· 16 min read

How to Build an Email Marketing Funnel Effectively

An email marketing funnel is the perfect way to engage with your target audience and turn them into loyal customers.

An effective email marketing funnel can be useful in reaching your goals and forming better relationships with your audience.

In this guide, we'll explain the stages of an email marketing funnel, its benefits, and how to effectively create an email marketing funnel.

What is an Email Marketing Funnel?

An illustration of an email marketing funnel and people working at an office

An email marketing funnel is a strategic email sequence designed to guide subscribers through different stages of the buyer's journey, from awareness to conversion and loyalty.

It's a series of steps or stages you take your subscribers through to turn them into loyal customers.

The email marketing funnel is a journey that your subscribers experience, from joining your email list to becoming paying users and, eventually, loyal customers. 

An email marketing sales funnel is about building relationships with your audience and providing them with value. Funnel's main purpose is ultimately persuading the audience to act, whether purchasing, upgrading, or downloading a resource.

Stages of an Email Marketing Funnel

The email marketing funnel has different stages that start from the first moments of a visitor and become a loyal customer. 

The email marketing sales funnel can include stages of ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu.

Understanding each stage is crucial for crafting a successful funnel that effectively moves subscribers from visitors to loyal customers.

email marketing funnel stages infographic by Popupsmart

Feel free to use this infographic displaying the stages of an email marketing funnel. 🤓


The first stage of an email marketing funnel is awareness. This is where you introduce yourself to your subscribers and let them know who you are and what you're all about. By welcoming your audience and building awareness, you can get closer to building trust.

At this stage, you aim to make a memorable first impression and grab your audience's interest enough to keep them engaged.

To achieve this, create emails with high-quality, valuable content that addresses your audience's pain points and interests. 

This could include blog posts, videos, infographics, or free resources like ebooks or guides. The key is to provide value upfront and showcase your expertise in your niche.

Types of content you can create during the awareness stage:

  • Email newsletter introducing subscribers to your brand's mission and values.
  • Educational email series that provide valuable insights related to your industry.
  • Free downloadable resources like ebooks or whitepapers offer in-depth guides on relevant topics.
  • Infographics showcasing industry statistics or trends.
A welcome email example for awareness stage of email marketing funnel

Spinn's welcome email is a great example of creating awareness through an email marketing campaign. This email welcomes new subscribers and explains the top features of the brand clearly and concisely.

Interest & Engagement

In your email marketing funnel's interest and engagement stage, your goal is to captivate your subscribers' attention and keep them engaged with your content. 

This is where you make your first impression and get ready to build strong relationships with your audience.

By focusing on sparking interest and fostering engagement in this stage, you'll set the foundation for a successful email marketing sales funnel that drives conversions and cultivates loyal customers.

To spark interest, you can craft encouraging subject lines and personalize your content based on your audience's preferences. Apart from these, include clear call-to-action buttons to encourage your audience.

Types of content you can create during the interest & engagement stage:

  • Interactive emails that encourage subscribers to participate in polls or surveys.
  • Emails featuring curated content such as blog posts, articles, or videos relevant to subscribers' interests.
  • Invitations to events or webinars to foster engagement and interaction.
  • Personalized emails that address subscribers by name and acknowledge their past interactions.
A personalized & engaging email example for interest & engagement stage of email marketing funnel

Marine Layer's personalized email campaign is an excellent example to grab interest and boost engagement. The email includes a product that a visitor has viewed before with the headline "This catch your eye?

Also, the email includes an encouraging CTA button that says, "Take me back."


Once you've got your audience's attention and grabbed their interest and engagement, it's time to move on to the consideration stage. 

This is where you start to provide value to your subscribers, offering them useful content, tips, and resources that address their pain points and help solve their problems.

Your potential customers will consider using your product or service during this stage.

During this funnel stage, your goal is to deepen your audience's engagement with your brand by providing even more value and building trust.

Focus on nurturing relationships through email sequences. Email sequences and flows are useful in the consideration stage. 

These are a series of emails designed to educate, inform, and inspire your subscribers, ultimately leading people closer to making a purchase decision while they still "consider." 

Focus on providing personalized content that addresses their specific needs and challenges, and don't be afraid to sprinkle in some testimonials or case studies to showcase social proof.

