Growing a beard that looks good isn’t as simple as, well, not shaving. A nice-looking beard requires quite a bit of time, care, and maintenance. It also helps if you augment your not-shaving routine with a wide variety of products, from oils to balms to combs and brushes.
And it turns out, teaching people why and how to use all those products to grow a killer beard is a great marketing strategy, one that eCommerce company Beardbrand has used to grow a wildly successful beard-centric brand. Let’s call their strategy “education as marketing.”
In this tear down, we’ll look at Beardbrand’s approach to selling beard products via educational email marketing content and smart website design, why and how it works, and how establishing trust early on can provide cross-selling opportunities later in the customer journey.
Rather than just selling products, Beardbrand uses email to teach their audience about growing and maintaining a beard. When Beardbrand finally does mention their products, customers intrinsically understand the value and are primed to make a purchase.
This starts with a ten-email educational onboarding series, harkening back to Beardbrand’s beginnings as an online beard care community. It showcases the problems their products solve, while at the same time strengthening the relationship with their customer. They also mix in some more traditional sales emails, in case a customer is ready to make the leap before they’ve fully completed their “education.”
These emails are ultimately designed to sell products, and they do—starting with day two, Beardbrand’s products start making cameos. After all, as they teach about beard oil, it only makes sense that they’d use their own products for the demonstration.
But the videos Beardbrand sends to customers and prospective customers also accomplish another purpose: Establishing the company as a credible authority in the beard space (which is totally a thing 🧔). As they onboard their customers with educational videos, they’re constantly reinforcing their credibility. By building that trust with customers, it inspires confidence in their products—you’ll want to buy from Beardbrand, because how could a company that knows so much about facial hair put out anything but the highest quality beard care products?
Beardbrand’s stance as an authority on all things face fuzz makes purchasing from them feel inevitable. If you’re a beard enthusiast, of course your first stop for beard products is going to be the people you’ve been trusting to give you proper growth and care instructions.
To that end, as the educational series continues, Beardbrand becomes more overt in their salesmanship, adding product recommendations to their emails. After the lesson on brushes versus combs, the email contains this marketing message:
Because it comes on the heels of a well-produced lesson on brushes and combes, it feels less sales-y, more helpful, and well-earned—we just talked brushes and combs, now here are some great ones for you to grab. No hunting or comparison shopping required.
Beardbrand uses its knowledge and position in a niche industry to teach its own customers and, in the process, doesn’t need to outwardly say, “Our products are the best, buy our beard stuff.” Instead, they build up trust with each customer through the education process so the customer arrives at their own conclusion that they want to stick with Beardbrand for all things beard-related
Beardbrand knows their target customer, and their site is designed for him. They’re selling to guys, most likely urban, likely with hipster tendencies, who aren’t going to react well to flashy colors, annoying sales techniques, or a cluttered shopping experience. The site is also an extension of the trust they’ve established through their emails—it would be incongruous if the site used deceptive sales techniques or nonstop pop-ups and too-good-to-be-true sales hooks.
Beardbrand’s product pages cater directly to their target customer.
The product pages are straightforward. Because the company has already done the bulk of the heavy sales lifting via email, customers are aware of the value their products provide. And even if they’re not, the way Beardbrand talks about their products, and their customer reviews, help build trust in the brand.
Here’s the product page for the Pocket Beard Comb that was recommended in the third onboarding email:
The top of this product page is about as simple as any you’ll find. It’s an upscale presentation, and also an effective one—the blue call-to-action button really stands out.
Lower on the page, there are three tabs of info: A well-written product description, a short guide on how to use the product, and specifications. Beardbrand goes far deeper into those topics in their emails and on their company’s blog.
As a customer scrolls, Beardbrand slides open a box with the product photo, price, and add to cart option. That keeps the vital info visible and the call-to-action front and center, all while maintaining their minimalist aesthetic.
The product page does an excellent job staying on mission: It’s all about selling the product. Beardbrand pared down all of the extraneous distractions to stay focused on getting the customer to add the product to their cart—without ever coming off too pushy or overeager.
That’s in keeping with the reputation they’ve built with customers via email. This product page tells beard aficionados, “We’re here to help you.”
Beardbrand’s products work well together. Sure, a guy might just want one comb or a jar of beard oil, but many will want multiple products for beard care. Or, at least, they can be convinced that they do.
Beardbrand uses its checkout flow to make it very, very easy for customers to add additional, complementary products to their cart.
When you add an item to your cart, you’re taken to the cart page and presented with some related products you can easily add to your order by clicking the “plus” button. Those products are presented in a lighter gray to make it clear they’re not yet in your cart—but they could be. It’s a smart opportunity to cross-sell and upsell, as it won’t really slow down anyone’s shopping or checkout process too much (in contrast to, for instance, GoDaddy’s legendarily irritating and deceptive cross-sell roadblocks).
This tactic can help increase the average order value over time, but doesn’t complicate the overall order process. It’s a quick interjection that customers can either choose to click on, or ignore just as easily.
It’s also an opportunity that’s earned. Because Beardbrand hasn’t sent any deceptive or sales-y emails and it has established credibility and trust, the cross-sells here feel like genuine recommendations, not just cash grabs.
By making the purchase decision easy and getting out of the customer’s way, Beardbrand is showing just how confident they are in the value of their products. It’s a smart reminder of the journey the customer has taken to get to this point and acknowledgement of their success.
By educating customers via email, fostering strong relationships, and leveraging powerful eCommerce tactics in their purchase flow, Beardbrand has established itself as a credible, authoritative voice in the beard care space and a sophisticated, hip shop for sophisticated, hip customers.
► Educate your customers
Beardbrand recognizes the value of educating its customers, especially in a niche business, and uses education as the key cog of its marketing. They’re able to promote their products through education, but the promotion never takes precedent—it’s just the natural side effect of their legitimately helpful demonstrations and lessons.
► Using email marketing for education
While Beardbrand does have educational content on its website, especially in its blog, the choice to do the onboarding sequence through a 10-day email drip was a strategic one. With an email course, the education comes to the customer, rather than waiting on them to seek it out. It also establishes Beardbrand as a welcome presence in a customer’s inbox, which is great news for all future email marketing efforts.
► Make sure your site is right for your customers
Beardbrand’s website aesthetic fits their brand and fits their customers. When those customers arrive at Beardbrand’s site, they get the experience they’re expecting. It continues to build Beardbrand’s credibility and trustworthiness and reinforces the quality of the products.
► Make it easy to buy—and buy more
The product pages on Beardbrand’s site are less complicated than the pages on many other large eCommerce stores, but they have all the info a customer needs to make a decision. Each page’s emphasis is on selling the one product it’s trying to sell—and it accomplishes that mission. Then, from there, Beardbrand takes the customer through a quick cross-sell page during the checkout flow to make it seamless to add complementary products to their order.
► Earn trust, and don’t abuse it
Beardbrand works very hard to establish itself as an authority and earn its customers’ trust. It doesn’t take advantage of that. Instead, it uses that trust to promote its quality products, maintain an ongoing inbox presence, and cross-sell when the moment is right.