5 Winning Themes for Post-Purchase Emails

Mar 20, 2013 12:38 AM  By

Whether a customer is a first-time buyer or it took multiple promotional emails before they made a purchase, the brand-to-shopper dynamic changes once they click “submit order.”  You may have order and shipping confirmation emails, but if you are like many of the brands I see, the messages have room to be optimized or could use a design refresh.

But if you think that optimizing the most typical post-purchase emails will be enough to set the stage for long-term engagement, you are: underestimating your customer; not using what is now accessible, marketer-friendly technology; and leaving money on the table.

You must think of the post-purchase phase as a lifecycle in itself. From submitting the order to actually using the product, there are many opportunities for you to engage the customer to ensure there are no issues, encourage a repeat purchase and establish the foundation for long-term engagement.

Let’s look at 5 post-purchase email themes that can help you maximize this period for the customer. Note that all of these recommendations except the order and shipping confirmations will require an explicit opt-in from the customer.

Transactional messages
Most brands use order or shipping confirmation emails sent in plain-text format from the back-end of their e-commerce platform. Transactional messages are important communications, but sending plain-text emails that contain only purchase information means that you are missing out on the opportunity to market to your customer.

To remain CAN-SPAM compliant, it’s a common practice to reserve 80% of the email for details related to the purchase while the other 20% can be used to show related items or a discount for a future purchase.  Meet with your team to determine how to best maximize the promotional opportunities that are missing in your order and shipping confirmation emails.  Perhaps there’s room to include a coupon for their next purchase or showcase related products.

Subscription awareness
Just because your customer opted-in to receive emails during checkout doesn’t mean they should be excluded from your welcome message.  Send an email tailored to the experience of a first-time customer who is also a new subscriber by thanking them for their order and setting the expectation of the exclusive offers and benefits they will receive by being part of your email program.

Additionally, introduce your social network presence to the new customer.  Explain how your brand uses these sites, whether it’s Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter, to enhance their experience with your brand.  Remember that enthusiasm about your brand is likely high considering a purchase was just made by the customer.  Gaining the opportunity to communicate via these additional channels early in the customer lifecycle will help you keep the customer engaged with your brand where they are most comfortable.

Customer service messages
The lack of customer service contact information or the challenge to locate it can frustrate customers who have questions or issues with their purchase.  While customer service information should be included in all of your post-purchase emails, dedicating a post-purchase email to highlight the ways your customer support team is ready to help could help to resolve any issues with the current order and also influence repeat purchasing.

After the customer has had sufficient time to receive, unbox and use your product, send a customer satisfaction survey asking them to share their thoughts on the shopping, ordering and shipping processes related to their purchase.  In aggregate, this will help you identify ways to improve the customer experience while also addressing any customer specific concerns.

Promotional themes
Some customers may be ready to purchase from you before they even receive their shipment.  Perhaps they are excited about their order and are ready to order accessories, cases or similar items.  Including an incentive to complete another purchase is a great way to drive additional sales while the customer is in the buying mood.  Send a dedicated email featuring related products and a limited-time offer to help quickly turn your first-time buyers into repeat purchasers.

Product-related messages
Help your customers set up, use and explore their new purchase by sending an email that is dedicated to product related “Tips & Tricks.” Whether it is setting up a home theater or finding the perfect shoes to match a new handbag, these emails will help the customer interact with their purchase while encouraging a repeat purchase.  Product-related messages will also show the customer that your brand is interested in helping them get the most out of their purchase.

Make your product pages richer by sending a message to purchasers asking them to review the products they’ve purchased from you.  Time these messages so the customer has had enough time to use the product.  Timing these messages too early may result in customers reviewing the purchase process rather than the product.

There’s always room to optimize, expand and evolve your post-purchase messages.  While automation makes ongoing deployment of these messages relatively hands-free, it is important to continually monitor their performance and find new ways to keep your customers happy, engaged and returning to your site to buy.

Jim Davidson is Manager of Marketing Research for Bronto Software.