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Beyond the Click: Mastering the Buyer Journey

Hey everyone, 

Welcome back to another bite to chew on. 

You know, everyone in DTC spends a lot of time and energy worrying about ads.

How to make them. 

How to test them. 

What format is the best? What’s the hook? What’s the angle?  

And then talk about ads like they are making the sale. 

“Optimize for conversions”. “What’s the cost per acquisition for that ad?”

But in truth, your creative on Meta, TikTok or Youtube is only really contributing to one part of the buyer journey.

It’s grabbing attention. Getting the click. Prompting people to search your brand on Google…

After that, it’s up to your user experience to close the deal. 

Today we’ll go through all of the other factors you need to think about outside of your ads account to drive growth.

Tool Of The Week

Let’s shift focus a bit before we get going.

Your marketing ops – is it a well-oiled machine or are you juggling multiple platforms with your thousands of customers?

It wasn’t working for us – we were using a tech stack of an ESP + an external SMS provider to manage 200,000 customers…

With numerous email flows like post-purchase, abandoned cart, and winback automation funnels all working to drive sales (and several sub-flows attached to each)

Running these communications on several platforms was killing our potential impact because we just didn’t know how to optimize the process.

Our conversion and retention rates were slowly going down while Ash and I were trying not to drown between these two platforms.

We needed a new approach – so we reached out to our community. 

People suggested moving to a new tool, but honestly - we were so hesitant because of 2 reasons

For one, the time and effort that it takes to move to a new tool is daunting. 

Migration often takes forever and there’s the risk of email deliverability dropping.

And second, paying ridiculous fees with no ROI guarantee…

You know the drill – you pay the monthly fee, you onboard, and then…goodbye. The rep is 90% of the time nowhere to be found after you pay your monthly and need them the most. 

We didn’t want to play the ghost game again, and we didn’t want to waste 1-2 weeks sorting out migration and wasting money in the process

Even with these hesitations, we’d heard great things about Sendlane & decided to take a shot. 

Their team proved to be everything we were told + more – easy to work with, strategic, and created a seamless process.

And now with their Move Now, Pay Later offer – it’s even easier. You pay nothing upfront. No hidden fees, no unexpected bills during the switch.


They took over the entire migration process—transferring data, warming up emails, everything.

So, if you’re worried about the costs, disruptions, or just the sheer amount of work it might take,

Then definitely check out Sendlane.

Post-click destination matching

Alright, back to the main event.

“Destination matching” sounds fancy, doesn’t it?

But it’s actually pretty simple. What we mean is - you want the post-ad or post-click experience to be coherent and cohesive for the user. 

The destination, be it your home page, a landing page, or a product description page (PDP) needs to make sense to the user. 

If the next step doesn’t match a customer’s level of awareness or if the user experience isn’t clear, accessible, and easy to navigate, then there is a high risk of that person bouncing.

For example, you don’t want to push someone who has just entered the awareness phase in your funnel straight to a PDP.

Even if you have KILLER merchandising and product pages, chances are you need to warm that person up first.

Especially if you are a higher AOV product or have a longer consideration cycle. 

That’s why some marketing is not aimed at “making the sale”, at least not right away.

Landing page formats like listicles, advertorials, and “us vs them” comparisons can be effective at educating potential buyers,

And moving them into the interest or consideration phase of their journey.


Wait, merchandising - isn’t that what physical retail stores do?

It is, but you shouldn’t underestimate merchandising when it comes to your digital store either. 

The particulars can vary a lot from product to product, and brand to brand - 

But just think about it in first principles. 

Why do big-box retail and grocery stores spend so much time on merchandising?

Because the easier it is for customers to find your product, the better. 

The more you can bundle products into something enticing, the more sales you will make. 

You want to catch their eye, communicate things like key features and benefits, and quickly find similar or relevant products.

But beyond these basics of CRO, merchandising can expand to…

  • Product line plans 

  • Product/category expansion

  • Product variant and pricing strategies

  • Sales channel / line planning 

And more. 

Many DTC brands launch with a hero product, or a small, modestly sized catalog. 

But as you grow, though, and add more…

✅ Product variants

✅ Product lines or even 

✅ Product categories

As well as 

✅ New marketing channels, 

✅ New Sales channels,

✅ New Sales Regions, 

And new market customer personas…

Then you’ll have to dedicate more time and attention to how your brand and offerings are: launched, presented, accessed, priced, and organized in your business. 

That is, merchandised. 

The importance of retention

Retention is a bit of a misnomer.

A good SMS and email program can warm up your users and encourage them to make their first purchase, not just their second, or third, etc.

They can also shorten longer consideration cycles, getting those customers to “yes” faster.

Optimizing common flows like a new visitor welcome series, abandoned cart, or winback, are table stakes. 

Of course, you should be doing these things out of the gate and well-built flows like this can deliver big value for your business. 


Retention campaigns that supplement basic flows can be a gamechanger if done well. 

Campaigns give you the opportunity to warm up users (at a fraction of the cost of paid ads) through certain content pillars

Some examples we have seen work: 

  1. Founder or founding story

  2. Brand halos 

  3. Product education 

Founder content that communicates a compelling, mission, vision, or founding story can humanize your company and 

Make your users feel like they are buying from another person and not some faceless company.

Brand halos - like supporting charities or being environmentally friendly - give your customers another reason to trust and support you. 

Product education campaigns are a no-brainer. They are another opportunity to relate your key features and benefits as well as answer common questions or troubleshoot challenges your customers might encounter.  

Most brands lean heavily on discounts and special offers in their retention efforts.

But there are other ways to warm your users up. 

Campaigns are a great tactic to accomplish this by improving the perception of your offerings, your vision/mission, and your brand. 

 Remember, trust and authenticity are invaluable levers when it comes to sales. 

Customer Service

No matter how…  

Coherent your post-click experience, or

slick your CRO/merchandising, and 

optimized your retention efforts… 

At some point, your customers are going to have problems, challenges, or complaints.

That’s why customer service is a must-have. 

The thing is, sometimes CS can be considered a cost center in ecommerce.

But it’s vital to the long-term health of your company. A great NPS is built from great products and great customer service.

Besides that, CS can be a HUGE source of sales and profit if it is managed properly. 

For example, a friendly, well-trained, and motivated phone or chat agent can not only answer questions and concerns, but

Also make sales, build bundles, and lower user anxieties,

All in a five-minute chat/conversation.

Through these interactions, CS also becomes a primary source of user insights. 

You should be constantly meeting with your head of CS and lead agents to better understand your customers, 

Because no one in your company spends more time interacting with them. 

Some questions to ask yourself about your CS department:

❓Are your agents quick, qualified, efficient, and friendly?

❓Can your CS turn doubters and detractors into customers and advocates?

❓Do your return, refund, and complaint processes add lots of friction and frustration? Or do they help convince people to give you another chance?

❓Are you set up to mine your CS for common issues that will help you improve your ads, UX, or products?

Sum it up

Don’t get us wrong. Ads are very important. There are good reasons why everyone in DTC spends so much time talking about them.

But all the ads stuff sucks all the oxygen out of the room sometimes. 

There are many factors that contribute to sales and growth. 

From ensuring your post-click destination makes sense to having killer customer service agents who can convert detractors to advocates. 

And everything in between. 

So keep finding ways to make kick-ass ads. 

But, remember - they don’t make the sale all by themselves. 

Until next time,

Ron and Ash