5 Opportunities You’re Probably Missing With Your Confirmation Emails

Learn how to leverage confirmation emails as a strategic advantage for your brand.

The confirmation email is key in a post-purchase email sequence and is one of the most overlooked tactics in the ecommerce conversion toolbox. Many ecommerce managers don’t bother to send them at all. Others use a barebones, basic confirmation email template that rarely provides more than an order number and a simple “thank you”.

In this article, we’ll show you how confirmation emails can help improve conversion rates and get you more sales. First, we’ll set the stage by defining what we mean by “confirmation email” and explaining why they are so important. Then, we’ll cover the fundamentals of how to write effective confirmation emails.

Here’s what you can expect to learn:

What is a confirmation email?

A confirmation email is a transactional message you send to your website visitors and customers as verification of a completed action.

Here are three of the most common triggers:

  • A visitor subscribes to your mailing list: When a visitor on your website signs up to be added to your mailing list, they’re sent a subscription confirmation email
  • Someone buys something from you: When a visitor completes a purchase on your website, they’re sent a purchase confirmation email. This email typically summarizes important order details and will attempt to answer any questions the customer may have about the order.  
  • You ship the item: Once the product has shipped, you’ll send the customer a shipping confirmation email to notify the customer that their purchase is on its way.  

On the receiving end, confirmation emails assure your prospects and customers that you’re listening, and that you’re taking action on their behalf.

Why are confirmation emails important to marketing?

Transactional emails, correctly presented, aren’t seen as spam by either regulatory guidelines for email or by the people who receive them.

Because of this, all types of confirmation emails enjoy exceptionally high open and click-through rates. They experience an average open rate of 42.51%, a click-through rate of 18.27%, and a conversion rate of 10.34%. Keep in mind that the average open rate for marketing emails is only around 15-25%, with average click-through rate hovering around 2.5%. 

You can leverage the general acceptance granted to your confirmation emails (a type of transactional email) to improve the consumer experience and drive more conversions.

We do advise caution when considering upselling or cross selling at this point. If you launch into a sales pitch too quickly after they’ve already purchased, it can reduce trust. That said, it is acceptable to tactfully include some sort of CTA as long as you’re providing your new customer with all the essentials they are expecting.

One question that can arise is, can carefully adding a call-to-action to your confirmation emails get you in trouble with CAN-SPAM or GDPR guidelines?

Not if you don’t overdo it.

Here’s what CAN-SPAM says:

It’s common for email sent by businesses to mix commercial content and transactional or relationship content. When an email contains both kinds of content, the primary purpose of the message is the deciding factor.

While GDPR isn’t as clear on the topic (yet), the assumption is that those requirements will be in line with CAN-SPAM. Check the GDPR website for up-to-date info.

Confirmation emails reach your audience at a vital stage in the consumer journey. They’ve identified themselves and they’ve taken action. You now have an excellent opportunity to move the relationship forward.

Marketing is concerned with reaching the right person, in the right place, at the right time. Transactional emails check off all of those boxes. At this stage, because your audience is actively engaged, your audience is also primed for conversions. 

5 confirmation email design fundamentals

Okay, that’s enough background. Now let’s look at theory and structure. Here are the five fundamentals of effective confirmation emails.

  1. Set the right expectations. Consumers are protective of their inboxes. Use the confirmation email to set the right expectations about the kind of communications they can expect from you. Delight them with the first email, and they’ll be much more likely to open the next. Make sure you start the conversation off with what the user is most concerned about, then confirm the action that they just took. From that point, you can transition into any educational or lead nurturing information you want to include in the email. 
  2. Keep it skimmable. You have seconds to earn the reader’s attention. Don’t overload them with information right off the bat. Make the confirmation email easy to read, and remember to keep the information focused on them, not on you.
  3. Keep every email true to your brand. From colors and font to the logo and voice, make sure your brand concept is evident in every email you send… including confirmation emails. Never use the stock design provided by your email or marketing automation platform.
  4. Make sure your emails are mobile-friendly. Always test your emails on a mobile device. Never assume they will look as good or perform as well on a small screen as on a big one.
  5. Consider including a call to action (CTA). Every email should have a single purpose. Confirmation emails are not an exception to the rule. Yes, the bulk of the message should deliver the transactional message that prompted the mail, but you don’t have to stop there if you are providing value.

