Making the Most of your Post-purchase Emails

Mar 01, 2013 11:57 AM  By

You spend a lot of time trying to get shoppers to buy. You probably also deliver orders to customers in a timely fashion. As I’m preparing for my “Begin with the Buy: Enriching & Evolving the Post-Purchase Experience” webinar with Multichannel Merchant, it’s becoming clear that the gap between the customer submitting their order and receiving your product is a severely underutilized phase of engagement.

Imagine going to a restaurant and placing an order with your server. The game changes at that point. You may have been hungry when you walked into the restaurant but the mouth-watering anticipation of knowing your carefully selected, cooked-to-perfection entrée will arrive in moments intensifies your appetite and your need to satisfy your cravings as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do at this point except wait for it to be delivered to your table, which is why this is the moment when your typically stellar social graces start to crumble as you passively anticipate satisfaction. Trust me, I’ve waited tables.

If your only purchase-related messages are order and shipping confirmation emails, then you’re basically taking the customer’s order and then putting plates on their table. That’s not going to result in a decent tip. You’re not addressing the heightened appetites of your customers after the order is placed. This can sour your customer’s experience and decrease potential for long-term engagement resulting in fewer repeat buyers.

How can email marketers address this temporary phase of the purchase process to ensure that your customers come back for another meal? Here are some, um, “tips” to help improve this period of customer engagement.

Position the Personality
A study by Southern California College found that tips increased by 8.4% (to 23.4%) when a server introduced themselves by name. Think about that… people shelled out money they were not obligated to give after a personal social cue was introduced. Imagine how adding more brand personality to your purchase related emails could impact repeat purchases! The inherently triggered and mechanical nature of checking out and shipping a product can lend itself to a less than personal interaction with your customers.

Combat this trap by injecting your brand’s personality into your order and shipping confirmation emails. Use images and copy that reflect the reasons a customer decided to buy from you. Use personal pronouns like “Your order” rather than “Order ID: #083177JD.” Adapt the experience by leveraging order related data or profile information the customer has provided. Speak to your penny-pinching, on-the-go buyer and your big-spending, need-the-bling-now customers in language that makes sense to them. They are both anticipating their orders – each with his or her unique tastes and preferences.

Keep their Glasses Filled
A diner who feels ignored is a bad tip (or Yelp review) waiting to happen. Servers employ tricks like keeping glasses filled, dropping off condiment trays or extra napkins to give cues that the table is not being ignored and that progress toward the meal is being made. You can use similar tactics for your customers by setting clear expectations about when an item will ship and when they can expect to receive their order.

If you have long fulfillment times, consider introducing additional emails that relate to the product category of the purchase. Send emails containing information on product usage, assembly, customization or guides that could help the customer when the product does arrive.

2 Minutes / 2 Bites
A golden rule for servers is to check-in with diners either 2 minutes after the meal has been served or after they have had 2 bites (whichever is first). A well planned post-purchase email series can effectively drive repeat sales and long-term customer engagement but the actual purchase process is still being experienced by the customer even after they have received their shipment.

Apply the “2 Minutes / 2 Bites” rule by sending a customer service check-in email shortly after an item has been received. Not only will this give the customer an opportunity to voice any dissatisfaction, you can also decrease the chance that this frustration will show up as a negative review on your site. Proactively addressing concerns such as damaged or incorrect items will make your customer feel appreciated and give them another reason to buy from you in the future.

Conversely, if the customer is not experiencing any issues with their order, this email will give them a moment to mentally record their satisfaction. Giving the customer this moment of awareness creates a memory that could make them seek out your brand when they are ready to buy again.

Yes, you go to a restaurant to eat but any restaurant that assumes their diners are only there for the food will fail. Similarly, assuming your customers chose to buy from you only because the price was right underestimates your customer and your brand experience. Ensuring a seamless and positive customer experience throughout the purchase process will provide a better experience for your customers and hopefully result in a nice, hefty tip!

Jim Davidson is Manager of Marketing Research for Bronto Software. You can register here for his March 7, 2013 webinar Begin with the Buy: Enriching & Evolving the Post-Purchase Experience.