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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Heppell

5 Stages of Email Marketing Funnel

Email marketing is a valuable tool for marketers as it offers a cost-effective channel to reach audiences with personalised content, free from algorithmic control. The key to maximising its potential lies in tailoring your email funnel to match the stages of your customer’s buying journey. This approach helps in understanding the shifting motivations throughout the decision-making process.


Contrary to popular belief, there’s no one-size-fits-all structure for email marketing funnels. Each customer’s journey is unique and your email marketing funnel should be customised to your target audience’s behaviour. With a potential ROI of $40, a well-crafted email marketing funnel can turn customers into brand advocates, leading to more referrals. Remember, designing a funnel that retains leads is both an art and a science.


What is an Email Marketing Funnel?

An email marketing funnel is a strategic approach that aligns email content with the sales funnel stages, addressing specific user needs at the right time. This method ensures that each subscriber on your email list receives targeted content that nudges them further down the funnel towards conversion. It’s a way to identify and address the specific challenges your users will encounter as they progress through the sales process.


The goal is to capture your users’ attention within the crucial eight seconds before they discard your message. An email marketing funnel represents the customer journey, showing how subscribers transition from brand awareness to purchase and eventually become brand advocates. This strategy allows you to anticipate your subscribers’ needs and deliver timely, relevant email content. In essence, it ensures a logical sequence in your email interactions with your audience, guiding a subscriber from being a prospective lead to a customer through educational and promotional emails.

A sample picture of sales funnel.

Benefits of Email Marketing Funnel

Here are other benefits of building one for your business.

1. Makes it easy for customers

It sets up a series of emails that your customers get from the beginning to the end of their journey with you. Some services can even figure out when it's the right time to send emails based on what your customers do. For example, if someone looks at things on a website but doesn't buy anything, the system can send them a special email with a discount to encourage them to come back and buy.


2. Makes emails personal

You can make each email special for each customer. Depending on the tools you use, you can change things like the subject, the start, the end, and the main message of the email. This makes customers feel like you're talking directly to them, and they're more likely to click on your emails.


3. Easy to see how well it's working

You can keep track of how many people are signing up for your emails or buying things because of them. You can also see how many people open your emails or ignore them.


4. Helps keep customers interested

It sends emails to keep people interested in buying from you. It can also ask customers for feedback on their experience or remind people who haven't bought anything yet to come back and check out what's new.



5 Stages of Email Marketing Funnel

1. Brand Awareness

The awareness stage is the initial phase of the buying journey where potential customers first learn about your brand as a solution to their problem. At this stage, they’re not ready to buy yet, so your email content should focus on nurturing them to the next stage.


Offer free advice, educational content, checklists, templates, and samples that address their pain points, building trust by showing understanding of their struggles. Remember, you’re a stranger to your new prospects, so take time to introduce your brand before trying to sell. Use blogs and videos to share your company’s mission, values, and industry experience, and avoid overly sales-y content. The goal is to earn their trust, as purchases often rely on trust in the company. The selling part comes later; for now, focus on letting them know who you are.


2. Interest Stage

As prospects reach the interest stage, having chosen to consider your product over others, it’s time to subtly introduce your product or service. While avoiding hard selling, provide content that showcases your product’s success and practical how-to guides. Blogs with statistical proof of your product’s success can encourage prospects to buy, while how-to content can clarify product usage or brand interaction. The goal is to nurture your users, preparing them for what’s ahead without pushing for a sale.


Additionally, during this stage, it’s beneficial to introduce social proof such as case studies and testimonials that demonstrate your product’s effectiveness. Address common objections, like cost concerns, by highlighting discounts or special pricing. Emails at this stage can include product demos, personalised case studies, feature benefits, and special offers.


3. Conversion Stage

The conversion stage is all about giving prospects that extra push to make a purchase. This is the time to showcase the benefits of your product, customer reviews, and address cart abandonment issues. The challenge here is that prospects may have various reasons for not purchasing yet. They might be comparing you with another company, or perhaps they abandoned their cart due to high shipping costs.


To address these scenarios, you need to structure your emails appropriately. For instance, a humorous email reminding prospects about their abandoned cart can be effective. It might just be the nudge they need to complete their purchase. Other emails could highlight the benefits of your product or feature customer reviews, which are crucial decision-making tools for many customers today. Sending out promos and special offers can be effective, but be cautious with time-based offers that may come off as too pushy, especially in industries like B2B SaaS. Ultimately, it’s about testing and tweaking your approach until you find what works best.


4. Purchase Stage

After successful interactions and nurturing, your lead is now ready for conversion. It’s time to present your offer and ask them to try your product. Be straightforward and highlight the unique features, attractive offers, and positive testimonials of your product. Don’t forget to include a call to action, giving them options to buy, try, download, register, or purchase your product.


At this stage, your prospect is prepared to buy either your product or a competitor’s. They’ve done their research and identified the solution they need. Your task is to convince them that your product is superior. According to Luisazhou, email marketing influences the purchasing decisions of nearly 6 out of every 10 email subscribers. In fact, 50.7% of people buy something from a marketing email at least once per month, 23.8% make a purchase several times per month, and 3% do it more than once per week.


Personalised emails urging the prospect to act can effectively convert them into a customer. This is a crucial step in the email marketing sales funnel. Leveraging these statistics can help optimise your email marketing strategy and increase conversion rates.


5. Retention Stage

After a lead makes a purchase, the focus shifts to customer retention and engagement. This stage isn’t just about repeat purchases; it’s also about enhancing brand awareness and advocacy through relevant follow-up emails. In fact, research from Bain has found that a mere 5% increase in your current customers’ retention rate can lead to a profit increase between 25 and 95%.


Nurturing them with relevant content is crucial to encourage repeat purchases. This includes sending ‘Thank You’ emails, updates on products/services, and information about new benefits and discounts. Remember, the relationship doesn’t end with a purchase. Post-purchase emails help maintain the relationship and increase the likelihood of repeat business. Offering the best deals and benefits shows customers they are valued. In essence, the loyalty stage should focus on delivering value.


Final thoughts

Building an email marketing funnel is the initial step towards success in email marketing. It requires a strategic approach to yield meaningful results. Personalised emails with relevant content and timely offers can convert prospects into loyal customers. Post-purchase communication is crucial for fostering brand loyalty and driving repeat business. Amidst the marketing noise, the email marketing funnel provides clarity, guiding both marketers and consumers. The essence of effective email marketing is forging meaningful connections through carefully crafted messages.


Let's elevate your email marketing strategy by developing your email marketing funnel.

If you need assistance, I'm here to help you every step of the way. Contact me today!


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