How to build customer loyalty with post-purchase emails

Congratulations.

You successfully completed your customer's product purchase journey. You have finalised the customer’s payment. You've satisfied their needs. You're done.

Wrong. You’ve been building this relationship since your customers first crossed your online doors. They’ve finally trusted you with their hard earned dollars, and you need to work hard to keep them enthralled with your business.

For more than a quarter of ecommerce stores after the sale is completed, the relationship practically ends. A study by Silverpop found 26 per cent of ecommerce stores don’t send post-purchase emails. That means they are wasting a valuable opportunity to create loyal return customers.

Your business can’t afford to live off one-time sales. You need to convert those new buyers into loyal customers to create a sustainable business, and communicating with your customers via post-purchase emails is your chance to create a lasting first impression. It gives you an opportunity to engage with your customers on a more personal level.

Trusted conversion expert Jon Macdonald from The Good sums it up:

"Post-purchase emails are a golden opportunity to deepen your brand's relationship with customers."

Don't let your opportunity to turn one-time customers into loyal, repeat customers go to waste.

Rather, make the extra effort to delight your new customers and improve their post-purchase experience with ongoing communication.

There are a bunch of different post-purchase emails your ecommerce store can create to strengthen your relationship with new customers.

For example - use post-purchase emails to give your customers a helping hand, deliver helpful advice on how to use your product, and ask them for product reviews.

Just be careful not to fall into the trap of delivering soulless automated post-purchase emails.

Avoid sending everyone the same boring confirmation email. Instead, seize the opportunity to surprise your new customers with the type of email helpfulness that will build lasting loyalty.

Too busy to read the whole article? We get it: logistics, synergies, KPI's - all that stuff. Here's the skim-read version. You really should read the whole article though…

You can click on the dot point that takes your fancy and head straight to the relevant section.

The power of post-purchase confirmation emails

You’ve secured the sale and your email automation system is ready to send the generic post purchase ‘thank you’ email.

Stop. Before it’s too late.

Don’t follow the boring transactional thank you email. Our goal as ecommerce professionals is to be helpful, not transactional.

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Most ecommerce brands offer the following post-purchase experience:

  • The customer completes a purchase
  • This triggers an automated transactional confirmation email
  • The customer receives a shipping update email
  • Then the customer receives the product
  • That’s the end of the journey

Your post-purchase thank you email is your first step in the journey to turn a one-time buyer into a loyal, repeat customer.

You’ve already put your heart and soul into convincing the customer to purchase with your brand. The good news is the worst is over -- it’s five times more costly to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones.

This is why creating an incredible thank you experience to retain your new customers is so important.

Putting some extra time and effort towards your confirmation emails is a solid investment that will help you reduce your acquisition costs and increase your repeat sales revenue.

And that means more money in the bank. According to Jon and the team at The Good, returning customers account for 40 per cent of revenue and are nine times more likely to spend when placing an order.

Why do post-purchase thank you emails work?

Your customer has finished filling out the confirmation, payment and delivery forms. Now’s the time to build on the excitement of the purchase.

Confirmation emails are an easy way to show your customers how much your brand cares. They aren’t just obligatory updates. Use them to nurture and entice customers to come back and purchase again in the future. Use them to start a conversation with customers, share their excitement and answer any questions they may have.

You can also use confirmation emails to reinforce your customer’s positive feelings about your brand. Set an expectation. Build anticipation. Make your new customer feel like a gift is about to be placed on their doorstep.

It’s an opportunity to begin a stronger relationship between you and your customer.

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"It's an extremely critical point of your customer's journey,"  explains Andrew Bialecki - CEO and co-founder of one of the Jungle Gym’s favourite ecommerce email automation platforms, Klaviyo.

It's your chance to set clear expectations and minimise uncertainties (and reduce the volume of future customer service enquiries).

Nothing's worse than thinking your product will arrive within three days only to be left waiting over three weeks later. Use your customer’s waiting time to send helpful content or blogs to get them excited for the product arrival.

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Do customers actually read post-purchase confirmation emails?

Long story short: Yes.

Confirmation emails are four times more likely to be opened than other marketing emails, with three times more engagement compared to standard promotional emails.

Why?

Because you already have your customer's attention.

They're focused on the product’s arrival and want to reduce any delivery uncertainties.

It’s the perfect time to ask customers if they have any questions about their product, delivery details, or your returns process.

It's also the right time to add social media links and reviews from other customers using the product. You can include a helpful blog article about how best to style, use, assemble or maintain the product.  

Or maybe you’ll use this opportunity to upsell or recommend a complementary product (more on this later).

Your goal is to grab their interest in the first confirmation email. Don’t miss your chance with a boring, generic, dispassionate email.

What should I include in my post-purchase confirmation email?

There are a few simple tactics I want to share to help you make your confirmation email memorable and more likely to increase engagement levels.

You don't need to use them all. You can focus on the elements of most importance to your audience.

And remember, you can send more than one post-purchase email. Just don't send them all at once.

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Post-purchase confirmation email essentials:

We’ve used a bunch of Andrew’s thinking from his article essential post-purchase email practices.

Timing: It's time to make your customer fall in love with their purchase. Send confirmation emails within the first hour of the finalised purchase. Or immediately after, if possible.

Tone of voice: Share your customer's joy and excitement. Use a positive, upbeat voice.

Branding: Make sure your customer can easily identify your brand. Whether it's your company logo, your tagline or the language you use - you want your customer to be able to separate your brand’s email from any other. This is your chance to prove your brand is the right fit for your target customer. Try to build an emotional connection and create an aspirational image of your brand. This will help to build loyalty with fans who relate to your brand.

