How to Create Your First Email Sales Funnel in Less Than Three Hours

“Are we there yet?”

Raise your hand if you were ever obnoxious enough to ask this in the car when you were a kid.

I certainly was.

This was one way I’d entertain myself on those long car trips when my family would go on vacation (and when my Gameboy’s battery power ran out).

My “conversion goal,” so to speak, was to get a reaction from my parents.

I was often successful.

An email sales funnel—or email funnel, for short—works in a similar way. Except, instead of repeatedly emailing, you’re nurturing the relationship. You’re never obnoxious.

Today I’m going to show you how to make your own funnel in just a few hours. But first, let’s get clear on the definition of an email sales funnel.

What Is an Email Sales Funnel?

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You may have heard of the term email sales funnel before. It is sometimes called by a different name:

  • Autoresponder
  • Email sequence
  • Nurture sequence
  • Automated email follow-up
  • Follow-up sequence

So what is the definition of an email sales funnel?

An email sales funnel is a series of emails arranged together with the goals of:

  •  Nurturing a relationship with an email subscriber
  • Educating a potential customer on the benefits of a service or product
  • Nudging them to make a purchase decision.

This can be as simple as a few back-to-back emails. You can also get very complex, using marketing automation tools like ActiveCampaign.

If you want, you can even “tag” contacts based on actions they take (or don’t take) on your website based on which type of lead magnet they opt-in to.

For example, you can place customers into different email follow-up “buckets” based on which lead magnet they opt into.

From doing this on the AutoGrow website, we’ve seen email subscriber engagement increase by over 200%.

You can even do lead scoring depending on an email contact’s level of engagement.

If the site visitor opens an email or clicks a link, this can be used to score a lead (usually on a scale of one to five stars, five meaning a highly qualified lead). A low-scoring subscriber who seems less interested needs more time and more nurturing. You’ll want to put them into a different email follow-up path.

If any of this sounds complicated, don’t worry.

We plan on diving into advanced email sales funnels at a later date, so be sure to check back.

For now, let’s keep it simple…

How to Create Your First Email Funnel in Three Hours or Less

I want to introduce to you a framework I call the VACuum Formula. This stands for value, authority, and call to action – each of the three letters representing a different email. You can think of this formula like a digital marketing vacuum that sucks up leads into your funnel.

Email #1 – Value

In your initial email, you want to provide something of value, like a free download or some other resource.

The free downloadable resource something that leads them a few steps towards the subscriber’s end goal. This helps to kick-start the relationship and position you a trustworthy source of information.

Don’t be afraid to share the full details of your product or service.

Because, quite frankly, people buy what is valuable. Too often I see entrepreneurs holding back because they don’t want to give away “too much.”

For instance, in the case of a service business, people buy because they want to save the time and effort. And be comforted knowing an expert is working on it.

So that’s the Value email.

Email #2 – Authority

Value has been delivered at this point and the relationship started.

You promised something and delivered it.

The second email you send needs to position you as an authority. You may want to send a case study, preferably one you can tell a story around. A client success story would be ideal.

Even if you think you don’t have a story to introduce because you’re a startup or just don’t have enough experience, there’s a workaround.

But just make sure you’re transparent and ethical with how you use this.

You don’t want to mislead people.

Ok, here’s the workaround…

You can find other people or companies who have done something like what you’re doing. Find a case study of someone who practiced the same process as you and had successful results.

I’ve seen this done by digital marketing consultant, James T. Noble. He highlighted a whitepaper on how SalesForce increased demand within their funnel using social media.

Even though they didn’t do the work for SalesForce, they were still able to tell SalesForce’s success story and use it as indirect social proof as to how their services might work.

Bottom line: tell a story. People love stories. Make it interesting with real-life characters if possible. Then use it as a teaching tool.

You can then make a soft offer at this point or a hard offer in the next step.

Email #3 – Call to Action

At this point, we’ve delivered value and positioned you as an authority.

This third email is where we go for the “hard sell”…

In this email, you want to make a direct offer and clearly state the benefits. You can lead into the pitch by highlighting the customer’s problem. This way, people understand how your solution is providing them value.

Add an FAQs section as well as testimonials, reviews and other social proof.

Add links, from the middle to the bottom of the email, where customers can click to your landing page. Here, they can learn more and actually make the purchase.

These emails should not be giant essays; limit them to 500-1000 words at most. This length ensures people’s attention won’t wander too much. And since they are so short, this is an email sequence you can write in a single day, even in under three hours.

I recommend sending your emails on Tuesdays and Thursdays early in the morning.

Why? These times consistently get the best open rates according to research from CoSchedule. (Note: these are also the times when we send out our newsletters here at AutoGrow because we found it gets the best results).

That research finds that customers respond to emails sent on Tuesdays more than the rest of the week. Thursdays are the second best day for emails, including follow-ups.

CoSchedule also found some optimal times to send these emails. They are:

  • 6 a.m. for the early risers
  • 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. for the second morning rush, including those who don’t wake up and check their email right away
  • 2 p.m., which catches people in the middle of the afternoon when they’re eager to get off work and go home
  • 8 p.m. through midnight, when most people are home and willing to check their email for the last time that day

Two Examples of a Simple Email Funnel in Action

Through Email Automation, Running Pro Connects to Community of 20,000 Other Runners

A known name in the running world, Ruggero Loda created a resource for finding the best running shoes. He called it Running Shoes Guru.

He boasts nearly 50 daily new subscribers and about 20,000 total subscribers.

Loda used email marketing to increase subscribers and keep his current ones interested.

What does Loda contribute to the success of Running Shoes Guru? He offers subscriber-only eBooks and his informative links contained within his emails. These let runners know about new gear and nutrition. These free resources naturally pique interest and the follow-up helps to position him as an authority.

If Loda sends out six emails as part of a series, he found that nearly half the recipients (40%) will open them. That’s huge.

Insurance Company Gets Monthly Open Rate of Over 50% with Their Email Sales Funnel

This example highlights how advanced personalization within your emails can increase engagement.

Insurance company, Liverpool Victoria or LV= created dynamic content within their email funnel to achieve an impressive open rate. This content was personalized to each customer based on their shopping behavior. For instance, if the visitor exited the site, they’d get a personalized email encouraging them to come back.

LV= converted nearly 19% of their customers. The conversion rate was about 11% from their emails alone.

Customers opened nearly 52% of the emails and clicked through on about 42% of them.


If you’re thinking of making your own email funnel, you might like our 11 Point Perfect Sales Funnel Checklist.

It can be time-consuming to create an email funnel that converts. I understand where you’re coming from. My company AutoGrow once offered multiple services, and we didn’t have time to write custom or lengthy email sequences for each.

Instead, we used the VACuum Formula and it saved time. More than half of our leads came from our email funnel once we implemented this. Specifically,  65% of our inbound leads came from our email autoresponders.

To review:

  • Remember the VACuum Formula when making your own email funnel: value, authority, then call-to-action.
  • Your first email must give the customer value. They’re more likely to consider your core offer if they see you providing value in your free content.
  • While your second email should be authoritative, don’t forget to humanize it with customer stories.
  • Your last email is your hard sell. Make sure this includes a clear CTA.
  • Limit each of the emails is to about 500-1000 words so you don’t overwhelm the prospective customer.

Now that you know you can create an email sales funnel in such a short time, are you going to take action?

Do you already have a sales funnel but plan to amend it based on this post?

Let me know in the comments.

Keep Hustlin’, Stay Focused



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