How to “Funnel” Your Leads into a Money-Making Machine

Think about your vegetable garden. Everyone has a different idea on how you should go about planting—start your seeds indoors vs. wait until the sun warms the outdoor soil, organic vs chemical fertilizer, etc. Every gardener has an opinion, but one agricultural method seems to stand above the rest: permaculture.

Permaculture varies from traditional gardening in that most of the preparation happens in the winter, and the plants are then basically set on autopilot the rest of the year. Of course, they do require some cultivation, but work is minimized through effective planning and preparation.

What does this have to do with ecommerce leads and making money? Well, if you have leads, then you have seeds; you just need to learn to prepare the soil. Tell me, are you ready to plant your first money tree? Permaculture is very much like marketing automation. Here’s how to automate your sales funnel.

How Can You Optimize Email Marketing?

One of the most effective tools for qualifying and converting leads is email marketing. Unfortunately, ecommerce has low email conversion rates compared to other industries. Here are the average open, click-through, and click-to-open statistics for emails sent by ecommerce businesses:

  • Open rate: 16.78%
  • Click-through ratio: 3.07%
  • Click-to-open ratio:  18.27%

Let’s circle back to the idea of permaculture and learn what can be done when water is scarce. One organization in India, Aranya Agricultural Alternatives, works primarily in the drylands with impoverished farmers. The dry climate provides conditions where growing food is difficult, since rainfall is nearly non-existent (except throughout the brief monsoon season). So, how do they solve this issue and provide their plants with water?

Permaculturists use rainwater harvesting techniques when confronted with a dry climate. Through these techniques, they are able to collect the water that falls and store it for future use. What can you learn from this method to apply to your email campaigns?

While the farmers collect water, you should collect data. Some of your email tactics will produce success, and others will fail. When converting leads, you need to take notes and store as much information as you can about campaigns that flop and campaigns that soar.

Most email marketing platforms automatically store pertinent data for you. If you’re using a system like MailChimp or Constant Contact, learn to spot trends in the analytics dashboard and in the body of emails that did well—and in those that didn’t. From your data, compile a formula for future email campaigns. The planning will pay off.

Here are some basic email marketing tips that I have learned over the years:

  1. Readers love personalization. Use the recipient’s name in every email. When relevant, also use their location, company name, and any other personalization tokens that could instill a sense of belonging.
  2. Emotions sell. Omnisend lists belonging, hope, guilt, vanity, fear, lust, and greed as the seven basic emotions that drive conversions. Trigger these feelings to provoke action from your readers.
  3. Subject lines are critical. You want your email subject lines to create a sense of urgency; otherwise, you’re going to be ignored. Use the free rating tool at to test and fine-tune your subject lines before you click “send.”

To What Degree Should You Leverage Automation?

Almost 2/3 of “very successful” marketers use their automation systems extensively, while more than 1/3 achieve the same status with limited use, according to Three Deep Marketing and Ascend2’s research in Marketing Automation Trends for Success. From this information, you can gather that the amount of automation that should be used to convert leads varies based on the structure of the company. How can you determine how much of your work should be automated?

The short answer is, “whatever works.” There’s no magic number. But, keep one thing in mind—consumers love the illusion that they’re communicating with a real person. If you can leverage automatic social media posting and RSS-fed email campaigns to make your life easier, do it—as long as you watch your metrics.

Despite the benefits of marketing automation, like the allowance for you to focus on more exciting aspects of your work, if consumers can see that your posts are blatantly being generated by a robot, they may be less likely to engage. To avoid this, use automation tools that can be fully customized.

In a permaculture plot, a lot of work goes into prepping the soil and collecting water. After that, the crops don’t require much maintenance. It’s sustainable, but can’t be left completely alone. Instead of watering one time every three days, for example, you may be able to go up to two weeks without watering. Likewise, though all of your website content could be fully automated, leaving it all to machines won’t get you the highest possible conversion rates. Apply this metaphor to your automation strategy., for example, allows you to set up RSS campaigns from your blog. Post from individual categories to Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and specific Pinterest boards with your own keywords and hashtags. So, you could set all blog posts in a “Home Improvement” category to have their featured image automatically pinned to a Pinterest board with the same name while being posted on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Still, you would want to create additional Pins and Tweets to share later, which would keep fresh traffic coming to that blog post. Use Tailwind for Pinterest and Hootsuite for other platforms to schedule future social media posts. With a tactic like this, you can create customized text and share any images you want, all pointing back to one blog post.

Remember: Responsiveness is Critical

Today, 80% of your customers use a mobile device to browse the Internet. If you’re not catering to them, you’re losing business. If someone lands on your website from their mobile phone, and they are unable to see your website in an aesthetically appealing light, read your copy, or see images load, they will move away after just a few seconds. Sadly, they may never return.

It is crucial that you use a mobile responsive website theme for your online store. A responsive site changes based on the device it’s being viewed from—your website will look just as good on an Android device as it will when viewed from Chrome on a laptop.

Monitor Your Page Load Speeds

Page load speed can drastically affect sales on your website. Nearly half of Web consumers expect a page to load in two seconds or less. If you’re not meeting their expectations, you could be killing your business.

Use Google PageSpeed Insights to check how fast your site loads on all devices. Then, follow the advice if your site needs work. This will help ensure that your leads stay on your site long enough to become customers, and that they will come back to your website again and again.


Funneling your leads through the buyer’s journey on your website is like caring for plants. To be sustainable in your methods, you should optimize email marketing through intensive analysis, leverage an appropriate amount of automation, double-check that your site is responsive, and improve your page load speeds. Before you know it, your contacts will be paying customers.


About the Author

Jared Carrizales is the lead of marketing at Heroic Search, a digital marketing agency based in Dallas, TX and Tulsa, OK. Jared has been in the digital marketing sphere for almost a decade and has the bruises to prove it. Follow him on Twitter at @JaredCarrizales.




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