6 Steps to Turn an Email Lead Into a Buyer

The web is turning in on itself.

Where it once blew the world open so all four corners of the planet could be reached in a nanosecond, it is now honing back down to focus on personalized and local experiences.

Search engines have gone from valuing keyword-stuffed content to prioritizing pages that are geared towards what each specific searcher wants.

customer buying cycle - purchasing process graph


This more proactive approach is altering the way customers behave in the buying process. As a result, it’s forcing businesses to re-think how they market themselves and talk to their audiences.

So, with that in mind, we’re going to look at how this shift ties into email marketing. We’ll show you how you can leverage this new turn of events to make your campaigns even more successful!

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though.

First things first…

What Is the Customer Buying Cycle/Experience?

customer buying cycle funnel

Essentially, the entire process can be broken down into six steps:

  1. Awareness: New people discover your brand
  2. Interest: They realize your brand can solve a problem they have
  3. Consideration: Consumers compare your offerings to your competitors to see what’s the best fit for them
  4. Intent: They start to hone down their options
  5. Evaluation: Consumers evaluate why they should buy from you
  6. Purchase: They click that all-important “buy” button!

This is a sensitive process, and getting consumers from one stage to the next is no easy task.

customer buying cycle - buyers journey


Today, 67% of the buyer’s journey is completed digitally. This means that interacting with your audience via online methods like email marketing is more important than ever.

With so much of the process carried out digitally, you need to be creating campaigns that educate, inform and, perhaps most importantly… nudge your prospects towards that “buy” button!

Identifying the customer journey and figuring out what needs to happen and when is the biggest struggle many marketers face.

Until now.

You already know that email marketing is a vital part of your business (and, if you didn’t, where have you been hiding?!), but how can you integrate it into the customer buying experience?

Why Email Marketing is Vital in the Customer Buying Experience

Like I mentioned earlier, the majority of the customer buying process is carried out online. Whether that means the prospect has found out about you via Facebook ads or has been redirected to your site from a Google search.

And, while these methods work by getting prospects to your site, it’s when they arrive and start getting to know you that the magic happens.

Today, more consumers than ever are looking to build more meaningful connections with businesses they buy from, and to do that you need to open up a two-way dialogue.

And guess what?

Email marketing is the best way to do that.

It’s literally a two-way conversation between you and your customer that feels private and personal because it takes place in their sacred space (a.k.a. Their inbox).

1. it’s more Personal

Unlike Google searches and Facebook ads that can often times feel impersonal,  email marketing is a more personal affair.

Brands can speak directly to their customers and can influence their campaigns to align with what each specific prospect wants and needs using tools like segmentation.

customer buying cycle - list segmentation graph


When people feel a connection with a brand, they’re more likely to buy, which is why email marketing hugely increases the chance of consumers moving down the sales funnel quicker than ever.

2. it takes information to the prospect

Think about other marketing methods like SEO and social media advertising. They’re all well and good, but they require the prospect to seek them out.

No one will see a result on Google if they’re not searching for it. Nobody will come across a Facebook ad if they’re not scrolling through their feed.

With email marketing, on the other hand, you’re delivering information directly to the customer.

They don’t have to go out and find the information they need. Instead, it’s being digitally hand-delivered on a platter, making their decision to buy from you ten times easier.

How to Implement Email Marketing at Every Stage of the Customer Buying Process

The six stages of the buying process can be broken down into four “behavior buckets” which determine what kind of emails you should be sending at each stage.

  1. Need-recognition brings together the awareness and interest stages. This is where prospects learn that they have a problem that needs solving.
  2. Information search covers consideration and intent. This is when the consumer knows what they need to solve their problem but they’re still gathering as much information as they can to make the right decision.
  3. Purchase decision is when the customer evaluates why they should buy from you and then, well, buys from you.
  4. The final “behavior bucket” encompasses post-purchase behavior. While this technically happens after the customer buying process has been completed, it is still a valuable step of the process. This is a great place to implement email marketing to build an even stronger customer base.

Need Recognition: Create Opt-Ins and Freebies to Help Prospects Discover Their Problem

The first step in the customer buying process begins before the customer even realizes they need your product.

This is the part where they figure out they have a problem that needs solving. They figure this out through you educating them on how their life will be different once they have your product or service.

The main goal here is to capture the attention of consumers and get them on your email list so you can nurture them to the sale.

Did you know it takes around 7 touch-points before a consumer buys from a brand? That’s why it’s so important to have their contact details so you can build that connection over time.

customer buying cycle - opt-in example

Here, site visitors can enter their name and email address to receive recipes and tips on staying healthy.

We’ve spoken before about how it’s important to give and take with your subscribers and kick things off by offering free content.

Information Search: Share Powerful Content That Keeps You Front of Mind

Once consumers realize they have a problem that needs solving, they’re going to start searching for solutions.

At this stage, once you’ve got them on your list and have offered a valuable piece of free content, it’s time to start providing even more powerful information. This should be information that shows them you know exactly what their problem is, and you have the expertise to help them solve it.

customer buying cycle - email example

In this example, the subscriber has already received their free opt-in. (hinted at when the sender says “thanks again for viewing our infographic”), and is now ready for deeper content on the subject.

Following on from the free content, the company has sent across a link to a white paper that offers a more “detailed discussion”. Here, the goal is to educate the prospect further on why they need your product and why they need it from you.

Purchase Decision: Case Studies and Testimonials to Encourage More Sales

Despite the digital age, people are more likely to buy from a brand that has been recommended to them by someone else.

When a consumer knows they have a problem and what they need to solve it, it’s time to start sharing why they should use you and your product to solve it.

At this stage, you can share case studies and testimonials via email, or link to videos that capture how other buyers are already using the product or service with great results.

customer buying cycle - email example

In this email, the sender shares a case study that highlights how her friend earned 3x her ad spend on Facebook . For someone who is struggling to make conversions via social media marketing, this is a huge inspiration.

Post-Purchase: Nurture After the Sale to Build a Loyal Community

Though the customer buying process stops at the sale, your relationship with the customer shouldn’t end there.

In fact, consumers are more likely to buy from brands they’ve already bought from, so these leads are now super-hot prospects.

Using email, you can continue to nurture your relationship with them by sharing valuable content, offering discounts, and upselling new products.

The Customer Buying Process and Email Marketing are a Match Made in Heaven

Though the customer buying process might seem a little overwhelming, email marketing helps bring it all together.

Instead of trying to reach customers on various platforms, nurture them through the process from their inbox.

By providing an open dialogue, sharing valuable content, and showcasing the success of previous customers, you’re going to take prospects seamlessly from one stage to the next.

Sure, it’s not a walk in the park, but email marketing makes it a whole lot easier!

Are you ready to start implementing email marketing throughout the customer buying process? Sign up with Sendlane today and get cracking!


Cassi Knight

Cassi Knight

Director of Operations & HR at Sendlane
Born and raised in sunny San Diego, Cassi is our Director of Operations. With over 8 years of experience, she is extremely knowledgable in marketing, project management and company development. Fueled by pizza and coffee, she oversees, delegates and streamlines day-to-day activities. Cassi is dedicated to our success and leverages her extensive background to make Sendlane as effective and accomplished as possible.
Cassi Knight