What Is An Email Marketing Funnel?

An email marketing funnel is a system you create to capture leads and turn them into paying customers or clients. Learn how to create a funnel that helps you grow your business, and reach more customers!

I know that sounds like a lot of business jargon—let’s break it down!

First, a lead is someone who has expressed interest in your product or service by subscribing to your email list. This person gave you his/her contact information through an opt-in form on your website (also known as an “opt-in incentive”) and can now be nurtured with targeted content through an email sequence until they’re ready to make a purchase. And voilà! You have made a sale!

To sum up: you build an email marketing funnel when you create free content that attracts leads, which then solicits their contact information (so you can email them), and eventually turns them into paying customers.

Capturing leads through an opt-in incentive.

In the world of email marketing, an opt-in incentive is a piece of content you offer to your subscribers in exchange for their contact information. It can be in any form: a template, a guide, a video—any digital content that your target audience will find valuable. This is the most important part of creating your email funnel since it’s what gets people to subscribe to your list.

As an example let’s imagine you own a boutique that sells artisan soaps. You could offer a free handbook about the best ways to pair scents by season as an opt-in incentive on your website. When someone provides their contact information, they’re sent the guide instantly via email and from then on are added to your subscriber list (also known as “capturing leads”).

Email Marketing Funnel ToC

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Leads subscribe to your email list

What is an email marketing funnel? It’s a series of simple steps that takes a potential customer and guides them along the path toward being a paying customer.

The first step of your email marketing funnel can be as simple as: “Provide something valuable to people that they would benefit from,” said Jeremy Reeves, co-CEO of Simple Texting.

This can take the form of a lead magnet, where you provide something like an ebook or checklist in exchange for contact information, such as an email address. This process is called lead generation, and it’s how you build your list of potential customers. For example, let’s say your company sells baby products online. You could create an ebook about common mistakes new parents make when setting up their nursery for their newborns, which you then give away to people who sign up for your list with their email addresses. Your lead magnet needs to be relevant to your product or service.

Leads added to an email sequence 

After someone signs up to your list and confirms their email address, they are automatically added to an email sequence that provides them with more information about your product or service. This is called a nurture sequence.

You can use an email service provider (ESP) to easily set up and automate the sequence. The ESP will send the emails according to the schedule you specify, typically spaced a few days apart from one another. The sequence usually consists of 3-5 emails, although it can be longer or shorter depending on your needs.

The purpose of the nurture sequence is to provide value and build trust over time, so that by the end of it, your subscriber will be ready to purchase your product or service or take some other action that you want them to take. So, each email should include valuable content as well as a call-to-action (CTA) prompting subscribers to move onto the next step in the sales funnel.

For example, if you have an eCommerce website where people can shop for clothes, then each email in your nurture sequence could describe a different outfit and link readers directly through to that product page on your website where they can make their purchase.

The final step is the sale.

The final step in your funnel is the sale. This is where you’re asking people to buy your product or service. Your email should be concise, direct, and to the point. If it’s a new product, describe its benefits and features, and ask your subscribers to give it a try by purchasing it today. If it’s an existing product or service, ask customers for feedback about their experience with your brand. Let them know about any upcoming upgrades or changes coming their way, and if there are any special promotions happening now that they may not be aware of.

Benefits of building an email marketing campaign

Reach the right audience

  • Identify your target market. The most effective email marketing campaigns are targeted to specific audiences and demographics. This allows you to send the right message to the right people at the right time, which is crucial for increasing engagement, website traffic, and sales.
  • Know your audience. Who are you sending this email campaign to? Knowing details about your audience will not only help you tailor your message but also determine how frequently you should send emails, what methods of communication are best (email, blog post, etc.), and what type of content is most valuable for them. For example, if you’re a sports equipment retailer targeting high school track teams across Canada with an offer on discounted running shoes, it wouldn’t be effective to send a generic message to everyone in Canada or even everyone in your database. You’ll want to segment groups based on demographic factors like where they live and their interests so that they only receive relevant messages.


One of the best parts about email marketing campaigns is that they’re so cost-effective. Compared to other digital marketing techniques like paid search or social media, you’re looking at a significantly lower cost for each additional person reached by your messaging.

In fact, one study showed that for every dollar spent on email marketing, companies see an average return of $42. By contrast, the average return from paid search is only $22 per dollar spent.

Additionally, because people tend to check their email more often than using a search engine or going on social media, it’s likely that they will see your message more frequently than with other options. This means that despite the relatively low cost per additional person reached with email marketing, you still have access to an audience as big as any of these other options.


If you set up an email marketing campaign, there’s a lot you can do to improve the effectiveness of your next email campaign. You can send out different kinds of emails (e.g., newsletters, coupons, surveys), optimize your call-to-action buttons to stand out more than your competitors’ buttons and see what kinds of offers work best for your audience.

Another important thing about email is that it’s easy to track the effectiveness of your email campaigns by measuring things like the number of people who opened your emails, how many people clicked through on links in them, how engaged they were with your offers and how many made purchases. This is known as “conversion rate optimization” and includes using A/B testing to determine what works best for each of these metrics so you can make changes over time without having to start from scratch every single time something new comes up or something changes in their industry.


