Easy Email Marketing Funnels: Why You Need Them and How to Build Them

Email marketing has the highest return on investment (ROI) for any digital marketing strategy — 4,200%

But without an email marketing sales funnel to convert your leads into customers, you won’t even get close to those results.

In this post, you’ll learn how to build an email marketing funnel, the benefits of having one, and which tools to use to support you along the way.

1. What is an email marketing funnel?

Essentially, it’s a marriage between email marketing and a sales funnel.

However, instead of using landing pages and order forms to guide the customer journey, it’s a timed and automated email sequence.

This sequence is mapped out, like a sales funnel, to plan and define your lead’s journey to becoming customers, and then champions, of your brand.

Email sales funnels are also called:

An email sales funnel is not the same thing as a set of sales emails that you send out to your list.

While it will include your sales pitch, you also need to deliver valuable content and guide your leads through the different stages of your email sales funnel.

1.1. The 5 stages of an email marketing sales funnel

Before you create the sequence for your email funnel, you’ll need to map out how you’ll guide your potential customers through each stage of your funnel.

These stages are slightly different from the 4 stages of a sales funnel and will require different things from you.

The 5 stages of an email sales funnel are:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Conversion
  • Retention
  • Advocacy

Here are the different ways you’ll engage your leads at each stage:

Email Marketing Funnel

How you approach the retention and advocacy stages is dependent on your niche — recent purchase reviews, exclusive discounts, and affiliate programs are some strategies to consider.

You can use this infographic to refer back to when you’re planning your email sales funnel.

Let’s see how these different stages actually function inside a working email funnel.

1.2. Example of an email marketing funnel

4,89 trillion dollars was spent globally on ecommerce retail in 2021.

Because of this rise in popularity, the ecommerce industry includes strong email funnels.

An example of this is the email marketing funnel created by the Australian brand, Cotton On.

Now an international force, the Cotton On Group has successfully been using email funnels for years.

This brand creates awareness across social media channels, with posts on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Example of Cotton On’s social media posts

Once they’ve created a strong and enticing brand image across these channels, their audience is directed to their website.

On their homepage, their lead magnet is a simple one that offers immediate value: free delivery and immediate savings.

Cotton On’s lead magnet

Once they have their leads hooked, they guide them through the consideration stage with a welcome email with the promise of more savings.

This email explains what content they’ll receive and how Cotton On will improve their lives with these emails.

Being ahead of trends and enjoying exclusive savings will keep leads warm and willing email recipients.

Cotton On’s welcome email

Following this initial contact, Cotton On uses cookies and data tracking to lead email subscribers from consideration to conversion.

The promise of extreme savings on new items is a frequent tactic for this global retailer.

Following conversion, Cotton On works on retaining customers with engaging emails that target recent purchasers with a review request.

Cotton On’s customer satisfaction emails

These emails make customers feel like the brand cares for them, and these reviews are often published for full transparency.

This builds trust and brand authority in their particular niche.

If a customer leaves the site without completing a purchase, a cart abandonment email is sent.

This combined with their free shipping offer encourages hesitant shoppers to complete their purchases.

This helps them convert and retain more customers, across the board.

Finally, Cotton On uses a loyalty points system, which often turns customers into advocates of the brand.

Cotton On loyalty points scheme

They offer a lot of value to their client base, which continues to increase with time and engagement.

With over 1,500 stores across every continent and a formidable online presence, this brand is only growing.

There’s no doubt that as the world moves toward online shopping over physical stores, email funnels like this one will make the biggest difference to a business’ success.

It’s time you build one too.

2. How to build your email marketing funnel

Building an email sales funnel is similar to building a regular one — you just need different tools.

You can use several different methods to build out your email funnel:

  • Triggered or automated emails
  • A drip campaign
  • Email workflows
  • Autoresponders

Depending on which email marketing tools you use, you can combine and test which email marketing strategy works best for you.

No matter which method you choose, there are 5 steps you need to follow to build a high-converting email marketing funnel.

2.1. Step 1: Plan the customer journey

The first step to building your email marketing sales funnel is planning how you’ll guide your leads to become paying customers.

This step is essential and will benefit you in two ways:

  • You’ll know what content you need to prepare before any leads even enter the marketing funnel
  • You can see and track the different touchpoints that push your leads towards conversion

Your planning can take the form of a flowchart, diagram, or even a storyboard if that’s what works for you.

