Who said that the customer journey comes to an end when shoppers purchase?

The perfect time to strengthen the relationship with your shoppers is right after they placed their order. When your brand is still fresh in their minds. 

Keep reading and you’ll learn how to build a highly engaging post-purchase email flow that will both upgrade customer experience and encourage short-term repeat sales.

When you finish reading you’ll know:

  • Why customer experience is considered to be the new marketing battlefront.
  • A smart email marketing strategy that will upgrade your customer experience. 
  • The definitive guide on how to build a post-purchase email campaign with detailed lists and real-brand examples.
  • Tips on how to influence short term repeat sales within 30 days after an order.
  • The key to segment shoppers in order to deliver highly personalized content.

What happens after shoppers place their orders?

When a shopper completes their purchase, it doesn’t mean that your marketing job is over. Purchase is the beginning of peoples’ closer relationship with your brand.

Your products now will be part of their lives.

So, post-purchase communication is your best chance to shine and prove that shoppers made the right choice by choosing you. 

The most efficient and low-cost way to maintain and strengthen this after-purchase brand-customer relationship is by building strong post-purchase email journeys.

Most marketers are aware of transactional emails that come after purchase. Yet, post-purchase marketing emails are different

  • Transactional emails are automated emails that have to do with purchase completion. (e.g. order confirmation email, purchase receipt e.t.c). 
  • Post-purchase emails are sent in parallel and after transactional emails. They aim to enhance the shopping experience even after the completion of a purchase. 

By the end of this article, you will know in detail how to build a complete post-purchase email flow on your own.

The Logic behind Your post-purchase email flow

Your post-purchase marketing strategy has two goals. Firstly, to deliver a one-of-a-kind customer experience. Secondly, to encourage short-term repeat sales.

Why is customer experience important? It’s simple. There are thousands of competing online stores with very similar products to yours. 

You will never be able to compete with the supply chain of a huge multi-national corporation like P&G. Nor will you be able to outspend your biggest competitors.

But delivering a superior customer experience can be your point of difference.

And the easiest way to enhance your brand’s customer experience is a highly engaging post-purchase flow. So, let’s get down to the brass tacks. 

Here’s how to build an effective post-purchase email customer journey with almost $0.

How to build a post-purchase marketing email flow step-by-step 

Users get into this flow immediately after they complete their purchase, and stay in for approximately 30 days after they placed their order.

So, we will start talking to them before receiving their orders and continue with some emails after they got our products and tried them out.

There are 2 types of emails that make up this flow: 

  1. Emails that aim to influence short term repeat sales. 
  2. Emails that aim to offer a high-quality customer experience.

Below you will find an overview of the flow that contains all the emails you need to include:

Email 0: Sale

One-time offer

Email 1: Customer Experience

Thank you message

Email 2-3: Customer Experience

Shipping updates

Email 4: Customer Experience

Education email

Email 5A: Customer Experience

Product Feedback

Email 5B: Customer Experience

NPS

Email 6: Sale

Cross-Selling

Now that you have the big picture, let’s see in detail how to successfully set up each part of the flow.

Post-purchase Flow Email 0 (short term repeat sales):
The one with the one-time expiring offer

After the first purchase, you can immediately send the customer an email with a one-time offer. Your goal here is to lead them to a second impulsive buy right after the first one.

For example: 

  • You sell clothes and someone buys a t-shirt.
  • You send them an email that offers -25% to buy a pair of jeans.
  • This offer lasts only for an hour. Regardless of whether they place a second order or not, each user only receives this offer once. 

Content checklist:

  • Create urgency
  • (Optional) Add a countdown to visualize urgency. 
  • Make a clear cross-selling suggestion that matches with the product/ product category users ordered.

Technical setup: 

  • Immediate send after purchase
  • Unique expiring coupon code
  • One-time deal (users will not receive that email ever again)

Note: This one-time expiring offer can also appear on-site after users complete their purchase. This is a better practice as users are more likely to view the discount and use it right away. 

