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How to Build an Email Marketing Funnel to Drive Conversions

How to Build an Email Marketing Funnel to Drive Conversions

Originally published on July 15, 2019. Last updated September 24, 2021.


Customers need more than a discount offer to inspire them to make an online purchase. Offering your customers information about your company through an email funnel not only increases brand awareness, but also helps to increase customer trust in your brand. 

Research reveals that investing in an email marketing sales funnel will ensure that you reel in customers. In fact, 59% of customers said that marketing emails influence their purchase decisions and over 50% buy from marketing emails at least once a month.

This poses a great opportunity for businesses to take advantage of email marketing for long term success. So, how can you build out your sales funnel? The first step is understanding what a marketing funnel is.


What is a marketing funnel?

A marketing funnel is every step that transitions browsing visitors to buying customers. This system is set to attract visitors and convert them to your services. 

When buying an item online, there are specific steps customers take before deciding on a purchase:

  • Search the product online
  • Sift through links that have that product
  • Find the product you want
  • Add that product to your cart
  • Finalize the order

Many times, customers take a few additional steps before finalizing their purchase, such as visiting the about page or reading reviews on the product, if available. But when it comes to your business’s marketing funnel, prioritize tracking the main steps of the customer journey to see what’s converting visitors into customers.


Stages of the marketing funnel

Marketing funnels have 5 main stages:

stages of a marketing funnel


  1. Awareness. If customers don’t know about you, they won’t be able to buy from you. This is where you capture your leads and begin a positive customer relationship.

Tip: Put yourself out there through blogs, search engines, social media channels or ads. Make your brand known to customers. Introduce yourself and tell customers more about your product or service through giveaways, webinars or informational emails.

  1. Interest. This is where you delve into the “why” of your product or service. Why is what you have to offer important and worthwhile?

Tip: Capture leads and explain the “why” through informational landing pages that include targeted videos and detailed product descriptions that could relieve a customer’s hesitation. Then nurture those leads through your email campaigns.

  1. Consideration. After interest is solidified, it’s time to learn more about your customers. Start building personalized content to better connect and reel in the customers. Personalized content is said to generate 58% of all revenue for businesses.

Tip: Nurture your leads to pinpoint exactly what your customers are looking for. Include touchpoints to better understand your customers needs and use CTAs after each touchpoint to solidify that what you provided is meeting that need.

  1. Purchase. After nurturing your leads, customers near the bottom of the funnel where they are considered sales qualified. Meaning it’s time to push customers to invest in your product or service.

Tip: Ask your customer to purchase and encourage them with customer reviews and bold CTAs like, “Buy now” or “Register today.”

  1. Retention. Ok, so the customer bought from you once…but what is keeping them loyal to your brand? Customers remain loyal if what you’re providing them with is consistently valuable.

Tip: Now that you converted a visitor into a customer, start planning how to keep them around. The more loyal the customer, the better ROI you are going to receive long term.


What is an email marketing sales funnel?

An email marketing sales funnel is a sequence of emails that work to move customers forward through the customer journey. Strong email marketing funnels have three key ingredients: offer something of value, prove authority and motivate customers with a call to action. 

Following this process will make selling easier because you are essentially prepping your customer. It encourages you to take time to build and nurture the relationship between you and your customer, while also attracting new customers by educating them further on your business’s value and expertise. This way you give customers a genuine nudge to make the purchase, which will be much more successful than something generic and sales-like.


Stages of the email marketing sales funnel

When done right, your email marketing sales funnel will strongly convert visitors into paying customers. Here are the three stages:


Stage 1: Add Value

In this first stage, introduce the unique value your brand offers. In this example from MarketingProfs the value is in a free, downloadable guide to lead generation. Depending on your brand, other types of value emails could include educational resources, gifts, ebooks or other trustworthy resources. 