During this preparation phase, you’ll clarify your marketing goals and ensure that your email marketing funnel is well defined.

2.2. Step 2: Gather leads

After planning their journey, you’ll need to gather some leads to feed into your email marketing funnel.

This is the first of the funnel stages, where you work on making your target audience aware of your brand.

People won’t give you their email addresses for nothing — you have to give them something valuable in return.

There are several ways to grow your email list:

  • Use a lead magnet
  • Write a blog that uses SEO
  • Create video tutorials
  • And more!

All of these tactics are ways of providing free and valuable content that shows your leads that you understand their pain points.

To send them more personalized content, you’ll need to capture their contact details.

2.3. Step 3: Use opt-in forms

Source: Netflix.com

Opt-in forms are a great way to collect email addresses and subscribe contacts to relevant email campaigns.

Opt-in forms are what help you take your ideal customer from the awareness stage to the consideration stage.

These forms should be placed on high-converting pages on your website:

  • About page
  • Sales pages
  • Best blog posts
  • Pop-ups on landing pages

You can put an opt-in form on all of your landing pages so that each one has a call-to-action (CTA) and helps you capture leads.

These opt-in forms should also be attached to any lead magnet on your site, as those really generate leads.

If you really understand your audience and start delivering free value to potential customers, they’ll be more likely to give you their email addresses.

2.4. Step 4: Create a welcome email sequence

Following capturing leads, you need to create an email sequence that welcomes them and starts pointing them towards purchase.

Your email sequence is where you start nurturing your leads because warm leads are more likely to convert.

This is where your planning comes in handy.

We suggest you set up at least 5 emails in your welcome sequence:

  • Email 1 — Welcome new subscribers by letting them know how often you’ll contact them and what kind of email content you’ll send
  • Email 2 — Send targeted content that addresses their pain points and begins to show that you have the solution
  • Email 3 — Address any doubts or concerns that your leads may have by showing them how your offer will change their lives
  • Email 4 — Provide even more free value, and build trust with your leads through catered and personalized content
  • Email 5 — Present your offer softly and show them how much value is packed into your product

Whether you send educational content or personal accounts will depend on your audience and your niche.

If you want to know more about writing different emails, read this post on email marketing templates.

However, you don’t have to start selling with your first email sequence.

You can choose to use your introductory emails to find out more about your audience and their specific needs.

Then, just tag or segment them based on their behavior and subscribe them to another sequence that sells a product that suits them best.

Once you convert subscribers into new customers, you can move on to the final stage of the funnel.

2.5. Step 5: Maintain connections with all customers

The final stage of the email marketing funnel is all about keeping your customers engaged.

If you ignore existing customers as soon as they complete their sales, you’re throwing away a powerful asset and all the hard work you put into them.

Here are 5 ways you can stay connected with your current customers:

  • Send timely follow-ups — Stay connected with recent customers, and don’t let them lose interest
  • Run an affiliate program — Get more customers through referrals from your current ones
  • Coupons and discounts — Encourage repeat customers with the reward of exclusive savings
  • Create more products — Solve other issues and pain points for your audience, and get repeat customers here too
  • Keep giving them value for free — You’ll be rewarded with loyal customers who come back for more

Maintaining a positive customer relationship encourages customer loyalty, one of the biggest benefits of email marketing sales funnels.

3. Benefits of using an email marketing funnel

As with a traditional sales funnel, there are many benefits to running a successful email funnel as part of your marketing strategy.

While there are loads of reasons why you need an email marketing funnel, here are the top 4 benefits you can expect to enjoy.

3.1. Simplify your customer journey

By mapping out each step your customers take, you’ll have a deep understanding of where they’re at on their journey.

You’ll be able to:

  • Know where your customers are at any moment
  • Know what email to send next to lead them to conversion
  • Easily maintain your marketing message throughout your strategy
  • Save time by keeping your funnel simple and effective
  • Lose fewer leads to confusion with a simpler journey

With a simpler buyer’s journey, you can target your leads better and convert more of them into customers.

3.2. Personalize your communication

Personalization is the key to an engaged audience — 72% of consumers say that they’ll only respond to emails directed at them.

However, this personal approach goes beyond using someone’s first name in the email greeting.

