Digital marketing is full of so many different terms that it can be hard to keep track. Despite the similar names, each piece of the broader puzzle has its own unique characteristics that make it worth examining individually. Sales funnels are no different. It’s time to get an introduction to email sales funnels and how to get started on marking your own.
What Is an Email Sales Funnel?
If you’ve ever read about how to make sales with other online mediums, such as customer experience improvement, you’re already one step ahead. Email sales funnels are just like any other type of sales funnel. Their purpose is to guide people through the journey from new leads to new customers and beyond. The specific difference is that this funnel operates through email, but the concept and the purpose of the funnel is the same.
Email sales funnels may have the same goals as other sales funnels, but the path to those goals is going to be vastly different. In general, the goals of an email sales funnel will be to:
- Create Awareness
- Build Interest
- Nurture Leads
- Convert Leads to Sales
The overall goal for an email sales funnel is in the name: sales. However, the specific immediate goal changes as a person moves through the funnel, so it’s more accurate to say that each goal relates to a particular phase of the funnel rather than to the entire funnel itself.
When a person first gets connected to your email list, your goal is often to start from the bottom and create awareness for the products or services your business offers. As you communicate with them more, whether via mobile app, mobile, or PC, they might get more interested in what you’re offering and become a solid lead. If this happens, you’re now trying to gently nudge them further along the funnel until they make a purchase. After a sale is completed, you’re now focusing on retaining their business and repeat sales.
Building an Email Sales Funnel from Scratch
Now that you know a little more about email sales funnels and what they’re meant to do, how do you actually create one? Start here:
1. Define Your Goals
Because you’re working with a moving goalpost, it’s helpful to build each phase of your funnel with the right goal in mind. Know your goals at each phase, then you can start to create each step of the funnel around those goals.
2. Connect Analytics
Never start an email campaign of any kind without first having it connected to a program that can track what’s happening. This is a very simple process and it gives you insights that help you know how many people have signed up, how they’re engaging with your emails, what else they’re doing on your website, and other useful information.
It’s helpful to look for your analytics from a program such as Pitchbox, that can also automate the email marketing process and outreach (more on this later).
3. Capture Email List Signups
Before you can send out your perfectly crafted emails, you need to have an audience for them. Build up your email list using targeted opt-in pages, lead magnets, CTAs (Call to Actions), and whatever else you can do to get people to fill out the form. Lead magnets and getting email marketing opt-ins is a topic all in itself, so we’ll leave it at that for now.
4. Consistent Email Marketing (Automate This!)
Once you have people on your list, you need to send emails out to them on a regular and predictable basis. They signed up for it, now it’s your turn to deliver.
You can make this process a lot easier on yourself by automating it to the fullest extent possible. Write each email in the sequence for yourself, create templates and emails for different situations (welcome, thank you, etc.), plan far in advance, and let your email marketing do the rest for you.
This is where your goals and knowing where your leads are in the funnel helps you. You can tailor your emails so that certain groups of people receive one email while other groups receive different versions. For example, someone who has already made a purchase with you before probably doesn’t need an introduction to the basic features of your main products/services unless they’re new. Make sure you’re delivering the right messages to the right people.
You could also direct your email subscribers to a webinar full of relevant industry information or a podcast through which they can learn more. This would be a good way to lead up to the hard sell.
5. Pitch the Hard Sell
Only once you’ve gotten people through the early stages of introducing them to the products/services, providing value, and building interest should you then try out a hard sell. Hard selling should only be a small percentage of what you do with your email marketing. Even though you’re building a sales funnel, the actual selling only happens at the end. Everything else is just leading up to that, guiding people through the process to make them better leads.
If you pitch your products or services to a new lead that you know nothing about and who likely knows little about you, it’s a gamble at best. Since they’re on your email list, you shouldn’t have to gamble. Take your time and sell to them slowly, building up rapport to increase your chances of making a sale by the time you send out your hard sell messaging.
6. Evaluate & Evolve
Once you’ve been operating your email sales funnel for a little while, it’s time to sit down and evaluate how it’s performing. What’s your conversion rate? How are people reacting to your selling messages and CTAs? Are they even getting that far without disengaging?
All feedback is useful. If you’re doing well… great! Keep it up with fresh content and a strategy to harness even more of the leads that are dropping off. If things aren’t as good as you’d want them to be, find out where they’re going wrong and do some A/B testing to see if you can improve your performance.
Continual refinement of your funnel is what ensures it does well over time in a rapidly changing marketplace. You can’t expect to stay on top if you’re not evolving your strategy and your marketing content over time to keep up with your customers.
Tips to Perfecting Your Sales Funnel
Building the funnel is one thing, but making sure it’s perfect is another problem entirely. Here are a few tips on how to refine your email sales funnel and get the most out of it:
· Don’t assume all email list sign-ups are hot leads.
People join your email list for any number of reasons. It would be a mistake to lump them all together in the same category as hot leads. They are all leads, but some are only there because they wanted the lead magnet, not because they’re interested in what you have to share. Start from the basics and build up rather than jumping right in with assumptions that these leads are all informed or even interested.
· Form a cohesive strategy ahead of time.
All your emails should work well together. There should be a good flow to everything that gently pushes your readers to the point. It’s not about bringing down the hammer every time. A more valuable way of doing things over email is to keep people’s attention for a short read at a time, providing smaller, digestible pieces and linking out to more in-depth content on your website to read more. Many businesses have great success with emails that build on each other in a series-type format.
· Never spam your email list.
They signed up for valuable content of some sort, not constant emails from you to fill up their inboxes. Be kind. Avoid spamming. Send messages at consistent, predictable intervals as well as when people interact with specific parts of your business (making a purchase, asking for more information, etc.).
· Educate and reinforce a simple, central brand message.
Don’t use your email marketing to get too deep or complex. Few people have the patience to delve deep into a topic while they’re reading their emails. Keep it simple, straightforward, and on-message. If you want to get into something more in-depth, point your readers to a piece of content on your website that covers the topic. That way, you can also see how many people are interested enough to click and read more.
Email sales funnels can be a great resource for building and maintaining a loyal customer base, if you take the time to set things up well from the start. Create a sales funnel that makes sense for your business and aligns well with your overall goals and strategies.