REFERRAL MARKETING STRATEGY

The Post-Purchase Email Flow To Boost Revenue And Retention

by Emma Kimmerly

December 13, 2022


Your post-purchase emails are possibly the most impactful marketing effort to increase customer retention. They can also lead to reduced customer acquisition costs and increased profits.

Understanding these benefits is only half the battle, though.

The real challenge is in the execution.

To help you build a post-purchase email flow that boosts revenue exponentially, here I breakdown

  • the goal of a post-purchase email flow,
  • define what makes a successful email flow,
  • explain how to create a post-purchase email campaign that converts,
  • and share some post-purchase email sequence tips from fellow referral marketers.

 

Main Goal Of Post-Purchase Email Flows

A post-purchase email flow or post-purchase series aims to increase customer lifetime value (LTV) by engaging customers and developing long-term relationships.

The ultimate goal is to get customers to come back and purchase again, over and over.

Although this isn’t just about repeat purchases and immediate return on investment (ROI)—post-purchase emails also focus on 

  • building relationships, 
  • providing added value, 
  • and encouraging customers to become loyal fans or ambassadors of your business.

This makes post-purchase email campaigns a great addition to your referral program.

Erin Walters, Email Marketing Associate at the Natural Dog Company, explains how post-purchase emails, thanks to an integration between Friendbuy and Klaviyo, have helped the brand:

"We’re really leveraging Friendbuy and Klaviyo together to drive a couple of different business outcomes, the first one being retention, because we want to incentivize our past customers to continue enjoying our brand. And then also on the customer acquisition side, to drive those strong purchases through a personal referral."

 

Learn more: Read the Natural Dog Company testimonial.

Post-Purchase Email Benchmarks For eCommerce 

Even though post-purchase emails are one of the most powerful marketing tools for eCommerce businesses, many companies fail to take advantage of them.

Let's make a few quick comparisons to highlight this unfortunate fact.

  • The average eCommerce marketing email sees an open rate of around 16.75 percent, a click-through rate of 2.32 percent, and an unimpressive conversion rate of 1.33 percent
  • A post-purchase email flow open rate, on the other hand, is as high as 42.5 percent, has a click-through rate of 18.3 percent, and a conversion rate of 10.3 percent.

This means that a post-purchase email flow can generate more than 2.5x the open rate of other eCommerce marketing emails, just shy of 8x more clicks and more than 7.5x more conversions.

Considering these numbers, how should you define the success of your referral marketing post-purchase email flow?

Hitting or coming close to the above percentages for post-purchase email open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates is a great starting point. Aside from these metrics, you could also measure the following:

  1. the number of new customers referred to your business via post-purchase referral emails,
  2. the revenue generated from referred customers,
  3. and customer retention rates.

 

Optimal Post-Purchase Email Flow

Now that we’ve established the goals of a successful post-purchase email flow, let’s see what that looks like in action.

PRO TIP: Keep in mind that adding a referral program call-to-action at the bottom of your emails, any kind of email, will significantly increase any clicks and conversions you'd otherwise have. We strongly recommend including CTAs to your referral program in the footer of all of your post-purchase emails.

 

Order Confirmation

An order confirmation email is sent to customers to confirm their purchase. It should include the order details, such as the product purchased, the price, and the estimated delivery time. It should also include any pertinent information related to the product, such as return policies or warranties.

Order confirmation emails provide a sense of comfort to the customer that their purchase was successful. It’s the very first step in what will turn out to be a long-standing relationship built on trust.

Unlike other post-purchase messages, an order confirmation email should be sent as soon as the purchase is made so the customer is informed and reassured that their purchase was successful. It also gets them used to seeing your brand name in their inbox, which will come in handy when you send the next email.

 

Shipping Confirmation

A shipping confirmation email is sent to customers to confirm that their order has shipped. It should include the order details, such as the product purchased, delivery method, estimated delivery time, and tracking number.

Shipping confirmation emails keep customers informed and provide peace of mind that their purchase is on its way, even if late. It should be sent as soon as the order ships so the customer has the necessary information to track their order.

If this relationship analogy begins with courtship, then consider this email the second date.

