From Cold to Hot: How to warm up your marketing leads

Keith Perhac
Founder @ SegMetrics

It was supposed to be simple.

You created a website and an email list. You wrote a killer incentive to get people to subscribe. You get a pretty good conversion rate and your list is a decent size…

But none of your subscribers ever seem to actually buy your products.

You’ve heard the case studies and read the blog posts from people doing it successfully, and making thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars from their email lists. So why isn’t it working for you?

Before you throw your hands up in disgust or delete your email list altogether, I want to let you in on a secret: You’re not alone.

Where Email Lead Nurtures Go Wrong

Let’s say we’re trying to sell a $7,000 course on copywriting; we have a website and an email list, and we create a new email incentive called, “Psychology For Copywriters: 52 Tricks for writing better copy.”

What most people do is set up an autoresponder, so when someone signs up for the email incentive, it gets delivered directly to their inbox… and then, the next day, they’d send that client information about their course.

For people who are already really hot leads and who have been following you for a while, that might be enough. They know and love you and completely believe that copywriting course will be worth every penny.

But for everyone else that sort of feels like proposing on the first date. We need to warm those leads up a bit more first.

Turning Cold Leads into Warm Leads

Let’s stop and talk for a minute about what I mean when I say “warm vs. cold leads.”

Essentially there are two kinds of prospects interacting with your brand: warm leads and cold leads.

Cold leads are those who have not engaged before. They’ve never seen your site and your products before. These are leads who found you from a Google search, or from a Facebook ad.

Cold leads can also be people who, for some reason, have dropped off of your email list. They haven’t been opening or clicking your emails; they might have been warm once, but over time they gradually became less engaged with you and dropped out of the conversation.

By contrast, warm leads are those clients who actively engage with you and your brand on a regular basis. They may be people who read your blog, understand who you are, and are invested in your content — but haven’t necessarily bought something from you before.

Or, they may be someone who is on your email list and is engaged with your emails — opening emails and clicking on links.

There’s a third type I mentioned briefly in the previous section: hot leads. These are leads who have been engaged for a long time and who are ready to buy… they’re just waiting for the right opportunity. We all want more hot leads.

So how do we take our leads and warm them up, so they become hot leads?

That’s where an email nurture comes in. But rather then just popping the question, your email nurture’s job is to provide a ton of education, things that are helpful so that you can teach them to trust you.

Because ultimately, the difference between the types of leads is really about trust.

How to create a nurture sequence that will actually sell your product

Even after someone has signed up for your list, opted in for an ebook, report, or other freebie, you still have some “warming” to do to earn their trust. We need to convince people that buying this product from us is worth it.


Because we’re talking about a much higher price point, there is a ton of competition for digital products online, and we need to get them to trust that the information we have is legitimate, so they’ll buy it from us instead of someone else.

If we go back in time, say seven years, this wasn’t the case. Back then, email marketing was not really a big thing. Really, sending out any sort of marketing emails back then got marketers a pretty good return — because people weren’t used to being sold to through long form copy in emails.

But now your email is likely one of many that they’ll receive that day, especially if they’re someone who is into digital products. And it’s likely they’re on a lot of lists and a lot of people are sending them a lot of emails, all selling something.

Add in any SaaS companies they might be signed up for, and we’re talking a pretty significant number of emails. I probably get about 200 emails like this a day from various places.

And almost none of them are educational.

They’re all transactional emails — which makes it harder than ever to stand out from the crowd if all you’re sending is another sales pitch.

Of course, there’s a flip side to that, which is if most marketers are simply saying, “Buy my course. Buy my course. Why aren’t people buying my course?” then doing the opposite really does stand out.

Here’s my promotions gmail tab. The only ones that convinced me to open was “your recent feedback.”

The truth is most cold leads need to be on your list for a certain amount of time before they can trust you… and they can smell a sale coming a mile away. How long?

We’ve seen it takes about 14 to 30 days on average for a prospect to go from cold to warm, and become really valuable.

Some businesses may find it’s a bit shorter or a bit longer — it all depends on how much clout you have and how good your content is — but they all seem to average out to at least 14 days.

That’s why many of the experts out there talk about 90 day funnels; they’re suggesting you send out three months of good content, that includes a few small sales pitches, but are focused on educational content.

Building Awesome Marketing Funnels (like Ramit Sethi)

The really good marketing funnels actually take this concept one step further; they actually create desire for a product launch months before it occurs.

Ramit Sethi and his team has this down to a science.

The last time Ramit launched a product, he began to build desire for it months before he so much as mentioned anything someone could pay for. He began by interspersing topical content with his standard content, priming the pump of the problem set they’re going to solve months before they even mention the product.

This allows him to actually create need and desire for the product.

To return to our $7,000 Copywriting Class example for a moment, if you didn’t take this approach some of your contacts may not have thought about copywriting before.

They might not know if they like copywriting, or understand the benefits.

Instead, using an approach like Ramit uses, you would start talking about copywriting, mixing it in with other topics. Maybe you’d write a blog post about how you wrote your own copy for your business, and then a few weeks later share a case study about how Joan made $350 a day copywriting.

Then you could share another post with a copywriting split test, showing copy for version A and version B with people’s reactions to them.

You’re not talking about how copywriting can make your prospects a million dollars or even why they should become a copywriter, but you’re starting to get them thinking about copywriting, it’s benefits, and how effective it can be.

Then you ask people to share examples of copywriting that they’ve seen.

So people go out and collect examples, and you can create an email with all their answers, engaging them in a conversation about copywriting… all before you ever try to sell them anything.

When it is finally time to launch your product officially, you’re able to say, “We’ve been talking about copywriting for a long time. It’s an integral part of our business. I’ve heard from all of you that your biggest problems with copywriting are A, B, C, and D. What we really want to do is help you become the greatest copywriter you’ll ever be. Here’s our course for $7,000.”

You’ll know their biggest objections to the course at that point and can overcome them in your emails, because you’ve been crafting emails and getting their feedback for weeks. And so now it feels like a no-brainer on their part.

At this point, your list knows how much good copywriting can help their career; they know how knowledgeable you are when it comes to copywriting. They understand the value of the class — and they want to take it.

Planning out your next product launch

Hopefully you can see the difference between this approach and what most people do. Yes, it requires a bit more work and a bit more planning… but it also results in much better sales and much more engaged leads.

It makes people excited for your product, instead of annoyed that you’re trying to sell to them. And it builds your brand and you as an authority figure at every step in the process.

So tell me, which approach will you use for your next product launch? How can you use this information to help increase sales and get people excited about your product?

Keith Perhac

Founder @ SegMetrics

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.

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