Email Funnels: Everything You Need to Know for Success

Email Funnels: Everything You Need to Know for Success

Emails are one of the most effective tools in the entrepreneurs’ toolbox. More than 2.9 billion people around the world have at least one email account, meaning audience potential is massive. According to statistics by Campaign Monitor, for every $1 spent on email marketing, a business can earn up to a $44 return-on-investment. A single welcome email alone generates, on average, 320 percent more revenue than other promotional messages, according to Reach Mail. However, emails can only be successful for a business if that business knows how to use them effectively. That’s where funnels come in. Take a look at what email funnels are and how to design them:

  • What are funnels?
  • What are their benefits?
  • What’s the purpose of a funnel?
  • What are the stages of a funnel?
  • Steps to designing a successful funnel

What Are Funnels?

What are funnels?

The term “email funnel” describes a method used by marketers to turn a prospective customer into a paying one through the use of emails. In some cases, it may also be described as a follow-up email sequence, automated followup, auto-responder series, or lead nurturing funnel. Close your eyes and picture an actual funnel, wider at the top but narrowing at the bottom. The very top is where you try to interest as many consumers as possible. You won’t attract them all, but the ones you do interest will move deeper into the funnel, passing through a variety of stages until, at the very bottom, they come out as a paying customer.

What are the Benefits of Email Funnels?


Aside from helping to increase the revenue a business earns, a funnel has a few other benefits. They include:

  • Increasing Familiarity: Before a person buys from your company, they need to be familiar with you and your offerings. Your email funnel can be used for just that reason, helping you to interest consumers so that they become buyers.
  • Gaining New Leads: In order to earn revenue, you need leads. Leads are the members of your audience who may turn into paying customers down the road. In general, it’s ten times harder to find a new lead than it is to nurture an existing one. However, email funnels can make that task much easier by allowing consumers to voluntarily sign up to receive communications from you.
  • Growing Conversions: There are dozens of tools on the market to help businesses automate their emails. With these tools in place, you can run your funnel on autopilot and watch the sales roll in all while barely lifting a finger.
  • Creating Fans: Many entrepreneurs believe that once a lead makes a purchase, their relationship with them ends. This is untrue. Continuing to nurture that relationship is more important than ever because you can turn a single-time buyer into a repeat one. Continuing to send them emails is one of the best way to do this.

What’s the Purpose of Email Funnels?


Most people think that the sole purpose of an email marketing funnel is to make sales. While that’s an important goal for every business, there are other important reasons for a company to launch a funneling campaign. Those reasons include:

  • Creating Awareness: First and foremost, an email funnel will help raise awareness for your brand. This is important because a person can’t buy from your business if they don’t know it exists. In addition, not every person will convert to a paying customer right away. However, the more people who are aware of your company, the more chances you have of earning sales from them down the road.
  • Generating Consideration: Making consumers passively aware of your brand is, often, not enough to interest them in buying from you. You need to persuade them to actively think about and consider your products. Your email funnel is the best place to encourage this action.
  • Earning Loyalty: As mentioned above, it’s harder to gain a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. Another goal of your email marketing funnel should be to develop brand loyalty from your customers so that they buy from you time and time again.
  • Nurturing Advocates: If you create email funnels really well, you can turn loyal customers into advocates, who encourage others to do business with you. This expands your marketing from just emails to word-of-mouth, and helps your business to grow.

What are the Stages of a Funnel?