 

Ask-For-Reviews

An ask-for-review or review request email is an email sent to customers to ask them to provide customer feedback on their purchases. It should include a request for a review, a link to the appropriate review page, and a thank you message.

That ‘thank you’ could come in the form of a 10% discount, like Friendbuy customer ILIA does when they ask for reviews.

It should be sent after the customer has received their order and has had time to evaluate it before they forget about it.

Asking for reviews provides valuable feedback that can be used to improve products and services and demonstrate customer satisfaction to potential customers. 

And if we continue with the courtship analogy, this is like the risky third date that unofficially determines if you and your customer become official. Bribing them with a 10% discount, while probably unethical in romantic partnerships, is a perfectly ethical way to secure that official long-term relationship title with your customer.

NOTE: A referral program email should come right after the reviews email; set up an automated workflow to ask customers for a referral after a positive review or NPS score. Learn more here.

 

Product Recommendations/Cross-Selling

Now that your customer is warmed up, you’re safe to move on to the next step of the relationship: product recommendations.

Product recommendations/cross-selling emails are sent to customers to recommend other exciting products or services. It should include product images and descriptions, an incentive for buying the product, and a call to action.

Product recommendation emails should be sent shortly after the customer purchases while still engaged with their product. In marketing terms, you want to send this while your brand is still “top of mind”.

 

Referral Program Promotion

A referral program promotional email is sent to customers to encourage them to refer their friends and family to your business. It should include an explanation of the referral program, an incentive for referring friends, and a call to action.

This is where the brand-customer relationship gets pretty serious: you’re asking them to tell their friends and family about you. ILIA makes a pretty attractive offer that’s hard for customers to refuse.

Referral program promotional emails help with customer retention by motivating customers to refer their friends, which can lead to more customers and sales. It should be sent after customers have purchased a product and have had time to evaluate it, but not left so long that the product is no longer fresh in the recipient's mind.

 

Sales And Other Event Notifications

This post-purchase email functions just as it sounds; it is an email sent to customers to notify them about upcoming sales and other upcoming events. It should include information about the event, such as the date and time, and a call to action.

Sales and event notification emails keep customers informed and engaged with your business. It should be sent one to two weeks before the event so that customers have plenty of time to plan.

Bringing the relationship analogy back, consider this the free-flowing communication that comes with healthy relationships.

 

Birthday And Milestone Emails

A birthday and milestone email is sent to customers to celebrate their birthdays or other notable milestones, an important opportunity to shower appreciation over your customer. It should include a short message congratulating the customer and a special offer or promotion.

Birthday and milestone emails show customers that their loyalty is appreciated and rewards them with a special offer. It should be sent one to two weeks before the customer's birthday or other milestones so that the customer can take advantage of the offer.

 

Win-Back Emails

A win-back email is an email sent to people who have been inactive customers of a business. It typically includes a message of appreciation for the customer, a call-to-action to return to the business, and incentives or offers in the form of discounts, gifts, or exclusive access to certain services.

 

Win-back emails work because they show appreciation for the customer and encourage them to return with offers they can’t refuse. They are best sent when there has been a noticeable decrease in customer activity or when a customer has purchased a one-time product or service.

 

 

How To Send The Perfect Referral Program Email, Post-Purchase

Post-purchase email is the perfect time to promote your referral program—while your brand is fresh in the mind of your customers. To ensure you get the most out of your post-purchase email flow, here are a few tips to help you send the perfect referral program email, post-purchase.

 

Email Subject Lines Worth Opening

When crafting the subject line for post-purchase emails, it is crucial to make it enticing and relevant to the recipient.

Further, an open-worthy subject line should follow these three best practices:

  • Make it clear. Be sure the intention of your email is crystal-clear from the subject line. Avoid generic subject lines like “Check This Out” in favor of more descriptive lines like “Refer and Earn Big.”
  • Keep it short. Brevity is vital when it comes to email subject lines. Generally, the shorter the subject line, the better.
  • Utilize curiosity. Using curiosity-inducing words and phrases can help grab your customer’s attention.

What does this look like in practice?

Here are a few examples of referral marketing email subject lines (feel free to copy and paste):

  • “Earn $XX when you refer a friend.”
  • “Get a XX% discount when you refer a friend!”
  • “Share the love & get a reward.”
  • “Get rewarded for referring your friends.”
  • “Pass on the savings & get rewarded for it.”
  • “Get rewarded for your loyalty!”