What could you ask readers to do?

Here are several ideas:

  • Tell the elevator pitch version of your brand story/mission and link out to the detailed description
  • Introduce your team and tell their stories
  • Share positive reviews/testimonials from customers who also bought that product to get them excited
  • Proactively address FAQs
  • Reassure them about refund and return policies, especially for items like apparel
  • Educate them on how to use the product once they get it in their hands
  • Invite them to opt-in to your loyalty program or other exclusive group
  • Give new subscribers a special reward (maybe a coupon or discount offer)

With a little creative thought, you’ll have no problem thinking of a way to keep the conversation going, and your customers coming back for more. Remember, don’t sacrifice the details of the order confirmation for the sake of marketing through. The confirmation should take first priority.

Effective confirmation email examples

There are many situations that prompt a confirmation email, so any confirmation email template you rely on will be general, not specific.

Let’s look at four winners to see how the fundamentals apply:

Note: If you’re looking for more confirmation email examples, make sure to check out ReallyGoodEmails – a website that offers a library of 6,000+ emails to reference for inspiration.

Warby Parker’s purchase confirmation email

Warby Parker has one of the best post-purchase email sequences because they keep it simple while still delivering plenty of value to the customer. 

They start by providing the necessary transactional information regarding the order, then they provide a link to their FAQ page for any questions about shipping or returns. They end by giving customers the final order details as well as a link to track the package – additionally they squeeze a cross-sell opportunity at the very bottom of the email to promote their new line of contacts. 

This is a great example of email marketing that packs a lot of information and value into a single, concise email. It’s on-brand, and gives customers a reason to get excited about their recent purchase. 

Welly’s confirmation email sequence

Welly – a DTC brand that sells first-aid products – has a great confirmation email that provides customers with all the information they’ll need about their order. They start by reminding you of the delivery date at the top of the email, then move on to the order summary and total transaction amount. At the bottom of the email they provide answers to a variety of common questions that might arise around the order, as well an email address for customers to get directly in touch with their support team. 

After the order confirmation email, Welly also sends follow-up emails to notify customers when their product has shipped, and when the package has been delivered. 

Dollar Shave Club membership confirmation email

Dollar Shave Club checks all the boxes for what a great confirmation email should be.

They start the email off by building excitement around the purchase and providing important transactional information. They move on to emphasize their referral program, and offer the customer a $5 credit toward a future purchase if they get a friend to sign-up for the shaving club. This is a great addition to the confirmation email that we rarely see utilized by subscription services, and it’s a huge missed opportunity to capitalize on the post-purchase excitement that customers typically feel immediately following a purchase. 

They finish the email by showing customer account information, as well as a way to get in touch with their customer service team regarding any questions or concerns they may have regarding their order. 

Chipotle registration confirmation email

When you give Chipotle your email, they make it easy to continue with them by including links for the potential next steps of the journey you are on. 

Explore the existing customer journey that your visitors take and provide only the most relevant links after you confirm the customer’s initial action.

Confirmation Emails: Just the Facts

Each of our examples stick with the fundamentals. They’re pleasantly helpful, skimmable, true to the brand, mobile friendly, and they present CTAs to build on the relationship.

Do the same with yours to turn something many companies fail to leverage into a strategic advantage for your brand.

After you feel confident in your email design and copy, you might consider using a tool like Litmus to help preview emails in different formats to ensure your emails are dynamic and compatible with different devices and browsers. 

Your confirmation emails don’t have to be dry and transactional, but they should reassure the customer about their transaction first, and then provide a means to continue the customer journey down a path that they’re likely to enjoy. 

This email is meant to instill trust (and even a little customer delight). If you play your cards right, your new customers will be eager to open your subsequent emails.

Need help driving more conversions with your emails? You might consider scheduling a free landing page teardown where a member of our strategy team will provide you with actionable recommendations for how to improve the customer experience of your website. 

About the author: Jon MacDonald is founder and President of The Good, a conversion rate optimization firm that has achieved results for some of the largest online brands including Adobe, Nike, Xerox, Verizon, Intel and more. Jon regularly contributes content on conversion optimization to publications like Entrepreneur and Inc. He knows how to get visitors to take action.