Yet, if you don’t already have upsells after checkout on-site, it’s worth trying it over email

Post Purchase Flow Email Example

Post-purchase Flow Email 1 (customer experience) : 
The one with the thank you note

The first thing to do when someone buys from your shop is to say thank you. But you can go even further. Create a feeling that buyers just made a very smart choice by getting your products.

We all want to feel like we made a smart investment when we buy something. Even if we are not sure about the quality of our pick, we need to feel like we made the right choice.

So, don’t just thank customers. Congratulate them. Tell them what a great choice they made. Future pace their results and help them see the great benefits they’ll soon start to experience. 

This will address any feelings of buyer’s remorse. And on top of that, your shoppers will be much more excited to receive their order.

On that note, it’s also wise to inform people about your shipping process. If you manage their expectations right from the beginning, you can avoid frustration in case of a delivery delay. Honesty is the best policy. 

Content checklist: 

  • Thank users for ordering
  • Applaud their buying choice
  • Explain why they’re going to love what they bought (the short and long-term impact on their lives)
  • Insert social proof (e.g. X other people loved the product you chose)
  • Manage people’s expectations about order prep procedures and delivery time
  • Clearly explain the procedure behind the preparation of their order and why delivery time is what it is. Do this in a smart way and a longer shipping time might be perceived as a quality advantage!

Technical setup: 

  • Send right after the purchase, 15-minutes after the one time offer email.

Post-purchase Flow Email 2 & 3 (customer experience): 
The ones with updates on product preparation + shipping.

The goal of these emails is very, very simple. You want to eliminate uncertainty and confusion. You want to tell your customers what they need to know about their order before they even ask themselves about it.

For example, you can inform your shoppers the stage of their order. As an example, you can send them an email with a picture of a member of your team, saying, “This is Mary. She’s now working on your order.” 

You want them to be aware of every little update that happens. And that includes timely updates in case you delay shipping. The more you can humanize this – the more they feel real humans are behind your online store – the better. 

Content checklist: 

  • Αdd a personal touch
  • Ιntroduce the people who work to prepare customers’ orders
  • Ιnform shoppers about timeframes and delays 

Technical setup: 

  • Timings and number of emails can differ according to your supply chain

Post-purchase Flow Email 4 (customer experience):
The one with educational tips on product use.

Our goal here is to help the user get the most out of the product they ordered. Therefore, whether the content is long, short, frequent, or infrequent depends entirely on your business case. 

Here’s a quick example. Suppose you sell men’s shoes and someone buys a pair of leather boots. In that case, you should send them emails that contain tips on how to take care of the leather. How to maintain the shoes so they look brand new even after several uses. 

Or suppose that you’re offering fitness equipment. You should be sending them emails that list out relevant exercises and workouts. 

Or suppose that you’re offering a weight loss supplement. You should consider offering them advice on how to prepare their meals effectively, manage their portions, deal with cravings, and so forth. 

Regardless of what products you sell, you want to help the users get more value out of their purchase. The sky’s the limit here.

Depending on the category of the products you offer, you may prefer to deliver one or a series of emails.

Content ideas: 

  • Instructions on how to use the product
  • Tips & Tricks on how to get the best results out of a product usage 
  • How to take care of the product to expand its lifetime 
  • Everyday routines that include product usage

Technical setup: 

  • Send either before or after order delivery (best practice varies here, according to product type)

Post-purchase Flow Email 5 (customer experience): 
The one with the feedback request.

A couple of days after shoppers receive their order, it’s important to track their experience.

There are 2 options to get instant feedback about your products and services. 

  • You can either create a very personalized simple plain text email that looks like a real person is asking for direct feedback from each customer. This option is better for smaller stores. 
  • Or use the famous NPS question and take further action according to users’ scores. This option is better for bigger stores with more complicated setups. 

Take a look below to discover which tactic suits you best.

Option A:  The one with the personalized plain text feedback request

This tactic is more suitable for small e-shops as the data that it brings back cannot be aggregated or easily quantified and measured (though, with a bit of effort, it of course can). 

The tactic offers sky-high reply rates and can serve as great, automatic user-research tool.

