Email marketing goes beyond sending newsletter updates to your customers. Well-timed, segmented, and personalized content helps to nurture leads and drives higher conversions.
- Email marketing produced an ROI of £42.24 for every £1 spent
- 320% more revenue is generated from automated emails than non-automated emails
- Marketers experience a 760% increase in revenue using segmented campaigns
In this article, we’ll cover what an email funnel is, why it’s important and how to build one.
What is an email funnel?
An email funnel is a strategic series of emails that guides a new email subscriber to become a paying customer.
Each email is carefully crafted to lead the reader from one state of mind (general awareness) to another (ready to purchase).
Every email funnel should:
- Nurture a relationship with the reader
- Educate prospects on how your product benefits them
- Convert them to buy your product
However, an email funnel is more than converting cold prospects to buyers.
Many marketers make the mistake of sending “shot-in-the-dark” emails in hopes that prospects will click the buy button.
Email funnels are about having an in-depth conversation that takes the subscriber on a journey.
The journey doesn’t stop after someone makes a purchase, either. Marketers can leverage email marketing by generating recurring revenue and referrals.
Why are email funnels important?
Automated email funnels let you communicate with the right people at the time. They represent the customer journey and take a new subscriber from being aware of your brand to a paying customer and then to an advocate for your brand.
Depending on the prospect’s stage, you can anticipate their needs and deliver personalized and timely content for them. It won’t make sense to ask for sales after someone immediately subscribes.
There are many facets to email funnels that allow you to improve your relationship with prospects and customers.
Here’s how email funnels can add value to your business.
Boosts conversion rates
Email marketing allows you to send targeted emails to the right people with personalization and segmentation.
That’s because the emails are more targeted and relevant to that list.
For example, a travel or lodging company needs to segment its audience by location. If you have a flight deal going from New York to Bali, you’ll want only to send the campaign to New York residents. The more targeted the email is, the better response and conversion you’ll likely see.
Email funnels allow you to gauge the effectiveness of your flows and campaigns. It’s easy to find bottlenecks in your email sequence when looking at the stats.
You’ll notice trends by simply looking at the drop-off rate in subscribers, open rates, or click-through rates. It’s essential to look at metrics and see how you can improve lagging areas. You could split-test offers, subject lines, copy, or the structure of the email flows to improve conversion.
Hiring a full-fledged sales team is excellent, but email marketing automation is much cheaper. If you have a high-ticket offer, the email funnel can do the heavy lifting for you before your sales agent closes the client during the consultation call. The funnel will take the prospect through the customer journey to establish trust, explain the benefits of your product and position yourself as the expert.
Once you’ve set up and optimized your email funnel, you can regularly receive sales on auto-pilot. Even better if you can nail down an evergreen funnel that’ll continue to close like clockwork for years to come.
Win-back old customers
Customer acquisition is more expensive than customer retention. That’s why it’s essential to rely on recurring revenue to achieve long-term growth. If your customer has only purchased once or hasn’t renewed their subscription with you, it’s an excellent opportunity to incorporate a win-back campaign.
You can use several metrics to determine when it may be a good time to send a win-back campaign to previous customers.
- Recency: When was the last time they placed a purchase? Generally, aim to send it within three months.
- Monetary value: How much did they spend with you, and what was the average order value?
- Frequency: How often did they make a purchase? Typically high-frequency buyers are great candidates to send a win-back campaign.
These campaigns don’t cost you any extra money to send, except the cost of having them on your list.
Ticketfly offers a win-back bonus incentive by giving users a free 60-day Pandora subscription if they purchase a ticket from their site.
4 steps to building your bullet-proof email funnel
- Generate email leads using lead magnetsDefine your ideal customer profile(s).
- Nurture leads with a drip campaign
- Convert leads to customers
- Create repeat customers
Before you can build an email funnel, you’ll need to select an email automation platform. We recommend choosing a software that can:
- Automatically schedule and send out email campaigns based on time or behavioral triggers.
- Design beautiful emails using templates.
- Create an email flow that takes a prospect through the customer journey.
- Score leads based on how the prospect or customer interacts with your brand.
- Personalization tags where you can automatically personalize the email based on characteristics such as their name or business.
- Segment users to create flows based on your specific target audience.
- Split test variables within the email, such as subject lines, email copy, and even product offerings.
