Because of its low cost and high reach, email marketing is one of the best ways to nurture leads for online marketers. Often the only costs associated with an email nurturing funnel are one-off creative to build your emails and, in some cases, low monthly fees to send emails. As a bonus, once your funnel is set up, it may be years before it becomes out of date. In this article, we’ll help you get the most out of your lead funnel through email marketing.
The Three Stages of Lead Marketing
Marketers have identified three stages in the purchase cycle that leads are typically segmented into: learners, shoppers, and buyers. By segmenting our email funnel into these three stages along the purchase funnel, we can ensure that we’re sending timely, relevant emails to our customers. Each stage requires a unique strategy and message. Rather than opening on a hard sell with our prospective leads, potentially getting our emails flagged as spam, we take them through a consistent relationship-building process that has been proven to work time and again.
Prior to selling products to customers, it’s important to educate them on exactly what it is your category and your product will do for them. The learning stage is where we provide quality informational content without a sales message. A lot of people use eBooks and other content products as the hook to get leads to sign up for their email funnel – and the learning stage is all about delivering on those promises and truly educating our consumer!
Customers in the shopping stage are reviewing their options for purchase. They may opt to purchase from you or from a competitor. This is where we discuss the options available to customers through the use of comparison charts between the various products and services that we offer as well as our competitors’ products. Don’t be afraid to share your competitors with your customers – if they are looking for something you don’t offer, they wouldn’t have been life-long customers anyway.
It’s OK to begin adding soft call to actions in these emails, as they can help accelerate customers along the purchase funnel. Which brings us to the final stage…
The third and final stage in the sales funnel is making the sale. When our customers are ready to make a purchase, we can move them into this stage in our email funnel. Here, we send out promotional deals, coupons, and hard sells to convince our customers to pull the trigger on our product or service. By this point, customers have already been educated to your products and services, and they’ve seen your competitors’ offerings – and they haven’t disappeared yet. Some customers who don’t convert from the buying funnel are simply not looking to purchase yet. It’s OK to stop sending them emails for a couple of months and insert them into a second email funnel, because maybe they’ll be more interested down the road.
Moving Between Stages
Depending on your organization’s sales force, notably whether you have any direct interaction with leads through a sales team, you can opt to manually shift customers along each stage of the purchase funnel at the discretion of your sales staff. This is, by far, the most effective method. If you are hoping to automate your lead sales funnel, we typically recommend five to seven emails in each stage, moving customers automatically as they receive the final email in each funnel.
I'm the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a family-owned and operated direct mail & digital marketing company based in New Jersey. and started in 1966 by my great uncle!