With around 4.37 billion email users worldwide, you don’t need much: just convert every millionth user to become a millionaire yourself. As absurd as this speculation may sound, it doesn’t take away from the fact that there are bazillions of leads to capture and convert with a well-designed email marketing funnel.
It only remains to create one.
Read on to dissect email marketing funnels, including:
- Email marketing funnel definition and stages.
- The necessity and benefits of an email marketing funnel.
- Types of emails to make your email marketing funnel successful.
- Two steps to creating a data-driven email marketing funnel.
- The value of automation in email marketing.
What Is an Email Marketing Funnel?
- An email marketing funnel is a series of strategically customized emails sent to subscribers throughout their customer journey to convert them and desirably turn to advocacy.
You will likely need several email marketing funnels to effectively address heterogeneous audiences, which you won’t have trouble creating after unlocking your subscribers’ demographics, psychographics, and current stage in the funnel.
Speaking of email marketing funnel stages, there are three to around a dozen stages to address, depending on your scrutiny and technical capabilities. Let’s break these marketing funnel stages down so you can learn to compose emails for various audiences.
The Three Stages of the Email Marketing Funnel
Awareness is where you introduce your business to potential customers through SEO, blog promotion, social media marketing, PPC campaigns, and other marketing mediums, tools, and tricks within reach.
Once you’ve sparked their interest, you may want to strengthen your relationships by offering useful freebies, such as price calculators, guides, or helpful information paired with a discount or coupon. Remember, usefulness is King, you won’t make your recipient feel spammed.
Important: You don’t sell with awareness emails, even though you have the biggest audience at this stage. What you do is make your future customers feel how it would like to be a part of your journey. Do this right, and you will see them sucked into your sales funnel.
At the consideration stage, it is important to introduce your offering and explain its value and relevancy (here, you can go deep). Depending on the product or service you offer – and the knowledge of your audience, which must be deep enough by this stage – you may want to send them case studies, testimonials, webinars, tutorials, or how-to guides, all customized to reflect the needs and wants of a particular recipient. Remember, segmented email campaigns bring 760% more revenue.
Important: Avoid hard selling at all costs. The willingness to explore your products doesn’t mean your subscribers are ready to purchase. A good tactic would be to direct them to your most product-informative, possibly with an embedded – but not too obtrusively – “Buy Now” button.
To convert your email leads into customers, tell them about how your product can solve their problems and make their lives better while making your final offer.
Make sure to explain:
- How your product is better than the competition.
- How your product guarantees both immediate relief and long-term success.
- Why your product is safe: safety is a fundamental value we seek in life.
Keep your message concise yet detailed enough to convince your subscriber to proceed with the purchase. With the right message and maybe some juicy incentives, you will successfully convert your email leads into customers.
The sales funnel doesn’t end here, though. After conversion, you must retain your email subscribers – now (hopefully) fully-fledged customers – to increase their lifetime value and make them spread the word about you.
Loyalty and advocacy – the two ultimate stages of any marketing funnel – aren’t special in the sense that you don’t have to do anything that you haven’t done before. Just be yourself: nurture your relationships by providing helpful emails with occasional loyalty offers and exclusive deals. Make your long-term customers feel special while encouraging new customers to climb your loyalty ladder.
Behold the infographic to visualize what you’ve just learned:
Do You Need an Email Marketing Funnel in the First Place?
Let numbers give you the answer:
- From 2020 to 2026, the global email marketing revenue is expected to double from $7.5 billion to over $15 billion, with around 4.6 billion active email accounts sending and receiving around 376 billion emails daily.
- Eighty percent of marketers would rather abandon social media than email marketing.
- For 31% of B2B marketers, newsletters are the best way to nurture leads.
Not only hasn’t email marketing lost its relevancy over decades, but it has grown incredibly reliable for acquiring long-term customers that generate recurring revenues and carry your brand’s torch.
Now, let’s get even more specific.
Three Major Benefits of an Email Marketing Funnel
Benefit 1. The Email Marketing Funnel Makes You the Boss of Your Content
Through an email marketing funnel, you can understand what content works for what audience at what time, which is essential for content creation, budget management, customer satisfaction, and the profitability of your email marketing in particular and business in general.
- Around 22% of all email opens occur within the first hour after sending; 9% within the second hour; 6% within the third hour, and around 25% of emails are opened after 24 hours of being sent.
A data-driven email marketing funnel puts you in the driver’s seat of email outreach. For example, for the awareness stage, you can send introductory emails. For the conversion stage, you can message your customers with product reviews, related products, and discounts, all based on the customer data you possess.
Benefit 2. The Email Marketing Funnel Improves the Customer Journey
Your email subscribers and those who haven’t subscribed yet crave an effective, cheap, and instant solution to a particular problem. They don’t want you to beat around the bush or make them jump through hoops – they seek value from your every email.