Point of contact: Your customers may have unresolved questions. Use this opportunity to give them a helpful dedicated customer service contact (an email, phone number, Twitter profile or even a live chat thread).

Delivery:  This one is essential. Include advice and expectations around delivery in your confirmation email (or in a separate dedicated email update). Include all shipping and delivery information to reduce any lingering uncertainty.

Social links: Add social media pictures from past customers using the product. This will make your customers feel part of an online community and entice them to share a social review in the future.

Danny Wong from Conversio is an advocate of this tactic. His article about boosting retention and lifetime value talks about the effect social sharing buttons have on customers. They allow customers to connect with your store and share their experience, adding social proof you can use to help convert other shoppers into a purchase.

Cross-sell: Think of the generic toothbrush and toothpaste example. One can not work without the other. Give your customers a reason to buy a complementary product while they wait.

You’ve got your customer in an excited mood. It's the perfect time to increase their order value. Why not use the extra incentive of no added delivery costs when purchasing another item before the delivery date? It's a win-win situation.

All-in-one: Of course, you will always have the opportunity to include all these elements in one email. But I recommend starting with one or two elements and perfecting those first. Use A/B testing to see what works before jamming everything into one email.

Remember, the key is to keep communication going. If you feel you can create a strong relationship with your customers after sending one post-purchase email, fantastic.

But for more significant purchases, separate post-purchase emails will generally be the way to go. These buyers tend to have more uncertainties, more questions and more excitement. And will be more open to receiving and engaging with multiple emails.

Whatever you do - make sure each email adds value. Otherwise, scrap it.

Examples of effective post-purchase confirmation emails:

We're going to start off with two fantastic ecommerce confirmation email examples. These will help you to develop your own version for your online store customers.

Fitbit

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The best features of this post-purchase confirmation email

Fitbit has worked hard to develop a confirmation email tailored to the specific needs of their target audience. This is no out-of-the-box generic email.

The first line of copy is informative and confirms the order. The second line of copy -- "And we're just as excited as you are" -- is upbeat and friendly. This allows your brand to build your customer’s excitement.

The colour contrast between the aqua and white makes critical information stand out.

Under the shipping method headline, the email outlines clear delivery expectations. It’s important you confirm timings with your customers to avoid confusion and minimise customer service enquiries.

The email finishes with a helpful point of contact link. I can’t stress how important it is to always provide a customer support contact. It means shoppers can easily resolve any issues or queries they may have, and you can quickly solve any problems that might otherwise have resulted in a lost customer.

This is especially important for times when something goes wrong with a delivery. Customers will often search the first post-purchase email for a contact to call or message about their missing product.

Baublebar

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The best features of this post-purchase confirmation email.

Baublebar's confirmation email is designed to reduce uncertainty by giving customers as much relevant information as possible.

Baublebar initiates the conversation by greeting the customer and thanking them for ordering. It's important to strike up a convo with your customers and treat them like a friend. If you want to develop a lasting relationship, thank your customer for their time and effort purchasing with you.

This personal warmth goes the extra step other brands aren’t prepared to match, and starts to show your customer how much you care about their experience (instead of just caring about their credit card).

One thing I would change is the copy "Hello, Guest."

Many email automation systems allow you to customise the ‘name’ field.

You should have already captured your customer's personal details in the checkout process. Even if your shopper has used a guest checkout option, most brands still capture a first name at this point. Take it one more step to personalise the name in your automated confirmation email template.

The body copy is written in an uplifting, happy tone consistent with the brand’s cheerful voice. This helps the customer identify with the brand. It’s so important to create a positive brand image.

When your customers like your brand, they’ll be excited when you talk to them. Post-purchase emails will be a positive part of their day because they’ll know they're receiving something they want to read.

But be mindful not to go too crazy on what you can deliver. Setting accurate expectations is very important.

Baublebar’s copy sets clear expectations. It lets the customer know delivery times and tells the customer shipping may occur in separate boxes.

It's essential you make this clear because customers may get confused if the product delivery isn't all in one bundle.

The second point of the copy is the most important -- "Expect a second email." It let's your customers know to expect the conversation to continue and the next email will answer unresolved questions.

You want your customers to be excited every time they receive a message from you. Here, Baublebar is letting their customers know the conversation doesn’t end here. It’s promoting the conversation will continue.

Thank you emails are your opportunity to start a new conversation

Confirmation emails don’t need to be transactional. Many ecommerce stores opt for transactional-type emails because they’re less time consuming.

But why follow the herd when you can be a leader?

Your goal is to grab your customer’s attention in the first thank you email.

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Use thank you emails as an opportunity to begin a new conversation with your customer. Focusing on being helpful rather than transactional will improve your ability to create loyal, long-term customers.

Be a point-of-contact and resolve any queries your customer has about the purchase.

Share your customer’s excitement.

No time is wasted designing a helpful post-purchase confirmation email. You have the knowledge to create a valuable thank you email. Don’t waste your opportunity to turn one-off buyers into loyal, repeat customers.

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Author

Jessica Goerke

Jessica is the Jungle Gym's most passionate warrior in the battle to make ecommerce email marketing more helpful and less transactional. Her inbox looks like a digital waste management facility jammed packed with email spam from thousands of different e-retailers. Fortunately, Jess knows how to find the quality amongst the transactional deluge - and she's committed to helping our readers learn how to develop more customer-friendly email marketing.
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