Most marketing gurus will tell you that every funnel, whether it’s email-specific or otherwise, has three distinct stages. However, we beg to differ. Instead, every funnel has four stages that all entrepreneurs should be aware of. These stages are:

  • The Top of the Funnel/Generation: This is the widest part of a funnel, in which you should work towards generating as many leads as possible. Creating a strong email list at this stage is going to help you maintain a strong funnel throughout the process. The best way to generate leads is to promise value in your emails so that people are interested in signing up for them. Some ways to gather leads include adding an email opt-in form to the homepage of your website, hosting contests on social media, and maintaining a blog about your brand.
  • The Middle of the Funnel/Nurturing: Once you’ve gathered a list of leads, you need to work on nurturing your relationship with them so that they become customers down the road. Break up your audience into a variety of demographics and create different emails for each demographic segment, in order to send each lead the email that will best match their interests. During this stage, you want your communications to continue offering value while displaying authority about your brand and building trust with your audience. A few methods to do this include sending weekly newsletters, creating online courses that leads can sign up for, and producing educational videos about your brand.
  • The Bottom of the Funnel/Conversions: If your leads have made it to this stage of the funnel without giving up on it, then you have a fairly good chance of turning them into paying customers. Use this stage to include calls-to-action in your emails, in order to elicit a purchasing response from your audience. Successful tactics include launching a sale, sending them a personalized discount code, and offering free samples with a purchase. If your call-to-action email doesn’t work on all leads, don’t despair. Instead, return to sending middle-of-the-funnel emails to those who didn’t convert. You can try a call-to-action again later, once you’ve built up more trust.
  • Beyond the Funnel/Loyalty: In many cases, entrepreneurs stop trying to woo customers after they make a purchase. However, you always want them to return to your brand in order to become loyal, repeat shoppers. After a lead makes a purchase, continue to maintain your relationship with them by asking them to fill out a survey about their experience, sending them a limited time coupon as a reward for buying, or asking them to join your loyalty/rewards program.

The Steps to Designing Successful Email Funnels

Design steps

When discussing the purpose and stages of email marketing funnels, new entrepreneurs can begin to feel somewhat daunted. Industry jargon is thrown around, diagrams are drawn, and heads are nodded as if everyone just instinctively knows how to design an effective funnel. That makes learning the actual design process significantly more difficult for beginners. So, whether you’re just learning how to create your own email funnel or you’re a pro looking for a refresher course, here are some of the basic steps you can take:

  • Map Your Customer’s Journey: The process from becoming aware of a business to purchasing from it is known as the customer journey. The first step to creating a successful email funnel is to map out that journey. By understanding this process in depth, you can design emails better focused on guiding your leads from awareness to conversion, rather than forcing them into buying (which will actually have the opposite effect).
  • Write a Variety of Welcome Emails: Every member of your audience is going to be different. Because of this, their responses to your emails will also be different. For example, one person may really engage with an email that tells the story of your business through photos, while someone else might prefer text-heavy communications. In order to interest as many people as possible, break down your leads into distinct groups (age, gender, geographic location, etc.) and design a variety of emails for each group. This may seem like extra work in the beginning but it’s worth it to convert as many people as possible.
  • Choose the Right Lead Magnet: A lead magnet is the thing you use to attract customers to you. Choosing the right one for your audience can make or break your email funnel campaign. In order to decide, ask yourself what does your audience want/need, what are they looking for your product to do (solve a problem, etc.), how does your product make their life better, how do they tend to learn about new businesses, and why would they be interested in your product/business? Once you answer these questions, you should have a clearer picture of which lead magnets would be most interesting to your audience. It might be a competition, an e-book, an online class, a blog post, and more.
  • Connect with Customers After They Buy: You’ve just spent a ton of time nurturing consumers so they become buyers. Why throw that relationship away just because you’ve achieved your goal of making a sale? Instead, create a variety of email communications to stay connected with buyers even after they make their first purchase. These emails can include things like surveys, coupons, and more.
  • Engage with Non-Buyers: Just because someone is hesitant to buy doesn’t mean you should give up on them. In fact, it’s more important than ever for you to create the right connection with them. Try a few different emails to see which they respond to best. Send them surveys asking questions about what they want from a business and product, then send them tailored offers. Either you’ll convince them to make a purchase, or they’ll unsubscribe from your emails which can be frustrating but isn’t the end of the world or your business.

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