If you are thinking about inserting it into your flow, here is a board with its pros and cons to help you decide: 

Pros

-Very high engaging + highly appreciated by shoppers due to personalization

-High reply rates

-You can mine real users’ wording and upgrade your product messaging

Cons

-Hard to manage + answer back to every user

-Analysing the data takes manual effort

– Not as easy to scale as the NPS option

If you decide to give it a try, here are the details on how to build it:

Content: 

  • A very simple format that looks like it’s written by a person
  • High personalization (name – exact product purchased e.t.c.) 
  • Personal tone-of-voice
  • CTA that motivates people to reply directly to this message

Technical details: 

  • Send (x) days after people receive their order
  • Insert as much personalization as you can, including mentionign the buyer’s name, the product they purchased, when they last purchased, and so forth. 

Option B:  The one with the NPS survey 

The survey option more suitable for bigger e-commerce brands is measuring shoppers’ experience and satisfaction by using the famous NPS question. 

In case you are not familiar, here is the story behind NPS:

In 2003, Fred Reichheld wrote a groundbreaking article in Harvard Business Review stating that “There is only one number companies need to grow”, referring to Net Promoter Score (NPS). 

As he stated, “A customer’s willingness to recommend to a friend (…) is determined by all the functional areas that contribute to a customer’s experience.” 

So he suggested one simple question to measure customer experience and satisfaction. The NPS question:

“How likely are you to recommend [product/company] to a friend or colleague?”

An example of email survey

It’s always combined with a 0-10 scale on which prospective customers have to vote whether they would refer the company or the product to a friend.

The point behind it is that you group shoppers according to their response into 3 segments:

  • Users that scored from 0-6 are considered Detractors.
  • Users that scored 7s and 8s are considered Passive Respondents.
  • Users that scored 9s and 10s are considered Promoters.

The important part comes after you segment users. 

How to get the most out of your NPS segments with personalized follow-up questions 

You can deliver differentiated follow-up content on each segment, to get the most out of their feedback and also show that their opinion matters and you take it seriously.

Let’s break it down segment by segment. 

Customers Group

Promoters (NPS vote 9-10)

 

Following Questions

“What did you like the most about our products?”

Next Step

Ask for a product review

Promoters are people who would recommend you to their friends and colleagues. They are extremely valuable as they are the warmest supporters of your brand.

You can deliver them a follow-up question asking about what exactly did they like about your products

This feedback can be very useful to your marketing efforts. (For instance, if you notice that there is a repetition of what people like the most about your products, you can highlight it in your ads.)

After that, don’t miss the chance to ask them to leave a product review

Most promoters leave very positive and honest reviews. You can use them in your product pages or even in your email flows. 

One last step some companies do to understand their supporters even better, is reaching out and scheduling interviews with people who left the warmest reviews. 

Try it and you will be surprised with the things you find about your super happy and satisfied fans in a 1:1 interview. 

Moving on to the next NPS segment:

Customers Group

Passives (NPS vote 7-8)

Following Question

“What could we do better?”

Next Step

Reassure that the company will work on their feedback.

Passives are people who are not that likely to recommend you to their friends. Yet, don’t underestimate their feedback. It’s still valuable, as it reveals which points you can improve.

So, ask them what they believe you can do better. After collecting their feedback, it’s important to work on it to upgrade your customer experience

As an answer to their comments, you can reassure them that they have been heard of and that their feedback will help your brand improve. 

Last but not least, you also have to deal with Detractors.

Customers Group

Detractors (NPS vote 0-6)

Following Question

“We feel sorry. What did we do wrong and how can we fix it?”

Next Step

Do not send any following email, transfer the requests to customer support teams and contact them manually.

Detractors are people who are not likely to refer your brand to their friends/ family. These shoppers might have ended up being unhappy for several reasons.

You definitely need to ask them about what you did wrong and how you can fix it. If they answer, make sure that you don’t send a follow-up email and have the customer support team contact them instead.

Some companies reach out to unsatisfied users and schedule 1:1 interviews, just like they do with their supporters. 

