How people feel about your brand often has as much to do with what happens after they click the “Buy” button as with what happens before.
So, if your company isn’t optimizing that after experience, chances are, you’re missing out on significant recurring revenue while overspending on customer acquisition. And since acquiring a new customer is 5 times more expensive than keeping an existing one, you might be overspending a lot if you don’t invest in customer retention.
Keeping customers happy and encouraging repeat interactions should be one of your main goals. That means you need a clear post-purchase strategy that fosters loyalty.
In this article, we’ve put together five must-have elements for your strategy and the reasons behind them to help you guide the finer details of your interactions.
Let’s get started with the most important thing: how you approach sales management.
1. Manage all sales through a single platform (adopt omnichannel)
An important piece of a post-purchase strategy is being able to contact customers — regardless of how they learned about your company and which platform they used to make a purchase.
The tricky part is to keep all the data in one place when you’re selling on multiple platforms.
So, how do you ensure communication with your customers is seamless? Start by writing down all the places people find you and interact with you. Then, take your follow-up plans and ensure they’re the same for every channel.
Often, you’ll hear this called omnichannel management.
Don’t let the terminology intimidate you because it’s all about keeping the communication process organized. By bringing everything together, you’re able to make the follow-up process the same for customers from every channel.
For example, whether they buy from your website or make a purchase via your Instagram, there should be consistency in the price, purchase confirmation emails, package tracking, and more.
The good news is that many ecommerce platforms will automate this for you. They take all the sales you get and put them in one place. As a result, you can quickly look at a dashboard and understand you made 12 sales this morning, instead of having to go to a bunch of different sites to check the performance of each one.
When you use such a platform, it is also easier for your warehouse team to make sure they pick, pack, and ship all your orders. When you grow big enough to need to outsource fulfillment, the omnichannel approach makes it easier to hand operations off to a logistics partner.
From the customer’s perspective, it means that buying from you and getting service is simpler: no need to google and tag your company on social media trying to understand the order confirmation emails that aren't even from your brand.
2. Adopt honesty as company policy
The fastest way to lose a customer is to fail to meet their expectations.
Think about it in your own life. There’s barely any chance you would do business a second time with a company that:
- ❌ Adds hidden fees on the final checkout screen
- ❌ Goes back on their word for returns and refunds
- ❌ Sends you a coupon that doesn’t work
- ❌ Doesn’t acknowledge or respond to your feedback
Customers are going to reach out post-purchase, whether it’s to find the tracking number, ask for a bill, inquire about delays, or just leave a review. Whenever you disrupt these options by delivering misinformation, you risk losing those customers and having them tell others not to buy from you.
Honesty is how you beat this.
Be upfront about your return policy. Never hide fees or restrictions on coupons. Avoid anything that might make a customer think you’re trying to “trick” them. Being clear about your business in these areas will help ensure customers trust you when they have an issue that’s outside of the norm.
When your approach is fully transparent, especially with service and returns, 97% of people say they’re more likely to buy from you again.
So, the question here is, how do you make sure you’re honest and then share that with customers?
There are a few quick options. First, you always want to have a live chat to ensure customers can have their questions answered promptly. Second, you can use follow-up emails to provide tracking information and other order details. Finally, make sure your FAQ page and return policy are easily accessible.
It’s a great practice to have the return instructions clear on all pages (try adding them to the footer) and give additional helpful information on product pages. Even if you don’t have a developer, you can easily add a sticky bar to your website and link to the return policy page.
Here is another example. If you’re an apparel company, you surely want to include sizing charts on all your pages. This helps customers find what they need.
If you do that, you can also go a step further in your customer feedback request and encourage people to rate how well the item fits. Tentree, a sustainable clothing brand, gives us a good example of how to implement this approach:
Tentree is putting the honesty of their fit and quality in the hands of customers. Not only is the brand saying if things fit, but real living people are, too. This angle helps customers trust you even more.
Plus, allowing customers to leave that feedback after a purchase encourages them to keep interacting with you.
Ongoing interaction is key, and it brings us to our next point 👇
3. Ask for customer feedback timely and directly
Asking your customers for feedback is crucial, but there is a time and place for each type of question. Sometimes, asking too soon or too late may skew the results.
