Email marketing. It’ll help you sell more! It converts like crazy! It has the best ROI of any marketing channel!
These are all true statements about email marketing, but you’d be forgiven for thinking email is always about selling, selling, selling. Sure, email is a powerhouse sales channel, but it can also help you build customer relationships after you’ve closed that sale.
Your brand-new customers are ready and waiting to become fans, and you can use email to help get them there a little faster. Plus, with the number of new customers you’re expecting this Black Friday Cyber Monday, the time to implement these emails is now—before the rush.
The best part? Increasing your customer retention rates—by turning first-time buyers into loyal customers—has an oversized impact on your business.
So yes, creating fans might not be the same as upping your conversion game, but it’s still important for your business’s bottom line.
What are post-purchase emails?
Post-purchase emails are automated email campaigns that you send after a customer buys something. Post-purchase campaigns are sent at different times: after the purchase, during delivery, and days after.
Post-purchase email campaign benchmarks
A post-purchase email series contains both transactional and sales-oriented emails. For example, you may send a shipping confirmation email to let the customer know their order is en route. Upsell and cross-sell emails are also powerful post-purchase emails that provide value after the first purchase.
These emails usually contain details such as:
- Order number
- Product details
- Shipping information
- Contact information for support
A post-purchase email is one of the best emails you can send. Post-purchase emails see 17% higher open rates than average email automation, according to Klaviyo data.
You can get a better idea of what email marketing metrics to expect from this automation by checking out these benchmarks by industry, as revealed by Klaviyo.
You’ll notice how the conversion rate seems low, but remember, the post-purchase experience is always about selling. The goal is to provide customers with information about their purchases and build the foundation for repeat purchases and customer loyalty.
9 post-purchase email examples
- Order confirmation emails
- Shipping confirmation
- How-to information emails
- Reminder emails
- Survey emails
- Customer information emails
- Surprise and delight emails
- User-generated content emails
1. Order confirmation emails
It seems like the most basic advice you can give when it comes to building customer relationships: say thank you. An order confirmation email is an excellent way to establish trust with customers after a purchase has been made.
However, an on-brand, amusing, or interesting thank you message can help you stand out when you’re top of mind for your customer—when they’ve just handed over their payment information, and committed to their purchase.
Everyone expects a basic confirmation email, and transactional emails get great open rates—up to double the average open rate of promotional emails. So if you can inject personality into yours, you know it’ll get in front of even more eyes.
In the Homes Alive Pets example below, you’ll notice how the brand is not shy about expressing its thanks. The brand expresses how it’s grateful for the purchase, with a summary of the items ordered and contact information if the customer needs any help.
When you place an order on Cometeer’s website, you receive the following confirmation email. It has a short message letting you know the order is getting ready for shipping. You can also see an overview of your order, delivery address, and shipping method. Cometeer adds a referral link at the bottom so you can share the brand with friends and family and earn extra cash.
2. Shipping confirmation
When a customer orders something online, one of their most pressing concerns is when the order will show up at their door.
Shipping notification emails are not only helpful, they’re expected, but you don't need to stop at the standard “Hey, your order is on its way” emails.
If you use Shopify Shipping, you can customize your email notifications to include your brand color, logo, and even the phrasing of the notification. You'll find those options under Settings, in the Notifications section.
Once you’re there, you can add in your logo, set its size, and add in your brand color.
And as a bonus, you can go beyond your automated shipping notifications and follow up with your customers a few days after their order arrived to see if they have any questions or need anything else. It’s a nice touch to make sure that they’re happy with their order, which is the foundation for turning a customer into a fan.
3. How-to information emails
No matter what you sell, there are going to be people who need a wee bit of extra help to make the most of it.
For example, Dossier sells luxury scents, and they’ve found that sometimes people need a bit more information on preserving their perfume. That’s why they send out helpful content, like this guide to getting the most from your purchase.
Information that can help your customers make the most of their purchase is great to send after they’ve had their product for a few days or a few weeks. You could send:
- Existing blog posts. If you’ve already covered the topics on your blog, why not repurpose them for an email, or send people a link to the post?
- New how-to content. Listen to your customers, and check your support emails. Is there a question you frequently get asked from new customers, or something most people usually miss?
- A tutorial series. If your product is very in-depth (knitting patterns and technology products come to mind) could you send multiple emails to help make sure new customers get the most out of their purchase?
As you’re generating ideas of helpful how-to content, make sure to keep your audience in mind. Think about what they already know, and where you can helpfully fill in gaps in information related to your product. After all, you’re the expert in your industry, so think about what advice you could offer them.
- If you’re in fashion, you could send out outfit pairing examples and advice.
- If you sell home déecor, you could email returning customers helpful advice on styling different rooms.
- If you sell food or cooking supplies, you could send out recipes.
- If you sell pet products, you could send out helpful articles about pet care and pet training.
- If you sell art prints, you could help people figure out how and where to display their art in their homes.
The examples could go on forever, but the point is that no matter what your products are or what industry you’re in, there’s helpful information you could offer your customers.
