In a digitally-charged world, the sales and marketing funnel is more important than ever. Engaging customers long before a sale, and even longer after it, are keys to building brand confidence and growing your revenue.

At each of the four stages of a sales funnel your goal is to be front of mind, engage, provide value, and move the customer to the next stage. Email marketing is still the most effective way to engage with a targeted audience in each stage of a sales funnel.


People cannot buy from you if they’ve never heard of you. Do you have a presence in all the places potential customers may try to find you? Trying to get exposure is more than just a “spray and pray” approach. You want to be found in the right places with the right message and branding.

This step in the sales funnel relies on consumer research and action to find you. Perhaps they clicked a sponsored Facebook post of yours, or visited your website after a Google search. Now what? When they arrive, what will they learn about your brand? How can you ensure they want to engage and take the next step?

No matter what channel you use to gain exposure for your company, building an email list is vital to showing value and moving prospect through your sales funnel. Once your prospects see you as a thought leader and opted into your email list to receive more great content, it’s time to activate an automated email marketing strategy.

At the top of the funnel your emails should be focused on providing value in different ways with the goal being to find out what type of content, or product/service, each prospect is interested in. This is where personalized customer journeys come into play. Email marketing software allows you to create “if this then that” scenarios so as prospects engage with each email you can move them through the customer journey towards an ultimate conversion point.

  • Be seen as a thought leader. Show that you are an expert in your field by posting articles, how-to videos, advice and more. Make it about helping the consumer–not immediately trying to get him or her to purchase something.
  • Provide value. Beyond positioning yourself as a thought leader across your different digital channels, you should be driving people to opt-in to your email list to get content they can’t find elsewhere. This could be e-Book, whitepapers, or in-depth how-tos. This type of content is reserved for those who want to opt-in to your email list, which is how you start potential customers at the top of your sales funnel.


This is an often overlooked step in the process but it’s the most important. Most prospects will do considerable research before purchasing. This can include researching competitors, reading reviews, and asking for current customer testimonials. It’s up to you to address customer rebuttals through your content strategy. You can use your different digital channels to promote FAQs, blog content, testimonials, and other content assets that address reasons a prospect may not purchase. One of the most effective channels to address these concerns is email. Since prospects have already opted into your email list, you have a pipeline to communicate your value proposition and address concerns.

The content used in this stage in the sales funnel should be educational and specific to what’s important for your different customer personas. This is usually the third or fourth step in your email marketing customer journey. For example, a prospect in the discovery phase may have received email one to welcome them to your email list. If they opened that email they were sent another email with a broad introduction of your company with additional resources. Depending on which resource they selected, the prospect would be moved to the consideration stage and receive an email that addresses how your product or services has solved a problem normally associated with that customer persona.

  • Develop customer personas. These can be used to understand what’s important to each persona and develop content to show how your product or service solves their problem.
  • Add value. You can use those same customer personas to go beyond just solving a known problem and show how current customers are using your product or service to address problems they didn’t know they had or delivering new opportunities they weren’t aware of.


The conversion stage in your sales funnel is where the rubber meets the road. Once you’ve delivered value and uncovered what pain points your customer has, it’s time to close the deal. As email marketing platform Campaign Monitor explains, “Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened and marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.” This is where all the data you have about each prospect should be used to make an offer they can’t refuse.

For example, a prospect could have been received emails focused on how your product solved a set of problems during the consideration phase due to the content they kept clicking on. Your conversion email can then be tailored to focus on the product features that solve that problem.

  • Focus the conversion email. The email should solve the problem that you’ve uncovered through your automated customer journey.
  • Personalize the communication. Beyond tailoring the email to their needs, make sure the subject line and content speak to them as an individual by using their name, geo-location or other data you have gathered about them.


The true cost of acquiring a new customers versus keeping your existing customers happy depends on your business. What we do know is that is can be as much as ten times less expensive to keep existing customers coming back than it is to acquire new ones. Keeping customers means you don’t have to keep repeating the earlier steps to the sales funnel.

Some great email marketing retention campaigns include:

  • Advocacy programs. Give them a kickback or discount if a friend buys from you, too. This brings in new customers and gives your current ones incentive to buy something new.
  • Keeping them updated. Send out emails in advance of publicly announcing new products/services or sales. Personalize and automate your email marketing to target individual customers based on their profiles and past interactions with your brand.
  • Giving exclusive discounts. Make your consumers feel special with price cuts for their loyalty. Even a small discount is sometimes enough for a repeat buy.

Make your customers feel special right away. Reassure them that the purchase they just made was the right one. Engage with your customers, and you’ll see better bottom line results. Sales are important–but often what you do after the sale is what will most positively impact your brand.