Strategically executed email marketing efforts have the potential to nurture leads and replenish the sales funnel.
In fact, a study conducted by Oracle revealed that 78% of businesses rely on email marketing to nurture their prospects.
However, for most businesses, email marketing is merely a strategy to build subscribers and push emails. They’re clueless about the fact that building a contact list is only a small part of email marketing. Unless your subscribers move forward in the buyer’s journey, there’s no guarantee they will convert into customers.
But how do you guide a prospect to navigate the sales pipeline? How should you capture the interest of the consumers and convert them through email marketing? Most importantly, how can you retain the consumers for longer?
The answer is in the strategic use of and inbound marketing funnel.
The marketing funnel, or sales funnel, is a system that highlights a consumer’s journey with a brand or a business. It has five stages or levels - awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy.
A traditional marketing funnel is a cone-shaped structure with a wider top and narrow bottom.
The top stage of the funnel is comprised of people who are aware of your brand. The awareness stage has a considerably large number of leads. As the prospects move further down the funnel, the number of leads gradually reduces. By the last stage of the funnel, only a few leads remain that gets converted into consumers.
Right from when a consumer is at the awareness stage until they get converted, the traditional marketing funnel maps the entire route. It helps marketers analyze how a buyer will interact with the branding materials at each level of the funnel, thus helping them devise strategies that will have maximum impact on the prospects.
Everything seems perfect so far, right? Well, it’s not. This traditional marketing funnel has loopholes that would make you lose potential business.
In a traditional marketing funnel, you ‘end’ your marketing efforts after a successful conversion, and switch your focus from the converted prospects to acquiring new prospects.
And trust us, that’s not the best strategy to grow by leaps and bounds!
Extensive market studies have shown that the success rate with new buyers is around 5-20% according to Business2Business.com. In fact, according to Marketing Metrics, marketers experience 60-70% of success when selling to an existing customer. These happy customers further act as free advertisers and help in improving the goodwill of the brand.
It’s clear that the longer consumers stick with a business, the higher the profit margins it generates.
As discussed, your journey with your customers shouldn’t end upon reaching the bottom of the traditional marketing funnel.
To improve customer retention and ROI, you can implement a new version of the marketing funnel that is proven to create deep relationships with the buyers and make them your ‘brand advocate.’
The new version of the marketing funnel should look like a ‘bow-tie,’ keeping both ends open to leverage the benefits of customer retention and advocacy. Here’s the idea -
As you can see, the new marketing funnel gets narrower in the middle and gradually widens as one progresses towards the last stage.
Unlike the old one, the modern marketing funnel focuses on keeping the consumers hooked to a brand even after they’ve made a purchase. The new approach emphasizes on building a long-term relationship with the consumers and turn them into a repeat customer.
Moreover, the feedback at the end of the conversion will help you refine your overall marketing efforts.
By employing the new bow-tie marketing funnel, businesses can use new touchpoints to nurture engagement, track the prospects when they’re nearing the last stage of the funnel, and retain them for longer once they become a consumer.
As mentioned earlier, consumer retention is key to more profit.
Once your consumers have reached the conversion stage, you should strategize ways to deepen your relationship with them. This is how you can increase consumer engagement and form a loyal fan base.
Email marketing and automation can help you reap the benefits of customer retention and advocacy. When done right, your email marketing efforts will encourage your subscribers to move through your funnel and traverse the path from awareness to advocacy. Here are our top four strategies to make this happen -
A strong email marketing campaign starts with building a contact list.
Offering an emailer subscription as a call-to-action is one of the most effective strategies to generate new leads and capturing them at the awareness stage of the marketing funnel. Here are quick ways to educate and engage your audience -
An email newsletter need not be a promotional copy or some discount offer information. It could be any email with high-value content in it.
The content you share must be inspiring enough to pique an interest in the minds of your prospects. It should have the substance to nurture and convert your leads effortlessly.
However, in this digitally disruptive world where marketers are excessively using flashy text and visuals to attract their leads, it takes more than cleverly crafted words to stand apart. Here is where you’ll need a newsletter strategy.
Start with determining what you want to achieve from the newsletter. Your goal could be to generate more leads, nurture existing ones, introduce a new product, or drive renewals. Having a set goal will make it easier to move ahead with confidence.
Once you have a strategy in place, create a theme for your newsletter. The theme you choose should resonate with your brand’s personality. Every element in the emailer should be coherently designed to define your brand.
If the newsletter strategy is not bringing you enough leads, offering incentives to buyers in exchange for their email ids will definitely work.
Marketers have been using the tactic of offering something valuable to buyers for contact details in return for a long time now. Unlike newsletters (for which you regularly need to create content), lead magnets are easy to create and engage.
Digital assets like downloadable PDFs, Cheat Sheet, Checklist, eBooks, and white papers are some of the lead magnet ideas you can implement to build your subscribers list.
Below is one of the lead magnet we use to generate leads at the top of the funnel.
Once you have created your lead magnet, keep promoting it through your blogs or other content that you share.
Video content is ruling the digital marketing world. Even in email marketing, video-based content plays a significant role in lead generation.
