"Thank You For Your Purchase, Now Keep Buying"

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Photo: Pascal via Flickr

We’re used to getting transaction confirmation e-mails like those sent by Amazon. Recently, Loren McDonald advised attendees of a Conversion Academy webinar to extend beyond the purchase to include pre-purchase, post-purchase and relationship touch points.

The result? More opportunities to engage prospects and customers, something Loren’s seen firsthand as the vice president of Industry Relations at Silverpop, a leading e-mail service provider.

Here are some of the key pointers he gave in his presentation and a check list of what to do in order to extend the transactional e-mail activity you currently carry out.

Transactional e-mails are automated and trigger-based, driven directly by user behaviour, profile or demographics. Depending on how aggressively you adopt it, the extended scope might include transactional e-mails related to:

*Pre-transaction e-mails: browse abandonment and cart abandonment

*Purchase event e-mails: order confirmation, order status, shipping notice, shipping confirmation, trip preparation

*Post-purchase e-mails: satisfaction survey, review request, review notification, recommendation, replenishment, repurchase, upgrades

*Relationship e-mails: bounce back, account reminder, loyalty programs, account status, purchase anniversary

For example, a post-purchase e-mail could notify customers of stock shortages, reminding a customer who bought an item in the past that you’re about to sell out of it. This kind of transactional e-mail not only generates revenue but actually enhances the relationship with, and adds value for, that customer.

Another post-purchase e-mail might 1) thank the customer for posting a product review and/or 2) include product recommendations based on previous purchases. While this level of sophistication might seem difficult to achieve, most ecommerce sites are already using the web analytics, reviews and recommendation engines needed to do these transactional e-mails. The sites simply need to leverage their existing technologies, using established APIs and dynamic content, to generate the new e-mails.

Purchase review e-mails can actually lead to significant incremental revenue. One Silverpop client reports that 14 per cent of the people that click on the “review” link actually make another purchase. For that client, purchase reviews hold the second highest conversion rate next to their abandoned cart program. Follow-up, review notification transactional e-mails—thanking the customer for the review and offering a discount or other incentive on the next purchase—encourage 12 per cent of the people who click on them to make another purchase.

When it comes to this new breed of transactional e-mail, the keys to success include the following checklist of items:

Leverage existing technology. As mentioned above, this technology already powers your website, so it can also be tied into these new transactional e-mail opportunities.

Time the e-mails appropriately. For instance, you might wait a month to e-mail a review request to a book customer but only wait a week to send it to a toner cartridge customer.

Design for all devices. In particular, make sure your e-mails work in a mobile environment, in preview panes, with image blocking on, etc.

Create compelling content. Beyond making recommendations, superior content leverages customers’ non-purchase behaviour, uses the right tone and makes compelling offers.

Test, test, test. Test everything, from timing to layout to offers, copy style, and the level of personalisation.

In any case, these automated, trigger-based transactional e-mails can supplement more traditional, broadcast e-mail campaigns to increase online conversion rates and revenue, which is what we really care about.

If you’d like more information, you can view a 10 minute video of Loren’s presentation (by selecting View Silverpop presentation), or view a replay of the entire webinar (by selecting View entire presentation), under The Conversion Leaders Summit here.

Other insights are also available from myself on website conversion and shopping cart abandonment rates; Danny Dover, an SEO expert from SEOmoz.org; and Tim Ash, president and CEO of SiteTuners, a thought leader in website conversion and landing page optimization.

Web analytics visionary Charles Nicholls is founder and chief strategy officer of SeeWhy and author of “Lessons Learned from the Top 10 Converting Websites” which can be downloaded here.

This article originally appeared at SeeWhy and is republished here with permission.

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