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Post-Purchase Emails: A Powerful Way to Hack Growth

By Jon MacDonald | 8 minute read

Post-purchase emails are a golden opportunity to deepen your brand’s relationship with customers. To use them only for receipt delivery and shipping information is to miss the boat almost entirely.

Post-purchase emails are a hidden opportunity for many companies.

Statistics consistently show that it’s much easier to sell to a current customer than to secure a new customer, yet marketers insist on spending the lion’s share of their marketing dollars on acquisition, rather than on retention.

Have you ever watched a Super Bowl commercial and wondered why in the world a company would invest millions of dollars to produce such a flop? Chances are high that if you’ve ever watched a Super Bowl at all, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Post-purchase emails are a hidden opportunity for many companies. #growthhack Click To Tweet

If these brands put the same amount of effort into retaining current customers and ensuring the customer’s needs and expectations are met post-purchase, their budgets would show a much better return on investment.

Brands don’t have to choose acquisition or retention, but they should definitely be concerned about the deeply embedded tendency to focus on one at the expense of the other.

In this article, I’ll show you how to launch post-purchase emails to grow online revenue organically. Let’s begin with the fallacy of the funnel.

The Sales Funnel Fails Online

It’s been a part of every business student’s education for at least 100 years, and its influence on how companies approach the sales process is immense. The sales funnel is, in large part, the reason why businesses tend to focus more on getting leads than on keeping customers.

Have you ever seen a wood-chipping machine at work? As long as there’s a constant supply of limbs, brush, and small trees being fed into the unit, there’s a steady flow of wood chips from the output.

That’s the way we’ve tended to view the sales process: Keep prospecting. Keep making sales calls. Always be closing.

In face-to-face marketing, there’s much to be said for that approach. That’s why it has persisted for so many years. When your prospect isn’t in front of you, though, and the pace of the sales presentation is largely controlled by the visitor, things change dramatically.

Your prospective customer or client is continually just a click away from saying “No” to your offer and leaving the premises. And the more you try to avert that move with pop-up ads and technical tricks, the more alienated that person is likely to become.

The sales funnel is better viewed as a circle based on relationships. Click To Tweet

The sales funnel is better viewed as a circle based on relationships. Not only does it better exemplify a new era of buyer behavior, but it includes a self-nourishing component. Pleased customers tell others about your goods and services, and referrals come to you pre-sold.

Grow Revenues Organically Sales Funnel

Grow Sales Revenue with the Customer Circle

Your marketing efforts get the prospect’s attention and deliver the marketing message. Depending on the familiarity with your brand and the urgency of the need, prospects may need to “hear and listen” to what you’re saying multiple times before moving forward.

Sales takes the ball and earns the order by answering objections and helping prospects believe your answer will solve their problems.

This is the point where many businesses make a HUGE mistake. Rather than nurture those customers (whether new or repeat) and encourage them to share their experience with others, attention is turned right back to the top of the funnel.

Learn how effective your site is with a free Stuck Score™.

Prospects get priority and customers are taken for granted. That strategy not only sounds unwise, it IS unwise.

Prospects get priority and customers are taken for granted. That strategy is unwise. Click To Tweet

Consider these statistics, drawn from an Adobe study of 33 billion visits to 180 brands:

  • Average Probability of Conversion – New prospect: 1%
  • Average Probability of Conversion – Repeat customer: 9%
  • Revenue Per Visit – Repeat customers spend 500% more than new customers

On average, your existing customers are not only nine times more likely to buy, but they spend five times more when they do place an order. For most companies, returning customers make up only 8% of website traffic but account for 40% of the revenue.

The bottom line: All customers are not created equal, and how you treat people after they purchase from you can have a tremendous effect on sales revenue.

Grow Sales Revenue by Implementing Post-Purchase Emails

Think about your own purchases online. What’s the first thing you want to know after hitting the Order button? What’s the next thing you want to know?

