If you’re like most ecommerce business owners, receipts are probably an afterthought. With all the day-to-day tasks you have to handle, plus plotting the long-term direction of your business, receipts can seem like just another box to check, a simple part of your email automation platform. Think about how you handle physical receipts from brick-and-mortar stores – for many of us, standard operating procedure is to crumple them up, stuff them into a pocket or purse and never think about them again!
But in the world of ecommerce, receipts are more than just a minor part of your email automation. In many cases, a transaction receipt is one of the first experiences a new customer has with your brand. Not only do receipts represent a good touchpoint through which you can strengthen customer relationships, if you craft your email receipts the right way, they can even increase your revenue.
Below are six of our top tips on how to use email receipts to improve sales.
1. Send them right away
One of the easiest ways to establish trust with new customers is to send receipts immediately after a successful purchase. This is a basic tenet of modern ecommerce that people have come to expect. Customers may not pay close attention to every email receipt, but they will absolutely notice when they don’t receive one. With the prevalence of ecommerce automation today, there’s no excuse to not get email receipts to your customers very soon after their purchase. It sets a trustworthy foundation that can lead to repeat sales in the future.
2. Express gratitude
Manners matter – even when it comes to online shopping! A simple “thank you” goes a long way and helps build a stronger relationship with your customer. While a quick and easy message like “Thanks for your business!” is fine,
Check out how Allbirds, a San Francisco-based shoe company, thanks its customers for making a purchase:
Since the company makes its footwear from sheep’s wool, a play on words and unique image help reinforce the Allbird brand while staying top of mind with recipients. How many other receipts do you think their customers receive with sheep puns and a dancing ewe?
3. Offer clear next steps
In the physical retail world, the steps to complete a purchase are obvious: walk up to the check-out area, hand over your money or use a card or digital pay system at the register, and then walk out with your items.
With ecommerce, since there is a delay between the time the customer pays and the time they receive their product or service, it’s important to make sure they know you are working on their order. Most online shoppers today understand that after rendering payment they can expect to receive their products in the mail. By providing as many details as possible – including the expected shipping time, shipping method, and a tracking number if you can – you’ll inspire more confidence with customers.
This step is even more important if you’re selling a service as opposed to a tangible product that can be sent through the mail. Whether it’s a kickoff call, a scheduling link, or a form to fill out, try to schedule the beginning of the service as quickly as you can after receiving payment to inspire trust and win repeat business.
4. Link to related products and services
A customer purchase provides a great deal of information on what someone is interested in. If they’ve purchased a product from your online store, is there an accessory that they may also be interested in? Perhaps others who have purchased that item typically buy something else soon after – you could easily include a link to that item to speed up the purchase cycle. You can include a direct link to any other purchase you think will make their experience with the original item better – if customers agree, they’ll reward you with their dollars. According to Sumo, upselling increases revenue by 10-30% on average.
If you are selling a service, think about potential upsells based on additional services as well as purchase cycles. Many online service businesses charge a certain rate per month or quarter. Is there an opportunity for you to offer a discount if the customer agrees to extend the service immediately after buying? Another great option specifically for service businesses is an upsell that allows them to have their questions, inquiries or service requests prioritized over other customers.
5. Share some other content
Think about other company-relevant content that a customer might be interested in. Do you have any recent blog posts that relate to the product or service they’ve just purchased? Are you getting ready to host a virtual meet-up where customers can ask questions and exchange best practices? Even if it’s not directly relevant to the specific product or service they just bought, it makes sense to include a small sampling of other company updates or content pieces.
Don’t go overboard, though – a sentence or two with a hyperlink, and/or a clickable visual graphic will be plenty for one email. It’s a receipt, not an email newsletter – most people won’t be expecting a flood of information about your business. But since you already have their business, as well as their eyeballs – Forbes reports that email receipt and tracking notification open rates can be as high as 80% – it makes sense to drop in a few bits of info about your business.
6. Keep it concise and clean
No one is looking for a lengthy email receipt with hundreds of words dedicated to your company history, the origin of your team, etc. It’s okay to link to these types of pages or include brief snippets about them, but for the most part, you want to be as concise as possible: confirm the order, include the payment amount and next steps, provide a few cross or upsell links, and then end the message. Trying to do too much in your emails is an easy way to turn people off, which can actually lower your sales instead of improving them.
The “clean” part relates to the email’s visual layout. Generally speaking, simpler is better. Email receipts aren’t the place for fancy, experimental graphics or to show off that latest product video the team worked super hard on. Use basic colors supplemented by your visual style guide, and remember to keep fonts and sizing consistent with your website and product pages. Simple colors, clean lines and plain text will not only look better and more readable to recipients, it will reduce the likelihood of an email receipt bouncing – a situation much more serious than a bounced newsletter or marketing email.
Unlocking revenue from email receipts
The above steps are a great way to start getting more out of your email receipts, but you shouldn’t view them as a checklist of must-haves. As we mentioned, trying to stuff your email receipts with too much information will be ineffective at best and could backfire and turn off potential repeat business at worst.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to squeeze a bit more sales juice out of your email receipts. By adding elements like upsell links, gratitude for the business, and a small amount of additional info about your company, you can turn your email receipts from an afterthought of automation into a legitimate vehicle for driving increased sales and customer retention.