Types of content you can create during the consideration stage:

  • Product-focused emails highlight the unique features and benefits of your offerings.
  • Case study emails showing successful outcomes for satisfied customers.
  • Webinar invitations that offer valuable tips and advice.
  • Interactive quizzes or assessments to help subscribers identify their specific needs or preferences.
A customer testimonial email example for consideration stage of email marketing funnel

Surreal's email with customer testimonials is a great example of the consideration stage. The headline "Sweetest reviews" goes hand in hand with the brand and is a catchy way to grab attention. 

Customer testimonials and the CTA button "Fill my bowl" can enrich the consideration stage and encourage customers to engage with the brand.


The conversion stage is where the magic starts to happen. 

In this stage, your target audience will start converting to customers. It can also be about completing the desired action you want them to perform. 

This is the stage where you pitch for a product or a service. 

During this stage, you need to use compelling calls-to-action, persuasive copy, and irresistible offers to convince your subscribers to purchase and convert to become users or customers.

Overall, the conversion stage is about achieving the goals you set for your business since it involves visitors becoming customers.

You might think that this can be the last stage, but keeping those who converted is also important, which will take us to the retention and loyalty stage.

Types of content you can create during the conversion stage:

  • Limited-time discount offers exclusive to email subscribers.
  • Product demonstration videos embedded within emails showcasing your offerings in action.
  • Customer testimonial emails featuring positive reviews from satisfied customers.
  • Free trial or demo requests prompt subscribers to experience your products or services firsthand.
  • Solid reasons explaining how your audience can benefit from converting.
A discount email example for conversion stage of email marketing funnel

For example, Terrasoul Superfood's email includes a discount code and an engaging CTA button that says "Shop Now." Also, the email includes a clear product image and headline, which are the keys to a successful email for the conversion stage.

Retention & Loyalty 

After the conversion stage, retention and loyalty stages come in. During this stage, you must focus on keeping your customers happy, engaged, and returning for more.

You'll continue to provide value, nurture your relationships, and offer ongoing support to ensure your customers stay around for the long run.

The retention stage is about building long-term relationships with your customers and turning them into loyal ones.

Focus on providing valuable content and tracking KPIs for customer retention to get the most out of your efforts.

💡 Tip: If you own a Shopify store, you can create Shopify-based email automation using Popupsmart. With converting solutions of Popupsmart for Shopify, you can optimize your email marketing funnel.

Types of content you can create during the retention stage:

  • Personalized thank-you emails expressing gratitude for recent purchases or interactions.
  • Email newsletters featuring product updates, industry news, and helpful tips to keep subscribers engaged.
  • Exclusive loyalty rewards or discounts for repeat customers.
  • Customer satisfaction surveys to gather feedback and improve your offerings.
A thank you email example for retention stage of email marketing funnel

MOO's thank you email can be shown as a great example of the retention and loyalty stage. The email includes a sincere and friendly copy and shows appreciation to customers.

Advocacy Stage

In the advocacy stage, your focus shifts to turning customers into brand advocates. 

Thanks to word-of-mouth marketing or referral marketing, your satisfied audience will promote your brand as a brand advocate during this stage. 

During the advocacy stage, you need to delight customers with exceptional experiences, encourage referrals through incentives, and use user-generated content for solid testimonials. 

You can reward loyalty with exclusive offers and engage your loyal customers through effective email marketing campaigns. 

By nurturing loyal users, you'll benefit from their positive word-of-mouth referrals, expand your customer base, and grow your brand presence.

Types of content you can create during the advocacy stage:

  • Referral program invitations to encourage satisfied customers to refer friends or family via email.
  • User-generated content campaigns to prompt customers to share their experiences on social media and via email.
  • Testimonial request emails asking happy customers to share their feedback for use in marketing materials and email campaigns.
  • VIP or ambassador program invitations offering special perks or rewards to your most loyal advocates sent via email.
A referral email example for advocacy stage of email marketing funnel

Airbnb's referral program email is an effective example of the advocacy stage. The brand clearly explains the referral program and its benefits in the headline. 

In the description part, details of the referral program are given, and a clear CTA is attached to encourage desired action.

