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March 07, 2022
A confirmation email is a transactional message that you send to visitors and customers based on their completed actions. This email verifies a step they took or a significant milestone in the customer journey.
In ecommerce, we typically send confirmations when users make or update purchases, cancel purchases, make changes to their account, join your mailing list, and when items are shipped.
Confirmation emails are some of the most effective messages you can send because they aren’t perceived as marketing or spam. Their engagement metrics are downright remarkable:
Why do order confirmation emails work so well? Because they are expected by their recipients, they are opened multiple times, and they tend to stick in people’s memory. These are the emails that get saved whenever everything else is deleted.
In this article, we offer some tips to optimize your confirmation emails. This advice will help you turn those often-read messages into marketing heavyweights.
Since your confirmation emails offer significantly higher open and click-through rates, it’s important to squeeze as much value out of them as possible. Here are some tips to optimize your confirmation emails:
Your marketing emails probably include attractive branding, but do your transactional emails include the same elements? In many cases, confirmation emails are created by developers or engineers (not marketers) so they lack clear branding.
Your confirmation emails are an extension of your brand, so they should include familiar elements to help orient your recipients. Create a visually appealing email that matches your brand’s style, but don’t get carried away. Show your personality, but be simple.
Check out this Allbirds email. It gives a quick thank you, a quirky image, and then it gets right down to business with a “view order status” button and transaction details. It’s well branded, but not overly done.
At a minimum, you should include your logo, contact or help links, and specific references to the transaction that the email confirms, such as “thank you for your order” or “your package has shipped.”
This should go without saying, but we didn’t want to leave it out. Every email you send should be mobile-friendly. According to Email Monday, 81% of people use a smartphone for regularly checking emails. 40% say that their mobile phone is their primary device for checking email.
What makes a great mobile-friendly email? They use a single column layout, large text, and touch-friendly buttons. They do not use complex background images or unnecessary design elements. It’s important to preview your emails on a small screen (about 300 pixels wide) before sending to ensure they display properly.
Your inbox view refers to the set of details a recipient can see from their inbox without clicking into an individual email. These details help users understand what's inside the email right away, thereby making it more likely that they will open it.
It's important to send your confirmation emails soon after the transaction occurs. If they don't receive the confirmation right away, they will assume an error occurred during the transaction. If they received the confirmation long after the transaction occurred, they might assume an additional transaction occurred (perhaps it's something fraudulent).
If there’s a problem with the confirmation email, you do not want your customers scrambling to get a hold of you. If getting information or contacting you is too difficult, they may just decide to cancel the order entirely.
Be sure to include links that directly help your recipient with their problem. An order confirmation email should include links to your refund policy or FAQ page. A shipping confirmation email should include links to the shipping policy and a link to track their order.
(When it comes to shipping confirmations, we storngly recommend Rush. Rush automates the shipment tracking process on all fronts so you never have to worry about losing customers. It helps you generate more revenue and increase retention. No more endless email chains asking about the status of your customer’s order. Click here for a special deal.)
Most importantly, don't hide these links in the footer of your email amidst a block of small print text. You want people to use these links, so display them prominently with clear type, icons, or images.
This Danner email is the perfect example. Notice how there are three links with relevant information and a clear contact CTA below the product list.
We know it’s easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one, yet only 32% of customers come back to purchase again. A satisfied purchase just isn’t enough to convince someone to patronize your store in the future. You have to give them a good reason.
A confirmation email is a great time to push that lever. They have a good experience currently at the top of their mind. They just need a little nudge to do it again.
A simple way to do this is with a discount on their next purchase. It doesn’t have to be a massive discount, but it should be just enough to make the customer feel like they are losing something if they don’t take advantage of it. Add an expiration date for a bit of urgency. Notice how GoDaddy adds a 25% discount to their order confirmation email:
If a customer has a satisfactory purchase, they might be willing to share the word with their friends and family - especially if you pay them for it. Word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of advertising, so it makes sense to take a few steps to leverage it.
For instance, you might give your customers a $25 store credit if they refer a friend who makes a purchase. Or you might give both parties a $25 credit.
Alternatively, you could give your customers a reward for sharing their purchase with their friends. This is called social proof and it’s remarkably effective. You might offer a discount code to anyone who clicks the share button in their confirmation email.
According to Forrester research, product recommendations like upsells and cross-sells are responsible for 10% to 30% percent of e-commerce revenues. The best time to ask a customer to buy an additional product is right after a sale. In fact, a Nielsen study found that customers actually like being offered new products by brands they like.
Give customers an opportunity to toss additional products in their same package. Make it clear that they will receive the new items at the same time as their original purchase. Just be sure these options make sense for the customer. If they order dog food, it’s reasonable to offer dog toys or treats, but you wouldn’t offer lawn care equipment or ice skates.
Once you see how often your confirmed emails get opened, it’s tempting to cram a lot of extra stuff inside them. More content = better results, right? Not quite.
Confirmation emails work well because they directly relate to an action the recipient recently took. If there’s a lot of unrelated content, they’ll misinterpret the message as marketing. Plus, you’ll condition customers to ignore your future confirmation emails.
If you’re going to include any of the above elements in your confirmation emails, stick to one call-to-action. Don’t include a referral offer AND an upsell prompt AND future purchase discount. Plus, adding too much marketing messaging can violate the CAN-SPAM Act. Here’s what the law says:
“It’s common for email sent by businesses to mix commercial content and transactional or relationship content. When an email contains both kinds of content, the primary purpose of the message is the deciding factor. Here’s how to make that determination: If a recipient reasonably interpreting the subject line would likely conclude that the message contains an advertisement or promotion for a commercial product or service or if the message’s transactional or relationship content does not appear mainly at the beginning of the message, the primary purpose of the message is commercial.”
Basically, it’s okay to sprinkle in some marketing content, but make sure the primary purpose of the email is to confirm an action. Try to keep the entire email as simple as possible so the recipient can understand it quickly.
We've given you several ways to optimize your confirmation emails. These tips will help you squeeze more value out of those important messages. As always, remember to test your results to determine which of these techniques gets you the best outcomes.