How’s your email funnel looking? Have one set up?
If you do, awesome you’re on the right track. If you don’t that’s not a deal breaker. But you should consider getting things up and running as soon as you can. You don’t want to be missing out on potential customers, right?
Now, I want to help you take things to the next level with your email. In this post, I’m going to show you how you can set up an email funnel in just a few steps. Yup, just five steps from email funnel zero to hero. If you’ve been struggling with this and don’t know where to start, keep reading.
Let’s cut to the chase.
The Benefits of Email Marketing
I’m going to guess you know that email marketing is important. In fact, dollar for dollar, it is one of the most cost-effective ways to market your brand.
Check out this nifty little infographic:
Bet you’d like that nice fat ROI and more customers buying, wouldn’t you? Keep reading to find out how to do it.
That means your emails are going directly to your potential customers. If you are collecting emails through a form or landing page for example, then you’re already ahead of the game.
These people have expressed some interest in what you are selling. You don’t have to guess who your customers may be, like those who work in a brick and mortar store have to, they’ve already identified themselves to you.
That’s what makes email marketing so powerful. It gives you the opportunity to build an actual relationship to your clients.
And it’s that relationship that is going to move them along the sales funnel.
Here is the real importance of email marketing. It’s one of the few tools out there that provides a ton of value to potential clients and that value can directly lead straight to conversions.
Email marketing has shown to be way more valuable than social media and direct mail and even online ads like Facebook and Adwords.
It’s also really easy to track that effectiveness, you can find out what the list responds to and what they hate pretty easily. This allows you to make quick changes on the fly and on the cheap, something that is really hard to do with other forms of marketing.
The Components of a Sales Funnel
A sales funnel is best thought of visually.
Think of a regular kitchen funnel, wide at the top and pretty small at the bottom. Obviously, we need to look at this in terms of your own business.
There are three main basic components to any sales funnel. You can get fancy and expand it out, but let’s stay simple here.
A lead is a person who would be interested in your expertise, simply they want something and need someone (you) to help them do it.
Maybe they know who you are; they’ve visited your website or an article you wrote a local trade magazine or a professional colleague told them about you.
It’s possible there are plenty of leads out there who have no idea who you are, but you know they’d be a great fit for your product or service.
Leads are going to be the largest group of people you deal with.
Some products or services can have a sub-segment of a lead known as a qualified lead. This just means that out of that big group of people who are leads these qualified leads need to have something special about them.
For example, if you are a brand with a SaaS product that revolves around budgeting, then a qualified lead would be a budget manager or CFO who is looking for a new budgeting product.
This person would be an especially good fit.
The next level of your funnel is going to be the prospect. A prospect is someone who has demonstrated an interest in your service.
So going back to our SaaS company. This brand has a website up talking about how their product can help other brands. When someone who could use this product or service gives their email in exchange for more information would be a prospect.
Prospects are very important people in the sales funnel because they have seen your stuff and they have stuck around.
They are the people you want to work on building a relationship with and turn into the next stage in the funnel. And this is where your email marketing is going to come into play to really push that relationship along.
Customers are where you make your money. This is going to be the smallest part of your funnel because only a fraction of the people who enter the top of your funnel end up leaving it as customers.
Your clients are your VIPs, they’ve given you their hard earned money in changed for your knowledge, skills, and writing, that’s really important. So you always want to be sure you are always nurturing this relationship.
Driving Traffic to Your Funnel
Next, we’re going to cover how to actually get those coveted subscribers into your email list. In case you guessed, it’s not as easy as just tossing a “subscribe” box up on your website and hoping for the best.
Instead, you have to be a bit more proactive today.
You will be able to create more leads by doing things like:
- Writing guest posts on big blogs in your industry that include a link back to your own site.
- Getting referrals from people or other brands who have used your products or services.
- Using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to have your website rank highly for keyword searches on search engine results.
- Running ads online (via PPC or Facebook) or in magazines, tv and newspapers to drive people to your website.
- Offering freemium (a free giveaway, i.e. a checklist, free 20 minute consultation, etc., in exchange for an email address) products that will provide lots of value to potential customers and make them more interested to buy.
Each of these is going to get people over to your site. From there, you can start working on converting them to customers.
Setting Up Your Email Funnel
First things first, we need to get a good understanding of the right emails in the right order and how they should flow into the next step of the email funnel, all while providing value and building a relationship at the same time.
Sounds hard, but it really isn’t.
Most successful email funnel autoresponder series follow a predictable path.
Generally, when someone enters the funnel via subscribing they are sent a welcome email (which may include a gift).
Then there will follow 3-5 more emails, each of which should be focused on first building a relationship, offering something of value, showcasing your brand personality.
Remember this image from this post?
That’s an example to get you started. If you need more in-depth info on autoresponder campaigns, I’d check out that post.
Alright, you want to give your list the warm fuzzies. When they like you, they are far more likely to buy. That’s when you offer your sales email asking them to work with you. Then the process repeats.
Many brands will also have another product or service that is related to the first. If this is something that applies to you, it’s easy to add another 3-5 set email series to the existing funnel. And then, at the end of that have the next sales pitch.
For a SaaS brand, you can just add a new set of emails offering insider secrets, freebie upgrades, etc., with another pitch to work with you at the end.
Let’s work through the steps by showing an example to help you see the process. We’ll stick with our SaaS brand example who focuses on selling to CFOs looking to update or upgrade their budgeting process.
Step 1: Have your Free Offer Prepared
Before you do anything, you want your free offer prepared and ready to go. It doesn’t matter if you’re posting it on your site or on a guest site, get that good to go first. If you don’t prepare this, you have nothing of interest or value to give to the people who are entering your list.