Benefits of Email Marketing Funnels

There are several benefits of creating an email marketing funnel for your business. Here are the most crucial ones you should keep in mind:

  • Efficient communication: Email marketing funnel enhances your communication with your audience. 
  • Opportunity for personalized emails for better results: Instead of sending out generic emails to your entire list, you can segment your audience based on their interests, preferences, and behavior and send targeted messages that resonate with them.
  • Nurturing relationships & better engagement: Building relationships with your subscribers is key to long-term success in email marketing. An email marketing funnel allows you to nurture those relationships by providing valuable content.
  • Increased brand awareness: By consistently communicating with your audience through email, you reinforce your brand identity and increase awareness of your products or services.
  • Boosting conversions: An email marketing funnel is designed to guide subscribers through the conversion process, which can encourage them to take the desired action.
  • You can understand your audience better: Thanks to analyzing the results of your campaigns, their effectiveness, and customer feedback, you can get a better understanding of your audience's needs and interests.
  • Improved customer retention: By creating personalized and relevant content for your audience, you can increase loyalty and keep customers coming back for more.

How to Create an Email Marketing Funnel

A colorful illustration of an email and arrows

Building an effective email marketing funnel requires careful planning and understanding of your audience's needs and interests. 

While building your funnel, you need to keep the funnel stages explained before in mind.

By applying these steps in accordance with your funnel stages, you can create your email marketing funnel effectively. 

1. Set Goals and Objectives

The first step in creating an email marketing funnel is to define your goals and objectives. 

Ask yourself, "What do you hope to achieve with your funnel?"

Whether it's driving sales, increasing brand awareness, or growing your email list, having clear goals will guide your strategy and help you measure success.

Once you've defined your goals, establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to track your progress. 

These could include metrics like open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and revenue. 

By regularly monitoring these KPIs, you can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to optimize your funnel.

2. Segment and Know Your Target Audience

For the second step, you need to know your customers' journey. 

Segmenting your email list and understanding your target audience is essential for creating a successful email marketing funnel. 

You can deliver personalized content that resonates with each segment by dividing your subscribers into smaller, more targeted groups based on demographics, interests, behaviors, or purchase history. 

Get to know your audience by analyzing data, conducting surveys, and engaging with them on marketing channels. This deeper understanding will enable you to customize your emails to their specific needs and preferences, which will increase engagement and drive conversions.

📌 You can explore: "50 Psychographic Survey Questions to Boost Customer Loyalty" for creating your survey questions.

Map out the customer journey for each segment of your audience, from the awareness stage to the conversion stage, and later on, create email sequences that deliver the right message at the right time.

3. Generate Leads & Build Your Email List

Now, the exciting part starts, which is building your email list for your funnel! You can use lead magnets to start building your email list.

Your email list is the lifeblood of your email marketing funnel, so it's essential to focus on building and growing it. 

Offering a lead magnet is an effective way to attract subscribers with valuable, downloadable resources that solve a specific problem or address a pressing need for your audience. This could be an ebook, checklist, template, or webinar.

Once you've created your lead magnet, it's time to promote it and encourage visitors to subscribe to your email list.

Using these lead magnet ideas and creating landing pages or popup campaigns, you can gather new leads to grow your email list. 

You can experiment with different form placements, designs, and copy to maximize conversions.

4. Use Email Marketing Software 

Selecting the right email marketing software is crucial for managing your email marketing funnel. 

Go for a platform that has features like customizable templates, automation tools, detailed analytics, and integration capabilities with other marketing tools you use. 

Consider factors such as pricing, ease of use, and customer support when deciding as well. 

You can use email template builder software to create engaging email templates. Since these tools offer customization capabilities, you can make your emails suitable for your brand identity.

Also, Popupsmart has an email automation feature with popup-based and Shopify-based triggers you can use to enhance your email marketing funnel. Using Popupsmart, you can send automated emails to those who interact with your popup campaigns and to your Shopify store's audience based on their actions.

See how it works:

By choosing the right email marketing software, you can improve efficiency and maximize the impact of your campaigns.

5. Craft Engaging Email Content 

Once you set your goals, generate leads, and choose a tool for your campaigns, you can start crafting your email content.

The key to a successful email marketing funnel is getting your subscribers to open your emails. 

Writing attention-grabbing subject lines is the first and most crucial step to increase your open rates. 

Keep your subject lines short, sweet, and to the point, and ensure they're relevant to the content of your email. 

Experiment with personalization, urgency, and curiosity to pique your audience's interest and encourage them to click.

Then, customize your emails to each segment based on their interests, preferences, and behavior. 

Optimize your email's overall content according to your email's primary focus and goals. Pay attention to creating engaging email content that is easy to read, and don't make your emails too promotional. 

6. Create Drip Email Campaigns

An illustration displaying email marketing funnel concept and elements related to email marketing

Implementing a drip email campaign is a powerful strategy for automating your email marketing funnel. 

