How to Create Post-Purchase Emails that Renew the Customer Journey
“Thank you for your order” isn’t the end of the customer journey—it’s just a step within it. The modern-day customer journey is far from linear, and the truth is, it never really ends. The closest it comes to ending between you and the customer is when they churn—which is something you want to avoid at all costs.
It takes multiple touch-points across several channels for a customer to make a purchase. Knowing this, you’ve likely spent time crafting a personalized welcome series, cart abandonment, and other automated messages. But these touchpoints are just as, if not more, important for recent customers and require just as much attention.
In fact, 80% of your sales are likely coming from 20% of your customers: returning customers. In other words, your customers are too important to ignore.
So how do you get them to come back and shop after they make a purchase?
The answer is by creating a purposeful post-purchase email series that nurtures, engages, and provides your customers with a better purchase experience.
In this piece, I’ll explore various messages, beyond the order confirmation, you can send to your recent customers, and how to pull it all together to create an excellent, revenue-driving and engaging post-purchase series that increases customer loyalty and decreases churn.
5 Types of Post-Purchase Emails that Engage
Post-purchase emails cover a variety of purposes depending on what’s most important for your ecommerce business—whether it’s to make them feel special, collect feedback, remind a customer to replenish a product, or to cross-sell similar products, post-purchase messages can serve the purpose.
1. The Tried & True Thank you: “We appreciate your business”
“Thank you” goes a long way in establishing a connection with your customers, and sending thank you emails is an excellent way to humanize an otherwise faceless transaction—not to mention serve as powerful messages.
A thank you message is simple—just thank the customer and provide a call to action (CTA). In this example, The Brilliant Bakers use their thank you email to incentivize the next purchase. While incentives are not necessary, they used this message as a great opportunity to entice another purchase.
If you choose not to offer an incentive, be sure to provide a CTA to something beneficial for the recipient, such as to a blog or customer service hub. Remember, it’s all about making the customer feel special and providing value.
Messages like these that have a simple subject line such as “Thank you for your recent order” often see open rates around 60% and, believe it or not, high conversion rates.
In addition to sending a dedicated thank you message, be sure to optimize your transactional emails, such as your order and shipping confirmations. Glossier did an excellent job of this with their order confirmation email. The email offers short and punchy copy with a touch of humor that really humanizes their brand.
2. Gathering Valuable Feedback: “Tell us what you think!”
Getting feedback is paramount for any ecommerce shop, especially for those who want to be customer-centric.
Not only do these kinds of emails help you understand how your customers experience your purchase flow and products, but they provide you with valuable social proof that can be used in other messaging to influence customers to purchase from you.
When creating a great feedback post-purchase email, there are a few best practices to put in place. Try to:
- Remind your customers of the (hopefully) excellent product/service you gave them
- Be honest about how long it’ll take to leave feedback
- Explain how leaving a review benefits your customer, and other customers
The best way to get as much feedback as possible? Try something ultra simplified that requires as little commitment as possible.
In the same vein, asking for a share on social media can not only give you valuable feedback, but provide you with curated user generated content.
3. Product Recommendations & Cross-Selling: “If you like that product, you’ll love these.”
Product recommendations and cross-selling are great ways to bring a customer back into the purchase cycle.
However, blindly slapping some products into an email won’t achieve very much. Instead, use the data from your customers’ last purchase to create smart recommendations based on what they’ve already shown interest in.
For example, let’s say you sell electronics and gaming equipment, and a customer has purchased a console. Great product recommendations for that customer would include accessories for that console, extra cables for hooking it up, controllers, and the most popular games for that console.
The idea is to offer your customers products that complement what they’ve already purchased and make them say, “Oh! I do need a controller to go with this. I didn’t think of picking up an extra cable.”
Your customers will better respond to relevant product recommendations. While it’s absolutely possible to put a recommendation or two in your confirmation email, you don’t want to put it all in that one email—especially when a cross selling email can be powerful all on its own.
4. An Invitation to a Loyalty/Rewards Program: “Here’s how you can redeem your points!”
If you have a loyalty or rewards program in place, post-purchase is your time to shine. There’s no better way to incentivize engagement than, “You’ve earned X points with your purchase.”
Inviting a customer to join your rewards program not only gives them yet another reason to purchase from you, but it gets them excited about earning points and potential rewards.
