Reality check: sales don’t happen by accident.
They don’t happen at first sight, either.
Think about it. When’s the last time you bought from a totally unknown brand without doing your homework first?
Unfortunately, so many marketers are stuck thinking like marketers instead of buyers.
Consider first whether your customer experience actually makes sense from the moment someone “meets” you to the moment they make a purchase.
That means stepping into your customers’ shoes and understanding the buyer’s journey.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What each stage of the buyer’s journey is (and how to map out your own)
- Which types of messages and marketing tactics to use at different stages
- How real-world brands use email marketing to transform prospects into new customers
What is the buyer's journey, anyway?
Let’s kick things off with a quick breakdown of the stages of the buyer's journey.
Each stage represents where your prospects’ heads are at when they’re interacting with your business. For this post, we’ve broken three specific stages:
- The awareness stage: this is where your prospects are introduced to your product or brand, learning about you for the first time
- The consideration stage: this is where you have prospects who have shown interest in what you’re selling, eager to learn more as they assess your product versus others before making a decision
- The decision stage: this is where someone ultimately decides to make a purchase
Think of the buyer’s journey as a progression. Much like a sales funnel, you’re going to have more folks at the top who are aware of you versus buyers that actually make it to the “end.”
The problem is that many marketers fail to look at the bigger picture of the customer experience.
The good news? You probably already have emails and other types of content ready for each stage of the customer journey. You just need to map yours out.
What Email Marketers Should Do At Each Stage Of The Buyer's Journey
Now, let’s talk about the email buyer’s journey.
Email marketing is perfect for ensuring that your customer’s journey goes smoothly.
Don’t just take our word for it, either!
There’s an old-school marketing “rule of seven” that says businesses need to have seven interactions (or “touches”) with someone before they’re ready to be sold to.
Arguably the biggest benefit of creating an email marketing funnel is that you can generate messages that address each of the steps we talked about earlier. Through email automation, you can also put the process of nurturing your subscribers on autopilot.
And the sooner you define your customer journey, the sooner you can automate the process.
Doing so is easier than you might think, too! Below are the key action items for optimizing the buyer’s journey for eCommerce.
Awareness: Making an Impactful First Impression
During the awareness stage, your job is to make a positive first impression on your prospects while also pushing them to become part of your email list.
Keep in mind that people could be finding you via your top-of-the-funnel content (think: blog posts or SEO) or social media. That means you can’t assume that they know what you’re all about or even what you’re selling.
On the flip side, people who found out about you via word-of-mouth or ads might be in a “just browsing” mindset. They’re aware of what you’re selling, but they don’t know why they should be a customer.
Getting first-time visitors onto your list is mostly a matter of asking. This means rolling out opt-in opportunities on any given landing page.
For example, Beardbrand promotes exclusive content and pre-launch pricing in exchange for an opt-in. Simple, straightforward, and in no way spammy.
Pop-ups are a bit more aggressive, but they're also more effective at grabbing your visitors’ attention. The key here is to provide some sort of meaningful incentive to sweeten the deal.
For example, Nalgene offers discounts for new subscribers and first-time buyers. For folks in the awareness stage, this could serve as a much-needed incentive on the path to purchase.
Meanwhile, Nectar Sleep uses a limited-time offer to entice sign-ups. This sort of “now-or-never” type of pop-up is ideal for product-aware customers exploring their options.
Beyond more traditional opt-in forms, interactive forms such as quizzes are a brilliant way to nurture prospects in the buyer’s journey. Here’s a brilliant example from Warby Parker:
Product quizzes do triple duty of not only getting someone’s email and learning more about the products they want but also making some of those ever-so-important “touches” we mentioned earlier.
In terms of the email buyer’s journey, your welcome email represents your opportunity to get people into the decision stage. Simply put, you need to highlight your brand’s personality while also inviting people to check out what you’re selling.
This email from homesick is a prime example, simple yet personable, with a special discount tacked on at the end.
Consideration: Building Buzz and Driving Interest
Congrats, you’ve done the hard part!
But now what?
During the consideration stage, your end-game is to nurture your subscribers and get them ready to make a purchase. It’s that simple.
Of course, doing so is easier said than done.
Remember the rule of seven? You can’t just go for the hard sell.
The consideration stage is a balancing act where you build trust while also inviting people to make purchases.
