The Path to Purchase: How to Build an Excellent Product Discovery Experience

We’ve all been there. You’re scrolling through your Instagram feed (avoiding the many tasks you know you should be doing) when an ad for a shiny new product catches your eye. Maybe it’s skincare for summer, a couch for your apartment, or a cool pair of sneakers.

The ad might come from a brand you know and love, or from an up-and-coming company you’ve never shopped with before. Regardless, a new product has entered your radar.

For marketers, targeting lookalike customers through paid ads is just one way to approach product discovery. But there’s another way.

By leveraging your owned channels, you can upsell and cross-sell customers who are already actively engaged with your brand. If you want to drive loyalty, repeat purchases and incremental revenue, here’s what you should consider.

What is product discovery?

Product discovery is the process of presenting customers with new products or services, guiding them from initial awareness to purchase. It focuses on leveraging user data, browsing and search history, and previous purchase behavior to understand audience preferences and serve personalized recommendations and ads. This results in a better experience for the user, and more revenue for the brand.

Why is product discovery important?

The goal of product discovery is to align a customer’s taste with a brand’s products. By identifying relevant products for each customer segment, businesses can upsell or cross-sell those customers on items they otherwise wouldn’t have come across or purchased. 

Each time the product discovery algorithm serves an ad (whether onsite or through an owned channel like email or text), it learns what performs well and improves to increase the likelihood of providing the consumer with something they’re interested in. When done right, product discovery can lead to increased customer lifetime value, repeat purchases, and higher profits. It also streamlines the checkout process.

“If you’re able to advertise more things that people like and care about, your time to conversion should be way shorter,” says Megan Kresinske, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Wunderkind. 

Techniques for creating a better product discovery experience 

Today, most brands that offer product discovery utilize a user’s real-time behaviors to make recommendations. For example, if Molly puts a tank top in her cart at lululemon, an onsite ad may pop up recommending another tank top that looks similar (in style, color, price, etc.). The logic is: If Molly liked that tank top, maybe she’ll like this one too. Or perhaps, if tank tops and jackets are usually sold together, lululemon might recommend a jacket to complement the blouse. 

In short, this model is not very sophisticated. Rather than providing a user with recommendations based on products they’ve interacted with, consider approaching product discovery by presenting a user with items they have not interacted with. Here are some product discovery examples: 

  1. New product drops: Harry loves Case-Mate’s phone cases, and first-party data says he tends to prefer their colorful cases such as neon watermelon, icebox blue and gilded age gold. When Case-Mate’s summer collection of bright and vibrant cases drops, they can send Harry an email promoting the new accessories.
  2. “For you” recommendations: Charlotte adores skincare and frequently visits the JLo Beauty website. Based on her previous browsing and buying history, JLo Beauty can text her a roundup of items she’s never seen before, including That JLO Glow Serum, That Start Filter Complexion Booster, and the Brighten + Hydrate Duo. 
  3. Trending on sale: Robert is 25, lives in New York City, and works in finance. A lot of other men in their mid-twenties who live in New York City and work in similar industries are adding Koio’s discounted loafers to their carts. Based on the actions of these lookalike customers, Koio can provide an onsite advertisement for the shoes to Robert, too.
  4. Cross-comparing carts: Amanda added a brown turtleneck and a pair of jeans to her cart at J. McLaughlin. That same day, Sarah adds the same Hartley Cashmere Sweater to her cart, plus their Amoura Silk Scarf. An advanced algorithm can say these two women have similar taste (per the turtleneck), and serve Sarah an ad for the jeans, and Amanda an ad for the scarf. 
  5. Replenishment triggers: Katrina bought Size Up Volumizing Mascara at Sephora a month ago, and bought that same mascara a month before that. Sephora can predict this pattern and send Katrina a personalized email around the same time next month, promoting a new mascara she may have not tried yet.

What brands need to know about product discovery 

Lifecycle marketing operates as follows: awareness → acquisition → conversion → loyalty. “Often, eCommerce brands fall off after first conversion,” Kresinske says. “You’ve converted a customer, but now how do you encourage them to make a repeat purchase or join your loyalty program?”

Maybe a brand offers a consumer a one-time discount to get their foot in the door, and then the customer drops off immediately after purchase. For example, perhaps Tristan buys a Sonos speaker because they offered him 20% off his first order—but Tristan got what he wanted and has no intention of returning to their site. 

Product discovery solves this poor user experience. It finds opportunities for customer loyalty (without a 20% off coupon), and drives additional post-conversion opportunities in a way that’s user-friendly and customer-centric.

At Wunderkind, we help scale one-to-one messages across websites, emails, texts, and ads for top brands—but we’re not stopping there. Our latest machine learning-powered campaign series helps customers discover and engage with new, relevant products via insights from their previous behaviors and the behavior of related customers.Want to learn more? Contact us today.


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Alanna Goodman

Alanna is the managing content editor at Wunderkind where she writes, edits, and manages the Wunderkind blog. She also authors and strategizes whitepapers, guides, and reports. Alanna holds a Bachelor of Science degree in creative advertising from James Madison University, with minors in economics and creative writing. For the past five years she’s worked in MarTech, SEO, and content marketing, reporting on the latest industry trends for B2B and B2C companies.