Building an email list is futile if you can’t convert the leads to customers and, ultimately, brand advocates. However, this conversion is impossible without an extensive understanding of the email marketing funnel.
This funnel helps you identify the stages of the customer journey your potential customers go through. Understanding these stages gives you a clearer insight into the best ways to customize your strategies to their interests. This customization alone can help you engage 72% of customers.
In this article, you’ll find proven strategies to create an email marketing funnel tailored for conversions.
Let’s dive in.
Understand The Email Marketing Funnel
The email marketing funnel works similarly to your sales funnel. Essentially, the funnel is a roadmap, representing your customer’s journey from the lead stage to paying customer and advocate stages.
The email marketing sales funnel starts with the awareness stage. Success in the awareness stage intrigues potential customers to know more about the brand. This takes them to the next stage, which is the consideration stage. That’s where customers evaluate various options. Then they head into the conversion stage, where the purchase takes place.
Lastly, they’ll go into the loyalty and advocacy stage. That’s when the customers become loyal to your brand and will tell their friends about you.
The funnel helps you match your customers’ needs with the right email at the right time.
If you send an email asking a new lead to buy a product, 96% of them won’t buy. Instead, they want to see informational content and enough value before deciding, which is what an e-mail marketing funnel helps you achieve.
When you target each level of the funnel with the right email, you bring prospects closer to making a purchase. In addition, follow-up emails after the purchase can give customers a gentle nudge to become brand advocates.
Benefits Of The Email Marketing Funnel
You can influence every stage of your customer’s journey with an effective email marketing funnel. It allows you to identify specific pain points and needs of your audiences at each stage. As such, you can better deliver personalized content to them at the right time.
Epsilon research submits that personalized experiences eventually compel over 80% of customers to buy.
Using the right email marketing funnel also makes it easier to boost customer retention. After your customer hits the “buy” button, your funnel will ensure the buyers stick with your brand. This is achieved by delivering valuable information after the purchase. The funnel also helps you stay in touch with the customers long-term. So you’ll always be on their minds whenever they want to purchase something you have.
Moreover, email marketing automation tools like NotifyVisitors provide campaign reports. These reports will give you tons of insights that you can use to pivot your strategy conversion rates.
For example, you’ll be able to identify the types of email subject lines and copies that trigger the most engagements. You can then use these as a guide to improving your campaigns.
4 Stages Of An Email Marketing Funnel
The stages of the email marketing funnel indicate how close your potential customer is to becoming a loyal customer. Of course, the needs of each stage differ. But the key to creating an effective email marketing funnel is understanding these needs and focusing on them with the appropriate copy.
Note that content is vital for every stage. So, you’ll need to collaborate with your in-house copywriters or find the right freelancer to generate compelling copy for each stage.
Now, let’s dive in.
1. Top Of The Funnel – Awareness Stage
The top of the funnel, ToFu, is where you acquire leads and build the list by generating awareness. It is your first contact with potential customers and where you get to collect their email addresses. Remember, the beginning of every email marketing campaign is acquiring email addresses.
The three most effective tools for a successful awareness stage are your email opt-in forms, To-Fu-centric landing pages, and pop-ups.
You can create personalized sign-up forms with NotifyVisitors. Then embed these forms as CTAs at strategic locations like under relevant blog posts and high-traffic web pages.
Remember, this is not the right time to promote your product. Instead, you should cater to your target audience’s pain points.
For instance, let’s assume you sell software products and solutions. One problem your potential audiences may have is how to create a SaaS marketing plan. So, build your top-of-the-funnel content around this pain point with a signup form attached as CTA thereafter.
You can also create pop-up forms that ask website users to enter their email addresses when they visit for the first time. See how Jonathan Fields executes this below.
Additionally, you can create landing pages to get new signups. For example, see a brilliant lead capture landing page from Sprout Social, offering a social media testing worksheet.
Notice that each example included above offers something in exchange. You need to emulate the examples and give people enough reason and something worth their email address to gain more leads. These are called lead magnets.
