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Post-order emails. As the name suggests, they’re emails that you send after a customer places an order. Shocking, I know. Post-order emails are a fairly standard practice in ecommerce — after all, you need to let the customer know that their order was received, tell them when it’s shipped, give them a tracking number… On Amazon specifically, however, post-order emails work a bit differently from the seller's perspective. That’s because Amazon already sends out order notifications at every stage of shipping. What’s left for sellers to do?
Quite a bit, as it turns out.
Read on to learn what kind of post-order emails you should be sending, why they work so well, and some etiquette/policy considerations to make.
As you know, Amazon automatically notifies all customers when their orders are confirmed, shipped, and delivered by default. Sellers aren’t responsible for providing their customers this information, so what kinds of things should you send in your post-order emails?
Here are the three biggest items.
It might seem silly, but a simple “Thank you for buying our product!” can work wonders when it comes to personifying your brand.
Brand recognition and retention are very difficult tasks for third-party sellers on Amazon, since most Amazon shoppers are only thinking about the brand that’s being constantly pushed into their face: Amazon. By thanking the customer, and maybe even telling a little story about your business and the people there, you instantly convey the uniqueness of your brand — arguably more than you ever could using just your product listing. Every Amazon merchant has a product listing, but not every seller sends thank-you emails after each purchase.
Brand recognition keeps customers coming back to your products, and even expanding out to the rest of your product line. According to Marketing Metrics, it’s as much as 10 times easier to sell to a returning customer than to a new one. A thank-you is one more step towards convincing that customer to return
The specifics of this step vary hugely depending on the product you’re selling — some products are fairly self-explanatory to use, whereas you may need to guide customers through the operation of others. Overall, however, you want the customer to be able to use their product with ease the moment they take it out of the box. A great way to provide this experience is with a post-order email supplying whatever they'll need to be able to use the product right away.
The most common example would be a user manual, sent as an attachment. If you’re selling electronics, specifically peripherals, you can also include links to drivers that need to be installed prior to use, so that the device can work as soon as they plug it in.
These are just a few examples — ultimately, you know your product better than anyone else, so you should include whatever materials a customer needs to have the best out-of-box experience possible.
One of the most beneficial ways to use post-order emails is to ask the customer to leave a review if they’re satisfied. To make it even more convenient, you should include a link that takes them straight to the ‘Leave a Product Review’ page for the product they bought — no one wants to click all over Amazon’s website just to be able to write a review.
As an addition to this request, you can (and should) ask customers to contact you directly if they experience any problems with the product.
Using post-order emails in this way carries significant benefits, but you’ll need to act with some finesse in order to get it right. There’s a lot to say here, so I’ll go over these benefits, as well as missteps to avoid, in the sections following. Read on!
Post-order emails are great for building a brand identity, allowing you to break out of the homogenizing mold of the Amazon marketplace. They are also exceptionally helpful in boosting your review base — something that every seller knows is vital for success on Amazon. Let’s take a look at what exactly you can do with post-order emails — and why you should use them.
Here’s one of the main problems that post-order emails address: Amazon doesn’t prompt people to leave product reviews by default. Therefore, it’s up to you to make it easy for your customers to leave reviews. On average, only about 10% of Amazon customers leave product reviews — and those aren’t necessarily positive reviews, either.
Even just the convenience of providing a link can bump up your order-to-review ratio dramatically. Without post-order emails, people have to navigate to the “leave a review” button themselves, which means they have to be fairly motivated to leave a review in the first place. Many customers aren’t this motivated — any shortcuts help.
Post-order emails are a very powerful tool for staving off negative reviews, and they accomplish this in a number of ways.
First, providing support materials such as product manuals or user guides can reduce the chances that customers have a bad experience due to confusion. A surprising number of common problems or questions can be answered by a glance at a manual, so including manuals is never a bad idea. Confusion that could have become a negative review is sometimes nipped in the bud thanks to a sidebar in the user guide.
However, thinking that your manual will resolve every one of your customers' questions is a bit optimistic. For one, manuals can never solve every problem — customers might have a niche use case they need help with, or the product may simply be dead on arrival. You shouldn’t expect all questions that are answered in the product manual to disappear, either. Certain customers (read: Americans) have developed a reputation over the years — they simply don’t read manuals. So how do you deal with customers who have bad experiences that manuals can’t (or could but don’t) solve?
