Imagine walking into a car dealership. You browse the cars on the lot, exchange info with the salesperson and then leave without buying. You then drive down the road to another dealership and repeat the process, but this time, you actually purchase the car on the spot. The next morning you wake up to two emails in your inbox, one from each salesperson. How would you feel if the messages were identical? Would you feel truly valued as a customer? Wouldn’t you prefer to receive something a bit more personalized?
Customers face this scenario on a daily basis. Many retailers don’t craft specific messages specifically for recent purchasers, or they fail to suppress them from receiving promotional messages after a purchase. But this post-purchase period is a time when consumers are likely to be most receptive to your messaging. So why waste this opportunity by sending the same standard messages? Instead, take the time to consider what the customer might want or need after the purchase and craft your messages accordingly.
When commerce marketers hear post-purchase, they immediately think of order and shipping confirmations, and product review messages. While these messages are OK, and in some cases necessary, I am talking about a different way to engage a customer – providing value, offering help, introducing resources, or asking to continue the conversation.
A post-purchase message sent 3-5 days after purchase simply thanking the customer is a great way to start. I’ve found these to be some of the best performing messages from a revenue standpoint. The beauty of the message is its simplicity. It thanks the customer for the recent order and either incentivizes them to make another purchase or provides a customer service oriented call to action (CTA), such as linking to your customer service portal or a resource center.
If the message is incentivized, you can always create a second, non-incentivized version that sends if the contact makes another purchase over the next set number of days. Using this approach keeps the customer from expecting an incentive every time – although some retailers are fine with this approach as long as it drives revenue.
Creating a Series
Subsequent messages can have a variety of themes, but each one should be used to convey some sort of value proposition, such as:
- Product care/tips and tricks.
- How-to resources.
- Customer service info/guarantees.
- Product recommendations or cross-selling opportunities.
- Social invites or crowdsourcing (Share a photo with us!).
- Manage preference request.
- Product reviews.
- Reorder reminders.
- Gift-giving or date reminder requests.
- Refer-a-friend invitations.
While we talk about retailers enhancing the customer experience, it can be difficult to implement in an online world. However, social media is the great equalizer in that respect. It allows retailers to humanize their brands and actually create a dialogue with purchasers. Consider implementing socially-themed messages into your post-purchase messaging, such as:
- Crowdsourcing/Share with us (e.g. Selfie submissions).
- Social site introduction.
- Facebook review requests.
- User-generated content (UGC) contests based on products purchased (e.g. Post a photo wearing your new socks with our hashtag for a chance to win!).
If you have a loyalty program, talk about it. Include loyalty points in each of your emails, or use specific messaging to ask people to sign up for the program. If your program is spend-based, consider messaging that introduces these tiers and triggers messages when contacts are close to reaching the next level. You can even include specific product recommendations to encourage the next purchase.
Balance Your Messages
When constructing your post-purchase messaging, be sure to balance promotional content that encourages another purchase with other useful content that offers value to the customer. For instance, product care tips and additional resources benefit the customer, whereas cross-sell and reorder reminder messages benefit you. Remember: If all of your messages ask customers to purchase from you, you’re not really providing that value to the subscriber. But if every message only benefits the consumer, you’re likely leaving money on the table. Aim for a 50/50 or 60/40 consumer-to-company ratio so you both have something to gain in the process.
Complete the Experience
As mentioned earlier, while a customer is receiving this series of messages, it’s best to suppress them from your standard promotional messages. This way, you can control the purchase experience for the customer and ensure they receive messages relevant to them at that time. Since some of your post-purchase messaging will be promotional, you’ll still have opportunities to increase sales. Just keep in mind that if you’ve scheduled a product review message to send 45 days after a purchase, and your post-purchase series ends after 10 days, you don’t necessarily have to prevent the customer from receiving promotional messages after the 10-day mark. Just don’t overwhelm your subscribers. Use your best judgement.
Customer loyalty is no longer assumed, it must be earned. Consumers now view their interaction with a brand as part of an overall experience and expect relevant communications, which is why targeted post-purchase messaging is not only successful in driving revenue, but is an essential component in creating customer loyalty.
Greg Zakowicz is Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst for Bronto Software