As you know, email marketing has the potential to generate volumes of qualified leads. Knowing how to create a successful email marketing campaign is key to increasing your conversion rate and expanding your market reach.

One of the most important things that you can do with an email marketing campaign is drive people back to your site. This means using strong calls-to-action and linking back to landing pages designed for lead capture (such as a free trial or demo).

Following up with your existing customers requires an automated process that keeps track of each prospect’s digital footprint and sends them relevant content at the right time (based on their actions).

In order for an email marketing campaign to be effective, it needs a vibrant funnel. The funnel should be engaging and have the ability to convert customers into brand advocates who have the influence needed to reach new markets and attract new customers.

This type of digital inbound campaign works best when paired with other types of media; this creates a wider net for individuals who are interested in hearing about your product or service—and increases chances of capturing additional leads that can be converted into sales!


Because email marketing happens on the internet, it offers a level of flexibility that you can’t achieve with traditional media sources. If your campaign isn’t getting the results you want, you can easily change it on the fly. You can test different subject lines, copy and images, for example.

How to build an email marketing funnel?

Choose your goal.

Once you have your funnel set, you need to know what goal you are trying to achieve with it. Set that goal ahead of time and measure the results.

Also, keep in mind your subscribers’ goals. What do they want from you? Why did they subscribe?

How can you be useful? What kind of value can you offer them?

Think about what your funnel is trying to achieve, as well as the reason why people subscribe and stay in touch with your company.

Define your audience.

When building your email marketing funnel, it’s important to understand the audience it’s targeting. It helps to have a clear idea of who your customers are and what they need.

The first step is to define them with demographic characteristics (e.g., age, gender, location). You can also use buyer personas, which help you get into their heads and better understand their motivations and pain points.

You should also be familiar with your audience’s behaviors and preferences. For example: Where do they live? How much money do they make? What are their hobbies? What sites do they visit online? Are these the same people you want to reach through social media?

Segment your recipients.

The first thing you should do is segment your recipients. This will help you create a more effective email marketing funnel, improve open rates and click-through rates, and increase conversions. Segmentation can be done using many different factors such as demographics (age, gender, location) or interests.

If you use MailChimp for example, you can discover a lot of useful information about your subscribers by looking at the ‘Audience’ tab. You can segment your customers by their activity level or even by engagement to see how people are interacting with your content.

Craft a welcome email series.

  •  The welcome email is the first impression people will have of you, so focus on making it count.
  • Ensure that your brand voice is consistent throughout your emails, and make sure that all of your subject lines are enticing enough to get someone to open your emails in the first place.
  • Offer a discount or freebie in exchange for signing up for your list (like a coupon code, ebook, checklist, cheat sheet, etc.)
  • If you have a video that explains what you do and why you do it (storytelling!), embed it instead of writing out an introduction about yourself and your business—with video you can be direct but more friendly than text can relay!
  • Be concise; don’t waste too much space explaining who/what/why because chances are they already know this information if they’ve signed up for an email list or subscribed to a blog post series! Make sure anything else important gets included after these six things above as well since we want them all listed first before anything else so readers don’t miss something crucial like using social media links at least once per week which could help build relationships with potential customers faster than just sending email newsletters every day without sharing any personal details about themselves outside work hours.”

Create an email newsletter.

If you’re new to email marketing, it can be a little overwhelming.

There’s a lot of information out there about what works and what doesn’t. This guide is here to help demystify this process, by giving you all the tools you need to start creating an effective newsletter that your readers will love.

Build a lead magnet for nurturing.

Lead magnets are an effective way to encourage subscribers to share their contact information. To provide access to your lead magnet, you can ask your visitors to sign up for your email list.

In the email marketing funnel, a lead magnet is used as a tool for the nurturing stage of the process. This includes sending subscribers content that they have shown interest in before, such as e-books, newsletters, or blog updates. This will help build trust with them and move them down the sales funnel. You can also use lead magnets at this stage of the funnel as giveaways to increase engagement and attract new subscribers.

You can offer these content pieces as free downloads or make them part of an opt-in form that asks users for their information in exchange for these resources. As part of your nurture campaign, you should be emailing subscribers regularly and sharing valuable content related to their interests.

Design your sales funnel.

Designing a sales funnel is crucial to lead generation and conversion. You need to create content that addresses the customer’s needs in every step of their buying process. The design of your sales funnel will depend on your business and the type of products you sell. The stages outlined above are the most common, but they may not be appropriate for your business.

For example, if you’re selling low-priced or impulse items, you may want to turn leads into customers as quickly as possible. In this case, traditional email marketing is not always ideal because it can take time for emails to reach customers and you don’t want them losing interest before they receive an offer from you. An option here would be sending an SMS message alongside email marketing, which converts visitors into buyers more quickly by offering them a one-time discount which expires soon after receipt.

Alternatively, if you’re selling high-priced items requiring extensive research from prospective buyers (e.g., wedding dresses), sending an automated discount offer might put off potential customers who are already comparing prices in different stores or attempting to negotiate a lower price with another supplier. In this situation, it’s best to focus on building relationships based on trust and credibility through content that educates rather than sells directly to prospects at this stage of their research process

Steps to improving the email marketing funnel

Identify your target audience.