These cases are where the more subtle, but equally important part of the ‘review ask’ comes in. Before you ask your customer to leave a review, you first ask them to contact you directly if they have any questions or issues.
Sending an email with this request will catch many negative reviews before they happen. The vast majority of negative reviews come from buyer confusion or unforeseen product malfunctions. If you can grab the customer’s attention and have them reach out to you directly if they’re unsatisfied, you can often solve their problem fairly quickly — whether by explaining a function, clarifying any confusion, or sending them a replacement unit. In these cases, the customer will almost always forego leaving a negative review. Sometimes, they will even leave a positive review, or edit their previous negative review, spreading the word about your excellent customer service.
The quality of these customer-service–driven reviews is also much higher than the standard product-quality–based review. Shoppers can only read so many reviews about how well the product worked or fit someone’s needs before they all start to blur together, but a review about a seller’s exceptional customer service stands out. Plus, it answers the more pressing question on many buyers’ minds – “Can I feel secure in this purchase?”
Despite all of these excellent uses, however, post-order emails still require a certain level of caution and tact to avoid irritated customers — or worse, unhappy Amazon reps.
There are two major considerations when it comes to post-order email etiquette. First, customers don’t like being spammed with emails. Second, Amazon has a number of restrictions on the Buyer-Seller Messaging system (used to send post-order emails) that you need to be careful not to breach.
Let’s start with a number: 3. When it comes to post-order emails, 3 is the Goldilocks number. More than three emails, and the customer begins to feel like you’re spamming them. Less than three, however, and the emails themselves can be mistimed. It is very possible to only send two post-order emails — one seller we work with found great success with just two — but we generally recommend three as a safe bet.
The first of these two emails should be sent out sometime between when the item ships and when the customer receives the item. This email should contain user guides, product manuals, drivers, and any other pre-delivery materials to help the customer have a smooth out-of-box experience. If you're selling to EU customers, this first email is a great place to include a VAT Invoice creation link, a service that Efficient Era provides. To learn more about VAT in general, click here.
The second email should come one or two days after they receive the product, in order to ensure that they had a chance to try it out. This email should contain the suggestion to contact you, the seller, directly if they have any problems; it should also request that they leave a review if they’re satisfied with the product.
The third email should come two to four weeks after they receive the product. This email basically serves as a check-up — you want to reach out to the customer to make sure they're still satisfied and they haven't come across any new problems as they've been using the product. Like the second email, you should suggest they contact you directly if they have any problems. You should also ask them to leave a review if they haven't already. Customers who didn't leave a review after the second email are more likely to leave a review at this stage, once they've had a longer period of time to use the product and feel more comfortable giving their opinion — so it's always worth it to ask again.
We established this at the beginning, but it’s worth noting again here — Amazon already emails customers when their product ships and when it arrives. Any emails that you send out that consist of just shipping information will instantly become redundant and annoying for customers. You can reference shipping information in your emails — “Hey, we just wanted to let you know that your order shipped, and we thought that you might like a product manual so that you can have a great experience as soon as it arrives” — but the main content of any emails you send should be about something other than shipping.
Now, let’s talk about some Amazon restrictions.
Amazon is very clear that sellers may only use the Buyer-Seller Messaging system to complete orders or respond to customer service inquiries. If you follow the guidelines in this article, all your post-order emails will fall under these categories, but this restriction is still worth being aware of.
The area that requires the most careful approach is asking for reviews. Under Amazon's terms of service, it’s perfectly allowed to ask a customer to consider leaving a review, but nothing more. Amazon strictly prohibits manipulating your review count by compensating or otherwise dishonestly creating reviews. To be more specific, here are some lines that you should never cross:
Basically, you should keep it simple. Provide only the materials that the customers need in order to have the best experience with this order — and nothing more. When it comes to asking for a review, make it clear that you’re not soliciting anything specific from them or offering them any compensation for their review. “If you have the time, please consider leaving us a review — it helps us out a lot! Here’s the link:” is as far as you should go.
To sum it up in one sentence: post-order emails are a fantastic tool for personalizing your brand and helping your review base, but they should be used with care.