1. Generate email leads using lead magnets
The first step to getting prospects into your email funnel is to build an email list. This means setting up one or multiple lead forms, and allowing prospective clients to provide their contact details.
A lead magnet is a freebie given to a prospective client in exchange for their contact information.
They provide a strong incentive for prospects to share their email address and help you to acquire leads and grow your email list.
How to choose the right lead magnet
Depending on which stage the prospect is in the customer journey, your prospect will need a tailored lead magnet based on their needs. A cold lead who’s recently discovered your brand on Google won’t know anything about your product. In this case, you’ll need to establish a relationship by offering them something to educate them about the problem or provide a quick solution to a problem. If someone has found you by searching keywords such as “comparing,” “reviews,” or “best solution for X,” it’s likely these customers are ready to buy.
In the awareness stage, you may provide them with an ebook, checklist, or upgraded content that delivers more value than your free content does. Since the prospect hasn’t built much trust with your brand yet, the initial lead magnet must contain the following characteristics:
- Quick to digest
- High value and promises a quick win
- Super specific
- Instantly accessible
- Demonstrates your unique value proposition or expertise in the subject matter
You’ll demonstrate your value at the consideration stage by giving them more in-depth education content such as a free course or webinar. You can provide free trial offers, product comparisons, case studies, live demos, or a free consultation call during the decision stage. The key is to prove why your brand is better than competitors.
People love to hear “plug and play” or “copy-paste” systems. Providing templates or swipe files is an excellent way to give prospects a quick win. Digital Marketer provides eight of their best Facebook Ad Campaigns so that businesses can convert more prospects.
SaaS companies like to use free trials to get more users to try their products in hopes of continuing their subscription once the trial period ends. Most people are skeptical about paying without testing it out for themselves.
A free trial is a great way to win prospective clients. The goal is to demonstrate how the value of the software exceeds the price, leaving the prospect with no objections left. Dropbox gives you access to their tool without asking for a credit card. This eliminates any risk, and the prospect can try the product without hesitation.
The law of reciprocity is a psychological principle that states that when you give something of high perceived value, the recipient will desire to give you something back in return. Lead magnets are designed to leverage this principle.
Tips for building a landing page
You can use a landing page or a lead form to collect emails. This will depend on where you are collecting leads from. For example, lead forms are best suited on your website, such as on the bottom or sidebar of a blog post. Or, you could add a pop-up lead form to appear when the reader scrolls through your website.
Landing pages can be used to acquire a lead from a third-party platform. For example, you can include the link to your landing page on your social media posts or the bio of your business page. If you’re running ads to collect leads, most businesses will direct them straight to their landing page.
Follow these essential tips to ensure that you build a high-converting landing page:
1. Proper structure: Poor landing pages mistakenly provide information in a logical top-to-bottom structure. Unfortunately, many visitors will skim through the page and won’t read every word of the landing page. Thus, important points must be bold or larger than the others. And the CTA should be placed at the top of the page.
“5 times as many people read the headline as read the body copy” — David Ogilvy
2. Targeted headline: A headline shouldn’t be vague or ambiguous or have metaphors. Instead, it should be extremely clear and perhaps use numbers to prove a point. The headline should tell readers exactly what they are getting.
For example, Lyft makes it extremely clear how much you can earn when you drive with their ride-sharing company.
3. Credibility: Social proof is an excellent way to establish trust and credibility with your audience. There are many ways to create social proof in your landing pages, such as adding customer testimonials or reviews.
For example, StudioPress is a WordPress theme plugin that helps users design beautiful, high-performing, and SEO-optimized pages. They’ve added a testimonial section on their landing page where customers rave about their product.
4. Use power words: These words tend to trigger an emotional or psychological response that helps persuade prospects to take action. Some words can even create urgency, while others can provide peace of mind.
For example, “guaranteed” gives users more confidence in your offer, while words like “expires” may generate urgency. Incorporate some of these power words into your next landing page:
- No risk
Then once you’ve collected their contact information, you can begin nurturing the lead.
2. Nurture leads with a drip campaign
At the core of the email funnel is one or more drip campaigns that are automatically sent to your email list. A drip campaign is an email sequence that leads your audience down a rabbit hole to your desired goal.
However, the nurturing process goes well beyond having a single series of emails. You’ll want to map out an entire journey by visually connecting the steps of the prospect.