  • Did my order go through okay? Is it accurate?
  • When will it ship, and how do I track the shipment?
  • Where’s my receipt?
  • Who do I contact if there’s a problem?

Order something from Amazon and, as soon as payment clears, you get an order confirmation. Afterwards, you’ll get an alert when the item has shipped and (depending on your personal settings) when it is delivered. As one of the first online retailers, Amazon’s reputation draws plenty of repeat business. Customers know the company can be depended on to deliver the goods.

Example Amazon Order Confirmation Email

Emails like this are known as post-purchase emails or post-conversion emails. They are activated by an order. And while it is common for companies to send at least a receipt and acknowledgement of the order, little thought goes into how these post-purchase email opportunities can be leveraged beyond those basic tasks.

Consider the unique positioning of post-purchase email communications:

  • They are generated by customer action
  • The customer is expecting (even looking for) them
  • They open the door to a series of further communications

Post-purchase emails are a golden opportunity to deepen your brand’s relationship with customers. To use them only for receipt delivery and shipping information is to miss the boat almost entirely.

Post-purchase emails are a golden opportunity to deepen your brand’s relationship with customers. Click To Tweet

In the following example, from Amazon, note how they seize the opportunity to build on their relationship with the customer through a post-purchase email. Here, Amazon points out an additional benefit is available at no extra cost.

Example Amazon Additional Features Email

Post-Purchase Emails – Make ‘Em Count

Every tactic you pull from your marketing toolbox should meet your prospects, customers, or clients at a specific point in the customer circle and either seek to move them immediately along the path or help prepare the way for the next step.

Here are some of the marketing functions post-purchase emails can address:

Educate the customer on how to use the purchased product

Is there a learning curve on the road to getting the most from your product or service? Don’t just include a manual of instructions and call it good, take your customers by the hand and lead them through the process. Happy customers create fewer returns and are much more likely to share the good news about your company with friends and family.

Gather customer feedback about the products and procedures

Smart companies are always listening to the end user. Post-purchase emails can be one more way to collect valuable information. Not only can listening help you identify small issues before they become big problems, it can tell you what’s working best. When you ask for feedback, you’re telling people you value their opinions. Be sure to thank those who respond. You may even want to include a special discount code or other reward for their efforts.

Offer add-ons, up-sells, and cross-sells relative to the order

You’re probably familiar with how this can be accomplished during the order process, but suggesting appropriate additions to the order can continue beyond checkout. Properly conducted, with the focus on being helpful to the customer, these post-purchase emails can reach customers predisposed to buy and eager to solve a particular problem.

Reward the customer with special discount codes and coupons

Everyone likes a bargain, and everyone likes to feel appreciated. You can combine both of these feel-good points in an email people will love to open and can get them excited about doing even more business with you.

Prompt the customer to leave reviews

Social proof can help sway a prospect towards (or away from) your offer. Shoppers love to see reviews. The more, the better. Your post-purchase strategy can include messaging aimed at building the number and quality of reviews.

Add to the list an email inviting customers to join social media groups or participate in forums. Or how about an email aimed at getting referrals and encouraging brand evangelism?

Are you beginning to catch a glimpse of the power post-purchase emails can bring to your marketing strategy? Some would say the best part of selling begins after the order, and there are plenty of statistics to back that idea up.

Develop a Post-Purchase Email to Grow Revenues Organically

Would introducing or expanding your use of a post-purchase email help drive sales for your company?

The strategy has worked well for our clients at The Good. We’ve seen the post-purchase email boost revenues and increase conversion rates.

Rightly organized, they could do the same for you.

Implementation should be preceded by careful thought on the best approach for integrating a post-purchase campaign with your particular product or service and your unique mailing list.

We encourage our clients to look closely at their current post-purchase strategy and to consider ways it can be further leveraged to improve the bottom line.

You can get started on the path to freeing your revenue stuck in post-purchase with a free Stuck Score™. It’s quick to run and can be an eye-opening experience. Here’s where to find out more: Get My Score.