A simple framework for building automated email funnels

Doug Crescenzi
Nov 16, 2017 · 4 min read

There are many problems today with email marketing. It’s difficult to use it effectively and to get the results that you’re looking for. This is particularly frustrating given the time and energy you put into your email campaigns.

Some of the main reasons email marketing is ineffective include:

  • It’s often impersonal — one-to-many broadcasts
  • The content is unhelpful and lacks value
  • It’s used to overtly self-promote
  • The content is primarily comprised of distracting images and complex HTML formatting
  • The content’s value is ephemeral, not evergreen (e.g., “Check out this sale!”, “Sign up for this event!”)

Most importantly, companies typically don’t have an end-to-end email strategy in place. They instead rely upon broad, “spray and pray” campaigns.

Email marketing automation coupled with behavioral segmentation is a powerful way to address these challenges.

Email marketing automation is the practice of using rulesets in order to send targeted emails to subscribers based on how they engage with your company across multiple channels (e.g., social media, email, your website, etc). Every digital interaction that a subscriber has with your company should result in an intelligent and customized reaction that’s tailored to the subscriber’s specific needs and interests. The point is to nurture your subscribers with valuable content that’s relevant to them so that they eventually become leads and customers.

Framework for building automated email funnels

The following is a simple framework that we use when we build automated email funnels for our clients.

Start with your strategy — The first thing we do is focus on strategy. What is the underlying mission? What are the overall business goals? What are the overall marketing goals? What products, services, and value propositions shall we highlight and why? How will we differentiate? We’ll develop thorough customer personas and align them with corresponding products, services, and value propositions. We’ll capture baseline metrics and use them to articulate goals and objectives for the next year in quarterly intervals. Where do we want to be after Year 1 — Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4? The goals we define are specific, measurable, and more often than not, they’re aggressive. By now means are these preliminary goals set in stone. We continue to iterate upon them over time.

Take inventory of your assets and entry points —After you’ve developed your strategy, you’ll then want to take inventory of all of your content assets (e.g., white papers, videos, email courses, etc.) You’ll also want to take inventory of the entry points you use to funnel subscribers into your mailing list (e.g., sign up widgets, contact us forms, calls to action, etc.) It’s important to think about the relationships between the current assets you have vs. what you still need relative to the different types of customer personas you’ve mapped out. You’ll then be in a position to use the assets as educational tools that lead to pitches and consultations.

Map out your funnels — Next you’ll want to map out the phases of your subscriber’s journey through your email funnels. You’ll typically want to architect three different phases: Nurture, Engagement, Conversion. During the Nurture phase you’ll want to introduce non-existing customers to your product or service and explain how it will solve their problem. This is done to establish credibility and authority; you make it evident you understand their problem and you’re well-positioned to help them solve it.

During the Engagement phase you’ll aim to deepen relationships with subscribers that have shown interest in your products and services. You want to nudge them into taking small-scale actions that will prime them for future conversion opportunities.

Finally, during the Conversion phase you’ll want to implement focused tactics that are highly tailored and personalized around the subscriber’s previous actions and interests. You’ve qualified the lead, they’re ready to buy. Now it’s time to close the sale.

Measurement — Once your email funnels are operational, it’s all about measurement and iteration. You’ll want to monitor traditional performance data like open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribes, as well as the following:

  • Conversion data — earnings per click, earnings per campaign
  • Segmentation data
  • Campaign performance
  • One-off email performance
  • Opens by hour
  • Inbox placements
  • Recent activity

All of this data will help to inform how you should go about optimizing your email funnels over time.

Take aways

Email automation is a powerful way for you to market your company 24/7. In order to do effectively it requires a well-thought-out end-to-end strategy. Behavioral segmentation is a critical component of this. It enables you to determine what content is of interest to specific subscribers. Then, with rulesets and automated workflows, you can nurture your subscribers with content that’s relevant to them until they are ready to buy. When done right, behavioral segmentation is a powerful way to differentiate your offerings and standout from the competition.

Last but not least, it’s important to understand that email automation is a long-term investment. It requires time and resources to build out your workflows, populate your content, configure your rulesets, and measure and optimize your funnels. If you’re willing to make the upfront investment, it will pay off over time.

Interested in learning more about email marketing automation? Email us team@upstate.agency.


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Doug Crescenzi

Written by

We build smart contracts and distributed applications @ Upstate Interactive http://upstateinteractive.io - Founder @ Hack Upstate http://hackupstate.com

Upstate Interactive

We're a women-owned business that helps B2B organizations turn great ideas into software.

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