This is an example of a visual flow that represents a simple funnel. Let’s say your customer has watched a webinar and has chosen not to book a call with you.
You can segment these people onto a list and send them a series of emails with a specified time between each email. If they decide to book a meeting with you, your HubSpot will create a pending deal, and your sales team or account manager will be assigned to the meeting.
If the prospect hasn’t signed up after the campaign, you can automatically add them to your Facebook retargeting audience. Then you can build value to resell them again or even try to sell them on another product.
You’ll need to consider different scenarios where the customer fails to perform your desired outcome.
For example, what if a customer clicks on your product page but doesn’t purchase? Or what if they don’t open any of the first three emails? You’ll need to segment these people and send them an alternative sequence, such as a follow-up campaign.
When building your nurturing sequence, you’ll need to understand a few foundational components to a successful campaign:
- Types of email campaigns
- Lead scoring
Utilizing these elements in your campaign allows you to make your emails relevant, and thus convert your prospects.
Types of emails
The type of emails you choose ultimately depends on your goal. Are you looking to introduce yourself? Send a welcome email and share your brand story.
If you want to build trust, send them educational videos to help them with a problem they are facing. Or maybe, you want to light a fire under them to take action. Create urgency in your emails.
Welcome emails let you introduce yourself and your brand. However, it’s essential to set expectations if they’ve opted for a specific reason, such as a checklist, 30-day challenge, or mini-course. Let them know what to expect, the results they can get, and how they should interact with you.
This welcome email from Simon Lee at LifeHack welcomes me to their four-part workshop series. It gives me an overview of who this is for, what to expect and how to get the most out of the workshop. Readers will look forward to the rest of the emails, thus increasing their commitment to their brand.
Lead nurturing emails educate readers about a topic. Some use it as a short-form blog post, while others may even link their content to the email.
In this example, they are providing a mini blog post, where they are teaching us how to grow an audience. Giving little golden nuggets of information relevant to your audience helps establish trust and build credibility as an expert in your industry.
Video emails include an external link to a piece of video content. Often marketers will incorporate explainer videos, how-to tutorials, feature videos, or even customer testimonials in their email. They may include a thumbnail along with a play button to entice you to click the button.
But the question is, why use video? Not everyone likes to consume email content. Video content can be easier to consume especially and provide better engagement. Furthermore, video content can cover more information without writing an overly long email.
Goodbye emails are often used to re-engage customers who haven’t opened any emails.
The average office worker receives 120 emails per day!
With so many emails received, many marketers are competing for their audience’s attention. These emails tell the reader up front that you will politely remove them from your email list. Often, many leads will re-engage with you since they didn’t mean to ignore you in the first place. These emails create urgency since the prospect doesn’t like to feel like they “lost” something. In essence, you want what we can’t have.
The Law of Scarcity is the perception that there is a limited supply of something valuable. If a person is convinced they need to act now, otherwise it will disappear, they are motivated to take action.
Unlike other forms of marketing, email marketing can provide relevant content to users who fit certain criteria. As a result, your contacts receive relevant content and thus experience a better brand experience.
Let’s breakdown four ways you could segment your contact list:
Geography is important, especially for offline businesses. If you run a physical store in Los Angeles, California, but your contacts live elsewhere, you would simply be wasting time and money to reach out to them.
Online businesses can benefit from geographic segmentation as well. Perhaps, you notice that first-world country or domestic leads are more likely to buy than leads from foreign countries due to a language barrier. Then it may be useful to create multiple lists. That way you can create a separate campaign that may be better suited for foreign prospects.
Demographics such as age, gender, income, occupation, and other firmographics are useful. However, you must discern which demographics are most important to you. A B2B business may want to segment prospects by job titles to find decision-makers.
Psychographics describe a person’s beliefs, interests, and attitudes. This data can come from surveys, quizzes, forms, or even how a prospect behaves. For example, I’ve clicked on online marketing courses on Udemy in the past. Udemy sends me marketing course recommendations through email once I’ve shown interest in marketing.
Behavioral: Based on how the lead behaves, you can segment them into different categories. Someone who reaches your pricing or sales page is likely to have purchasing intent. Thus, you may send them discount codes or even have your sales team follow up with them.
Lead score is a numeral representation of the perceived value that each prospect represents.