They could be free tools, downloadable PDF files, checklists, downloadable templates, discounts, or even an eBook, as shown in the Freshbooks example below:
Once you’ve gotten your email subscribers on board, follow up with a welcome or introduction email. Then, you can use email marketing tools like NotifyVisitors to create automated messages. This will automate your entire email marketing funnel.
2. Middle Of The Funnel – Consideration Stage
When you gain leads, the next point of action is nurturing them. The aim is to ensure they can easily connect with your brand through valuable content that resonates with them. This is where your middle-of-the-funnel content comes to play.
Middle-of-the-funnel content helps nurture the leads to bring them closer to a conversion. Generally, people at this stage want to see case studies, success stories, webinars, and other resources that will improve your credibility.
Here’s an example from Star Capital bank.
You can also send related quizzes as DSC did in the gif below.
Be sure to send these regularly to stay on top of their minds. But, at the same time, don’t bombard them. You might need an email automation tool to help you set the right sequence.
Speaking of which, audience segmentation is also critical at this stage. Use an email automation tool to segment your subscribers based on the signup form they filled out, their demographic, or other similar parameters. Then, curate your MoFu email content to ensure it’s relevant for each segment.
These emails should also contain CTAs where readers can learn more. The CTA could include “read our testimonials” and “check out our product tour,” among others.
3. Bottom Of The Funnel – Conversion Stage
The conversion stage is where you convert your subscribers into customers. They already believe they want a product and are now exploring options. So, this stage is where you position yourself as the right option for them.
Accordingly, the email content for the bottom of the funnel stage should focus on product reviews, benefits, free trials, product demos, how to use the product, and what sets you apart from competitors.
Like every other stage, you need at least one clear and compelling call to action button in your email content. Add terms like “get started,” “register today,” “buy now,” “start your free trial,” etc., to prompt an action.
Here’s an example of such a call to action from Writesonic.
Alongside your email copy, you can include certain incentives such as special discounts, free deliveries, free consultations, or limited free trials. Make these incentives time-limited to speed up the conversion process.
You can also add a countdown as Cynmatic did below:
But remember, if you keep abusing this sense of urgency, people will probably start seeing you as manipulative. If you’re always having everything “about to run out,” it’ll only be a while before they start losing trust in you. So, be sure to use this urgency in moderation.
Sometimes, you may discover that some prospects actually took the intended action but stopped halfway. This could be in the form of abandoned carts. These are warm leads. Identify and retarget them with Bo-Fu content related to the product they abandoned.
Remind them of the value they’re potentially missing. Check out how society6 does its retargeting below.
As a primer for the next stage, send these clients a simple thank you message after each purchase.
4. Loyalty/advocacy Stage.
The job doesn’t end with converting your prospects into customers. You want to retain and build loyal, long-term relationships with current customers. It is easier to sell to these customers than to new ones, according to an Invespcro study.
Success in this stage results in increased repeat customers and a higher customer lifetime value. It also increases referrals as your loyal customers will turn into brand evangelists.
To achieve this, you must continually nurture the connection you’ve formed with customers. Send them valuable information, new offers, product releases, and updates about your brand.
You can also use email surveys to determine their satisfaction level to better tailor your service.
You can also ask the customers for testimonials and feature them on your website.
You can also request introductions to other potential customers, as shown below.
These efforts keep the cycle going by helping you generate new leads through awareness created through referrals.
An email marketing funnel allows you to create tailored content for prospects at different stages of the customer journey. This helps you make more sales and nurture even more customers into brand advocates.
As you’ve learned in this article, the funnel has four stages. You’ll need to create ToFu website content to capture email addresses. You must also create value-packed emails to keep prospects at the top of your funnel engaged.
Then, nurture those prospects with MoFu content and, finally, convert them into customers with BoFu email content. Don’t stop there. Stay in touch with your customers to turn them into repeat customers and brand ambassadors. With this funnel and a good automation tool, your email list will soon become an automated sales-generating machine.
Author Bio: Nico is the founder of Crunch Marketing. The company works with enterprise SaaS clients, helping them scale lead generation globally across EMEA, APAC, and other regions.