The truth is that these users might not be your fans but can spotlight pain points that you might not be aware of. So their feedback is really valuable, too. 

The double NPS survey: A more advanced feedback tactic is to deliver the NPS survey twice: 

1st time: Right after purchase, before shoppers receive their order. At this point, they’re actually evaluating your marketing, as they haven’t experienced your product yet.

2nd time: Ask users after they’ve received and used the product. With this score, you can measure customer satisfaction AFTER shoppers used your products.

If you adapt the double NPS tactic, you can compare and contrast the 2 scores to see if the expectations you create with your marketing, meet the real experience the product delivers, or not.

Post-purchase Flow Email 6 (short term repeat sales): 
The one with cross-selling suggestions

After the survey email, it’s the perfect opportunity to go on with some sales content. Deliver personalized product recommendations to your promoters and passives to influence short-term repeat sales.

As an example: Let’s suppose you sell clothes and someone buys a t-shirt. You would then send them an email with trousers suggestions from the same collection. 

Or let’s suppose you sell food supplements. And someone buys Vitamin C effervescent tablets. You could send them an email list with other supplement suggestions that coudl be used in combination with Vitamin C for an even better booster effect. 

Content checklist: 

  • Personalized product recommendations according to users prior purchase 
  • Use users’ Name and product from their last purchase
  • Demonstrate images of recommended products with a clear CTA
  • Make successful product suggestions per collection/ product-category/ or create links between specific products

Technical setup: 

  • Send only to promoters + passives of your NPS survey
  • Insert personalization tags (take a look at the example below)
Post Purchase Marketing Email Example

Content differentiation according to shoppers’ retention

Now that you have all the details on how to build a full post-purchase flow… let’s see how you can take things to the next level.

Axiom: Not all customers are the same. And therefore, you should not communicate with everyone the same way. 

So make sure you know your customers better in order to have more personalized communication with them.

Then, start hyper-personalizing your post purchase flow. Every single one of the emails we covered can be personalized based on each buyer’s profile. 

We will publish an advanced segmentation guide in the near future, but for now, consider these 3 buckets of customers.

First-time shoppers: Some shoppers who will enter this flow have just made their first purchase. This means that they are still getting to know your brand and are about to try your products for the first time and see if they like it. 

Shoppers with >1 orders: Some others might have made repeatable purchases. You can’t treat them the same as the first-time ones. These people tried your products, they liked them and came back again. They repeatedly choose you and you need to acknowledge that. 

VIP shoppers: Of course, there is this small but extremely valuable group: the VIPs. People who have bought, again and again, your loyal customers. You have to make them feel special because they deserve it! Keep in mind that everyone likes to be appreciated for their loyalty. 

So, according to shoppers’ purchase history, you can tweak the messaging in the flow to deliver more personalized and relevant content but also avoid repetition. 

There are many options: from delivering coupons to acknowledging the number of the shoppers’ total orders in messaging. 

You can even exclude VIPs from this flow and create a completely different post-purchase flow that includes a rewards program and other exclusive benefits that boost customer loyalty even more. 

Offer the best customer experience to your shoppers

Be there for your customers, and make them feel unique and important.

Let them see how you prepare their order, ask them about their opinion, offer tips on how to get the most out of their purchase, make personalized product recommendations, and build a positive feeling around your brand…

Post-purchase emails = the key to upgrading customer experience and leading to short term repeat sales.

If you haven’t built your post-purchase flow yet, you now have a total guide on how to do so. 

Yet, we should not kid ourselves. If you’d like to take things to a high personalization level, you’ll find things will get complex, quickly. Even for highly experienced marketers. 

Therefore, if your goal is to get the most out of your touchpoints with your shoppers, consider reaching out to a dedicated email marketing agency like us.

We’re happy to strategise, design, and deploy custom-made email flows that suit you.

PS. If you found this article worth reading, spread the word. 

Looking to upgrade your customer experience

Let us audit your automation flows and offer a tailor-made post-purchase strategy that will transform your shoppers’ experience. 

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