Let your contacts get to know you and your brand! We love this email from Beardbrand because they let their contacts know exactly what they can expect from subscribing to their emails.
It’s the perfect opportunity to get folks comfortable with your name and share more about your brand and products along the way.
Now, discounts and offers are fair game; just don’t put them front-and-center. If someone opted-in to your list with the intent of receiving discounts, don't disappoint ‘em!
Considering that nearly two-thirds of shoppers will wait for a discount to make a purchase, you shouldn’t be shy about sending them. The key is not to be too in-your-face about them. Instead, frame your offer emails as “Hey, check this out” instead of “HEY, BUY THIS NOW!”
Below is an excellent example from American Giant. Note that it’s framed as a sort of welcome message. The “Learn More” call-to-action (CTA) is a subtle but significant touch to make the message feel a bit less transactional.
This nurturing message from Felina is also effective, providing resources and inspiration for subscribers in addition to a discount:
Beyond discounts and education, consider also inviting subscribers to take actions such as following you on social media. This gives you yet another place to make touch-points with customers beyond their inboxes.
Don’t forget about telling your brand’s story, too! The emails above all highlight how companies can use storytelling and personality to win over customers.
Building relationships is key to brand loyalty, which means giving your subscribers an opportunity to get to know you before they’re comfortable buying. If you do it right, your patience will be rewarded.
On that note, remember that folks can spend a lot of time in the consideration stage.
Days. Weeks. Heck, even months.
And that’s okay! The buyer’s journey can be a long and winding road.
What matters is that you’re regularly sending your list relevant messages that bring them closer to buying. Over time, you can refine your messages and email marketing strategy to figure out which messages perform best.
Decision: The Final Push to Make a Purchase
No surprises here!
If your customers have reached the decision stage, they’re ready to buy. Here we can assume that your subscribers have interacted with your brand or consideration emails to the point where they know you.
And if consideration stage emails haven’t done the trick, consider messages that serve as a sort of last-minute push to make a buying decision.
For example, time-sensitive offers create a sense of urgency and scarcity, proven to drive sales. Since your subscribers have opted-in and received sales messages from you in the past, sending more “direct” marketing messages is a-okay.
Check out this “get it before it’s gone” email from Cole Haan. Because the message is based on previous browsing behavior, it feels more personally tailored than a one-size-fits-all sales message. Meanwhile, limited-time offers like this offer email from Sephora are all the rage in eCommerce.
Meanwhile, limited-time offers like this offer email from Sephora are all the rage in eCommerce.
If you don’t score sales from your subscribers the first time around, don’t panic. Some buyers might require steeper discounts or more personalized offers in order to buy. Trial-and-error combined with email analytics can clue you in on which messages are your top-performers.
Spoiler: The buyer's journey doesn't have to end!
To wrap things up, just know that the buyer’s journey isn’t over once you’ve made a sale.
Far from it, in fact!
It’s well-documented that it costs way more to acquire customers than it does to sell to the ones that you already have. Plus, returning customers spend nearly 300% more than the average new customer! Continuing to send messages to past buyers is a no-brainer, especially if you use email automation to do the heavy lifting.
Below is a snapshot of some of the types of post-purchase emails you can send to existing customers to keep them engaged:
- Ongoing, personalized offers and discounts
- Loyalty and referral bonuses
- Requests for reviews or testimonials (see below)
Likewise, you can recommend future products to your customers based on their past purchases to drive new sales.
Thanks to marketing automation through Sendlane, you can do all of the above in your pursuit of sales from new and existing customers alike. From tracking customer behavior to timing your campaigns to perfection, our easy-to-use platform allows you to build email campaigns that line up beautifully with your buyer’s journey.
The more campaigns you send, the easier it is to optimize them. Our drag-and-drop tools make doing so a cinch, even if you’re a total newbie to email automation.
Have you mapped out your email buyer's journey yet?
We get it: planning your buyer’s journey might seem like a lot of work.
But honestly? It’s really not.
This is especially true if you’re taking advantage of email marketing tools like Sendlane.
Instead of chasing down prospects and qualified leads, you can put together campaigns and automations that nurture them throughout.
Sure, it might take a bit of legwork to figure out the right cadence for your campaigns. That said, we can help every step of the way!
If you’re ready to take Sendlane for a spin, sign up for your 14-day free trial!