This system allows you to decipher between good and bad leads. For example, your sales team can focus on contacting the hottest leads, while your marketing team can send out retargeting campaigns to re-engage cold leads.
Lead scoring allows you to add or deduct points based on certain criteria. It’s easiest to assign points based on:
User engagement: How a prospect engages with your brand is a good indicator of whether they are interested in buying from you or not. Someone who reads your emails visits your pricing page, and books a calendar meeting is more likely to purchase than a purchase that never reads your emails. However, not all activities are equal. Perhaps, you can assign more points for booking a calendar meeting than for opening your emails.
Lead attribute: Firmographics, demographics, and geographics can help you determine whether a prospect is a good match.
Hyros is software that tracks the performance of your ads. Their live demo questionnaire asks for my current monthly ad spend and current monthly revenue. Assuming that their goal is to maximize revenue, perhaps, they’re looking for businesses with a high budget for ad spending. In this case, they could calculate a prospect’s lead scorer based on how they’ve completed this form.
3. Convert leads to customers
By now, your prospects trust you and know that you’re an expert in their industry. You’ll want to tell them about your offer and create urgency with your offer. Here are several ways to do so:
Free trial offers are excellent for SaaS companies who want to onboard new users. This reduces the friction of conversion. Getting leads to pull out their credit cards isn’t easy. Once users see the value of your product and how it can help them, they will be more willing to pay for it.
Social proof emails give users peace of mind to achieve the same results as others. These emails can be used as a sales tactic to get people to make a buying decision. You could add customer testimonials to share how your customers achieved a desirable result. Or you could tell them how many people have joined or purchased your product to show that others trust you.
Live demo emails invite your readers to hop on a call so that a salesperson can provide them with a walk-through of using the software. For some software companies, free trials can be hurting your business. That can be true if the free trials aren’t converting very well.
Someone who books a call with you is showing a strong indication of making a purchase. Your sales agent can uncover the prospect’s pain point in a demo and show them how your product addresses it. Unlike a free trial where the customers focus on features, demos explore ways your software can change their business.
4. Create repeat customers
Now it’s time to focus on retention and advocacy. How can you turn a one-time paying customer into a recurring customer and even an advocate for your brand?
Here are several use cases and strategies that you can implement:
1. Discount on bundle deals
Customers who have already made a purchase are more likely to buy again. Repeat customers will spend 33% more than new ones.
Headspace is a meditation app that charges a monthly subscription. However, with a subscription model, you can ask customers to purchase for months in advance, while giving them a sweet deal.
Find ways to give discounts on bundle deals for multiple products or pay for your services in advance.
2. Milestone reminders or motivation emails
Retention doesn’t always mean selling your customer with every email you send. It can be more beneficial to send lead nurturing emails that deliver value most of the time. This makes your CTA much more effective when you do ask for a sale.
If you own software, you could set a trigger email that encourages them anytime a milestone is achieved. Let’s say you have a call tracking app. If you’ve recorded 50 calls this month, you can send a friendly milestone achievement email. You could even ask for feedback about how they like your software so far.
Withings sells fitness wearable products that track essential health metrics such as steps, sleep, blood pressure, etc. They help to motivate their customers by encouraging them when they make progress.
3. Referral Bonus
Incentivize your customers to market your product for you. For example, Acorns offers a $5 bonus for inviting their friends, but up to $100 for inviting 10 friends. Word of mouth beats any other form of marketing. That’s because we trust our friends and family more than strangers.
4. Product habit email
Increasing your customers’ engagement with your brand or community frequently is an excellent way to build loyalty. If you’re a digital creator, you can simply share a digest or newsletter of your weekly or monthly content.
For software companies, you can share tips or features that would make life easier for your customers. If your business has an online community or forum, encourage them to post or interact with other members there.
Read next: Peek Inside Ramit Sethi’s $20M Email Funnel
Your turn – build your email funnel today with Encharge
There isn’t one way to build an email funnel. Create a swipe file of emails from your competitors or from businesses you admire.
Study the tactics being used and put them into your digital toolbox.
Now you’re ready to build out your email funnel. With Encharge, we give you every feature you need to build an automated high-converting sales machine.
You can slice and dice up your contact list with segmentation criteria and build a visual flow that seamlessly connects the prospect from one point to another.
Don’t wait to get started! Sign up for a free 14-day trial with Encharge and create email marketing automation campaigns to nurture leads in your sales funnel.