Depending on the industry, it can be as much as five times more expensive to recruit a new customer than to retain an established one. Advertising by email is an excellent way to keep in touch with first-time buyers, hopefully to encourage them to become regular customers.
There’s a fine line between encouraging customers to return and haranguing them after the sale is completed, say customers who have unsubscribed because they felt the company sent too many emails. The CAN SPAM Act of 2003 says it is legitimate to follow up with purchases and established customer accounts, but you may not sign them up to newsletters without their permission. Instead, encourage your customers to join your email list with a positive customer experience at each touchpoint* in the buying process.
[*Touchpoint: Marketing jargon for each time a company, store, or salesperson has opportunity to personally interact with a customer.]
You probably have a social media presence and a website, and you post regularly; you also have a form to join your email list on all of those pages. You may get a steady stream of sign-ups and Facebook and Twitter followers from that form. Consider drafting specialized emails at each point in the customer purchase experience.
- Consider adding a web tool to your site that allows customers to save items they’re considering purchasing so they may come back and review later. Make sign-up simple, because these are casual customers who aren’t sold on your brand yet.
- If the customer hasn’t returned to finish the purchase in several days, send a follow up email with images of the items they were considering, as well as a friendly, soft sell message.
- After the purchase has been made, send a delivery confirmation email, and then a shipping alert. Link to your website and include a short advertisement asking extolling the merits of joining your mailing list, as well as a Twitter and Facebook button. Include customer service contact info including phone, email, and chat link.
- If there is a shipping delay or other problem, send a prompt email with a sincere apology. Include customer service contact information.
- A few days after the customer should have received the item, send an email asking if they received it and if there were any problems. Request a review on your website, or use a webform so they can easily give a 4-star review from their email. Provide a Twitter and Facebook button. Include a slight variation on the previous email newsletter advertisement, and the same customer service contact information.
- If they sign up for the newsletter, thank them in the confirmation email.
When you shouldn’t send a prewritten email:
If a customer initiates a complaint, do not send a form letter (other than an auto-response that their email has been received, if there will be a long delay in responding; include other methods of contact, including phone and chat). Nothing infuriates an already angry customer than the feeling that their concerns are not being heard. A pre-written response to a complaint sounds like a brush-off. A sincere, personal apology that reflects you have heard the customer’s concern is necessary to prevent a rant on social media that may go viral.