The threat of COVID-19 along with governments’ stay-at-home orders has increased the world’s dependence on ecommerce sites for practically all their needs. This has fueled fierce competition among similar businesses—whether long established or new entrants to the digital scene—fighting to take their share of the sudden boost in online shoppers.
With this sudden increase in online competition, retailers are struggling to set themselves apart from the competition. Not only brands are reevaluating what it means to win the sale, but to also retain the customer long-term. Forward-thinking marketers know that one of the best paths to customer retention is through excellent customer service.
In ecommerce, one of the most impactful areas of customer service is the post-purchase process. How you take care of your customers after they’ve completed a purchase shows the customer how much you value them.
While most businesses are satisfied with just providing the bare minimum of confirmation emails, others have found the value in developing entire post-purchase campaigns across a variety of channels, including email and text messages.
How to Plan Your Post-Purchase Communication
To achieve your campaign goals you need to make sure that the right customer receives the most relevant message through the best channel at the right time. Take a moment to consider each of these components:
The Right Customer = Targeting and Personalization
Who do you want to reach and for what purpose? Generally, anyone who has completed a purchase qualifies, but not all customers are created equal. This is where being able to segment your audience becomes powerful. When you’ve identified your audience, it’s easier to decide on your communication strategy. Always remember that relevance and personalization are key to making this work.
For example, you can target customers who have completed a purchase for the first time and spent over $100 differently than a loyal customer with an AOV greater than $300. Having these segmentation capabilities allow you to extend more appropriate offers and craft more relevant messages.
The Best Platform = Channels
The best channels to integrate into your marketing campaigns really depend on the nature of your business as well as your audience. Email is a well-established digital marketing tool because of its design flexibility, automation capabilities, widespread consumer adoption, and measurability—not to mention, it doesn’t need to be expensive.
Today, modern-day marketers are finding that email is best accompanied by SMS. While email has the visual element, SMS offers proximity and immediacy, which leads to better reading and response rates. No matter which channels you choose, make sure that each one plays its own role. Otherwise, it could become unnecessary noise for your customers.
The Right Time = Triggers
When is the perfect time for your audience to receive these messages? It might be the moment of the items ship, the day they receive them, or on a special occasion when the customers use the items (e.g., Halloween costumes), etc. Identify those moments when your customers are most open to hearing from you and use them to trigger your sends.
Once you’ve identified how to use each of those components to achieve your goals, you’re ready to set up your post-purchase automated workflows.
Types of Post-Purchase Messages for Optimum Engagement
There are innumerable uses for automated post-purchase workflows. What will work best for your business depends on multiple factors, including your goals, your audience, and the nature of your business. Nevertheless, here are a few ways to use automated workflows to boost engagement after a customer has completed a purchase:
Transactional messages are underrated in marketing. But, they actually offer so much potential because your customers expect them and look forward to receiving them. This is particularly true for order confirmation messages, which enjoy not only better open rates but also significantly more click-throughs than your typical promotional emails.
One of the most effective ways to use automated workflows for confirmation is to send an email as soon as a customer’s order goes through. That email should contain a brief note of thanks, a breakdown of the order as well as payment information, and shipping details (if available). It can be followed-up with a text message when the package is dispatched and then another when the package has been received.
Timely and transparent messaging can help build your customers’ trust in your brand and help inspire subsequent purchases.
To provide excellent customer service, you need to be open to feedback. Hearing from your customers allows you to gain insights on what you’re doing well and what you can improve on. Plus, as a side benefit, they provide you with genuine social proof that you can use as marketing assets later on.
If you’re unsure of the best time to send your review requests, one week after they receive their order is a great place to start. After one week enough time has passed for them to have unpacked or even tried their purchase, and their excitement will still be fresh. Make sure you remind them of their purchase and explain how their feedback could benefit them as well as other customers. Lastly, be open about how long the evaluation will take. Ideally, it will take no more than a couple of minutes to accomplish.
Three days or so after sending your feedback request email, use SMS to reach customers who did not respond. Identify your most pressing question and ask it through a text message that they can quickly respond to. You could also use an SMS to incentivize their participation and direct them to the earlier email.
Once a customer has made a purchase and most especially if they have provided positive feedback, you can prime them for another purchase. This is best done through personalized product recommendations based on their previous purchase and other customer data you already have.
Email’s dynamic formatting capabilities make it the best channel for this purpose. Additionally, some of the more advanced marketing software will have built-in templates and product pickers for easy email creation. SMS can play a complementary role in your post-purchase product recommendation workflows. For example, text messages can be used for distributing coupon codes aimed at incentivizing another purchase.
Welcoming to a Rewards Program
If your ecommerce business has a rewards program, qualify your customers’ first purchase for points. Then, send them an email that tells them how many points they stand to gain once they sign up. Make sure you provide details about the perks of joining and what their points can be used for. This gives them not only an incentive to buy from you again, but may serve as an incentive to spend more.
To encourage regular purchases, use SMS to remind them of how many points they have, when they expire, and how they can use them. You can send these text messages once per month or less frequently, depending on the nature of your business.
Sending Restock Reminders
If you’re dealing with consumable products, sending restocking reminders is an excellent way to nurture your relationship with your customers while prompting regular sales. To time this perfectly, anticipate your customers’ needs based on the life cycle or shelf life of your product.
For example, if you sold your customer a 30-day supply of vitamins, send them an email reminder on day 20. Communicate the importance of taking those vitamins regularly as well as the benefits of buying them from you. If they still haven’t completed a purchase about a week before they’re supposed to run out, send another reminder over SMS. You can even include a limited-time incentive, like free delivery, that would be hard to pass up.
Powerful marketing software lets your brand show your customers that you truly care for them. In turn, that leads to better customer retention rates, more social endorsements, and increased brand affinity—increasing revenue and your share of the market.
Karolina Petraškienė is a writer, content marketer and email enthusiast at Omnisend. When she’s not writing articles, you can find her in the woods challenging herself in hiking boots or off-roading her bike.