4. Reminder emails
There are all sorts of reasons that someone might have stopped using what they bought from you—or never started in the first place.
Maybe you sell supplements to go with a workout program, and they slipped up in week three and feel like they can’t get back into it. Maybe you sell a digital product, and you know people tend to get busy and stop working through it after about a week.
Whatever your product is, think about whether there are any reasons your customers might stop using it before they get the intended effect. It could be something as simple as helping them style an item for a new season, but sending out timely reminders to help them get the most out of their purchase can be a great way to build relationships—and make sure they get their money’s worth.
Whatever your product is, think about whether there are any reasons your customers might stop using it before they get the intended effect.
You can also remind customers of current promotions, like the following DoorDash email. The delivery brand sends prompts to its email list, reminding them of a 40%-off sale.
5. Survey emails
There’s this thing corporations like to use called the Net Promoter Score. It sounds complicated until you realize it’s based on a single-question survey, and all it asks people is to rank how likely they are to recommend your product on a scale of 1 to 10.
After someone’s had time to get to know and like your product, you can email them your very own net promoter survey using a tool like SurveyMonkey or Typeform. All you have to do is ask a simple question: “How likely are you to refer [Your Product Here] to a friend?”
Here’s an example of a great net promoter score email from Marriott, a corporate hospitality brand.
You can play around with the wording, and add additional questions if you want to. You could even offer your customers a discount for filling out the survey, like Anthropologie did in this example.
But no matter what kind of survey you send out, the real value is in how you act on the results.
If someone is very likely to recommend the product (i.e., they answered with a 9 or a 10) you can follow up with them to share affiliate or rewards programs you offer based on their referrals.
If they’re very unlikely to recommend the product, now you know—and you can do something about it. When you get answers that fall under 5, you can follow up directly and ask if there’s anything you can do to fix the issues your customer is having.
Sometimes the answer will be no, but you might be able to turn some quietly disgruntled customers into fans with a simple fix like a replacement or a discount on their next purchase.
If you never ask, you’ll never know.
6. Customer information emails
When a customer orders from you, they give you a fair bit of information about themselves. You’ve got their name, address, order history, and you might even have tracked their behavior using marketing software.
But you can always learn more about your customers, and one of the easiest ways to do it is to just ask.
That's what Bespoke Post did. It sells themed subscription boxes for men, so it wants to make sure each box is tailored to the interests of each customer. Instead of guessing, and potentially sending out boxes that aren’t a good fit, it just asked—using an email to current subscribers.
You don't need to sell a subscription box to make this post-sales email work for your store. You can ask your customers anything that will help you segment your emails better. That might include:
- Which product lines they typically buy
- What activities they enjoy
- What sizes they wear
- How much they know about a specific topic
Once you have that information, you can tailor your emails so they go to the most relevant customers—and the ones who are most likely to take you up on your newest offer, sale, or product.
7. Surprise and delight emails
At any stage of your business, you’re going to have repeat customers that stand out above the rest.
Maybe they’re incredibly active on social media promoting your products, or maybe they’ve bought five times more product than your average order volume. Whatever your metrics are, and however you measure who counts as a superstar customer, once you know who they are, you can use email to go above and beyond right back.
There are a lot of ways you can offer exclusive perks to your best customers. Here are a few to choose from, based on what you think they’d appreciate most.
- A personalized note. This can be as easy as writing out a simple, heartfelt email from your personal account to say thanks, and including why you're thanking them.
- Exclusive access to you. Maybe you have the bandwidth to offer a select few best customers the chance to connect with you one on one, if that makes sense for your customers and your brand.
- A free gift. Maybe you want to send them a bonus, surprise freebie, or offer them a discount code to apply to their next order to claim their gift.
- A coupon. You can also set up a special discount for your best customers and give them a little surprise.
8. User-generated content emails
It’s not easy to build loyal fans out of your customers, so once they are fans of yours, why not have them share the love? As part of your follow-up emails, you can include an email asking them to share your products on social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok.
Here’s one example from Lush Cosmetics, prompting their customers to share photos with a hashtag specific to a single product line, in exchange for a discount.
To build your own email to encourage your customers to share the love on social, consider:
- Which platforms are the best fit for your product and your audience?
- Do you want to include an incentive?
- What hashtag will you use to find their posts?
Once you know the answers, you can craft an email to ask them to share their stories about your product. You could even segment your customers by the product they bought to make more specific requests, or segment them by their answers to your survey if you’ve imported that data into your email system.
FURTHER READING: Find out more about how segmenting your email list can help you drive sales and increase customer engagement.
The goal of upselling is to get customers to buy more expensive, upgraded, or premium versions of items for the purpose of making more money. Cross-selling involves making a product recommendation based on customers' recent purchases. Both strategies make for powerful post-purchase email automation.
These emails make finding new products easier for customers. They can view these products in a non-invasive manner. You’re also not selling people unnecessary items. The products are personalized to the customer’s behavior and may improve their purchases.
Dollar Shave Club uses a cross-sell, upsell strategy when sending its monthly replenishment email for its subscription box. Customers receive an email with the option to add more related products to the one’s in their box.