What’s more, you can combine this kind of email with a feedback message and offer more points as an incentive to get the review.
Alternatively, a simple reminder that they’ve earned something with their purchase could be enough to get them back to your site.
5. Replenishment/Restocking emails: “Running low? It’s time to re-up!”
Replenishment emails are especially useful for ecommerce businesses that sell products with a definite shelf life. The idea is to anticipate your customers’ needs.
For example, if you sell skincare products, and your customer has purchased a 30-day supply of face cream, at day 20 you might send a campaign reminding them to repurchase the cream to maintain their skincare routine.
You know your customer likes and maybe even needs this product. They’re going to buy it no matter what. Your challenge? You need to make sure it’s you they buy it from.
This example is perfectly targeted: reordering pet food might slip even the most loving dog owner’s mind. But with a well-timed email, Purina targets their email so that it is personalized around this pup’s particular blend of food, even calling the pet by name. This humanizes the brand, reinforces a connection between Purina and the owner, and calls the owner back to repurchase.
Highly consumable products are great for this kind of message, and with subscription ecommerce taking hold of the industry, these emails can confirm and thank the customer for their continued business.
Getting Post-Purchase Timing Right
One of the biggest questions around post-purchase series is, “When should I send these messages?”
There is no short and easy answer to this question. The fact is that you’ll have to look at your own data and post-purchase workflow to determine the best timing, and to tweak as you go.
But there are a few things you should consider when timing your post-purchase emails:
- Think about the whole flow, starting from the beginning of the customer journey: How many emails are your customers getting in total? If someone signs up and purchases on the same day, are they getting inundated by emails in the first 48 hours? Consider pausing your regular sales workflows until a customer exits your post-purchase series.
- Try consolidating some of those emails: For example, a thank you message should also be roped into an order confirmation email, a loyalty program invite can be included inside of the thank you email, social sharing can be incorporated into a feedback request, and so on. Just keep the main goal of your emails clear, don’t overload your customers with multiple CTAs, and maintain the overall theme.
The timing of your post-purchase emails ultimately depends on the emails you choose to send, and how your customers respond to them (in addition to other messages you might be sending).
Here are a few tips on timing the post-purchase emails you create:
Thank you emails:
Obviously, these should happen soon after the customer has clicked “Order Now.” Most commonly, standalone thank you messages send anywhere from one to five days after purchase, most falling within the first three days after purchase.
Gathering Feedback Emails:
This timing could be tricky, because it’s determined by your shipping times. Ideally, your feedback emails should be sent a few days after your customers have received their purchases. Be careful not to send these emails before customers have received their orders (or had the chance to use them), as that could earn you an ignored message at best, and unmerited bad reviews at worst.
Product Recommendations & Invitations to Loyalty/Rewards Programs:
With product recommendations and invitations to loyalty programs, you’ll really have to go by the level of engagement with your other recent post-purchase emails, and the frequency at which your emails have been sent.
For your brand, consider how long after they receive their feedback messages it would make sense to send a product recommendation message (e.g., one week, 10 days), and how that might change based on whether or not they left feedback. With the way your loyalty program is structured, would it make sense to send an invite soon after the purchase or further removed from it.
Replenishment email timing is a fine line: you don’t want to end up in a situation where you’ve over-anticipated your customers’ needs before they’re even thinking about purchasing, nor a situation where you’re too late and they’ve run out of their product (or won’t get it in time).
Replenishment email timing is going to depend on the lifecycle of your products, and average fulfillment and shipping time for your store. Going off of the Purina example, 10 days from when the product would normally run out might work well. However, if you have a lot of international customers, that delay might need to be longer.
As with the timing of any of the emails in your post-purchase series, it’s important to constantly audit the results you get from your campaigns and make adjustments based on how your customers react to the workflows.
Retaining your customers is likely one of your top goals as an online seller, and keeping them coming back for more is a full-time job. However, by creating a great post-purchase series, you can nurture your relationship with them, and restart the customer journey long before they’re aware they want to purchase.
Test out these messages and see what works best for your customers. Get creative, mix and match them, and consolidate where it makes sense. Test your timing to ensure it is as relevant as possible, and keep fulfilling the needs of your customers as the main priority.
What are some of your favorite post-purchase tips? Tell us below!