Successful marketing emails start with determining the right audience to send them to. This can be done by examining your current customers and asking yourself questions like: Who are they? What do they need and want? How did they find out about my brand or product? You may also want to consider your target customer base, the group of people you’d ideally like to reach out to with each email you send. This can be a different group than the one you’ve already identified. Once you know who you’d like to target, it’s time for step two.

Identify your value proposition.

The first step to improving your email marketing funnel is determining your value proposition. Remember, a value proposition is the reason why customers turn to you instead of your competitors, and it has the power to make or break any campaign.

For example, if your target audience is college students who are in need of cleaning up their social media profiles before they enter the professional world, then writing an introductory blog post on how to delete old tweets could be valuable for them. Or maybe you run an online fitness company and one of your products focuses on nutrition.

In that case, you could write about the most nutritious foods that can help with weight loss and include a link for where viewers can buy those foods directly from you at a discount using a personal coupon code. Whatever it may be, offering something useful for free in exchange for visitors’ contact information is always going to be far more effective than sending out a blanket email offering 25% off everything in store when no context was given as to why this might appeal specifically to their interests

Create a valuable lead magnet

To create an effective lead magnet, your offer should be:
  • Something valuable.
  • Match the value proposition of the product you are trying to sell.
  • Free for people to consume.
  • Immediately accessible by anyone who fills out a form on your website or landing page in exchange for their email address.

Create a matching landing page.

The next step to improving your email marketing funnel is creating a landing page that is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and optimized for mobile. It’s also important that the landing page aligns with the ad copy you wrote and the lead magnet you’re offering. If those two pieces don’t match up perfectly, you won’t get as many conversions.

We’ve mentioned optimizing your pages for conversions a few times here, so let’s make sure we’re clear. When we talk about optimizing your email marketing funnel for conversions, what we mean is that you have to make it as easy as possible for people to opt in and give you their information. You can do this by creating a short form or being very clear on what they will get in return if they sign up.

A good way to know if your page is aligned with the ad copy and lead magnet is if each of these three steps has its own specific message or theme (you might even write them all down in one place). For example, maybe your ad gave a helpful tip on how to save money on groceries this week; then your landing page should be about saving money on groceries over time; finally, when people sign up for the newsletter, that email should also be about saving money on groceries over time. Having this continuity across all three steps makes it easier for readers to understand what they are signing up for and why they are motivated to do so!

Publish the giveaway on your blog, podcast and social media platforms.

Before you hit publish, make sure that the giveaway will be in front of enough eyes. This is where your social media channels and blog come in handy, but don’t forget to share the giveaway with other bloggers or podcasters who have a similar audience to yours.

Although it’s tempting to publish the giveaway everywhere at once, make sure you’re not putting it in front of people who aren’t interested, as this is a waste of time. You also want to make sure that you put it out on your channels at a time that makes sense for your ideal reader. For example, maybe they wake up early and prefer reading emails before breakfast rather than late at night after dinner when they’re more likely to be watching Netflix. If you’re not sure where they like consuming content, ask them!

Promote your giveaway on niche websites.

If you’ve heard of the term “niche website”, it’s a site that has traffic from people who are likely to be interested in your product. In other words, you can get backlinks to your site, which will help you get more traffic and more leads for your giveaway.

How do you find these websites? One method is to search for the topic of your giveaway on Google and look for blogs that rank high. Then reach out to them and try to promote your offer there.

Promote your giveaway on social media influencers’ pages.

You have a mailing list of, say, 500 people. That’s nice. Influencers have following in the millions. If they promote your giveaway on their page, it will attract a huge number of new subscribers to your email list and grow it to tens or hundreds of thousands.

Pick an influencer who fits your niche and message them about promoting your giveaway on their Facebook or Instagram page or even through their YouTube channel (if you can afford it). You’ll need to provide all the content they’re going to use (photo and caption for social media posts) and promotional links that correspond with each prize in order for them to do this successfully. This step will cost you both time (preparing the content) and money (paying for the promotion).

Send out emails to promote your giveaway to your email subscribers.

Emailing your list is the most effective way to promote your giveaway because it’s the most cost-effective and targeted form of promotion. You already have an audience of subscribers that are interested in your content, so they’re perfect candidates for this type of promotion.

To make sure you’re sending emails only to people who want to hear about it, you can send a broadcast email or create a segmented list. If you decide to create a segmented list, which I recommend, make sure that you target only those segments that would be interested in what the giveaway is offering.

Congratulate new leads and deliver the lead magnet through email automation.

What you’ll need:

  • A lead magnet
  • An email automation tool, like ActiveCampaign or Drip

Create an automated welcome email series to nurture new leads into customers.

When a new person signs up for your email list, you want to send them an automated welcome email series. These emails play a few important roles:

  • Make your new leads feel welcome and get excited about what you have to offer.
  • Provide a lot of value without overwhelming them with too many emails in too short of a time frame.