A drip campaign consists of a series of pre-written emails that are sent out automatically at scheduled intervals. 

These emails can be tailored to each stage of the buyer's journey and can be triggered based on specific actions or behaviors of your audience. 

Drip campaigns help nurture leads, build relationships, and drive conversions by delivering relevant content at the right time.

You can use drip campaigns to streamline your communication process and keep your audience engaged throughout their journey with your brand.

Your drip email campaign can start by welcoming your users, explaining your top features, and sending emails that offer loyalty offers to loyal subscribers. You can optimize your email automation according to your goals and create your drip campaign effectively.

7. Adjust Your Sending Frequency

Adjusting your email-sending frequency is crucial for maintaining subscriber engagement and avoiding email fatigue. 

Pay attention to your audience's preferences and behaviors to determine the optimal frequency for sending emails. 

To understand the impact on engagement, you can experiment with different sending frequencies and monitor metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates. 

Keep in mind that you need to strike a balance between staying top-of-mind with your audience. While doing that, you need to avoid overwhelming them with too many emails. 

Adjusting your sending frequency ensures that your emails are well-received and effective in driving results.

8. Convert Your Leads into Loyal Customers

Converting leads into loyal customers is the ultimate goal of email marketing funnels. 

Create engaging email content that addresses your leads' pain points and needs. Include clear calls-to-action that encourage them to take the desired action, whether making a purchase, signing up for a webinar, or upgrading a plan. 

Highlight the benefits of your products or services, and offer incentives or discounts to encourage customers to become loyal ones who repeat their purchases. 

By focusing on converting leads into customers, you can get the most out of your email campaigns and grow your business effectively.

9. Retain and Re-Engage Your Audience

Retaining and re-engaging your audience is crucial for the success of your email marketing funnel. 

You can implement win-back campaigns to re-engage inactive subscribers and encourage them to re-engage with your brand. 

With win-back email campaigns for customer retention, you can strengthen your relationships with your audience.

Focus on winning back those inactive customers and optimizing your emails accordingly.

10. A/B Test and Optimize Your Campaigns

A/B testing is a powerful tool for improving your email campaigns and maximizing results. 

Experiment with elements like subject lines, email copy, and CTAs, and send times to see what resonates best with your audience. 

That way, you can get an overview of the best time to send marketing emails, what kind of subject lines work best for your audience, and many useful details.

Analyze these results of your A/B tests, and focus on your strategies to continually improve performance.

11. Analyze Metrics and Optimize Strategies

In addition to A/B testing, it's essential to regularly analyze critical metrics and KPIs to understand the effectiveness of your email marketing funnel. 

While analyzing your email marketing funnel, track metrics like open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and unsubscribe rates.

Then, use this data to identify areas for improvement and optimize your strategies. 

Tips for Creating Effective Email Marketing Funnels 

An illustration of a funnel surrounded by icons
  • Upselling and cross-selling: After converting subscribers into customers, keep the conversation going by sending emails to upsell and cross-sell additional products or services. Strategically promote related items or upgrades through targeted email campaigns to boost conversion.
  • Recommend products: Utilize product recommendation emails based on past purchases, browsing history, or customer preferences. Personalize recommendations to recommend relevant products and highlight their benefits.
  • Integrate email marketing with other channels: You can integrate your email marketing with social media and content marketing for maximum impact. Gather leads for your email list on social media, promote social profiles in emails, and track performance across multiple channels to optimize your marketing strategy.
  • Focus on crafting quality emails: Pay attention to crafting quality emails rather than bombarding subscribers with repetitive content. Provide value, personalized recommendations, and engaging offers to keep subscribers interested and encourage action.

Wrap Up

An email marketing funnel is necessary if you want to improve your sales funnel and strengthen your relationship with your target audience.

By implementing the strategies and tips explained in this post, you can build a funnel that drives engagement, nurtures relationships, and boosts sales for your business. 

Continually test, optimize, and refine your email marketing funnel based on data and feedback from your audience. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do I Need An Email Marketing Funnel?

An email marketing funnel is essential for streamlining communication, nurturing relationships with subscribers, and maximizing conversions. It helps you deliver personalized content, build trust with your audience, and ultimately grow your business.

How Do I Build an Email List for My Email Marketing Funnel?

To build an email list, create compelling lead magnets, optimize opt-in forms on your website, and promote your offers through various marketing channels. Focus on providing value and incentives to encourage visitors to subscribe to your email list.

Discover our other blog posts about email marketing: