While email marketing is known to generate an ROI of 3800%, you won’t boost your email conversions if prospects and customers don’t engage with your emails. What if there’s a way to deliver targeted emails that converts prospects into customers and brand advocates—without you having to do much work?
This is where an email marketing funnel comes in. This powerful marketing tool helps you to send the right emails to prospects and customers at the right time.
In this article, you’ll learn how to build an email marketing funnel and use it to drive conversions for your SaaS company.
Table of contents
- What is an email marketing funnel?
- How to build an email marketing funnel
- Steps to improve your email marketing funnel
- Wrap up
What is an email marketing funnel?
An email marketing funnel is a series of emails that nudge someone towards taking a desired action or becoming a customer.
Think of an email marketing funnel as a representation of your customer journey. It outlines the various stages prospects pass through on their path to purchase—from sharing your brand story to building interest to finally pushing for a sale.
A typical email marketing funnel includes the following stages:
- Brand awareness
Here is a graphical illustration of a email marketing funnel:
How to build an email marketing funnel
There are three important points you must acknowledge before you build an email marketing funnel. These points form the basis of your email funnel and help you create a more personalized and targeted message. They include:
1. Understand the buyer’s journey
Your prospect’s stage in the buying journey is what informs you on how to build an accurate email marketing funnel. You need to understand the certain touchpoints and resources that your prospects engaged with before giving you their contact information.
As a result, you can define your email marketing funnel and have more control over the customer journey.
Let’s consider an example of two prospects:
First prospect: engages with your social media content>> reads a blog post on your site>>signs up for a free trial.
Second prospect: engages with your ad>>downloads a lead magnet.
Will you send out the same email to both of these prospects? These prospects have interacted with different touchpoints and resources in the buying journey.
For this reason, you need to map out the customer journey. You need analytics data to pinpoint how prospects behave on their path to purchase. You can use the insight to create accurate customer segments so that you can deliver relevant and targeted emails. This helps you to avoid misalignment in your messaging.
The good thing about this—the emails can be sent just at the right time. This is where email automation comes in.
2. Choose an appropriate email automation tool
Once you’ve set up the right workflow conditions, an email automation tool will automatically gather leads and drive conversions— without you having to do much work. The email marketing automation tool you use matters a lot.
Ensure you use email automation software that can create automated emails based on customizable triggers and dynamic customer segmentation
3. Plan your email marketing sequence
There are different kinds of email marketing sequences that you can apply in your email marketing funnel. Each of them falls into different stages in the email marketing funnel. So you need to plan your email marketing workflows and group them accordingly.
This way, you get a clearer picture of your email marketing funnel and the various sequences and workflows attached to them.
With Engage, you can create workflows for your emails, add leads to a nurturing sequence and move them further down the email marketing funnel.
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of building an email marketing funnel!
The awareness stage is about getting leads—whether cold, warm, or hot. In other words, you want people to know that your product exists and sign up to receive emails from you. It's how you engage with these leads that will influence the entire trajectory of your email marketing funnel.
There are different ways you can acquire leads:
- Landing pages.
- Opt-in forms on web pages.
The truth is that most people aren’t willing to sign up to receive emails from you. There’s usually a motive behind their willingness to give you their contact information.
For this reason, you must offer an incentive like a lead magnet to compel people to give you their contact information. For example, you can offer a free downloadable app like a checklist, template, whitepaper, and so on.
Here's an example of an opt-in form from Sprout Social:
After people have signed up, then you can start an automated nurture email sequence—starting with a welcome email. This leads us to the next stage.
In the consideration stage, you need to offer more content to nudge your prospects further down in the email funnel through an automated nurture email sequence. This is where you engage more with prospects, and share content that addresses their pain points and stories about your brand.
You can use customer segments to deliver targeted and personalized emails. The type of segments you’ll use depends on your prospect’s stage on their path to purchase. You can segment your prospects based on behavioural activity with your product (for trialists), demographics, name, and so on.
A typical nurture email sequence includes (3-4 emails):
- A welcome email
- Custom messages based on their preferences
- Emails sharing resources like case studies, and user-generated content.
In this stage, your prospects are more primed and ready to convert. Before you move further, you need to define your conversion goals. An email conversion can mean different things—macro-conversions like signing up for a free trial/upgrading an account or micro-conversions (download a lead magnet).
However, the ultimate conversion goal is to get your prospects to become trialists, then paying customers. Without a great conversion strategy, this can be hard to pull off.
You need to apply powerful tactics to nudge prospects further down the email funnel. (check out this strategy for writing emails that convert).
Typical examples of email sequences in the conversion stage include:
- Onboarding email sequence
- Upgrade email sequence
- Re-engagement email sequence
The email sequence you’ll send will be based on user activity. For example, you send an onboarding email to a prospect that meets your conversion goal by signing up for a free trial.
You send a re-engagement email to a prospect that signs up for a free trial and becomes inactive after a certain period just like Copper did in it’s re-engagement email.
If your users made it past the first three stages in your email marketing funnel, great they are now paying customers! This doesn’t mean that communication will end here.
Retaining paying customers is an important strategy you can use to increase customer lifetime value and build brand loyalty. Besides, it’s more cost-effective to retain paying customers than acquire new ones.
Think about the retention stage as an opportunity to nurture paying customers and engage more with them— this time in a more direct way. Here are some ways you can pull this off:
- Post-purchase follow-up email sequence (2-4 emails) with upsell/cross-sell product offers based on customer activity, product updates, company events, and news.
- Customer email surveys.
This stage is where your best-paying customers become brand advocates. They have derived so much value from your product and brand that they won’t hesitate to spread the word. So, you can step back and let your customers tell friends and family about your brand.
Word of mouth and social proof are great marketing tools for conversion. Why? Buyers require an average of 40 online reviews before believing a business’s star rating is accurate.
Here are some ways you can achieve this in your emails:
- Send an email asking your customers to leave a review on a popular site.
- Request for video or written testimonials that you can showcase on your website.
- Send an email requesting customers to take part in loyalty or referral programs.
Steps to improve your email marketing funnel
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when you want to build an email marketing funnel. You need to learn what works for your brand and audience, then optimize your email funnel accordingly. Here is a checklist to optimize and improve your email funnel:
- Set measurable goals to track the results of your email marketing funnel. Use metrics like number of users, click-to-open rates, ROI, etc.
- Re-evaluate the customer journey to avoid a disconnect in your messaging.
- Align your email funnel with your brand’s goals.
- Re-adjust your email workflows and set the ideal conditions.
A well-optimized email marketing funnel is the foundation for driving more conversions in your email marketing efforts. You need to build a strategy that’s backed up by customer research, an understanding of the buyers’ journey and a good email automation tool.
You don’t need to build a complex automation system. In fact, over-automation can be a conversion killer. Make your email marketing funnel simple, then you can optimize it as you move forward.
With Engage, we have made the process of building an email funnel easy for you!
You can track your customer data, build unique customer segments, send personalized emails to boost conversions, and launch your campaigns with our automated sequences or workflows.