These days, online shoppers are accustomed to competitive prices, impressive product ranges, and a streamlined shopping experience. Most eCommerce stores are doing the fundamentals right, and this has resulted in over 70% of Americans hopping online regularly to make purchases.
But with such an impressive baseline, how does a newly launched eCommerce store gain traction? Undercutting prices is a common strategy, but eCommerce margins are already squeezed. And, unless you’re a highly imaginative inventor, you’re unlikely to brainstorm a completely unique product. So how do you make a name for yourself?
In today’s overcrowded marketplace, there’s only one way to stand out: by delivering an exceptional customer experience. In most cases, it’s the small, personal touches that can make a world of difference.
Today, I want to talk about one such personal touch: the “Thank You” email.
Why “Thank You” Emails Work
Gratitude goes a long way in all walks of life. Business is no different, and displaying some gratitude is a great way to generate goodwill for your brand, which also boosts brand loyalty.
However, the main benefit of “Thank You” emails is that they demonstrate to customers that there is a real, genuine person on the other side of the screen. This differentiates you from the faceless corporate world, especially if your “Thank You” emails contain a photograph of you and your team. They hint towards a commitment to excelling at customer service, too, which is a reassuring stance should the customer experience any problems.
Before we get on to the meat of today’s post, though, here are a few more reasons why “Thank You” emails are so effective:
- The audience is laser-focused.
- You can strategically time “Thank You” emails to maximize open rates. From there, let your content and products do the talking.
- According to HubSpot, “Thank You” emails enjoy twice as high engagement levels compared to average.
- The people receiving the emails have already made a purchase from you, and existing customers are more likely to buy again.
In other words, there’s a lot to like about saying “thanks!”
Today, I want to help you leverage “Thank You” emails with maximum effect. I’ll be discussing the optimal times to send a “Thank You” email, plus what should be included within. This post is primarily targeted at eCommerce store owners; however most of the strategies are equally applicable to bloggers and any other website owners.
When to Use “Thank You” Emails
Although “Thank You” emails appear to be a one-shot opportunity, the truth is you can send them at various points during a customer life cycle. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. After Subscription
In reality, you don’t even have to wait for someone to make a purchase before deploying a “Thank You” email. Strike while the iron is hot and send it as soon as a visitor shows an interest in your products by subscribing to your website.
First-time customers usually take the most persuading – after all, you haven’t had a chance to wow them with your products first-hand. However, if you can close that sale, you could potentially have a customer for life. As such, the stakes are high.
Despite this, it’s important to keep it casual – the visitor has shown an interest; they have not made a commitment to buy. Start by thanking them for their interest, then tell them to get in touch if they have any questions for you.
Here’s where things get slightly tricky, though: your ultimate aim is to make a sale, but you don’t want to be pushy – nothing is more off-putting than an overly pushy sale pitch. It’s a fine-tuned balancing act between covert sales techniques and not appearing as deceptive or desperate.
A good strategy is to give a bit of a background to your business and your products. This person has shown an interest, so give them the lowdown: why you started, your values, and your product’s USP. You could also reward the person’s interest by offering some form of promo code or samples, too.
2. After Purchase
Having made a purchase, most customers will read the confirmation email to ensure that their order has been processed correctly. This means it’s likely to be one of your most viewed correspondence – receipt emails are 4x more likely to be opened and have 3x more engagement than standard emails on average.
However, treating this as a purely administrative email is a missed opportunity. With guaranteed eyeballs, spruce your receipts up as a “Thank You” email and enjoy the rewards. A bit of genuine gratitude can have a big impact, validating a customer’s buying decision even before they’ve received their order. This all reflects very well on your brand.
A word of warning, though: Pick your sales strategies carefully at this point. The customer has just opened their wallet – how do you think they will feel if you instantly encourage them to do the same again? Customers will feel pressured, you will look greedy, and your image will be tarnished. A quick ‘$5 off’ coupon is fine, but cross- and up-sells are a big no-no at this point.