Once you’ve got everything prepared, here’s how it can work in real life:
- Leads give you their email address in exchange for a mini guide on seven tips on improving your budgeting process. They enter their email using the pop up form on your website.
- They can also enter the list by clicking on a guest post you wrote on a popular industry blog where your upgraded content is this same mini guide.
- You’ve also created a Facebook ad that guides people to your page where they can sign up for the mini guide there too.
These are just a few real-life examples. But remember nothing happens until you have the upgrade first.
Step 2: Write Your Emails
Ok, you’ve got your upgrade, now it’s time to get your email series rolling.
This will be your 3-5 emails to get the leads interested with the goal of having them contact you to chat about your SaaS budgeting tool.
Write to educate and build a relationship with your readers, not to simply just get them to call you. If you do everything right along with all the other steps, you’ll have no problem getting those calls!
Here is how you can set it up (remember this is just an example):
- Email 1: Our welcome email (with the 7 tips delivered).
- Email 2: What did you think about the 7 tips? If you thought they were good, here are some blog posts I’ve written I bet you’ll love!
- Email 3: How’d you like those blog posts? Here’s a story about how a user improved their business with our product. Respond back to me with some of your biggest frustrations about your budgeting process.
- Email 4: If you think the stuff I’ve sent you so far is great, then I thought you’d like whitepaper on industry trends towards going to the cloud with budgeting.
- Email 5: Love the whitepaper I sent? Happy to talk to you a bit more in depth about your current situation and where we might be able to help improve your budgeting process. Here’s my personal contact info phone and email.
With each email you tell a story. Don’t just make it all about you. Make it about them. Tie all the awesome stuff your SaaS tool does for your current customers back to their problems and needs.
Readers will feel a connection to the other user who had their same problems and saw success. Moz found that 67% of customers are influenced by reviews they see online. So why not give them great reviews right up front in their inbox? They might love the whitepaper highlighting some information they didn’t know about where the industry was going.
See what I mean?
Each of these emails is another chance for you to sell by providing value and showing results.
Have your emails be conversational, and interesting so that by that last email they cannot wait to click the link to contact you.
Here are a few tips about writing your emails to keep in mind:
- Keep your emails short and easy to read, 100 to 300 words is great.
- Have your writing be casual and conversational.
- Include something to click on or respond to in each email.
- Always have a call to action.
- Test your headlines to see what works.
- Always include a link to contact you, use a PS in the early emails, for the people who are ready to do it now.
- Don’t overthink it, emails don’t need to be perfect!
Step 3: Add Additional Series (if you want)
Wash, rinse and repeat.
Once you have your first series setup, it’s very easy to add more to it.
You can even use the exact same formatting as your first series and just change the language to refer to another freebie product or guide you’ve written.
And, obviously, be sure to offer new value to your readers, don’t recycle the same links and giveaways.
In this case, you might track the people who went through your first series and send a secondary series that offers a 7 day free trial, a 20 minute no strings attached consultation call, or even a discount for purchasing today.
Or, you can create a brand new email series.
The choice is yours.
Step 4: Scheduling
Now comes time for scheduling your emails.
Ideally, you want to find a good mix that allows you to still be top of mind with your list, but doesn’t bombard them with information.
Plus, it’s always good (generally) to leave a bit of space between emails. This ensures you have the ability to send out general broadcasts or weekly newsletters if you want to do that on a regular basis also.
Many people do a combination of both. Using an autoresponder to sell your services to those who signed up for the free giveaway, and a weekly or monthly newsletter to everyone who is on the email list.
So if we go back to our example above.
For the email series, the five emails, you can space them out to go every 2-4 days. This gives people time to process the information, and you can stretch this series out to go even as long as three weeks to a month if you’d like.
This is what it would look like:
- Email 1 sent out on day 1
- Email 2 sent out on day 4
- Email 3 sent out on day 7
- Email 4 sent out on day 10
- Email 5 sent out on day 13
So it certainly can depend on what kind of series you’re sending out as to how often you want them to be delivered to your lists email inbox.
There are marketers who send out an email every single day, while others might stretch out 10 emails over two months.
What you should do though is set expectations from the start in your welcome email. Tell people they will get 5 emails over the course of 2 weeks, or a daily email for a week, with follow up emails later on. If you communicate that upfront you give people the chance to self select and opt-out if they want.
Step 5: Testing
The great thing about email funnels is they can really be set it and forget it once you have them built inside your email service provider and your main email series (or multiple series) written.
Once you’ve got your autoresponder up and running, you want to be sure to track what’s happening on a regular basis.
By track, I mean you should check your open rates, see what links are being clicked and if people are responding to your emails.
If you see emails are getting opened but no links getting clicked, then possibly your email copy needs to be changed, or your offer is just not grabbing the attention of your prospects.
If your emails aren’t even getting opened, then try working on improving your subject line to something that really grabs their attention.
Bringing it All Together
If you’ve stuck with me this entire time, good for you, it means you’re dedicated to taking your email funnel to the next level.
By now you should have a very good idea and understanding of what you need to do in order to set up your website to:
- Attract new leads to your site through guest blogging, ads, referrals, etc.
- Get people to subscribe to your list in exchange for a content upgrade or a freemium product
- Build out an email autoresponder that turns leads into prospects
- Provide value and build a relationship with your list that turns prospects into customers
That’s a lot of stuff.
Yes, it is going to take a lot of effort and time upfront to get all this accomplished. Which is why so many people don’t do it.
And what happens to them?
They leave a lot of sales and money on the table over time.
Your email list is one of the most valuable things you can have, remember that!