As an email marketer knows, moving your customers down the funnel can be a slow and daunting process. The main goal is to grow your list, convert subscribers, and have them become loyal and repeat customers. Most advice goes over the importance of building an email list and having a brand that is easily recognizable but not on how to actually convert your customers.
As a digital marketing professional, you are in control of the steps that take to influence your customers. Unfortunately, you can’t control every aspect such as how your leads eventually act but hone in on what you can control- your influence.
Email marketing still remains, yes in 2023, the most effective and influential form of marketing for both B2B and B2C companies. 73% of marketers attribute email marketing to increasing their conversion efforts. Email marketing is also the most reliable tactic to influence your leads at every single stage of a buyer’s journey. So now your job is to create a strategic plan on how to move your leads into the next step of their email marketing journey. This can be done by moving them through the email marketing funnel.
What is an email marketing funnel?
To get started you need to know exactly what an email marketing funnel is and what it means to move customers through it.
The email marketing funnel is what visualizes the various phases in a customer’s journey. Think sales funnel or marketing funnel. It begins with product awareness, moves to conversion or purchase, and ends with customer loyalty and advocacy, with other touch points along the way that converts potential customers to active customers.
Stages of the email marketing funnel
A successful email marketing campaign includes content for each different phase of the email marketing funnel. If you tailor your email’s content for each stage of the funnel, you can improve customer experience and provide more targeted and relevant content as they move through the funnel.
Stage 1. Awareness
The first stage of the email marketing funnel is for you to cultivate awareness for your brand. The aim is for users to be familiar with and knowledgeable about who you are and what you’re selling. Unless you have the advantage of major brand name recognition, potential customers at the top of your funnel are still just learning about your company. You should be providing educational content for your users, to help them better understand your company as a whole, demonstrate its value, and establish a relationship with your potential customers. After you’ve made them aware, you can then give them a reason to care. Your next emails will lead them to the conservation step of the funnel.
Step 2. Consideration
A successful email campaign will grab the attention with awareness but seals the deal with consideration materials. After you’ve engaged with your users with who you are and what your brand is about, they should be left wanting more. Leverage using blog posts, webinars, or case studies to help customers understand how your product works and why they need it. Here is a good place to state the pain points of the industry and show how you can fix them with your product or service. When you include supportive material in the emails, or provide links to your website for potential customers to explore, this helps you increase engagement. Remember when you offer additional resources be sure to point out the tangible benefits of your product or service, target specific audiences, and create a need for your product or service. Essentially, put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers and focus on what they need and what they want to hear.
Step 3. Conversion
This step is the pinnacle of the email marketing funnel. If you’ve done your job successfully, then the content of everything you’ve provided to your potential customers will persuade them into making a purchase. This stage is all about the balance between convincing a customer to invest in your product at the same time as creating a sense of urgency. At this stage, you can offer a discount, free shipping, or another purchasing incentive. You want to make this stage as easy as possible for your customers to buy. That means removing any unnecessary clicks or page redirects or any barriers to purchasing. As this stage is the hardest part, you also need to know when to call it a day. You don’t want to spam your customer’s inboxes or make them feel overwhelmed. When they purchase from you, a simple “thank you” will suffice and are ideal for this stage in the funnel.
Step 4. Loyalty
While you think the heavy lifting is over, that doesn’t mean your job is done. You now need to continue to nurture your relationship with your customers. You need to keep them engaged and up-to-date with your latest products and show supportive content. To remain engaged with your customers, you can send follow-up emails with workshops or tips and tricks to better use your product. The point of this step is to reinforce the customer's decision to buy your product and hopefully convince them to purchase again.
Step 5. Advocacy
You’ve moved your customers through the funnel, they are still receiving communications about the best practices and any feature products but now you want them to turn them into a brand advocate. The strongest recommendation is one that comes from a peer. Social influence holds a lot of weight and satisfied customers that leave great reviews will often share their recommendations with their friends and family. Keep track of the customers who engage in repeat conversions and ask them for a review. Offer additional purchasing incentives or reward customers who have reviewed. Give new and existing customers reasons to keep believing in your product.