7 post-purchase campaign tips from the pros
Need a little extra help crafting the best post-purchase campaign? Here are seven tips from marketing pros to create fun, engaging emails that delight customers.
1. Focus on good copywriting
“One of the best ways to improve post-purchase email marketing efforts is to make sure they are well-written. The vast majority of us are accustomed to the post-purchase email protocol because we make quite a few transactions on the internet.
“Oh, another notice regarding the shipment? I appreciate you letting me nap. Investing in strong copywriting is essential if you want people to remember you after reading your emails. The objective here is to communicate vital information in a manner that is unmistakable and easy to recall while maintaining a clear and distinct tone.”
Robert Warner, Head of Marketing at VirtualValley
2. Make sure your customers are satisfied with their purchase
“Ecommerce businesses will send confirmation emails as a matter of practice but often will drop the ball in making sure everything did arrive to the customer’s satisfaction and miss a sales opportunity. Most businesses that do a great deal of shipping will send a confirmation of purchase as well as one to notify the customer that their order went out, but those do not offer a prime opportunity to sell, as the customer has not had a chance to evaluate the product and service.
“However, by sending a post-purchase email a week after shipping—asking about whether their order arrived and that they were satisfied with the product—not only does it show your concern that the customer’s needs were met, it also provides you the opportunity to promote similar products and create a more personalized customer experience.
“By sending a post-purchase confirmation email for the receipt of goods, you showcase your business's values in putting the customer first, and at the same time, can play off the customer’s satisfaction with more promotions.”
Cody Candee, founder and CEO of Bounce
3. Incorporate dynamic order and shipping information in emails
“After making a purchase, customers are looking through their confirmation emails to find crucial pieces of information such as delivery dates, tracking numbers, and order updates. If you are able to include all of these specifics within the body of the email itself, rather than forcing the recipient to click on a tracking number or log into an account, you will significantly enhance the customer’s overall experience.
“AMP for Email gives you the ability to incorporate dynamic order and shipping information directly into an email, enabling your consumers to obtain the information they require in a single glance.”
Brian Case, Director of Ecommerce & Retail at Selkirk
4. Create special flows for international customers
“Those that ship worldwide will need to give your post-purchase emails to your overseas consumers a little more thought in order to make them as effective as possible. We are all aware that the entire ecommerce shopping experience can become more stressful while waiting for a package to be transported internationally.
“Create nurture schedules that account for additional shipment times and also include real-time tracking information in your post-purchase emails to streamline the process for your clients.”
Dean Lee, Head of Marketing at Sealions
5. Consider the timing of your emails
“Timing is crucial for post-purchase email campaigns. If you fail to send out a delivery dispatch notice following a sale on your Shopify store, your customers will feel left out of the loop.
“Alternatively, notify them when a previous purchase is back in stock, as they may miss out on the opportunity to buy it again. Set up automated flows to ensure that your emails are delivered to customers on time, every time.”
Alice Eve, Marketing Director, Cicinia France
6. Show customers what’s next
“A post-purchase campaign should have details about the order, but it also should answer the “What next?” questions that customers often have.
“For example, customers always want to know when their order will ship. So beyond the receipt, the email needs to include information about when they will receive shipping confirmations and how long it will take to deliver after it has shipped. Also, they need contact information for the customer service team in case they have a question about the item they just ordered.
“If the item they purchased is part of a collection, show them the rest of the collection, so they know which shower curtain and valance go together or which coat matches the shoes they purchased, etc. This is a great way to upsell to your customer. And don’t forget to include a coupon code to entice them to order again right away!”
Kim Foerst, Digital Marketing Manager, Lush Decor
7. Segment customers based on behavior
“My number one best tip for improving post purchase email campaigns would be advanced segmentation based on behavior, value, and demographics. Sending the same email to everyone doesn’t work.
“Implementing segments that identify patterns in your high-value purchasers—what they buy, where they are, how much they spend, how often they return, which medium they come through—all of this is extremely commercially valuable data that will significantly improve the performance of your post-purchase email campaigns, and that’s because you’re talking to individuals and tailoring your communications to them rather than just sending out generic emails.
“One of the big things we try to teach clients is that at minimum, everyone who purchases at least once needs to be encouraged to purchase at least once more, because people who have purchased twice statistically are significantly more loyal and more likely to keep purchasing.
“For example, one large D2C ecommerce brand we work with sees a five times uplift in customer lifetime value for people who have purchased more than once versus people who purchased only once. Tailored email communications and better segmentation will take you along this journey much quicker and get more of your database purchasing more often.”
Jack Bird, Director, Let’s Drive Digital
Get repeat purchases from existing customers with post purchase emails
These eight emails are a great foundation for building campaigns that will turn new customers into raving fans, but they’re just one part of your overall fan-creation strategy.
To really dig into building a great customer experience at every touchpoint—not just email—you need to look at everything from your customer service practices to your shipping strategy.
Especially in ecommerce, every interaction you have with your customers is so important to building a relationship, since you’ll likely never meet every single customer in person.