You know all of those nurturing emails you’re sending out? They aren’t working for you.
Actually, they’re probably annoying your prospects and doing more harm than good. At the very least, they’re a waste of time.
That’s because nurturing emails rarely work for a plumbing company.
You need a better, smarter way to keep your audience engaged and be the first name people think of when they need help.
We’ll explain why. But first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with a quick review of nurturing emails.
What Is a Nurturing Email Campaign?
“Nurturing emails” are designed to keep new leads warm while guiding them toward an eventual purchase. Basically, you transform someone who doesn’t know you into someone who trusts your company enough to call you when they have an issue. Typically, it’ll look something like this:
- Email #1 – Deliver what people signed up for
- Email #2 – Acknowledge their problem and identify your solution
- Email #3 – Offer a customer testimonial or success story
- Email #4 – Show your empathy for their situation
- Email #5 – Push for the sale
There are plenty of variations out there but most companies are doing some version of that. And a lot of them see decent results.
But you’re not, are you? That’s because the plan was built for businesses that don’t rely on a pipe bursting in the middle of the night. Your leads aren’t waiting around to hear the latest plumbing news unless they’re in the business—and in that case, they probably aren’t your prospects.
Stop doing what doesn’t work. You need a different approach.
Email Nurturing Rarely Works for a Plumbing Business
Your customers don’t need you to nudge them toward a sale. People know when they need a plumber and when they don’t. It’s not like you can convince somebody to hire you if they don’t need a plumber, right?
Your best bet is to position yourself as their go-to company when something does go wrong. They’ll reach out when they need you.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why your nurturing emails are winding up the spam folder. It’s because people don’t want them. Period.
And Forget About the “Newsletter” Too
When has anyone (besides, maybe, your mom) wanted to hear from a plumber every month? They don’t care about your business the way you do, so stop pretending that they do.
Instead, your focus should be on what will get an emotional reaction from readers. Gross them out a little. Inspire them with underdog examples from your team.
You’re not trying to sell to them because they may not even need you right then. Your goal is to gain (and hold) their attention.
The key is telling stories.
Use Emails to Tell a Story
Instead of nurturing emails and newsletters, use your messages to tell a story that highlights your brand. That’s right, a story.
Let people know who you are and what you’re all about. Help them grow to like you before they need you. That way, you’ll be the one they call when something comes up.
Why a story, though? Why not just give people information?
Because information is boring. It gets ignored. But people love a good story (so long as you tell it well).
Think about it. You tell stories every day. Nearly all of your conversations include some element of storytelling. When you share details about a job, help a new employee avoid a costly mistake, or tell your spouse about your day—those are all stories.
Think of your emails as just another conversation. But make sure each story is worth telling and is delivered well.
How to Tell a Good Story
First of all, make sure you have a decent story to work with. Don’t try to force a pointless anecdote on people. That’s worse than a nurturing email.
More on that in just a minute.
But for now, so long as you have something worth sharing, telling a story is a pretty simple process. Actually, it’s more like a recipe. By including certain ingredients, you’ll help your readers understand and enjoy what they’re reading.
Without these elements, it’s tough to hold people’s attention.
Elements of a Story
There are three characteristics that all good stories must have.
- Setup – prepares your readers for the story
- Conflict – presents an interesting problem or obstacle
- Resolution – shows how your team provided the perfect solution
Let’s take a look at each of these elements, along with some examples of how to implement them.
1. The Setup
Think of the setup as a springboard. Without one, your story isn’t going anywhere.
Right away, you need to establish who the story is about, when and where it takes place, what the topic is, and—most importantly—why readers should care.
That last bit is crucial. Make it clear why people should read your story. Otherwise, they won’t.
Here’s an example of what this might look like:
Last month, our most senior technician, Rick, worked on something he’d never seen before, which is surprising with all his years of service. We thought it was just a one-off scenario, but since then, two other customers have called in with the same issue. We wanted to tell you about it and help you avoid some costly repairs.
2. The Conflict
If you don’t have a conflict, you don’t have a story. There has to be some sort of challenge to overcome.
But don’t let the term “conflict” mislead you. It doesn’t have to be something negative. You just need to present a problem that your team was able to resolve.
It can even be something with a light-hearted twist:
Apparently, Diane’s party guests overlooked the sign beside the toilet, asking that no hygiene products be flushed down the drain. Let’s just say the evening didn’t go as planned.
Or, you can present a broader issue that you’re helping to resolve:
A recent survey showed that 36% of children in our community don’t have a suitable winter coat. We hate the thought of so many shivering kids out there.
3. The Resolution
Once you’ve presented the problem, you need to clearly show how your team saved the day.