3. Several Days After Delivery
One of the best opportunities to send a “Thank You” email is a few days after the customer has received their order. As always with saying “thanks,” a bit of sincerity goes a long way.
This email should thank the customer again for making the purchase, and tell them that you hope they are enjoying their new products.
At this point – now that the customer is presumably using your products – the strategy switches. For a start, it can be beneficial to include customer support information, demonstrating how to use or care for the products most effectively.
This is also the time to start ramping up your sales pitch. Now that the customer knows your products are high quality, they may be ready to make their next purchase.
With the euphoria of receiving an awesome new product still relatively fresh, cross- and up-selling related products are particularly effective. When it comes to up-selling, keep in mind the 60-60 rule – approximately 60% of customers are willing to buy an additional item at 60% of the value of their original purchase. As you can imagine, up-sells are a great way to boost revenues and also increase customers’ expected lifetime value.
Oh, and at this point, it’s also a good idea to ask customers for product reviews – another proven way to drive future sales!
4. Marking Important Events
Online shoppers love to feel like they are getting value for money. It’s one of the main reasons that events like Black Friday are such a huge deal.
However, on Black Friday, customers know that bargains are available to everybody. If you add an aura of exclusivity to a promotion, you’re likely to enjoy a far greater uptake.
Simple ways to get people to check into your sales events (like Black Friday) are to:
- Start the event early (be the first to offer discounts so they purchase from you early while other companies are still waiting)
- Display a prominent countdown timer on your website (using some countdown timer plugin or an event calendar plugin)
- You can encourage people to add the event to their calendars so they get reminded when it happens
There are other ways to add this “aura” subtly as well. One way to do this is to send existing customers a promotional email that looks like a “Thank You” email. For example, include a unique discount code while stressing the offer is only available because of their previous purchase – this satisfies the value for money and exclusivity criteria. This convinces customers that they’re getting a superb deal, thus encouraging them to pull out their wallets again.
You can send this type of “Thank You” email to mark just about any event – Black Friday, the holidays, a customer’s birthday, etc. Just make sure you don’t overuse this strategy, or you’ll become predictable. If this happens, the email won’t have the desired effect.
5. Nearing the End of a Product’s Useful Life
If you sell physical products, you should have a good idea of when the products are likely to “wear out” – also known as the product’s useful life. With this information at hand, you can take an educated guess at when a customer will be in the market for a repeat purchase.
For example, if you sell a month’s supply of coffee, you should have a strong idea of when your customers will be looking for their caffeine fix. It’s slightly trickier for more durable products (for example, laptops), so you will have to base your product’s useful life on estimates. However, if you know that your products need replacing every 3-5 years, you can begin scheduling your emails at roughly the right time.
Why are these “Thank You” emails so effective? By pre-emptively targeting customers, you can benefit from a case of the right time, and right place. It also shows you care about your relationship with each customer. To make this email work, be sure to show your appreciation for the customer’s continued commitment to your business and throw in a discount to reward their loyalty.
6. Celebrating Milestones
This final strategy encourages customers to celebrate your landmark achievements. For example, you might send a mass “Thank You” email to your customers for helping you reach important milestones – such as reaching 10,000 Facebook followers or marking your business’s 3rd birthday.
Because these emails are not strategically timed, it’s best not to go overboard with pushy sales techniques. Simply thank your customers for their support, tell them what it means to you and your team, and then finish by rewarding them with some form of a voucher.
This email might lack the punch of some of the other strategies, but it’s a useful extra weapon to have in your arsenal.
Today’s post should give you a few ideas of how and when to use “Thank You” emails. If you’re smart with them, these simple emails are an effective way to drive repeat purchases, thus increasing your customer’s lifetime value – lifetime value being one of eCommerce’s most important metrics.
As with any sales-generating strategy, the key is to continually test, improve, and optimize. Until you know for sure that something works, it’s pure speculation. Remember: sometimes the smallest tweaks can have the biggest impact on your bottom line!
What are your experiences with “Thank You” emails? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Article thumbnail image by Penguiin / shutterstock.com