Given how willing people are to attend live webinars, it has emerged as one of the most effective strategies to attract the ideal target audience.
The best part about lead generation webinars is that you can conduct discussions on the same topic over and over, with a new audience.
Key Tip - Amidst of everything you do, keep in mind one thing - do not spam your subscriber’s inbox with branding messages on every other update. Doing so will make your leads immune to branding messages and in the worst-case scenario, they might opt-out of the emailing service. Strike the right balance to create the right impact.
Once your lead generation strategies start bringing new prospects, your next focus should be on how to convert them into potential customers.
Since all leads are not the same, you will need to segment them according to the demographic or buyer personas. Doing so will make it easier for you to find out what products or services will most aptly serve the purpose of your consumers.
Once you have matched the buyer personas with relevant products, strategize what emails you will send them to take them closer to the end of the funnel.
The best way to bring prospects closer to conversion is by providing the leads with valuable content that helps in building a long-term relationship with them. Here are some tactics that’ll help you nurture leads in the middle of the funnel -
Unless you offer the right email to the right audience, all your efforts to convert them into potential consumers will go in vain.
Instead of making a guess what content your lead prefers the most, ask them through a self-segmentation email.
With a welcome note to your new subscribers, ask them to self segment what type of content they’d be interested in reading, what products they would like to know about the most, and so on.
This will allow you to understand your leads better as well as devise more personalized emails.
To make your lead nurturing efforts more effective, help your leads visualize themselves using your products. Instead of just telling them about your products, show them how they (just like many others) can use your offerings and access the associated benefits.
Giving social proof like consumer testimonials, product reviews, and case studies as emailers is one of the easiest ways to speak to leads, convince them, and create brand credibility.
With strategically devised lead generation and nurturing strategies in place, you can optimize your efforts to convert them into well-paying buyers successfully.
In this stage of the email marketing funnel, lead segmentation plays a crucial role in determining how effective the entire conversion campaign will be.
As discussed earlier, segmentation allows marketers to understand the leads better and offer them a personalized message. Additionally, it also helps marketers to present their products and services in the best possible way that it grabs the attention of the readers. Here are some ways to mix segmentation with conversion tactics -
By this stage, you would be looking for the moment when your prospect is ready to make a purchase. However, merely sending your leads promotional emails won’t turn them into a buyer.
Here’s where you can incorporate some other marketing tactics like retargeting ads to capture the interest of your leads.
Most e-commerce businesses are concerned about cart abandonment. According to a survey conducted by Statista, 3 out of 4 buyers abandon their cart before checking out.
From shipping charges to product delivery duration, there could be any reason why your lead didn’t make the purchase.
Such leads are referred to as warm-leads, as they can be easily converted into consumers with a small nudge. Through email retargeting, you can reach out to your consumers and offer them a free shipping deal for the day or a discount to convince them to complete their purchase. Doing so will affect your conversions dramatically - it’s a must-try!
Sales conversion is not an easy task, especially when the prospect isn’t moving along the buyers' journey as intended.
As a marketer, you want your consumer to move towards the end of the funnel as quickly as possible. One easy way to achieve it is through time-based offers and discounts.
Devise an offer with a limited time clause or any other urgency factor to encourage your warm-leads to take immediate purchase action now instead of some other day.
If you deal in software or online tools, offer your customers limited-time free trials. These will do the magic, as if your prospects love your product, they won’t mind buying the paid version.
Even if they are using the free version of your product, they’ll learn about your product and understand how it can be instrumental in their business success.
Through an email campaign, you can offer your prospects tutorials on how to use certain features of the software. You can also include use cases, case studies, and other relevant content materials to make them purchase the software.
As discussed earlier, the new marketing funnel states that the sales process doesn’t end when a lead successfully converts into a buyer.
In the modern marketing scenario, a business’s customer retention rate and length of the consumer-brand relationship determine brand value and ROI.
Email marketing is the best way to keep your customers engaged with your brand and gain valuable feedback - so you need to know how to make customers stick with you for the long haul. Here are some ways to retain consumers through emails -
Keeping tech-savvy consumers engaged via emails is an easy thing to do. If you offer software or an online tool, give your users weekly insights on how it’s working. Don’t deviate from offering user-relevant information and updates that are actually going to help them.
Also, to make the email more impactful give a CTA that directs your buyers to renew or upgrade the service.
Emails can also be used as a tool to sell other products that may be relevant to your consumers.
To make the strategy work, find ways where you can tell your customers the value proposition of your products & services. Just make sure to avoid sounding pushy, and see how everything works in your favor!
Referral marketing or advocacy marketing is another effective marketing tactic a brand can incorporate through email. According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, approximately 2.4 billion brand relation conversion takes place in the USA.
Also, the New York Times has reported that 65% of new businesses come through referrals.
Many other studies have also supported the potential of referral marketing in bringing new businesses.
Through emails, you can ask your existing consumers to refer your brand to others in return on any exclusive discount or an offer.
We hope this blog will help you refine your marketing funnel and execute your email strategies better.
Let us know in the comments which strategy is your favorite!