For example, it’s always better to ask how easy the transaction was or whether they are satisfied with customer support, right after the interaction. To do that, you can add a survey form to your website, just like the one below.
You’ll be able to easily add a survey like this one to your website using Getsitecontrol pop-up surveys.
Later, when you follow up with your customers via emails with order information, it’s a compelling time to ask for reviews and ratings. You can also use this opportunity to ask if customers may need a hand.
The best way to do it is by linking to a customer feedback form right from your email. You can easily build such a form using a tool called Getform. Then include a link to it in your email copy, and once clicked, the form will conveniently pop up in a new window.
Here is what it will look like for your customers:
Simplicity should be a core tenet of your post-purchase strategy and overall customer experience.
Take your current follow-up email and get rid of everything not related to helping the customer. Use one big picture and a clear link with one request. Options to rate via stars are much easier to do than if someone feels like they need to write a novel to review your products.
A couple more things to keep in mind before creating a survey form:
- ✔️ Keep the form short and easy to fill out
- ✔️ Make sure your rating scale is intuitive
- ✔️ Mark the text comment field as optional
Your goal is to get people to highlight your business and tell others why they like what you do. As a bonus, you’re encouraging them to keep thinking about you and why they like you, which can hasten additional sales.
Whenever you make this kind of ask, always include a customer service line. You want someone to have an option to ask you about a product (especially if it is delayed) first before they leave a negative review. Solve their problem and you’re giving your company the best chance to turn a negative experience into a positive review.
4. Test timing of post-purchase messages
Although there are common practices, there’s no 100% best time to send follow-up emails that would work for every brand. It will depend on the niche and the product a lot.
Some companies start asking for feedback on the day of the purchase, others – as late as a month after.
The reason being some products can’t be evaluated right after the purchase. For instance, many companies send out their Net Promoter Score surveys up to 30 days after the transaction to make sure a customer has had enough time to form an opinion about the product.
Find out what works best for your audience by testing different options. And keep on testing.
You want to ensure that you’re asking at times that are appropriate. Just like you don’t want a robocall at 8 pm, customers don’t want requests for reviews before a product has arrived. They’ll also be less likely to leave you a review if your follow-ups occur long after the product’s usefulness has stopped.
Try to time your sales messages close to after the purchase. If you do more than just send a “thank you” email, send them close to when existing repeat customers reorder. Their habits can give you insights into when someone might be receptive to a coupon or additional sales pitch. There’s a wealth of sales data in your existing platforms, leverage it.
5. Personalize and thank
Finally, remember that the sale is what keeps your business going. Most ecommerce businesses pay today’s bills with tomorrow’s sales. So, the customer who just bought from you while you were reading this is the one who kept your lights on at the beginning of the week.
Thank them and mean it.
If you own an ecommerce company, you collect customer’s information to ship items. That means there’s a lot of data in there you can use (sparingly). Start by thanking someone by name for the purchase. It’s easy, and it works wonders for customer retention.
For instance, Grove Collaborative, a cleaning essentials subscription service, actually writes “Thank you, (customer’s name)” with a Sharpie on each box they deliver!
According to Help Scout, 70% of the overall buying experience depends on how the customer feels about you and nearly 90% of people say they’d pay more to buy from a company that gives superior service.
That is your sweet spot.
Thank people, drive that word-of-mouth that’s vital to business, and delight them so they keep coming back to you.
Bonus tip: customize the box
There’s one final way to improve a post-purchase strategy and give your business a boost: do more than just a plain cardboard box.
According to Shorr, about 30% of your audience is more likely to buy from you if the purchase arrives in custom packaging. If you’re selling premium goods or have high average orders — $201 or above — this climbs all the way up to 44%.
So, take this opportunity to wow them.
Customize your packaging both with brand markings ( color and logos ) and identity ( eco-friendly ). There are more infill options than you’d imagine, and the majority are affordable for even small businesses. Craft your packaging and fill to look and feel like you. If you print cards and information for the inside of the box or on labels, consider printing someone’s name or a specific greeting.
It’s a great opportunity to wow them and limit the chances of having a bad sales experience.
Good luck out there and remember to tip your delivery people!
Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.Subscribe to our newsletter → Main illustration by Icons8