That’s easy to imagine for a story that involves plumbing work. But what about other aspects of your business or different projects your team is involved with?
Ultimately, it all works the same way. You just need to keep an open mind as you’re coming up with ideas.
Take a look at this example:
Our founders, Bill and Karen, have long understood the housing issues in our community and have worked with Habitat for Humanity for nearly five years. And now, by getting the rest of the team involved, AAA Plumbing helped build eight new homes for our low-income neighbors right here in town.
This next example shows a “good problem” to have but one that still needed to be overcome:
Things have been especially crazy lately. We’ve been so busy that our current staff just couldn’t keep up with all the work. There weren’t enough hours in the day. So, to make sure we maintain the high level of service you’ve come to expect from us, we now have two new members of our service team.
Storytelling Tips for Your Emails
Keep it short and sweet. Even good stories become boring if they drag on for too long—especially in an email. Only include the info that is absolutely necessary.
It’s not a sales pitch. Remember, people will contact your office if they need you. These emails aren’t selling anything. Just focus on telling a good story that people will actually read. You’ll see the rewards in time as people become more familiar with your brand.
What Types of Stories Should You Tell?
The better question to ask is, “What stories do people want to read?” You should always provide people with the types of content they are most interested in.
Don’t rely on your instincts. Your opinion doesn’t count. It’s what they think that matters.
It will take some time and testing to figure that out. And, in the beginning, it’ll be mostly guesswork.
Start by considering different story types that you think people might like and send those out (not all at once, of course).
Then, keep a close eye on your email metrics to know which stories have gotten the most engagement. Look for things like high open rates and clickthroughs. If people open your emails and follow the links you’ve included, it’s a good sign you’re on the right track.
Gradually, you’ll begin to notice trends in the numbers. If your readers have a favorite email, then share some other stories like it. But if the results show a mixed bag without a clear frontrunner, you might need more time to let the results develop. Stick with it and stay patient.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few suggestions to help you come up with ideas for your emails.
Suggested Topic #1: Helpful Tips
Hopefully, being helpful is part of your brand. You are a service company, after all. So why not extend that helpfulness to your emails?
Share some common plumbing issues that people can fix on their own. Show them the tools they’ll need and walk them through the steps.
You probably already know the most common issues people have. If not, take a quick look through your records to find some potential topics. You’re looking for small jobs that don’t require special skills, stuff that regularly consumes your resources without bringing in much revenue.
Be as helpful as possible. If readers can accomplish the things you teach them, it will add a lot of value to the emails you’re sending out. You want people to be successful.
And don’t worry about giving away free information. Doing this will help you in the long run. By openly sharing your expertise, you’ll earn the trust and respect of your readers. Over time, this will increase your revenue.
That’s exactly what we’re doing with this article. We’re a marketing agency giving away free marketing advice. Why? Because it works.
Suggested Topic #2: Talk About Something Besides Plumbing
Share what you and your team are doing outside of the daily service calls.
Are you involved with a charity or doing some local volunteering? Tell people. They’ll love hearing that kind of thing.
You want people to know you’re not just in this business for the money. That’s a big deal to customers, and they’ll remember it when they need a plumber.
Be careful not to brag, though. You need to stay humble. Focus more on the good outcomes being accomplished and less on your team’s efforts. You don’t want it to seem like you’re fishing for recognition.
But feel free to talk about your team in other ways. If someone got a big promotion, share it. If you’ve hired someone new, introduce them to your readers. Expanding to a new service area? Yeah, you definitely want to spread the word about that.
Suggested Topic #3: Share Something Unique
Let’s be honest. People assume that plumbers have lots of crazy stories. And most folks love hearing that kind of stuff. Go ahead and share some of the weird things your team sees—especially if your brand includes a little humor.
Tell readers about a recent job that was interesting, difficult, or funny. If you can, share some pics or a link to a video. Adding visual content can really boost engagement.
But think twice about gross images. Some people have sensitive stomachs, and you don’t want to scare them off. If you’re ever unsure whether you should share something, you probably shouldn’t.
The Most Important Thing
Don’t send an email just because you think you’re supposed to. Only send something when you have a story worth sharing.
Remember, you’re not keeping up with a regular mailing schedule. There is no quota for how many messages should go out.
Your goal is for people to get excited when they see your messages. They should smile, not groan.
Stories Can Grow Your Business
Nurturing email campaigns can be great for some industries—but not for plumbers.
Instead, you need to tell good stories. By sending messages that offer something helpful, interesting, uplifting, or funny, you can subtly become the first company people think of when they have a plumbing need.
And, if your emails are especially great, readers might even forward your messages to other people for you—but only if you give them something worth sharing.