As we finalize our plans for 2014, many marketers are looking for ways to expand their triggered campaigns. Triggered emails generally make up less than 5% of a company’s overall email volume, but can account for a significant portion of revenue attributed to email – up to 15% on average across DEG’s retail clients. For that reason, it is critical for brands to fully optimize opportunities to trigger emails to customers that are targeted and personalized to how that customer has interacted with the brand. That definitely includes post-purchase email strategy.
The first touch a post-purchase customer expects to receive is a message with order and shipping confirmation information. These messages are transactional in nature and should offer the customer’s important details front and center: what they purchased, how they purchased it, where it’s being shipped, when it will arrive, and how they can reach customer service if there is an error with any of the above. Most brands include a small promotional banner or upsell message, but must be careful to ensure they don’t overpower the important details related to their purchase.
The last touch in the cycle is usually a “ratings and review” email that prompts the customer to leave public feedback about their purchase or experience. These reviews can support future purchases and boost your site’s SEO by consistently renewing content, and are a great opportunity to upsell/cross-sell other products that your customer may be interested in. Between the time of purchase and the time of a ratings and review email being deployed, most brands complete their post-purchase series within 10-15 days.
However, there is a huge opportunity for brands to extend this series and continue reaching out to customers, particularly if you are a high-consideration retailer and/or the average length of time between purchases is lengthy. For example, let’s take a look at Dyson’s post-purchase series. After our move in October, my husband and I purchased a new vacuum cleaner (I know, it’s a terribly exciting housewarming gift). But after working our way through three vacuum cleaners in five years, we decided to splurge on a Dyson after hearing raves about how great they are at picking up dog fur.
The day after purchasing our vacuum, we registered it online with Dyson. The next day we were dropped into the post purchase email series. So far, we’ve gotten four emails that are excellent examples of providing reasons to keep talking to a customer. The first email thanks us for our purchase and provides links to videos about using our new vacuum and instructions on how to reach customer support. Ten days after purchasing we received the ratings and reviews email.
Most brands stop there, but Dyson keeps going. Two months after our purchase, we received an email with tips on how to make use of an oft-overlooked feature. Three months after our purchase, we received an email featuring accessories we could purchase to augment our vacuuming experience.
There are a few lessons to be learned from Dyson’s post-purchase series that can be applied to any retailer:
- When you’re talking to customers who’ve recently purchased, your messaging should mature. You don’t have to send hard-sale emails all the time. Sometimes, providing them with insider tips or other value-add content can be enough to keep your brand top of mind for them, especially when they’ve just made a purchase and may not be ready for another one quite yet.
- It is critical to analyze your average time between purchases, and build a content strategy that continues the conversation with the ultimate goal of shortening that average.
- The post-purchase lifecycle doesn’t have to end after ratings and reviews. Use the data you have on your customer to continue to send relevant, targeted emails. A few ideas are:
- How to style their purchase for the change in seasons
- Insider tips from your staff about how to make their purchase work in more ways than one (bonus: this will also help add personality your brand!)
- Tutorials, tips, tricks and “insider secrets” are great content nuggets that can help your customer find additional value in their purchase
- If you sell high-consideration products, you’ll need to think more long-term with your post-purchase cycle so don’t be afraid to put together a post-purchase workflow that is six months long (or longer!)
Email used to be full of discrete series, and to some degree it still is – welcome series, winback series, post-purchase series. But smart companies are finding ways to evolve their email strategy toward a more continual cycle. If done well, your regular presence in their inbox becomes welcome, and when they’re ready to make another purchase you’re already top of mind. Certainly there is a risk of wearing out your welcome, but that is where relevancy and proper cadence come in. Find the right timing and the right messages, and you’ll find that you’re driving revenue and creating fans.