Updated: May 3
Photo by Tim Samuel - Pexels
Purely transactional relationships between retail brands and customers are a thing of the past. The days when a customer went into a store, made a purchase, and just left have transferred into the digital space with some practical additions that haven’t furthered the purchasing process.
If you're a retailer who simply uses Shopify templates for your post-purchase email flow/sequence or you just send an order confirmation and shipment notification email, then you are leaving money on the table. And that's a shame...
Some customers may not be ready to buy from you again right after a purchase but a post-purchase email sequence is a way to tactfully remind your buyers of the value your business can offer them.
According to Klaviyo, post-purchase emails can have a 352% higher open rate than a traditional email campaign and a 329% higher click-through rate as customers are expecting emails after paying for their orders.
Sending a thank you email for example can help you improve customer retention, which ultimately leads to a customer making more purchases with you over time.1 Add Value and You Shall Receive I recently attended an email seminar with the famed marketer Ann Handley, the best-selling author of Everybody Writes. Ann reminded us that "Being in someone's inbox is a privilege."
A well-thought-out post-purchase email flow/sequence can help to build a meaningful, long-lasting relationship with your buyers. Customers buy more from a brand they trust. The magic happens when you can show your customers that you can provide them with additional value as well.
In my retail copywriting business, a lot of business owners tell me that they don't want to come across as too salesy or be invasive in their marketing strategies. From my 26 years of retail experience, people will buy something that will enhance their lives. Using that thought process, messages that offer value to customers should be delivered in a clear, concise, and thoughtful way, which can be easily achieved through email.
Create, Automate, and Test, Test, Test
Customers will open a transactional email over twice the rate of a promotional or newsletter email because transactional emails serve a purpose. So why not take this opportunity to add value to them and in turn add revenue for your business?
Post-purchase email flows can be simple, repeatable, and automated.
Things to consider before setting up your post-purchase email flow:
What business outcome would you like to achieve with this email flow: Retain customers, gain feedback, cover your bum, increase your order values?
The email platform you'll use;
Segmenting your email flows for different tiers of buyers: first-time, repeat, VIP so you will know how to speak to these audiences.
Timing of when to send your emails: right after purchase, a day after purchase, etc.
I suggest creating a simple outline and flow diagram to gain a visual understanding of how everything will work before creation.
Remember: Think about what information you'd like to receive after making a purchase. And be creative.
Steps to creating a simple post-sale email flow:
Research - Really Good Emails is a great resource to find email examples.
Map out your email sequence
Personalize for the customer and your brand
Let it rip
Then test for the best time of day to send, word count, subject line, and visuals.
It's important to optimize the flow by testing to see what works best for the majority of your customers and you.
Post-Purchase Emails You Need in Your Arsenal
A typical post-purchase email flow:
Thank You/Order confirmation - Sent immediately after a purchase;
Shipping confirmation - Sent when shipped with tracking/postal information with the expected arrival date;
Shipment update - If there are any delays or long waiting times.
Care/Usage instructions - A short instructional video with cross-selling mentions goes a long way. Simple, written instructions are fine as well. This will enhance the customer service experience and aid your customer support efforts.
Feedback request - Sent ten days after purchase.
Post-purchase emails provide your buyers with important customer service information, which will help to build trust for repeat purchases. You should also confirm their details to prevent any issues that may arise, like a wrong item being purchased or an incorrect delivery address. These steps will help your bottom line.
Advantages to Post-Purchase Emails for Brick-and-Mortar Stores
Post-purchase emails are not only for e-commerce!
Quite a few brick-and-mortar stores use a showroom format nowadays, which makes a lot of sense for supply-chain logistics to manage. Online customers cannot immediately leave the store with their purchases, as is the case with Made.com and Polette, where a buyer’s purchase is eventually shipped to them. This leaves the field open for a tactful, persuasive post-purchase email funnel.
As we are all moving towards more sustainable practices, why not encourage your customers to receive an email receipt and ask them if they want to be added to your mailing list (important). An email receipt will give you the retailer the opportunity to thank the customer, offer add-ons to their purchase, clarify your returns policy, offer a referral intuitive, or ask for feedback in exchange for an incentive that may inspire another purchase.
Courtesy of Warby Parker and Really Good Emails
Above is a great example of an email receipt from a Warby Parker store that makes for repeat purchases. As you can see from this example, Warby Parker is thanking the customer for their purchase (manners go a long way!), confirming the details of the purchase location, order, and price breakdown, and asking for the all-important feedback with an associated incentive, providing links to other products, and making sure the buyer feels like they are being taken care of by including clearly stated customer service details. Perfecto!
Important Factors to Include in Your Emails:
Personalize every email with the buyer's name! If they took the time to spend money with you, they deserve to be personally referenced, and it is super easy to program emails now to include this information. No, it's not invasive, it's courteous.
Include customer service details or where they can contact a representative if there is a problem or if they have a question. Simply pointing to a FAQ is not gonna work anymore, sorry.
Inform them when the purchase will ship, through what mail carrier and include tracking information, please.
Always prepare to manage people's expectations by telling them what will happen next.
It is very important to inform buyers of any delays in shipment. A large number of negative reviews I see for brands are about this.
Be as straightforward and concise as possible.
Recommend items that complement and/or add value to an existing purchase, such as gift packaging, insurance, expedited shipping, and other products.
Add incentives when possible but don't be heavy handed about it. It's odd when brands ask for something without offering anything in return.
Other great emails to encourage additional purchases in the post-purchase phase:
Post-purchase email to share personalized product recommendations based on the customer's recent purchase behavior, recommending best-sellers, or new stock arrivals.
A notification when your buyer's stock is running low (e.g., printer paper, ink, makeup, toiletries, etc.)
Sending a short instructional video on how the buyer can use their new product with cross-selling suggestions
Promotional discount codes
Free shipping offers
Very cool milestone email example from Australian company bellroy sent 30 days after purchase:
Courtesy of bellroy and Really Good Emails
Why is this such a good email to send 30 days after purchase? An email like this is a friendly reminder to your customer about your brand, their purchase, your brand's tone of voice and values, along with an added reminder about customer support, social media mentions, and introducing the idea of corporate gifting along with complementary products to purchase. Bellroy is doing this all in a clean, concise, user-friendly way.
Thirty days is enough time to give space to the initial order but close enough that the customer will still remember the initial purchase.
Wrap It Up
Post-purchase emails offer your business and customers a multitude of advantages that should not be left in the cold. Statistically, repeat customers will make the bulk of your revenue. A well-executed post-purchase email will make a positive impact on customer retention.
According to Klaviyo’s data, post-purchase emails see a 217% higher open rate, over 500% higher click rate, and 90% higher revenue per recipient (RPR) than your average email campaign.2
The numbers speak for themselves.
Justine Jenkins, “7 Post-Purchase Email Automation Ideas,” Klaviyo (Blog), 1 March 2022. https://www.klaviyo.com/blog/post-purchase-emails