The key here is not to do any selling. Instead, attract the customer to your brand without asking for anything in return. This is the stage to get clear on each step of your funnel and what your intentions are for each step so you ensure to bring a valuable experience to customers. For example, an email offering high-level content for free helps assure subscribers that they will benefit from the relationship with your brand. Notice the copy in this example doesn’t push any selling.

sales funnel email sequence from MarketingProfs

Stage 2: Build Authority

Use your second email to convey authority, ideally by establishing your brand as a source of thought leadership. Make it known that your brand is a practical solution to the customer’s problem. At this point, you still haven’t convinced your customer to buy from you, so create targeted emails to impress them. Send emails that play on their interests or demographic. This way they will feel more connected to your brand and be more inclined to buy from you.

In this example, MarketingProfs invites readers to join a digital marketing forum, which impresses customers through a targeted email. This shows that the brand understands their customers’ needs and so they confidently offer those customers their expertise that is relevant to those needs. There are many ways to nurture leads and make customers feel welcome while leaving room for a conversion later, but it’s always wise to show your audience that they are able to rely on your brand.

sales funnel email sequence that conveys expertise

Stage 3: Pitch your Call to Action (CTA)

Now that you’ve established your brand as a valuable resource with impressive expertise, it’s time to go in for the sale. In the previous email, MarketingProfs mentioned their digital marketing forum without pushing the sale, but the copy and graphics in this email transform into a more sales-like tone. Here, MarketingProfs talk money directly with the customer and even offer a compelling discount. They aren’t too pushy with the sales and graphics, but they give the perfect nudge.

sales funnel email sequence CTA

How to build an email sales funnel

Creating a strong email sales funnel includes finding the right strategy for your business. Email automation services will help make the entire process less complicated, but before automating comes a bit of a building. 

Strategically plan out and test multiple email design elements to see what your customer base responds best to. Here are the steps and design elements to build a successful email marketing sales funnel.


  1. Observe customer behavior. How long are customers spending on particular parts of your email or website? What are they clicking on? Knowing this information gives you a customer persona to target.Tip: Focus on the way you design your CTAs (color, size, shape), how you incorporate visuals (GIFs, emojis, memes) and hyperlinks (color, typographical emphasis). What elements intrigue your customers and make them actually want to read and click through?
  2. Draw customers in. Reel in customers with valuable, personalized content. Segmenting your emails is the best way to consistently grow your email list.Tip: Gear your subject line (tone, characters) towards your customers’ personalities. Include copy that sounds more human than salesy, do so by adding humor or witty sarcasm to the subject line. Showing off your personal style let’s customers know that you took time to craft a more personable email. This is a way to care about the customers’ journey, making them feel more connected to your brand.
  3. Nurture with valuable content. Use landing pages or other valuable content to stand out as a leader amongst competitors. This is the best way to capture leads before going in for the sale.Tip: What type of content do your customers gravitate towards? Do they prefer more text-heavy emails to image-heavy? Do they respond best to a multi-column layout email or a single-column?
  4. Develop an email drip campaign. Drip email funnels are a sequence of automated emails that are sent according to circumstance. Meaning they will be sent due to triggers or it will be a particularly scheduled campaign. So each action by the customer will trigger a specific email reaction by you. Begin building your email drip campaign by questioning what your customer pain points are, what they want to know about your business and how are you going to reel them in.
  5. Retain your customers. Nurture your leads after customers purchase from you to build a trusting connection with them. Use social media, giveaways, exclusive offers and authentic thank you emails to develop that bond.email-drip-campaign 

Email drip campaign example from ActiveCampaign


Each email of your campaign will take on different forms, be sure to test these strategies and design elements. When it comes to email design, no matter what, make sure to include bold CTAs, compelling copy, and relatable graphics. These elements are the glue to a solid campaign that will drive conversions.

Design with BEE Pro

Ready to give it a try? BEE Pro offers a collection of templates to help you easily create a sales funnel email sequence or even a welcome email funnel. Build your campaigns using endless customization options, add your brand colors, visuals, create eye-catching CTAs and make use of the extensive image library. So get designing to reel in those customers!


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