A well-designed customer journey map (we’ll get to it later) will help you quench your subscribers’ thirst at every touchpoint while simplifying the customer journey and enabling tailored content.
Benefit 3. The Email Marketing Funnel Glues Your Customers to Your Emails
A well-crafted email marketing funnel captures attention and keeps subscribers engaged through personalized messaging. Problem-solving emails create trust between you and your customers, allowing for meaningful conversations and interactions.
Emails for Different Stages in the Email Marketing Funnel
Crafted for new subscribers, welcome emails are a way to make a powerful first impression and start building relationships to achieve the trust required for purchasing decisions.
Source: Neil Patel
A great tool for educating people about your business and nurturing existing relationships, newsletter emails – news, events, product announcements, feedback requests, etc. – are easy to track and analyze. The only thing to remember is that people expect educational and helpful content from your newsletter, not abrasive sales pitches.
Dedicated emails are a great way to reach out to your target audience with a single, focused goal. They are highly effective for communicating specific offers, like introducing a new product or inviting subscribers to attend an event.
- Speaking of events, the world’s largest email and omnichannel marketing conference will unwrap at MailCon on April 17 in Las Vegas, packed with C-level executives, knowledgeable experts, and email marketing aficionados. Book your tickets now to expand your marketing knowledge and establish new relationships with the world’s most potent marketing professionals.
Let’s get back to dedicated emails, though. The problem with these emails is that, despite the ease of creation, they are the least anticipated and the hardest to analyze, as the recipient doesn’t know when a dedicated email hits the inbox.
You might have to go the extra mile to understand the reasons for the lack of clicks and opens on a dedicated email, as it may not be clear whether the email content was unengaging, the timing was wrong, or something else went askew.
Unlike dedicated emails, transactional emails are highly anticipated and triggered by a specific subscriber’s action (for example, filling out an online course form), usually providing a high click-through rate. On the other hand, it’s easy to overdo with transactional emails, as not all recipients are eager to complete seemingly unnecessary actions like, for example, participation or transaction confirmation.
Lead Nurturing Emails
Lead nurturing emails are designed to inform, influence, and encourage potential customers to purchase a product or service before considering other options. These emails typically appeal to emotions through social proof, user-generated content, discounts, and other incentives.
By incorporating lead nurturing emails into your business strategy, you can influence decision-making, drive sales, and increase their ROI.
Holiday (Seasonal) Emails
A must in every marketing toolkit, holiday emails reflect shopping trends that emerge around popular celebrations, such as Christmas, Black Friday, Thanksgiving, Labor Day, etc. In 2021, holiday online retail sales in the United States amounted to $186 billion, with an annual growth of around 2.5%.
Among all types of emails, holiday emails require special techniques. Read this article to learn to create promotional emails for holidays.
With a re-engagement email, you can ask for feedback, express your regret about the recipient disengaging with you, or offer something tasty to spur the subscriber to action. Having email marketing analytics at hand, it won’t be hard to identify inactive subscribers that you can try to re-activate.
The question remains, though: to engage or not to engage? Don’t let this question eat you from the inside – read this insightful article to know the truth about inactive email subscribers.
Bonus: AMP Emails to Beat the Competition
For all types of emails, you can make them interactive, enabling in-email purchases and other types of commitments directly within your email. Regardless of your offer, interactive emails allow subscribers to close the deal right here and now in one click without (annoying) extra actions.
Two Steps to Creating an Effective Email Marketing Funnel
Creating an email marketing funnel is pretty simple if you’ve ever created a marketing or sales funnel, as the same principles will apply.
To create an email marketing funnel,
- Create a customer journey map
- Draw email leads from available sources
Let’s dig into these steps.
Step 1. Create a Customer Journey Map
- A customer journey map is a visual representation of the start-to-finish interaction process of a customer with your brand derived from different channels, giving you insights into your customers’ needs, motivations, and behaviors.
Drawing a customer journey map, with all possible paths for every category of customers will develop a deeper understanding of the customer experience, identify valuable touchpoints and areas for improvement, and measure customer satisfaction.
To create a customer journey map, follow these steps:
1.1 Define Your Ideal Customer
One of the best ways to start your journey mapping process is to create buyer personas – as many as you need – to identify three groups of customer data:
- Demographics: age, gender, occupation, education, income, location, etc.
- Psychographics: values, goals, needs, desires, lifestyle, motivations, etc.
- Previous interactions: the history and budget of purchases, whether the customer is new or recurrent, etc.
Collecting demographics and psychographics will allow you to create detailed buyer personas for customer-focused strategies, allowing you to choose target customers more accurately.
