What are funnels in email marketing?

To maintain conversion of your email marketing campaigns, you need an understanding of funnels in email marketing, the consumer buying cycle and how it affects each of your email marketing campaigns, and the AIDA model for email marketing for better email marketing performance.

An email marketing funnel is a conical-shaped representation with a wide hole at the top and a narrow bottom, just like the one you use in cooking or automotive work. The purpose of an email marketing funnel is to tap as many prospects as possible and narrow done the marketing budget and efforts based on the interests of the prospects on your products and services.

The goal of email marketing based on marketing funnels is to tap as many people as possible, and move your email list through the funnel until they take action.

For example:

Let’s say you have a new start-up and want to market your start-up through email marketing, you will send a bunch of emails to a lot of people, a lot of people will see your emails, this represents the top of the funnel.

Its also likely, those who have seen your emails have never heard of your or your products and are skeptical about buying your products and services, this represents the middle of the funnel.

Some of the people who have seen your emails might be interested in your products or services, and after a few nurturing they purchase your products, this represents the bottom of the funnel.

Email marketing funnels infographic.

making use of email marketing funnels

The marketing funnel is divided into three groups that email markets whittle prospects into smaller groups depending on the industry, marketing funnels can also be used to segment your email marketing list.

Marketing funnels include the top, middle, and bottom email marketing funnels, there are a lot of actions that take place in different stages of the funnel such as messaging, content delivery, advertisement, and much more as explained below:

Top of the funnel.

The top of the funnel represents all the group that receives your emails during your email marketing campaign, not everyone is ready to buy at this stage and some of the consumers don’t even know your products or services.

The goal of every email marketer is to get as many people to the top of the email marketing funnel at a lower cost. You should send a lot of emails to a large group and make sure you adhere to email marketing laws where all the email contacts have agreed to receive your emails and make sure to state these are promotional or advertisement emails.

At the top of the funnel, the prospects are not in the market for any products or services, this is because they have not identified a problem that has created a need or want of your products or services.

At the top of the funnel, you should send email marketing lead magnets such as educational articles about your products or services, the articles should be informative about the prospect’s interests, they could be research posts or statistics if you can provide educational videos is also a great idea on this stage of the marketing funnel.

Email marketers also introduce the short introductory story to capture the interest of the prospects, story stores accompany by checklist d worksheets captivate the prospects and they can engage with your business. These are all helpful contents that are free of charge and allow your prospects to find value in your business.

Middle of the funnel.

People at the middle of the funnel have started looking at your products and services, they are gathering information regarding your business, it’s the goal of every email marketer to provide as much information as possible regarding their products or services.

At this stage, you have already introduced the problem and the customer has identified the problem, the problem can fall in the categories of emotional or physical needs or wants. They are about to enter the market and research for products or services that can solve their problems.

The consumer is actively researching for products and services to find a solution for his problems, as the prospects evaluate the products or services of your competitors you have a competitive edge as you already have the contacts of the prospect, and it’s upon you to vouch for your products and services by strategically sending informational emails to nurture the prospect.

Throughout this funnel, the email marketer nurturers the prospect until they have identified a selection of products and services they need. Providing more information regarding your product at this stage raises the interest of the prospect until they perform a call to action required.

The middle of the funnel email messages contains how-to videos, case studies, product descriptions, long deep dive eBooks, and if you have a good budget, you can invite the prospects to free webinars and meetings, it’s also a good idea for every meeting to send a presentation in the email regarding the topics covered in the meetings to the prospects.

Bottom of the funnel.

People at the bottom of the funnel are very close to the goals of the email marketer, at this stage, the email marketer requests a call to action that closes the sale, or the prospects contacts the business. Prospects at the end of the funnel are ready to hear more about your products. At the bottom of the funnel, this is where email marketers promote their products or services with an aim of conversion.

At the bottom of the funnel, the prospect has narrowed down products and services they want to buy, upon nurturing the prospect the consumer purchases products or services to solve their problem.

The consumer buying cycle infographics.

the customer buying cycle that determines the stage of the marketing funnels

The bottom of the funnel is where there is one on one communication with the prospects either through email or through a communication medium the prospect is comfortable with, the goal of the email marketer at this stage is to send an email marketing message that, inform, and promote the prospect giving the last push that will motivate them to take action.

At the bottom of the funnel, you should be sending in testimonials from people the individuals are familiar with to endorse Your products or services. If your products are hard to operate you can send how-to videos explaining how your products work and how they can solve the problems of the prospects.

Emails at the bottom of the funnel also contain reviews and comparison tables, comparing your products or services with those of your competitors. It’s also a good idea to introduce discounts and special promotions at this stage, when sending out discounts and promotions, explain how you can afford the discounts, and special promotions, as prospects can be skeptical when they see reduced prices on your products or services.

email marketing funnels explained

Email funnels Campaigns.

Email marketing campaigns funnels differ based on the industry, products or services, and a variety of other market factors. This determines the length of your email marketing campaigns.

For example:

Email marketing campaigns for an architecture firm’s marketing strategy are longer than those of retail shops, this is because there is a lot of emotional factors determining the purchase of products or services. Architecture services are more costly than retail shops products, this means the customer will take time to decide whether to purchase your products or services.

When writing your email marketing plan, you need to understand your customer’s emotional and physical motivational factors to understand what motivates them towards making decisions.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

You can group the Hierarchy customer’s needs and rank them according to psychologists Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of needsOpens in a new tab. as shown in the ranked hierarchy below.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs infographic.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs infographics

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs helps email marketers understand the needs and wants of prospects based on psychological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization needs. The success of your email marketing campaigns depends on your understanding of your prospect’s needs and wants under these categories.

You should understand each level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, to enable you to develop marketing campaigns, and also differentiate your products from your competitors by positioning your products as the only solutions towards addressing Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs according to your market.

The AIDA models.

The AIDA model is helpful to email marketers to better understand the prospects’ needs and behaviors, In the first stages of email marketing campaigns, the email marketer must make the prospects aware of their products and services at the top of the funnel.

the AIDA model infographics

Once the prospects are made aware of the products and services, the email marketer nurtured the prospects during the email marketing campaign by sending informational emails and lead magnets that develop an interest in purchasing.

At the bottom of the funnel, the email marketer has convinced the products that his products and services are meant to fulfill their needs and wants to create a desire for a specific product or service.

Ultimately, at the end of the funnel, the prospects take action and make a purchase, this is followed by an automated email confirming the action and thanking the customer for their actions, you can also use this opportunity to upsell or cross-sell your products or services..


Understanding your customers buying cycle, behaviors, and characteristics, is one of the keys to a successful email funnel campaign. Before creating an email funnel campaign, you must understand your customers and their behaviors under each stage of the email marketing funnel.

You can classify customers’ characteristics based on demographic, psychological, and behavioral characteristics. Your email marketing and lead magnets vary based on the characteristics and behaviors of your prospects.

James Ndungu

James is a one-on-one business consultant who helps CEOs, executives, and solopreneurs build their personal and professional branding.

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