How to Create an Email Marketing Funnel in 9 Steps?

Email Marketing Funnel

Have you ever received a promotional email after purchasing a product from the same brand?

It probably left you confused because you just bought that product. The same happens when you sell without knowing your customers. You could have an extensive email list, but if you don’t know where your subscribers are in the buyer’s journey, you’re bound to send them irrelevant content. 

This is where an email marketing funnel helps you send emails without bothering or boring people. It involves sending a series of emails to create awareness, generate interest, and ultimately — make money. In essence, it moves your ideal audience from one stage to another, turning them from a curious crowd into paying customers. 

Although it sounds simple, many factors influence a smart email sales funnel. To help you navigate the process, we’ll go over the core elements: how to design a funnel, the benefits, recommendations for creating a better funnel, and how to select the most funnel-friendly ESP.

What is an Email Marketing Funnel?

Most likely, you’ve heard of a marketing funnel or a sales funnel. Email marketing funnel is a similar strategy that helps identify and connect with your potential buyers. It’s a sequence of email messages sent to subscribers with the goal of converting them into customers. It guides your leads through a specific path, narrowing down the most interested audience that will eventually enter your buyer’s pool.

To start, you need an active email list filled with subscribers who consented to receive your emails. You could theoretically buy email lists, but those would merely be numbers. 

At Campaign Refinery, we believe clean and verified email lists are the only way to go. For this reason, we added the automatic list-cleaning feature to our software. This particular feature has enabled our clients to achieve deliverability rates so high as they’ve never seen before.

Email marketing funnel visual with 5 stages in color

A Typical Email Sales Funnel Has 6 Stages (5+1):

1. Brand Awareness: This stage is about introducing your brand and product to people who may be unaware of its existence. Welcome emails are the most common type and determine the success of your email marketing campaign. Indeed, an average of 86% of the welcome emails are clicked and opened. To warm up your leads, send emails that:

  • Has a friendly and conversational tone;
  • Addresses customer pain points at the start;
  • Backs claims with facts;
  • Lists flagship products in the beginning alongside other products;
  • Has a simple CTA;
  • Provides social links; 
  • Provides an unsubscribe option.

While you’re doing this, it’s equally important to pay attention to how many subscribers open your emails. A good way to increase email open rates is to motivate them to reply to your emails by offering a special discount or early access to your product.

2. Interest: Once people are familiar with your brand, it’s time to tell them how your product can solve problems. Send in-depth information about how your product differs from the competitors’. Emails that talk about customer pain points perform better than the ones with generic body copy.

For example: Missing your better hair days? Our argan-oil-infused hair mask improves itchy scalp, dry hair, and split ends. Just in time for summer! Use code ‘summer’ at checkout to get 15%.

3. Consideration: In this phase, people are convinced that your product can help them. They’re probably testing out multiple options. Send emails with comparison guides, special features, or case studies. The content must demonstrate your value and expertise. Make sure to add a CTA (call-to-action) urging people to learn more about your product or service.

4. Action: This is the final stage in which you ask people to take a specific action. Whether subscribing to your newsletter or buying a product, you must point them toward the intended action. Although it may seem obvious, not everyone will take the desired action. The goal is to write compelling copy that encourages people to click on the CTA button. Pay close attention to content quality since the email deliverability rate will depend on it. 

5. Loyalty: You’ve finally turned your subscribers into customers. But the email marketing funnel doesn’t end there. After they’ve made a purchase, it’s important to maintain their loyalty to your business. Send them product usage tips, exclusive offers, and new products to keep them in the loop. 

According to a study, a 5% customer retention improves profits by more than 25%. That means satisfying your current customers pays more than gaining new ones. You could send retention emails about:

  • A better usage for your product,
  • New products or industry news,
  • Offer loyalty programs and rewards. 

6. Advocacy: Nothing gives more than selling products through word of mouth. Turn your loyal customers into brand advocates by offering loyalty programs, referring friends, or rewarding them for reviews. 

At Campaign Refinery, we wanted our clients to experience the power of incentives. So, we created the engagement rewards system that allows subscribers to earn points for every email they open and click on. 

Our customers reported an increase in open rates of 30% to 600% after using the engagement rewards feature!

Learn more about our plans and apply to become a client!

What Does Top-of-Funnel Email Marketing Mean?               

Much like any marketing funnel, email marketing is segmented into the top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU), and bottom of the funnel (BOFU). 

An email funnel works like this:

  • TOFU: Create landing pages and forms to get subscribers. The goal is to educate people about your brand and product. The best way is to ask them to sign up for your email list and send them content regularly.
  • MOFU: As subscribers get more interested in your brand, send emails about webinars, product uses, and other information that might solve their pain points. Additionally, provide real-world case studies to build authority.
  • BOFU: Send promotional emails, product recommendations, and cart abandonment emails to convert them. By this stage, you will know what products can solve concrete problems your prospects face, and you will be able to convert them more easily. 

While these are the basics of an email marketing funnel strategy, not all ideas work the same way. The type, duration, and number of conversions depend on the nature of your business. Now, let’s learn what the steps in building the email marketing funnel are.

What Are the Steps in Building the Email Marketing Funnel?

With many free online tools, it’s easy to build a landing page and get subscribers. But the real challenge lies in creating a funnel that will convert those subscribers. For this to happen, you need to have a strong email marketing strategy in place. That means going through a series of predefined steps:

1. Define Your Target Audience

Start with narrowing your audience — segment using demographics, likes, and previous purchase history (if applicable). The best way to do this is through market research — go to social media and look for user reviews and comments. It’ll give you a fair idea about customer pain points. Then, use the acquired data to create a buyer persona and target your marketing efforts accordingly. 

2. Create a Customer Journey

Knowing what your customers like is essential for a successful email campaign funnel. Mapping out the touchpoints will give you a clearer picture of — who, what, how, where, and when.

To create a flow and achieve the best results, Campaign Refinery allows you to develop custom rulesets based on the customer profile. That means you can send personalized emails to each subscriber based on their actions. It ensures the right follow-up sequence and maintains the sender reputation.

3. Create Awareness

Your target audiences may be looking for a product like yours. But if you fail to place your brand in front of them, they’ll choose another business. Creating awareness involves warming them up for future purchases. Use lots of visuals and easy-to-understand content in all your email campaigns

4.  Capture Leads

Capturing leads simply means collecting email addresses through websites, social media, and advertisements. People are more likely to give their email addresses for something valuable in return. It could be a free e-book, a course, or anything that will solve their challenges.

In general, sending prospects to a website is the best way. However, the overuse of pop-ups may annoy visitors and cause them to leave sooner. Instead, use opt-in forms or create dedicated landing pages for each product you sell.

For example, our free guide – The Inbox Formula, helps you dramatically increase open rates and conversions. In it, we’ve packed our knowledge on how to increase open rates by up to 6x!

Intriguing, right? Perhaps you feel like getting your hands on The Inbox Formula?  

This is a sample of how you can give away something valuable in exchange for someone’s email address. You can get as creative as you’d like. However, always be clear and concise.

5. Turn Leads Into Customers

At this stage, it’s time to provide answers to their doubts, fears, or objections. A customer could have questions like —- Is it for my age? Or will it sync with the other products I use?

Address customer pain points through Q&A-style emails. Alternatively, you can use an FAQ section to answer the most basic questions about your product. Based on the lead’s desire and interests, you can segment the list and continue to send relevant emails.

6. Automate Emails 

While segmentation helps you sort audiences into categories, email automation helps you send tailored content to each group without having to do it manually. It involves sending drip emails and behavioral emails with the help of an email service provider (ESP) that achieves a higher email deliverability rate.

7. Optimize Timing and Frequency 

The best time to send an email is during business hours. Ideally, emails performed better at 10 am and 2 pm. However, make sure not to send too many emails at the same time. 

8. A/B Test and Refine 

Just because you sent an email doesn’t mean your customers will open, click, or buy from you. That’s why it’s important to test your emails and refine them to increase their effectiveness. 

9. Use a Premium Service 

To stand out in a saturated market, you need the best email marketing tools and services. As experienced email marketers, we know the challenges of driving prospects through the marketing funnel. That’s why we created features and tools such as automatic list cleaning and engagement gamification. These features have helped our clients increase their email open rates by more than 6x, bringing them more conversions and revenue.