Learn more: See referral email subject lines.

 

Referral Offers Worth Sharing

When creating a referral offer, it is essential to create something worth sharing. A good referral offer, either a referral reward—used to encourage Advocates to share a referral program—or a referral incentive—used to entice Friends to join a referral program—should be tangible and desirable for both the Advocate and the referred Friend.

Examples of commonly used referral offers include:

  • Coupon codes
  • Account credit
  • Access to exclusive offers or VIP events
  • In-store gift cards
  • Third-party gift cards
  • Cash rewards
  • Free shipping on orders

Learn more: Types of referral rewards and incentives for referrals.

 

Referral Program Email Examples

Here are some industry-leading examples demonstrating what post-purchase emails look like in practice.

 

Getaway

Getaway's post-purchase email campaign is a prime example of how you can maximize customer acquisition even post purchase. Getaway's post-purchase emails always include a call-to-action for their referral program in the footer of their emails. 

The incentives offered by Getaway’s referral program—a $25 discount for both the Advocate and Friend—are designed to encourage existing customers to drive further sales through word-of-mouth referrals.

Metromile

Metromile's email campaign is a perfect example of how to effectively promote a referral program post-purchase. By offering a tangible reward—a $10 Amazon gift card for both the Advocate and Friend—and making refer-a-friend easy with a PURL embedded in the email, Metromile demonstrates how referral programs can be used to drive both customer acquisition and engagement goals in the post purchase email flow.

Smile Direct Club

Smile Direct Club's email campaign leverages the success of its referral program to drive customer loyalty and engagement. By showcasing the success of one of its Advocates—who earned a $100 Amazon gift card as a reward for referring a friend—Smile Direct Club demonstrates how rewarding customers for their loyalty and advocacy pays off.

It also generates new leads and boosts profits, making it a win-win-win.

 

MeUndies

MeUndies' post-purchase email is an excellent example of integrating a referral program within an order confirmation flow. By providing customers with an easy way to refer friends via an embedded referral program link and offering a generous reward—$20 store credit for the Advocate and 20% off for the Friend—MeUndies demonstrates how referral programs can be incorporated into every email in your post purchase sequence. 

 

PetFlow

PetFlow’s post-survey email is an excellent example of leveraging referral programs to drive customer engagement and conversions. By offering a $10 reward for both the Advocate and Friend—consumers are more likely to stay engaged with the brand and take advantage of the offer. PetFlow also makes referring friends a breeze by providing an easy-to-follow referral landing page link.

 

How To Set Up Your Post-Purchase Email Flow

Friendbuy allows users to create a customer referral program with ease. To demonstrate this with Klaviyo, let’s set up an email flow that sends post-purchase emails.

Prerequisites: If you choose to use Klaviyo, you’ll need to sign up for the Klaviyo platform and enable the Friendbuy/Klaviyo integration.

 

Step 1: Setup Your Email Flow

Once the integration is complete, head to your Klaviyo dashboard and navigate to Flows in the left menu.

 

Step 2: Create Your Flow

When the Flow page appears, click Create Flow and select Create from Scratch. Alternatively, you can choose from one of the existing flows.

 

Step 3: Name Your Flow

Once you’ve chosen either to start from scratch or to use an existing flow, name your flow simply by entering a name in the Create Flow pop-up, selecting a Tag, and clicking the Create Flow button.

 

Step 4: Select the Trigger

Now, select which trigger you’d like to use. To send post-purchase emails, we’ll select the Metrics option.

 

Step 5: Configure the Flow’s Logic

Next up, we’ll establish the email flow’s flow trigger. We’ve used Shopify for this example, but Friendbuy also integrates with other eCommerce CMS platforms, including WooCommerce and BigCommerce.

Select the trigger action from the dropdown menu to configure your email flow’s logic. In this case: Fulfilled Order.

 

Step 6: Setup the Flow’s Time Delay

It’s best practice to create a time delay. Instead of sending a post-purchase email immediately after purchase, we’ve configured a 3-day delay for this example. Using Klaviyo’s settings, you can choose a different time delay that you’d prefer.