Although many businesses may not put a lead in every stage, it’s important for you to understand the actions your subscribers can take with your brand. The end goal is to keep them moving through the funnel and eventually become loyal customers.
Why Use an Email Marketing Funnel?
As time continues and email marketing changes and evolves, subscribers are savvier to marketing tactics and are turned off by sales verbiage and advertising strategies. An email marketing funnel is different because it allows marketers to deliver communications at the right moment, so each email is personalized to your subscriber.
Email marketing funnels treat your leads and individuals, not as mass emails or sent in bulk. This not only helps your subscribers feel more special but it also helps you track their buyer’s journey and have effective communication.
Now that we have covered what an email marketing funnel is and its importance. Let’s talk about the most effective ways to organize your email marketing funnel.
Organize Your Email Marketing Funnel
Clean Email Lists
Having a clean email list is more than just removing any bounced emails. A clean email list consists of healthy and active emails that are rid of any syntax errors or spam traps. Having a clean email list is one of email marketers' best-kept strategies because it ensures that you are sending to real inboxes and helps you maintain a great sender reputation score.
Your email list hygiene is important to your email marketing funnel strategy because it gives you a clean canvas to work on. You can see all your subscribers clearly and by doing so, you’re able to better personalize your triggers and campaigns.
You don’t want to waste your time sending email campaigns to people who are unengaged, spam traps, or no longer use their email addresses. You want to engage with your audience in the most effective way possible. Having a clean email list enables you to do so.
Categorize Based On User Behavior
Besides drip emails, the standard email marketing funnel includes triggered emails. These are emails that are sent to customers based on their activity on a website or social media pages. For example, you yourself may have received an “abandoned cart” email notifying you that you have not completed checkout. Another example would be a product suggestion. You will receive recommended products based on what you were searching for or your purchase history. You can use this technique regardless of what your company sells.
No matter the type of business you run, an email marketing funnel is one of the best ways to increase conversions and it is relatively easy to get started. With an email marketing funnel, you can use some creativity, save time and money and increase your impact.
Know Your Target Audience
To build an effective email marketing funnel, you will first need to know who your target audience is and the most effective ways to communicate with them. Define your top buyer personas and their most significant interests, needs, pain points, etc. Go as far as to map out their demographics, where they live, how old are they, and what are their hobbies.
When you go into the nitty gritty of your buyer personas you’re able to start thinking like them. You can start to see the content they most respond to, what things interest them, and how to get more engagement.
Young audiences today are more likely to listen to podcasts or fun videos. These items would be great during the awareness phase. There is a lot of trial and error to see what is the best form of communication but as you get to know your target audience better, the easier it will get.
Your prospects get close to taking the action you want, like making a purchase, but they are still not quite yet there. This is a great opportunity for you to follow up and help them make that decision.
Perhaps they didn’t go through with their process because of an outside hesitation. They didn’t want to fill out a form or have additional questions. This is a great time to follow up with a cart abandonment email or some additional information that can help persuade them into purchasing.
You may want to have multiple trigger points that will help persuade your audience such as if they haven’t engaged with one of your emails in three weeks, three months, or more, this is when you can send a re-engagement email or offer them the option to unsubscribe. When done correctly, trigger emails can yield really great results because it not only sends the right information at the right time, but it also helps with personalization. You can use the marketing around your subscriber's timeline instead of your own all the while driving the actions you desire.
Organize Your Email Marketing Funnel
These first steps of maintaining a clean email list, categorizing based on behavior, knowing your target audience, and defining your triggers will help you get started on an amazing email marketing funnel. The aim is to move your customers through the funnel as seamlessly as possible and help them make the right decisions. You want to send your email communication at the right time while making it feel personal and tailored to them. You now have the tools that will help you get organized and get sending. Remember, it is a lot of trial and error so don’t be afraid to fail. You can always re-strategize.