Benefits of Building an Email Funnel

Creating an email marketing funnel is like an attempt to read your prospects’ minds. But with the help of data and a bit of logic, you can understand what each one of your audiences is looking for. And then — tell them exactly what they want to hear.

Look at the table below for an easier understanding of the benefits and how to achieve them.

Create personalized messagesInclude their names, likes, and other details.Dear Karl, we know you’ve been eyeing the matcha tea set for a while now. We’ve got a deal for you here.
Map better customer journeysKeeps them satisfied throughout the buyer’s cycle.Hey Kiara, we noticed you recently bought the new iPhone 13 Pro. We thought this wireless charging case would help you.
Optimize and build relevant content Increases trust and liking for your brand.Our advanced snail serum is created for people just like you. 
Better conversion ratesLeads to more purchases because they’re happy.We noticed your cart is empty. What if you could save 15% on your next purchase? Use this code before August 15.
Easy to measure resultsHelps keep them engaged and satisfied.Thank you for being our valued customer. We have a little something for you – grab your premium tickets here.
Benefits of Building an Email Funnel

The best part about building a funnel is the ability to automate it. That means you can send mass emails even while you’re holidaying in Spain! Email marketing automation is an effective way to run your business from anywhere and see huge profits.

Why are Email Marketing Tools Important in Funnel Building?

Email marketing tools are necessary to keep your email campaigns running smoothly, thus helping you design and run your marketing funnel from top to bottom.  

 These marketing tools help you with the following:

  • Automation: Imagine having to send an email to every customer after every purchase. It’s virtually impossible to do so manually. Email marketing automation is like a virtual assistant that helps you complete repetitive tasks without your presence. 
  • List Management: To increase the chances of conversion, you must know your audience’s demographics and behavior. Having a good email list management can help you tailor content according to your prospects’ preferences.
  • Analytics & Tracking: An email marketing tool allows you to monitor open rates, click rates, conversion rates, and profits. This way, you can identify gaps and optimize your campaigns. For example, at Campaign Refinery, we recommend senders reduce their engagement to the most active subscribers: people who opened the emails in the last 30 days. This makes it easier to analyze email metrics. 
  • Compliance & Deliverability: Email deliverability is an important factor in setting up an email marketing funnel. An email marketing tool monitors regulations like GDPR, sender reputation, and domain reputation. To be safe, we made domain authentication mandatory for all Campaign Refinery users.

If you’re wondering where to start, here is the breakdown of the best email service providers for your business.

Choosing the Best Email Service Provider to Drive Traffic Through Your Funnel

Today, there are more than 500 ESPs in the market. Every provider offers unique features and affordable plans. To make your decision-making easier, we looked at the top 6 ESPs and compared their features that can help you drive more traffic through your marketing funnel.

Best FeaturesCampaign RefineryHubspotMailerLiteMailChimpConvert KitActive Campaign
Beginner-friendly UI
Automation Features
Integration Options
Automatic List Cleaning
Engagement Gamification
Mandatory Domain Authentication
Customer Credit System
Unlimited Contacts for all categories
Finding the Best Email Service Provider

This is a gist of the pricing structure of the most used ESPs. It’s best to go through each of them and choose the one that covers all aspects of your marketing funnel needs. 

Do Email Funnels Really Work?

The email industry is set to grow to 4.73 billion users by 2026. That makes email marketing an affordable and effective way to reach more customers. And an email marketing funnel is a foolproof way to do this.  

With decades of experience, we understand the challenges that follow email marketing. That’s why we designed supreme software with an easy-to-use interface, pre-made templates, mailbox performance reports, and built-in email marketing tools for better results.

At Campaign Refinery, we strongly believe that “fortune is in the follow-up” and have developed hooks and angles that have resulted in numerous successful campaigns. 

If you’re looking for a premium quality service, flawless support and advanced, high-performing features, find out how Campaign Refinery can immediately increase your open rates and deliverability and make your emails your top marketing channel as well!

Written by Divya Shakhti

The 9-Step Email Funnel Blueprint TOP Marketers Use
Watch how to build email funnel in 9 steps!

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