How to Craft Follow-Up Emails in the Age of Opt-Outs

Messaging, especially follow-up email messaging, is a tricky thing to master on Amazon.

Done well, it can help you stand out as a seller, boosting and cementing your brand in people’s minds as a savvy, helpful authority on your products. Done poorly, it can irritate or alienate customers with annoying, clumsy, and/or disingenuous content.

Frustrated Customer

Now, some customers are more picky than others, so it’s not as though you need to stop messaging buyers altogether. For every forum poster that says “there’s no need to pester me about leaving a review — if I like the product, I’ll review it,” there are dozens of other customers who legitimately forget to leave reviews, for which reminders are effective and non-intrusive. However, tact and care are still very important when writing follow-up emails.

Especially now that Amazon has introduced the ability to opt out of non-critical third-party emails, it’s more important than ever that you carefully craft and target the messaging, content, and timings of your follow-up emails.

Some Statistics and What They Mean

To start off, the percentage of opted-out buyers (measured by how many emails bounce with a “Your message could not be delivered” message) varies from seller to seller, but it usually ranges around 10–20%.

This percentage shouldn’t be looked at in a vacuum, however. Customers who have opted out are presumably annoyed by Amazon emails, so the people who opt out are most likely to be the ones who never would have clicked on your follow-up emails in the first place. Therefore, click-through rate/conversion rate for follow-up emails have not decreased as much as the delivery rate — we’ve only seen about a 5–10% decrease, which is still something, but nowhere near as significant as the delivery rate drop. So, from a purely metric-driven viewpoint, losses from buyer opt-outs aren’t that bad.

However, you still want to avoid opt-outs, if at all possible. Sure, some of the buyers that are opting out wouldn’t have interacted with your emails anyway — but think about why that is. Are they a lost cause that irrationally hates your emails and can never be reached? Or are they an indication of a problem with your messaging, a problem that is turning away possible repeat customers and reviewers?

Of course, some buyers opt out because of messaging from other sellers they purchase from, so your messaging may not be directly responsible. However, Seller Labs found that sellers who customized their follow-up emails, rather than relying on the default templates, had a lower opt-out rate than sellers who used default templates.

This shows that it pays to carefully craft your emails and target your specific customer base, rather than using a generic email template that might dilute your targeting or put off some customers who feel like they’ve seen the same email from many different sellers.

With all that in mind, here are our biggest tips for creating the perfect follow-up emails in an era where customers can opt out with the click of a button.

It’s All About Customer Service

We’ve made this point before, but we still can’t emphasize it enough. If you’re approaching follow-up emails primarily as an opportunity to score more reviews, you’re doing it wrong.

What should be your primary concern is whether the customer is having a good experience. Therefore, the primary content of your messaging should be focused on providing this good experience. Here are some ideas, although you should tune this list to your needs depending on the exact product you’re selling.

  • A step-by-step instruction list for setup or use
  • A product manual
  • An FAQ
  • A link to install drivers (if you’re selling any electronic peripherals)
  • A list of common use cases
  • A list of common mistakes users might make and how to avoid/fix them

Of course, you should still ask customers for a review, but that part should be understated and gentle. If you slap together a quick, lazy customer service section, then jump right into asking the buyer for a review, they will (rightfully) be suspicious. This tells a customer that you see them as nothing more than an opportunity to score a quick review, rather than a valued customer whose experience you want to improve. You can find more on the language of the review request in the section below.

Watch Your Language

Language and tone are always important in customer interactions, and they’re especially important in follow-up emails since you’d like your customers to actually open and read your emails, rather than skim them and delete them.

For a much more detailed explanation of how to shape your language in follow-up emails, click here and read our previous post on the subject..

However, the specific language to use in the review request can be tricky, so it’s worth going over in detail here.

First of all, Amazon specifically forbids asking for a five-star review, so don’t do that.

Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, you should avoid language that pressures buyers or otherwise implies that they should only leave a review if it’s going to be positive. This isn’t technically against Amazon policy, but buyers can tell if you’re just trying to extract positive reviews from them. Even saying things like “if you’ve had a good experience, we’d love to hear from you” can sound dishonest.

You can still suggest that they send feedback or negative experiences to your support email, but your review request should be limited to “if you get the chance, please leave a review,” no conditionals attached.

Less is More

The frequency and timing of your emails is one of the most underlooked, yet most important aspects of follow-up messaging.

Your number one priority should be: don’t send too many emails.

In the modern era of internet marketing, most buyers already receive a heaping ton of emails from dozens of different companies. As such, many have a very low tolerance for perceived “spam,” or even any slight excess in number of emails.

Thanks to the opt-out feature, it’s now very easy for buyers to turn off your emails forever if the quantity of Amazon emails they receive begins to annoy them. So, again, if you don’t want to annoy them, don’t send too many emails.

We recommend a maximum of two emails per order.

  • The first email can be sent after the product ships, and it should contain your proactive customer service (manuals, FAQ, drivers, etc.), and anything else that the customer needs to have a smooth unboxing experience.
  • The second email can be sent about a week after the product is delivered. It should offer help to the customer if something isn’t going right, and offer a link to leave a review.

It can also be valid to combine these two emails into a single message, sent when the product is delivered or a day after. However, the effectiveness of this single message is debatable, since they won’t have time to read up about the product before it arrives, nor will they have had the time

Conclusion

We talk a lot about customer service vs. asking for reviews here, so I think it’s worth it to go into the greater priorities of follow-up emails here.

What it boils down to is this: given one customer, would you rather turn them into a) a single review, or b) a repeat customer thanks to great customer service? Obviously, the dichotomy isn’t that simple, but to us, option b is greatly preferable to option a. To state the obvious, repeat customers mean more sales, more reviews over time (if they try out the rest of your product line), word-of-mouth recommendations, a likely base of customers for new product launches, and much more. Being more forceful in your review request and possibly getting a higher conversion rate isn’t worth the trade-off of alienating potential loyal customers.

Plus, if a customer is receiving an email from you, an Amazon seller, they should be getting something out of it. It shouldn’t just benefit you, in the form of a review — the primary concern is that the customer gains some benefit or value.

Of course, providing great customer service means more than just attaching a manual in your follow-up emails — it optimally requires a support team, something that isn’t feasible for every seller. However, some customer service is always preferable to none, and follow-up emails are an effective and easy place to include it.

If you want to get started with follow-up email automation with Efficient Era, sign up for our free, 30-day trial by clicking here!

How are you approaching follow-up emails? Share your strategies or questions in the comments below!

About Efficient Era
Efficient Era offers Powerful Tools for Amazon sellers. Our Alerts, Analytics, and Automation software is helping hundreds of sellers build and protect their brand on Amazon.
Subscribe To Our Blog