Have you ever come across a website, bought one item, and then never thought about that store again?
Most people have. One-time buyers may make up between 50-85% of customers. It’s a common habit for consumers, but a frustrating one for anyone running an online marketplace.
You know the pain of constantly having to draw in more people to your site. Customer retention usually costs less and has better results than acquisition, but it can be tricky to manage.
Some of the best places to engage a customer are after they make a purchase, but this can’t be done loosely. It requires a thoughtful follow-up strategy.
Follow-ups are some of the best ways online marketplaces can engage existing customers. They allow you to send a simple message that reminds people you’re still around and prompts them back to your marketplace.
Follow-up strategies are also a tightrope walk, though. You need to balance what emails you send and how often you send them so you don’t scare your readers away. Below, we’ll talk about a few key ways to find the right balance.
Why Your Follow-Up Email Strategy Matters
Shopify reported that email marketing generates a phenomenal ROI. Like $38 for every one dollar spent kind of return. Those are pretty good odds, and the benefits of strategic follow-ups are pretty impressive, too.
Retain More Customers
Customers are overwhelmed with marketplace options to choose from. It’s hard for them to keep up.
An effective follow-up email will remind buyers of something about your brand. They’re like a little nudge from a friend saying “we’re still here, remember those good times we had together?”
When they work, they help your marketplace stay near the top of mind for the email recipient.
Garner More Reviews
There is a ton of data out there about how critical reviews are for online sales.
- They influence customer decisions
- Most consumers read them
- Potential customers trust what others write
- Reviews help instill trust in buyers.
After customers purchase products, you can send a strategically placed follow up email that asks them to leave a review. Not everyone will do it, but the gentle prompting will move the needle in some way.
Connect with Customers
A polite follow-up email is a great way to remind customers that you see them as real people.
Email is great for that because it’s one of the most direct ways you can reach your target audience.
They offer you a chance to create content that means something to them or instills trust in your brand. Even something as simple as a thank you can go a long way in fostering those customer relationships.
Create Cross-sell and Upsell Opportunities
You send a follow-up to a customer that’s already made a purchase, but that doesn’t mean you stop thinking about revenue. In fact, they offer a unique sales opportunity.
Your marketing or sales team can add insight into your follow-ups by thinking about other products to promote to certain buyers.
You might find that people who buy shoes often realize they need socks, too. Or maybe they want an additional pair of laces.
Whatever it is, your follow-up email campaigns can try to get out ahead of this need so your marketplace is the first they turn to for a solution.
5 Tips to Help You Nail Your Follow-Up Emails
If a successful follow-up strategy is like a nudge from a friend, an unsuccessful one is like an annoying younger sibling constantly begging for attention.
Unless you want to be that brand that’s constantly overwhelming inboxes with poor quality content, you need to think through the kind of follow-up emails you send.
Here are a few guiding principles to help you when you’re drafting.
Offer Helpful Resources
People often open emails because of a catchy subject line, but they stay for what’s in the body.
Not all email content is created equal, though. There’s a temptation to write something around your brand’s origin or your latest software update that you and your team have worked hard on.
While those things have their place in marketing collateral, they don’t really belong in follow-up email campaigns. Instead, you want to offer something with immediate value to the reader.
Customers want to hear about things like
- The status of their shipment
- How to track an order
- Ideas that will help them enjoy the product.
Say “Thank You”
Your first follow-up email should always be an order confirmation and thank you.
These don’t have to look like the thank-you cards your mother made you write to relatives who gave you gifts. You can keep it short, simple, and to the point.
“Thanks for your order. We are preparing your shipment and appreciate your business.”
This email shouldn’t blend with any marketing material or have a strong call to action or anything like that. It should just simply show your gratitude for their business.
Make Things Personal
Personalization is critical for emails. It’s much more appealing to see your name attached to a follow-up message as opposed to something that feels generic.
There are plenty of great tools out on the market that enables you to add names to emails without you having to manually type them in. Use that feature.
Most customers will know that the message was automated, but there’s still something endearing about seeing your name. At least, that’s what the data indicates:
- Personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened
- A personalized email can lead to 6x higher transaction rates
- Most marketers see personalized communication as an important part of their objectives that generate some sort of revenue impact.
Customize and Segment Audiences
If you’ve ever gotten one of those spam phone calls about an auto-renewal or student loan forgiveness, you know how annoying it is to be on some list that doesn’t apply to you.
Unfortunately, that’s often how customers feel about any email campaign from a brand. Even if they agreed to get emails from you, they may not feel like the emails they receive have anything to do with them.
Imagine a customer who bought a watch and sunglasses from your marketplace and then getting emails promoting the same exact products. They would feel unseen and unappreciated.
The best follow-up emails get sent to segmented audiences. These could be divided up by looking at things like
- Customer behavior
- Prior purchases
- Previous email engagement
- Surveys they’ve filled out.
Categorizing your customers will help you send less but more impactful emails so you keep your customers engaged without annoying them.
Successful follow-up campaigns won’t just show up at your door. You’ll need to come up with a repeatable, measurable plan that will get you good results.
The specifics of your company’s plan will differ depending on your goals, but the vast majority of plans will include some of or all of the following pieces:
- Creating a follow-up email template
- A/b testing your subject lines
- Finding out what your customer actually read
- Thinking about what you want from your customers with each email.
- Crafting a call to action that will entice customers to click
- Writing to a real person as a real person.
From Email to Experience
Online marketplaces thrive on creating good customer experiences. A follow-up email strategy plays an important role in that.
Follow-ups instill trust with your customers and show that you care about them as actual people, not just consumers. The relationships fostered by these strategic campaigns will help you retain more customers as they continue to have positive experiences with your brand in the inbox and beyond.