email funnels 101

Email Funnels 101

Everyone talks about email funnels…but unless you read marketing blogs and hang out with sales geeks (guilty on both counts), then you might not know exactly what an email funnel does, how it’s structured, and why it can be one of the biggest success drivers for your business.

So, let’s take a deep dive into the basics of email funnels.

What is an email funnel?

An email funnel is a series of messages delivered to subscribers with the ultimate goal of getting your reader to take a specific action.

Whether you know it or not, you are almost certainly on one (or many) email funnels right this moment. Did you download an ebook from someone’s landing page? You’re probably on the list. Did you buy from one marketer who sells his list? You’re on his customer’s email list. There are dozens of ways every day for you to become part of an email funnel and barely realize it.

How does an email funnel work?

The start – welcoming and onboarding

You come to the attention of someone who is marketing something – perhaps via a Facebook ad or even another email.

You visit a landing page where you enter your email address.

Next comes a thank you email and perhaps a “what to expect” onboarding email,

The middle – relationship building

Ger ready for relationship building Рthe part of the email funnel  whose goal is to understand your needs Рand for you to get to know the person/company who is selling things. At this point, you are probably only vaguely aware of all that they are selling.

After a varying amount of time – typically a couple of weeks to as long as a month or so – you will be presented with an offer. Usually this offer is low-obligation – attend a webinar, download something, talk to someone. If you say yes, you are moved to the next part of the funnel. If you say no – or take no action – you will be either shifted to a broadcast/newsletter funnel or put back into a relationship funnel.

The close – the sales funnel

Yes? If you buy, you are moved to the sales email funnel. The offer is presented – generally over a series of a 2-5 emails. The goal here is to get yourself imagining how much easier your life is if you buy – and how much struggle you can continue to experience if you don’t. FOMO (fear of missing out) and scarcity are often used to push the decision along.

If you buy, you are taken to a sales page – and perhaps some up-sell/down-sell companion product pages. You are shifted to a customer email funnel which may be the same as the general broadcast funnel except for some special offers.

The follow up

No? If you don’t buy, you are shifted to a sales follow up series. Good marketers will genuinely want to understand what stopped you from clicking BUY and may reach out to you individually so they can improve both their process and perhaps the product.

What software do I need to have an email funnel?

The most important thing you need is something called an autoresponder. Autresponder software automates the email funnel process from start to finish. Mailchimp, Aweber, Infusionsoft, Constant Contact, Get Response, Benchmark, and Mad Mimi are only a few of the options available.

Here’s how it works.

Log into your account and create an email list.

You write a series of emails that subscribers will receive based on criteria you set: automatically when they subscribe or when they take some action (such as downloading something).

Create a sign up form that is attached to that list.

Your signup form goes on your website, on landing pages, on social media (many social media platforms have a tab or button where you can add your email signup form).

When someone fills out their email address and hits submit, they are added to your email funnel list.

Once they are on your list, they start getting whatever pre-written emails you have set up.

At the end of the cycle, they can be added to a general broadcast email list, allowing you to reach out to this group of subscribers with news and offers outside your pre-written funnel.

Are email funnels complicated?

Well…the good ones are.

It takes some technical know-how to implement the sales funnel software. You need to understand how to embed sign up forms and a little HTML and CSS to get the forms to look the way you want. And every autoresponder is a little different in how they work – so what’s easy on one is hard on another.

It takes a good copywriter to create engaging copy that is long enough to convert and short enough to keep the reader engaged. You not only need a skilled writer, you need someone who understands how this fits into the sales process.

You need marketing skills to get the messaging right and move the process from welcome to relationship to sale. Working with a copywriter to hone the message and constantly A/B testing to assure that your message is still working.

Design skills and website building experience are also helpful. You will almost certainly have landing pages and web pages that are part of this sales cycle.

While it’s easy to get a basic email sales funnel in place, to build an effective, more complex funnel takes either a village of skilled people or a multi-talented individual with wide ranging experience.

So…to sum it up

  • An email funnel is a series of messages delivered by an autoresponder to people who have subscribed to your email list.
  • These messages can be triggered by an event (subscribing, downloading something) or be delivered at a particular time.
  • The goal of the messages is to take the subscriber through the phases of welcome to relationship to sales.
  • You need a good copywriter, marketer, and tech skills to make all the pieces work.

What is your biggest challenge around using an email funnel for your business?


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