How to Create an Automated Email Funnel

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When you’re ready to start building your email list, it can feel a little overwhelming trying to think of regular new content to send to these people. 

It’s a somewhat sacred relationship, right? This person has said “I trust you enough to give you my email address” and you want to make sure that they’re happy doing that, so you need to deliver consistent value to them to keep that relationship alive.

That’s one of the most important reasons automated email funnels exist: they nurture a relationship with a new subscriber that moves them further into the know-like-trust funnel and establishes the same expectations for everyone on the list: here’s what I’m going to help you with and here’s how often you’ll hear from me.

How to Create an Automated Email Funnel

I was originally going to do this in one long post that covers both sales funnels and on boarding. But I think that they’re both valuable enough that they should each get their own little segment. So first let’s talk about how to create an onboarding funnel.

What is an onboarding funnel?

An email onboarding funnel is a set of emails sent in quick succession that gets the reader into a relationship with you. It sets the tone for who you are, how you help, and gives them resources that help them dig a little deeper into what problems you solve.

How does it help my business?

It trains your new subscriber to expect emails from you and let’s them receive extra value, thus creating a quicker flow into the “trust” part of a sales funnel. It also gives you the opportunity to showcase “quick win” sales by showing off best-selling products or low-cost entry points into a sales relationship with you.

The anatomy of an onboarding funnel

There’s no set rules for how many emails or how often you should send them. But I’ve noticed a standard is usually ~3-5 emails sent about 2-3 days a piece. After the onboarding process, the subscriber is then moved into your regular list where they receive weekly (or bi-weekly) emails.

In terms of what an onboarding funnel should look like, here’s a rough guide:

1. Delivery of thing they signed up for

This should be right away. In the email thanking them for signing up, give them the thing, and then as a CTA let them know to expect more content from you shortly about the thing they signed up to receive. For example: if it’s a marketing guide pdf, tailor your onboarding sequence to be more about your expertise as a marketing guru. If it’s a plant guide, tell them you’ll be sending more info the next few days about easy plant tips and tricks.

2. A little bit about me

Send this 1-2 days after. Give them a run over of who you are, what you do, how you help, and a little extra bonus content here. This can be a list of blog posts you’ve written about the topic of the lead magnet they received in the last email, another PDF, a video, whatever. CTA should be a tease of the next email to come.

3. Semi-sales email

Send this 2-3 days after. This should be an invite to a webinar, free class, or seriously low-cost product. The goal of this email is to get them into a habit of saying “yes” to you. CTA is the invite to purchase/join/etc. NOTE: If they do accept your invite, remove them from this onboarding sequence.

4. Value-based email

Send this 2-3 days after. Remember that this is for someone who has not yet left the funnel, so they have not said “yes” to your sales email. Recap what was in the last email and give them a story about why you created it, how it transformed your life, and give a testimonial if you have one. Talk more about the thing this teaches, but don’t directly sell here.

As an example: If it’s a plant book you’re trying to sell, you can either give them a free chapter as a bonus, expand with a few extra gardening tips, etc. Make sure it feels like a valuable piece of content and not just a sales post. CTA should be a PS at the end about the thing from the last email. If they say “yes” remove them from this funnel.

5. Final value email

Send this 2-3 days after. Remember this is for those who have not said “yes” to your previous CTAs. Send them a deep dive, guide, or tip sheet about the thing they originally signed up to receive. This should be a wholly value-based email so that they don’t feel like all you’re going to do is sell to them. Final CTA should be a heads up that they’ll now be receiving weekly updates from you, but you would love to know how you can help them so ask the reader to reply to that email with a question for you.

This not only gives you valuable insight into what your subscribers are looking for help with, but can also establish a 1:1 relationship with them and create a stronger bond.

Tools I use for onboarding:

MailerLite is my favorite email service provider thus far. I’ve tried SO many, but keep going back to them.

I’ve also created an infographic on how to do this, check it out:

How to Create an Automated Email Funnel
How to Create an Automated Email Funnel

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