The Email Marketer’s Guide to Choice & Friction in the Buying Process

Too much choice and unnecessary friction will reduce your conversion rates. In this guide we will explore why and how you can use personalisation tactics to reduce friction in the buying process.

Why too much choice is damaging your conversion rate

For many marketers, offering consumers as much choice as possible seems like a sensible strategy.

After all, it increases the likelihood that the consumer will find the product or offer that they prefer. Right?

Not necessarily…

In reality, too much choice can be overwhelming for the consumer and can end up damaging your conversion rate.

Read on to learn more about the issues that can be caused by too much choice. And what you can do to overcome them.

The problem with too much choice

As mentioned, offering lots of choice may seem like a great idea at first. However, it can result in the following challenges for brands:

Delays the final decision

Those who have studied the psychology of choice have found that whilst consumers want choice, in the end, it discourages them from making a purchase.

That’s because choice is fantastic in the early stages of the purchasing decision. A large selection of products, for instance, can spark interest and inspiration.

However, when it comes to making the final decision, the large selection becomes overwhelming. And discourages the consumer from making the purchase.

Sparks buyer’s remorse

The more choice you have, the more you will question your decision after you buy.

That’s because your expectations and standards have been raised. And you are more likely to focus on what was better about the choices which you didn’t purchase.

This can result in the consumer avoiding a purchase altogether, or returning the item they have bought.

Causes fatigue

And in all honesty, too much decision-making can be exhausting. Weighing up endless pros and cons, researching and envisaging different options.

Because while too much choice may simply require small decisions. These decisions add up. And can all cause mental fatigue and make the purchasing process stressful.

Doesn’t meet high expectations

Today’s consumer expects a lot from retailers. They know that brands can offer a highly tailored and personalised experience. And therefore, offering too much choice which is simply not relevant, is not meeting their expectations.

It can also suggest that the brand isn’t using sophisticated marketing techniques. And isn’t aware of what their audience really wants.

How to reduce choice and improve your conversion rate

But worry not, despite too much choice causing challenges in the conversion and purchase process. There are things that can be done.

Promote the right products

Whether it be via email, social media, or on landing pages, instead of promoting as many products as possible, brands should focus on promoting the right products.

This can be achieved through personalisation tactics. (We talk more about personalisation and how it solves friction points within the buying cycle)

Brands can start out with personalisation of product promotions by segmenting their audience, and promoting the products and services that are most likely to be of interest to specific segments.

But when brands want to get a little more advanced, they can utilise past browsing and purchase data, alongside dynamic content blocks, to promote the specific items that each individual recipient is most interested in.

This can be achieved via email and on landing pages. And is the perfect tactic for product recommendations, cross-sell opportunities, or simply offers and promotions.

Less is more - Amazon example

Less CTAs

The CTA (call to action) is crucial to the success of any email or landing page.

It is the main element that will prompt consumers to take action in the way you want them to.

However, if an email or landing page is full of CTAs, then the action the consumer should take soon becomes confusing. They won’t understand what the next steps of the conversion process are, which will likely result in them bouncing from your page or closing your email.

Therefore, we always recommend focusing your emails and landing pages on your most important CTA. After all, why distract consumers into taking actions that aren’t as important?

Ensure the CTA is bold, clear, and gives direction.

Email Example from

Reduce offers

Offers and promotions are a fantastic way to increase sales and conversions.

However, brands often fall into the trap of bombarding their audiences with offer after offer.

This provides the consumer with too much choice. Will they get a better bargain if they take 10% off? Opt for free delivery? Or buy one get one free?

Instead, brands should focus on the quality of the offer, as opposed to the quantity. One large discount will be much more appealing to the consumer than an overwhelming amount of smaller discounts. And it means the marketer can put all of their energy into this promotion, so it is launched with a bang.

Email example from Protein Works

Add urgency

Another way to decrease the chances of your consumers being overwhelmed by choice is to add a little urgency to your marketing.

Without any time pressure, consumers may spend longer considering their options, or even put off their purchase while they mull it over.

However, by adding a sense of urgency, consumers will be encouraged to make a decision before missing out.

Countdown timers are the perfect way to add urgency to a promotion or offer. They look great, are an interesting visual on a webpage or email, and when used correctly, will automatically update in real-time when a page is refreshed, or an email is opened.

And if countdown timers aren’t your thing, consider adding dynamic stock updates which automatically display when an item is running out. By using email automation, brands can even notify specific recipients that an item they have been browsing, or have added to their basket, is nearly out of stock.