1.2 Include Every Single Touchpoint in the Map
Aside from your email newsletter, there are dozens of touchpoints to be displayed on the map, from on-site interaction to print advertising to in-store customer service. Include them in the map if you want a bird’s-eye view of the customer journey.
1.3 Map the Current Customer Actions at Every Touchpoint
What action does a customer need to move on to the next stage? What could potentially lead them astray?
Answer these questions for every touchpoint while considering how to improve the customer journey. Use website analytics and customer feedback to identify which actions have worked best to move your leads down the sales funnel. Remember, your ultimate goal is to find out how to improve, simplify, or beautify the customer journey so you can generate and convert more leads, whether drawn from email marketing or other marketing sources.
Step 2. Draw Subscribers from These Three Email Lead Sources
Source 1. Dedicated Landing Page
Creating a dedicated landing page is the most straightforward way to draw email marketing leads. First, you promote your landing page across your marketing channels: blog posts, social media, etc. Next, you place a single call-to-action that offers users to subscribe to your newsletter.
The biggest advantage of a dedicated landing page over opt-in forms is that you have all the room to sell the subscription. You can be as eloquent as it needs to convince a particular user that subscribing is their only successful option.
There’s much more to say about crafting landing pages for emails, so let’s stop at the arguably juiciest part: psychology.
- Sales psychology appeal to the features of the human psyche – one might say weaknesses – to convince customers that they need to buy what you want them to buy. It doesn’t sound good, but it is what it is. It works like clockwork.
Liking applies to the customer’s emotional connection to the salesperson, encouraging them to make a commitment, which is subscribing to a newsletter in your case. You can achieve this by tailoring your emails to reflect the needs of a particular recipient at a specific time and stage in the email funnel. Luckily, email templates can speed up customization dramatically.
Activating the commitment principle of sales is about tapping into the customer’s needs and providing an effective solution. You must emphasize the long-term benefits of the product and how it will help them reach their goals while also reminding them of the benefits of staying with you: discounts, loyalty programs, exclusive offers, and more.
3. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
The most known sales-related psychological phenomenon, FOMO, creates a sense of urgency and scarcity while playing on people’s competitive nature.
For example, every Liverpool fan but me has already subscribed to the newsletter? What am I waiting for? I’ll miss out on the news everyone is buzzing around.
4. Loss Aversion
Just like people are unwilling to get rid of possessions in life, even when they are no longer useful, they are reluctant to accept financial or opportunity losses and are very likely to take risks to avoid them.
To capitalize on loss aversion, warn about the losses your customers are risking to incur if they do not subscribe to your newsletter. Emphasize how your product help avoid losses and prevent negative outcomes.
People are more likely to buy from influencers, experts, authorities, and celebrities than laypeople. Showcasing your credentials, awards, and testimonials is a solid way to flaunt your expertise and draw more leads into your email marketing funnel.
You can leverage people’s inclination to return a favor by offering value for free: free trial, discount, gift, etc. The more valuable the offer, the stronger the urge to reciprocate.
That said, psychological tricks are not easy to execute: you can’t read your customers’ minds, nor is it always reasonable to appeal to the human psyche in an email letter. However, all things equal, the knowledge of sales psychology can boost your lead generation and sales potential in the long haul.
Source 2. Opt-In Forms
Opt-in forms effectively capture leads, engage customers, and collect email addresses from potential customers. By strategically placing tailored opt-in forms on different parts of your website, blog, home page, about page, and anywhere you stand a chance to capture leads, you can quickly acquire email subscribers.
Here are some opt-in forms you can use:
- Site covers: the most aggressive full-screen forms covering the entire screen and making it impossible to continue browsing before the form is closed.
- Pop-ups: pretty annoying yet impossible to ignore (and somehow still effective) form appearing in the middle of the screen when a user lands on a specific page or take a specific action.
- Exit forms: a farewell offer appearing when the customer leaves the page to remind then of how they can stay in touch.
- Slide-ins: form that can slide from the bottom or the sides of the page when a visitor performs a specific action.
- Embedded forms: form that you can place anywhere on the website depending on the target audience and the content of page.
Opt-in forms are considered an ethical way to capture leads (not that cold mailing is out of the question, though), as opposed to sending unsolicited emails that may hamper your email marketing up to the point of non-compliance when your emails – frowned upon by your ESP – land in the spam folder.
Source 3. Your Customers
The most conversion-prone subscribers are your existing customers (duh). They may have studied your offers through and through, likely trust you, and just be waiting for a scales-tipping extra. For these high-intent subs, you may want to offer referral opportunities, feedback forms, motivational letters, related products, and cross-selling emails.
Farewell: Automate to Be Ahead
With AI knocking on the door and increasingly more subscribers craving personalized experiences, email automation – automated email marketing tools – becomes absolutely necessary to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time.
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