An email marketing funnel lends itself to personalization opportunities like these:

  • Targeted content at each stage of the funnel
  • Bulk deals and discounts around the conversion stage
  • Sending quality content that’s relevant to your leads

This strategic plan shows your leads that you understand their needs and care about helping them, not just about making a sale.

A positive user experience (UX) like this will benefit you long-term.

3.3. Engage your customers

Digital marketers can drive 3x the revenue per email in an email sequence compared to unsegmented and impersonal email blasts.

Getting customers to continue to engage with you and your business is one of the greatest strengths of email.

Email marketing funnels can help you nurture your leads towards:

  • Conversion (product purchase, subscription, and opting-in to a more specific email marketing sequence)
  • Promotion (referrals, affiliation, and reviews)
  • Re-engagement (repurchase, other products, and affiliate products)

When you keep your customers engaged, you improve your sales and overall UX.

3.4. Measure your success

The final benefit of using an email marketing funnel is how easy it makes measuring your email KPIs.

Look at click-through rates and repeat purchases to get an idea of how well you’re doing.

These key performance indicators will show you:

  • How successful your campaign was at achieving your goal
  • How much revenue was generated from each campaign
  • How much each click and conversion was worth
  • Areas where you succeeded in your email marketing strategy
  • Areas in your strategic plan that need improvement

Compare these results to those of any future campaigns, and use them as an indicator of how your whole business is improving.

These measurable metrics are what investors look out for, so prove your worth to them with a simple but effective email funnel.

Looking at the KPIs at each stage of your funnel will show you where people drop off or get lost.

You can then implement changes and be armed with how to create your next funnel too!

4. Build your first email marketing funnel with systeme.io

systeme.io logo

There’s a fair amount of effort that goes into building email funnels — that’s why you need email marketing tools.

There are loads of options to choose from depending on your specific business needs.

However, your best bet is always starting with a free tool, like systeme.io.

4.1. Systeme.io’s features

systeme.io’s features

Unlike other platforms, systeme.io is a true all-in-one marketing solution.

While other all-inclusive software might skimp on some features, we ensure you get everything you need to run your entire business.

Our email marketing features will easily help you build your first email funnel:

  • Automated email sequences — Easily build email funnels to sell your offers
  • Email templates — Use proven templates to craft high-converting emails and sequences
  • Contact tagging — Segment your audience to send targeted email content to leads and customers
  • Newsletters — Re-engage existing customers with new content, updates, and offers
  • In-depth statistics — Track and measure the success of your campaigns

Systeme.io’s email builder is seriously easy to use.

It has drag-and-drop capabilities, visual and text-based templates, and personalization fields.

Better connections with email subscribers, email personalization, and improved email performance are just some of the benefits you’ll get.

While systeme.io is already an impressive option, the other built-in features make it even more powerful.

You’ll get access to the following other tools on our platform:

  • Sales funnels and websites — Use a custom domain, and connect them to your email marketing
  • Landing pages and forms — Capture leads, sell products, and provide value to your audience
  • Affiliate management — Turn your leads into an army of affiliates that promote your business
  • Sell online courses and memberships — Monetize your expertise, and sell gated content
  • Automate your marketing — Save time and energy by automating repetitive processes

These features will take your email marketing funnel to the next level, without leaving a hole in your budget.

4.2. Systeme.io’s pricing

systeme.io’s pricing

One of the best things about systeme.io is how affordable it is.

There are 4 scalable pricing plans available, including the Free plan, which is free forever.

You’ll start with the Free plan, and there are no credit card details needed when you sign up.

For 2,000 contacts at $0/month, you’ll get access to the following:

  • Unlimited emails
  • 1 email campaign and tag
  • A workflow and automation rule
  • A blog with unlimited posts
  • A membership site with unlimited site members
  • 1 custom domain, 3 sales funnels with 10 steps
  • An order bump, A/B test, and 1-click upsell
  • And more!

The other pricing options are the Startup, Webinar, and Enterprise plans.

These 3 paid plans are scalable, with custom pricing available on request — just contact our sales team.

With each plan, you’ll get more of the features as well as some nifty extras, like evergreen webinars and 1-on-1 coaching to kickstart your business.

5. Conclusion

An email marketing sales funnel is a tactic that needs to be part of your marketing strategy.

Now that you know how to build one, partner with one of the easiest, most affordable platforms around — systeme.io!

Sign up today, and let your email funnel take your business to new heights.

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