Using Post-Purchase Emails to Create Loyal Customers
Getting a customer to make a first purchase with your brand is important, but the real challenge is turning a new customer into a loyal, repeat customer. As marketers, we often focus on emails that drive a sale, with less consideration for the post-purchase emails a customer receives after the purchase. This can be a huge missed opportunity!
Research from Forbes shows that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by up to 75%. Post-purchase emails — whether a transactional email (e.g., confirming a purchase or detailing shipping information), a product review email, or a survey email — are a key component of the subscriber lifecycle as they help strengthen the customer relationship and show long-term brand value.
Recent subscriber lifecycle research from Return Path also shows that on average, marketers lose 34% of new subscribers within the first 30 days of email acquisition. Many new subscribers join an email program after making a purchase, which makes the post-purchase email experience a critical component in driving email retention and satisfaction.
Here are some ideas for optimizing your post-purchase emails to ensure your customers’ experience is a positive one, both before and after the sale.
Order Confirmation Email
The order confirmation email is a critical part of the online conversion process. These emails contain order details and often have high engagement rates. While this is a standard email sent by all online retailers, some are taking extra steps to ensure these emails improve the purchase experience. From allowing customers to make edits to their order to providing helpful product details or travel recommendations, the examples below illustrate each brand’s commitment to creating a great customer experience.
Moonbeam Baby, a personalized gift company, includes a note at the top of their order confirmation email encouraging customers to double check the shipping information, personalization, and gift message. If any of these items are incorrect or missing, the customer simply has to respond to the email with the updates and receives a prompt response from a brand representative.
When confirming a booking, Airbnb uses email as an opportunity to highlight things to do in the specific region. This is a great way to bring added value to this transactional email, which not only increases engagement but demonstrates a commitment to ensuring customers have the best possible experience.
Shipping Confirmation Email
The shipping confirmation email is another key component of the post-purchase experience, as it provides helpful details and ensures customers know when their package will arrive. Marketers should use this this email strategically, providing not only tracking and delivery information but any other key details customers will need to make the most of their purchase.
Bloomingdale’s uses email as an opportunity to highlight their contact information, include a link to download their mobile shopping app. They also share ways customers can save money and earn points by joining the email program, writing a review, or signing up for their loyalty program.
Online retailer Wayfair uses their shipping confirmation email to show expected delivery date and provide a link for tracking. They also showcase other products that complement the recent purchase and outline FAQs to make sure customers can easily get their questions answered.
Thank You Email
Customers have many purchasing options, so showing your thanks and appreciation for their business is a key step in building a strong relationship. Thank you emails are not only a useful tactic for creating customer loyalty but they can also help set you apart from your competitors as this is an email we don’t often see as part of the post-purchase experience.
In addition to following up on an online purchase, thank you emails can be sent to follow up on an in-store purchase, like the example above from retailer Abercrombie & Fitch.
Orvis takes it a step further by not only thanking the customer for their order, but also giving them a $10 coupon to help drive a repeat conversion. The email also includes product recommendations that will complement the recent purchase, bringing added personalization and value to the message.
Product Review Email
Most online shoppers rely heavily on customer reviews to help make purchasing decisions. However, many companies overlook the importance of obtaining customer feedback. With online retail sales continuing to grow year over year, a post-purchase review email should be a key part of every retailer’s email program. Not only do these types of emails give you a reason to engage with a recent customer, but they also have extremely high engagement rates and can help improve purchase decisions for future customers.
When sending the review email, it’s important to make sure the customer has had ample time to use the product after receiving it — so message timing is key and may differ from brand to brand. Including an incentive is also a great way to provide value to subscribers while boosting the likelihood of leaving a review. Home Depot takes this approach with their post-purchase review email, which offers entry into a sweepstakes for customers who include a photo with their review.
Outfitter and outdoor goods company Filson understands the importance of making the review process as easy and seamless as possible. Within their post-purchase review email, customers are able to easily add their review and then post it to the company’s website. Ensuring the review process is as convenient as possible can help increase the number of reviews and improve the overall email experience.
If it is compatible with the types of products you’re selling, consider adding a replenishment email to the post-purchase experience. These emails help keep your brand and products top of mind, while also making it easy and convenient for customers to make an additional purchase as the current product is beginning to run out.
Sephora uses this strategy to remind customers their product(s) may be running low and allow them to easily reorder the same product. They also include other similar products the customer may want to try.
The more value, personalization, and relevancy customers see in your email program, the higher the likelihood of driving repeat purchases and increasing overall lifetime value. So beyond these post-purchase messages, strive to use subscriber data to send targeted, relevant messages through each stage of the customer lifecycle.
Alexandra Braunstein has been helping world class brands grow and optimize their email marketing strategies and initiatives for over a decade. As an email strategist for Return Path, Alexandra uses her passion for analytical and creative thinking to help marketers refine their email programs, resulting in more emails getting delivered to the inbox, improved subscriber engagement, and increased ROI.