Spray and pray is not an email nurture campaign strategy. Yet, many businesses embark on nurture campaigns with the wrong messaging, dirty lists and no real strategy, resulting in lost time and money, poor results and possibly losing existing and potential customers due to over-messaging. Whether you’re just keeping in touch with scheduled content blasts or sending triggered messages based on user actions (a download, webinar attendance, conference booth registration), there are a few elements to keep in mind to maximize your investment. Below, we detail the elements of a successful email nurture campaign: 1. Know your recipient. At the heart of a successful nurture campaign is the legwork required to understand your audience, segment personas, and plot buying cycles. This is often the most difficult part of planning a nurture program and the top reason why so many campaigns fail. If you haven’t invested the time and effort here, stop, do it, then return to this list. You’ll need those insights to inform the campaign direction and execution. 2. Identify what makes them tick – and click. With your persona and buying cycle data in hand, find ways to offer value to your selected audiences. For each segment and at each buying stage, determine what information is important. For example, your first email to a cold prospect probably shouldn’t be a “buy now” message. A more appropriate introductory email might include a high-level message on how you understand their pain points and a link to content that offers tips or advice. Save the hard sell for the sales team and the website. 3. Outline the email track. Determine the number of emails to be created, include high-level messaging for each, specify destination content, landing page needs and set send cadence. The number and cadence will depend on your goal. A post-event track may extend to four emails in order to acquaint an unfamiliar lead with your company and value proposition, while a keeping-in-touch campaign might send once a month on a consistent basis until a trigger event pushes a lead into a new track. 4. Plan content creation. Guided by your track outline, do you have the content needed or do you need to create it, curate it, or buy it? Not all content has to come from your team — leverage third-party content where possible. Before you start writing the first message, have your destination content in place to inform the copy. 5. Nail the copywriting. Each email should act as a breadcrumb to keep readers engaged, so the language should be conversationally appropriate to keep your audience engaged. Keep in mind, the copy should deliver just enough bang to drive readers to the complete the call to action — nothing more. Treading too deep into the woods will lose the reader interest. Resist the urge to add a bunch of links. Plan one main call to action for each email to narrow their decision to one click instead of forcing them to pick from many. 6. Choose your tools. Already have an email automation tool up and running? You’ve got this element covered! If not, look into automation tools that can do the formatting, scheduling and sending for you. Make sure your sending mechanism can deliver the same experience across desktop and mobile platforms. 7. Tracking and tuning for success. Pay special attention to opt-outs as they can indicate that you’re sending to the wrong list audience. Seeing lots of opens but no clicks? This may mean your message or your content offer are weak. If you’re floating topical content, like 2014 survey results, are you revisiting the tracks to review relevancy and update copy? In a click-and-go automation system, often content and messaging can hang around long after it’s relevant. Reviewing analytics and making changes based on performance are essential to running a nurture campaign that gets results.