearing what you have to say about your product.

In this email, you can remind them of their pain point and how your product is a unique solution to help them resolve that pain point. Your hard sell email should be able to accurately explain the “what”, “how”, and “why” of your product.

The main goal of this email is for your email subscriber to purchase your product. Make this as easy as possible by giving them a single click option that takes them directly to your sales page.

Email 7: Educational content

After your hard sell email, it's time to send a follow up with more educational content to show you are interested more in helping them find the resources they need than simply selling to them.

You may be thinking about adding an even harder sell after the sixth email, but we recommend giving your email subscribers a slight break in the flow of your email sequence with an educational email.

One type of educational content that works really well in this stage is to share a case study, or story of someone who effectively used your product and benefited from what it offered. When your email subscriber identifies with the customer you are highlighting, you can share specific tactics or strategies they implemented that email subscribers can walk away with.

If you are selling a course or coaching program, this is a great way to help your email subscribers get a sneak peek at how you help other students and give them a taste of the highly valuable content that they can expect to find in anything you create.

The focus here should be on providing additional educational value, but creating a story around the tips and advice you share will help you emotionally connect with your email subscribers.

Email 8: Upsell

As you wrap up your introductory email sequence, you can include an upsell offer for people who have already purchased your product. Since you’ve already built up enough trust to convert them into a sale, you can include an upsell offer that sweetens the deal and pairs perfectly with your first product.

You can get creative with your upsell offer and test a few variations to see which bundle converts the most. Inside the ConvertKit platform, you can make sure that only those who purchase your product get this upsell offer with our tagging and visual automations feature.

If you want to send another email before transitioning your email subscriber into receiving your general email list content, you can create a follow up email with additional resources that will be helpful for them as they continue to explore the topic. This can be a great way to still add value to email subscribers who don’t purchase from you but may in the future.

Put intentionality behind your design

While the formatting and style of your emails are important, we recommend creating plain-text emails rather than complicated email designs. Your imagery may be eye-catching, but it can also come with slow load times.

Every second is precious to your email subscriber, so you want to make sure your email loads quickly.

Many people view their emails on mobile devices, meaning if you design an email to be viewed on a desktop, it may look funny on a phone. The opposite can also be true.

Plain-text emails allow you to focus on the most important parts of your email: the content and call-to-action.

Keep your automated email content evergreen

If you add too many trendy references or include information that will be obsolete in a few months, you may find yourself having to make constant edits to your automated email sequence. Instead, write evergreen content that can be relevant for years to come.

Write great email subject lines

You may be writing effective email copy, but are your email subscribers opening your emails? This could be due to a few reasons, but the main reason may be that you need to improve your email subject lines.

Your email subject lines are the first impression of your email marketing content, meaning it must grab your audience’s attention. It’s helpful have just enough content to describe what the newsletter is about but not so much that your audience member skips over it.

The more you test, the better your data and conclusions will be.

Outline your email sequence

Now, don't be tempted to dive right into creating an email sequence. Much like when you create an online course or video tutorial, you’ll want to create an outline before you start writing your emails.

When creating an outline, keep the flow of your introductory email sequence in mind. You can start by carving time for a brainstorming session to help you write down all of your ideas.

Don’t worry in this stage if your ideas feel a bit disjointed or scattered. Just write everything down so you can comb through the ideas later.

After your brainstorming session is done, start grouping similar topics or lessons together and organize them. If you are teaching your email subscribers how to do something, you will want to walk them step-by-step through your process.

If you are sharing knowledge or inspiration, you may want to think about what information is the most important and how to build on that information over the following emails in the sequence.

Once you feel confident in the overall organization of your email sequence outline, it's time to write the content. If you need to make tweaks to your outline as you go, that’s okay. Your outline will still give you a clear direction for how to move forward as you write your first email sequence.

Use link triggers to segment

If you are using email sequences to help engage and nurture your email subscribers, you’ll want to introduce link triggers into your email marketing strategy. With link triggers, you can tag and segment audience members based on their actions.

For example, if an email subscriber clicks on a specific link about a topic you frequently write about, you could tag them as someone who is interested in getting more information about that topic. This can be especially helpful for content creators who cover multiple topics or blog categories.

In the same way, you can segment any email subscriber who clicks on the link to learn more about a product you’re launching but hasn’t purchased it yet. That way, you can begin to send hard-sell pitches to them without turning off audience members who aren’t interested in the specific product you are selling.

ConvertKit Link Triggers

Link triggers are easy to set up in ConvertKit. All you need to do is:

  • Click the Automations tab on your dashboard and click Rules.
  • Click Add Rule to get started and determine what your event trigger will be in the left Trigger column.
  • Then you can designate what the corresponding reaction will be in the Action column.
  • Last, click Save Rule and start including those links in your emails.

Email sequence homework assignment

Homework: Create an automated email sequence in ConvertKit

Building an email sequence has never been easier. At ConvertKit, we are passionate about eliminating the steep learning curve that typically comes with personalized email marketing.

We’ve built easy-to-use tools to help you implement email marketing strategies at any level of experience.

When you begin to create an email sequence, you’ll want to locate the Sequences tab in ConvertKit and click on the New Sequence button. Then you can give your email sequence a name and determine how many emails you would like to send.

As you write your email content and subject lines, keep in mind what timing schedule you want to use when sending the emails. You also want to make sure to include link triggers and segmentation options like we’ve talked about.

If you need help with creating this initial email sequence, here are two templates to help:

Beginner Welcome Sequence Template

Advanced Welcome Sequence Template

Once your email sequence is created, you can move it into the Visual Automations tool inside ConvertKit. The simplest way to start is by creating an easy-to-follow subscriber journey that sets up different paths depending on what action they take.

Ps- We have a three minute video in our Knowledgebase that can walk you through using visual automations.

With your email subscriber’s journey in mind, you can pull inspiration from our visual automation templates. Each one will walk you through how to set it up inside ConvertKit and testing to make sure it will work on autopilot.

And don’t forget, if you’d like to build an automated email sequence in ConvertKit, you can set up a 2-week trial today.


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Kayla Hollatz

Kayla Hollatz is a copywriter and content creator for creative entrepreneurs who want their words to connect and convert. Few things make her happier than ghostwriting for clients in her studio, aka her four-season porch with a lake view. She can frequently be found fighting Minnesota winters with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.

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