 

Step 7: Create a Conditional Split

You can now choose between sending a referral link in the post-purchase email or, alternatively, a link that directs the customer to a referral program landing page.

Or you could do both.

To do so, from the left-hand menu:

  1. Using the dropdown menu, select Properties about someone.
  2. From the left-hand bottom dropdown menu, type in “Friendbuy Referral Link.”
  3. From the right-hand bottom dropdown, select is set.

 

Step 8: Set up Email Flows For the Conditional Split

You have three choices here, depending on your choice in the above step:

  1. You can send post-purchase emails with a referral link, not a link to a referral landing page.
  2. You can send a post-purchase email with a link to a referral page, not a referral link.
  3. You can send post-purchase emails that contain either a referral link or a link to a referral page.

To do so, from the left-hand side menu, select Actions, then Email, and drag the box over to the automated flow. If you decide to send two variations of post-purchase emails—one that contains a referral link and one that contains a link to a referral page—generate two Actions and drag them to the automated flow.

 

Step 9: Set a Design for Your Email Flow

To set a design, click the three dots in the corner of the email flow and then click Edit.

Choose how you’d like to design using text only, drag and drop, or HTML.

Choose a template from Klaviyo’s library.

Add, move, or remove elements in the editor, add or update text, and designate where you’d like to insert your referral or page link.

Once you’re finished designing, hit Save, and you’re all done.

Klaviyo isn’t the only platform you can use to send post-purchase emails with Friendbuy, you can also use Yotpo or Okendo.

Learn more: See a complete list of our integrations.

 

Post-Purchase Email Tips From The Experts

To wrap this up, I’ve asked some fellow business owners to share their approach to post-purchase emails with us.

Let’s see what they have to say.

 

Customer Segmentation

Dwayne Kula from LED Lighting Supply suggests using customer segmentation. He said,

“The performance of your post-purchase email campaigns will be significantly improved by implementing segments that identify patterns in your high-value purchasers. This is because you're talking to specific people and tailoring your communications to them rather than just sending out generic emails. Examples of these patterns include what they buy, where they are, how much they spend, how frequently they return, and which medium they come through.”

By integrating with Okendo and Klaviyo, Friendbuy’s platform allows you to conduct customer segmentation.

 

Referral Link vs. Referral Page

When asked whether to send post-purchase emails with a referral link (PURL) or a link to a referral page, Samuel McGraw from Design Hub advises:

“It depends on the customer experience you want to deliver. If you want your customers to quickly and easily refer friends, you should send them a referral link in the post-purchase email. This direct link ensures that the customer does not have to search for the referral program; it comes straight to them.”

“If, on the other hand, you want to craft a unique referral experience for the customer, it may be best to send them directly to the referral landing page, where they can learn more about the program and find personalized referral instructions. This approach also ensures that the customer completes the referral confidently, aware of what's expected of them, and what rewards they'll receive.”

“Ultimately, the choice comes down to how much you want customers to be involved in the referral process and which experience yields the most referrals.”

Jaden Oh, CMO at Traffv, suggests A/B testing could guide you in the right direction. He suggests,

"...when deciding whether to send a referral link in a post-purchase email or redirect the recipient directly to a referral landing page, it is best to use an A/B testing approach. This will allow you to determine which method works best for your specific customer base."

 

Learn how you can use Friendbuy to incorporate PURLs in your post-purchase emails. Or read more on referral landing pages.

 

Timing

Samuel also advises when it’s best to send post-purchase emails:

“I find sending post-purchase emails within 24-48 hours is best.”

Samuel says within this window of time, “…customers are more likely to remember the purchase and the time it took for their order to arrive.”

Joshua Wood, the CEO and founder of Bloc offers more insight:

“There are some products and contexts where it may be advantageous to send the post-purchase email sooner (before the passing of 24 hours). For example, if you are selling a high-priced item or an item that is likely to be returned, you may want to send the email within 24 hours of purchase to increase customer satisfaction and reduce return rates.”

 

Learn more: How to incorporate referral marketing into post-purchase emails.

Closing Thoughts

Want to maximize your post purchase email flow with a referral marketing program? Contact our sales team to see what's a good fit for your business.