The 30-second version

What role does a email sales funnel play? This is basically a marketing sales channel, where you walk your customer through a sales process – from interest, to consideration, to action. A process that builds trust between you and your customer. It starts by you grabbing their attention – this is an offer or giveaway, your lead magnet. Once you have their interest you give them more information. This helps people to process the sale. They weigh up the pros and cons, can see the solution to their problem. With information they can make an informed choice which leads to the next phase which is action – the sale, the phone call, the subscription, which can be triggered by an offer. This process is carried out over a series of emails that are written to move your customer from one state to the next.

Email sales funnel

You’ll use a sales funnel to channel your customers through the sales process. There are basically three stages that you walk your customer through: –

  • Interest
  • Consideration
  • Action

To start any funnel, you first need to get someone to offer up their email address. This is much more effective if it is presented as an exchange of value. Your customer gives you their email if you provide something of value to them.

Cast your bait

Think of it as a fishing trip – you have to dangle some bait to draw your customers to you. This could be anything – advice, a cost estimate, a saving estimate, a buying guide. It does not have to be a big thing as long as it offers some value to them, that is the important bit. This is your lead magnet, the initial interest of your customer.

Email sequence

Now you have an email address and you can build an automated sequence of emails (the funnel). Each email gives more information, builds trust and reassurance until your customer is ready to buy. (See this article on how to write email copy.)

Design your sequence according to your outcome

How many emails are in the sequence? This varies widely, it could be two or seven. It all depends on how hard it is to persuade your customer to act. Usually the more you are asking the customer to spend, the more work you will need to put into the sale. Your email sequence might look something like this:-

Welcome email

The first email is a “Welcome’ message. This may be an automated sequence on your side but your customer must feel like it is a dialogue, a one-to-one conversation with you. They have just given out their email because they want to hear from you. If it feels impersonal, you’ll quickly end up in their junk folder.

Remind them who you are and why they are getting the email. Everyone gets heaps of emails everyday – make sure they know you have not just snuck by their junk filter. Let them know why they have signed up and what they can expect and when. It is all about building trust, that there is value to be had from the relationship.

Build trust

Don’t start selling straight away. Build confidence with your customer. Follow up your welcome email with useful informational content that solves a problem for them. What is going to push their buttons, what is going to be useful for them? This is a ‘pay-it-forward’ approach. You give out value before asking for anything yourself.

Your offer

Pitch your product or service in your next email. This is your consideration phase. The customer knows who you are. You’ve demonstrated the value you can offer to them. Now you have a proposition that they can benefit from. If possible, make this a limited time offer. It uses the “Fear of missing out” psychology to initiate purchase.

Social proof

Show happy customers that have purchased from you before. Other customers recommendations are very persuasive. It takes the risk out of the purchase and shows that other people have taken the plunge.

Call to action

Prompt your customer to act, to take up your offer. If you have a limited time offer, let them know how much time they have left. If it is a webinar, show them that the doors are closing soon. There has to be some sense of urgency to act now. Move or lose.

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That’s the basis of an email sales funnel. It underscores to your customer why they should start a relationship with your company. It builds trust and gives them reassurance that you know what you are talking about, that you can add value to their lives. They are then more open to a sales message, making it feel more personal.

Any questions? Drop them in the comments below and I will get back to you.