Email example from Cult Beauty

What is friction & why should email marketers take note?

We are a nation of consumers.

In fact, in 2021 retail spending increased by 24% compared to 2019.

But that doesn’t mean the buying process doesn’t have its issues.

There are lots of opportunities throughout the journey for consumers to get distracted, have second thoughts, or be tempted by a competitor.

This is usually caused by several things including:

  • Being served products that are not relevant
  • Price points
  • Not being able to find the right product/ search functionality on site
  • Check out process
  • Returns policy
  • Trust

Fortunately, personalisation is key to helping brands reduce friction in the buying process.

7 ways personalisation reduces friction in the buying process

Offer a warm welcome

Lack of engagement with a brand can be a key cause of friction in the buying process.

If a consumer doesn’t even know you exist, then why would they buy from you?

Personalised welcome campaigns are the perfect way to start a consumer/brand relationship off positively.

These emails should be sent as soon as a recipient signs up or makes an account with a brand. As this is the time when they are most engaged.

They should incorporate key information, such as delivery details and best sellers. But to add a real personalised edge to this email, add a personalised discount code that has an expiry date specific to the recipient. This will give them an extra incentive to make their first purchase asap.

Email Marketing Example - Welcome - Charlotte Tilbury

Recommend relevant products

It’s 2021 an era of consumer choice!

This can be a real sticking point in the purchase process. If consumers are overwhelmed with different brands and products, they can give up on their purchase entirely.

Brands can remove this hurdle by using the purchaser’s past browsing and purchase data to promote the products that they are actually interested in.

This could be done via landing pages or email marketing, and can come in a variety of forms: similar items, frequently bought together, or customers also bought.

Recommendation Blocks -

Image Source – Wayfair

Dynamically update prices and availability

If a consumer has spent hours looking for the perfect item at the perfect price. Then there’s nothing more disappointing than realising the items are out of stock or have gone up in price.

As well as being disappointed, the consumer could give up on their shopping experience entirely, or postpone it to a later date.

To avoid this, brands can utilise dynamic content in both emails and landing pages to automatically update prices and availability specific to the products of interest.

This information will then be refreshed every time a consumer opens their email, or refreshes the landing page. So it is always up to date.

Dynamic content -

Image Source –

Notify of stock changes

Alternatively, if the consumer has been regularly browsing a product that is out of stock, then let them know as soon as it’s available again.

Stock change emails can let the recipient know when an item is back in stock, or when an item they have been browsing is getting low in stock.

The former will encourage them to make that purchase which they’ve been waiting for. While the latter will encourage them not to hang around, and to snap the item up before others do.

Stock updates - Cult Beauty

Offer reminders with retargeting emails

Consumers can be easily distracted when it comes to shopping.

They may regularly browse a product, but haven’t felt the urge to purchase yet. Or even added a product to their online basket, just to forget about it, or have second thoughts.

These consumers are clearly on the fence, so brands need to provide them with useful information, reassurance, and give them a nudge to make that purchase.

Retargeting emails can utilise an individual’s browsing behaviour to automate personalised communications that do exactly that.

Brands can send out abandoned browse or abandoned basket emails specific to the product. And include useful information such as price, customer reviews, product details, and even a discount code as a final sweetener.

Retargeting - ASOS

Get store-specific

Over the pandemic, many consumers grew increasingly comfortable with the online shopping experience.

However, as the world begins to open up, brands are keen to promote their bricks and mortar stores. And encourage high street fans back to their shops.

After all, for some consumers, you cannot beat physically browsing products, being able to experience them in-store, and speak to someone face to face.

To help promote this experience, brands can use geolocation data to send out communications advertising the store closest to each recipient.

Geotargeting is also useful for promoting offline events, launches, and sales. Moving consumers who prefer a face-to-face experience along the buying journey.

Geotargeting - New Look

Send reminders with replenishment campaigns

Once a customer has made their first purchase, the hard work isn’t done.

It costs 5 times more to bring on a new customer than to sell to an existing one. Therefore, brands shouldn’t forget about their current customer base.

To encourage customers to come back for more, brands can send out replenishment campaigns to remind them of products they purchase regularly.

This could include medical supplies, cosmetics, food, and even greetings cards.

By sending out a personalised email to these customers before it’s time for them to purchase again, they ensure they are at the forefront of customers’ minds. So that they don’t stray to a competitor.

Replenishment Campaigns - Thortful

Looking for help with your email marketing strategy?

Get in touch with our friendly team here.

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