Do Your Post-Purchase Emails Alienate Customers?

crowd_of_people.pngIt’s an email marketing mistake that happens all too frequently.

A business puts in the time and expense of getting a customer to their website or store, establishes trust and credibility, and gets that person to make a purchase. Which brings them to that critical first post-purchase contact.

Do they use it to provide more value? To reinforce the buying decision? Show the customer how the purchased product is even more valuable than they thought?


They Bring On The Advertising

Take a look at this example of a poor attempt at post-purchase email marketing.

Instead of creating a positive customer experience, this company goes immediately for the wallet. Again. Right after the customer got done putting it away.

This is another good example of how to screw up an email to customers. A company takes a great chance to use email to provide value, and speak specifically to customers, and turns it into a completely untargeted sales pitch.

Two Problems With That Email

  1. The company subscribed the customer without first securing permission. This shows a total lack of regard for the customer’s preferences. Didn’t they think customers would subscribe of their own free will? (Why not?)
  2. The content isn’t specific to the customer. It’s an email flyer, and while some customers may want to get notified of deals on other products, nothing about the list suggests that it’s more valuable/useful to customers than to non-customers.

All in all, the email doesn’t make a customer feel very welcome and appreciated.

Post-Purchase Email Marketing Can Be Effective…

We’re big fans of using email to increase sales. And marketing to your own customers is a great way to do that.

But you need to make sure that they want those emails. That those emails reinforce their purchase decision, and make them more likely to want to buy from you again.

To learn more about why — and how — you should use permission-based email to market to your customers, join us for a free live video seminar: This webinar has already occurred – sorry!

Turn One-Time Buyers Into Lifelong Customers

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  1. ckowyong

    11/13/2007 12:21 pm

    good point made. i guess many forgot about the good-old saying… "what goes around comes around". i think one of the best way to follow up on a sale is to just say "Thank You"… and maybe a generous discount on the next purchase. that should keep them coming back for more :O) as another saying goes… "give, and you shall receive".

  2. Sandi

    11/13/2007 1:10 pm

    Thanks for the info. I agree. I know that I myself don’t like being added to an email list without opting in. My inboxes (plural) overfloweth already! I would be turned off by that e-mail. I appreciate all the great tips you give. Hope to join you for the Thursday training.

  3. RichardatDELL

    11/13/2007 1:37 pm

    Hi Justin,
    I saw that you were taking a look at our post purchase email marketing and Seth’s commentary, so I wanted you to know that we listened to you and others and are making changes. Customers who want the email can subscribe, as suggested by you and others. You can read more here on our blog

    But wanted to stop by and say thanks for letting us know your views.

  4. Justin Premick

    11/13/2007 2:19 pm

    Hi Richard,

    Thanks for stopping by and letting us know! It’s good to know you guys are listening.

    I’m sure your customers will be better served as a result.

  5. Ron Davies

    11/15/2007 12:26 am

    Hi all,

    I have to say that the company in the example did exactly what we did when we started out in affiliate marketing a few years ago, building a list and selling to it.

    We made every rookie mistake in the book, and it probably cost us a small fortune. But, in our defense, we KNEW we should be marketing to our list, and marketing in context to the list, but we just didn’t know how pushy to be.

    We attended one of Perry Marshall’s closed group seminars at his home in Chicago last year, and we were advised that we should sell into the list, and do it over and over with at least 100 to 200 pre-loaded messages, starting every day and tapering off to once a month near the end.

    We understood that we needed to solicit them until they either left the list, or made additional purchases, but that the worst thing we could do was leave them siting there like an old file.

    Where we did go wrong was the nature of the emails. We sent sales letters, and Perry corrected us on this to where we sent about 80% content and 20% sales in any given message.

    HUGE impact on bottom line. Second only to the gains we had in sales after adding and split testing squeeze pages.

    These tips in here are great. Keep ’em coming!

  6. Mike Herberts

    11/15/2007 9:00 am

    Wasn’t that refreshing………hearing fron Dell.

    The way we learn to run our businesses better is to listen to what others say. You guys at Aweber are getting better every day at listening to your customers and you are doing what I was told to do from day one. Just help others to get what THEY want….and you won’t have to worry about what YOU want.

    Once we’ve made a sale (created a customer) there is no rush to sell them something else right this minute.

    I think at least couple of emails relating to their purchase with helpful information works absolute magic on the customer.

    With Aweber (they’re not paying me to say this ;0))it takes no effort to add a couple of brief messages into the autoresponder saying "I hope you are doing ok with such and such product you purchased, you might be interested to know…..blah blah" or "other people have found ….blah blah"

    A couple of emails like this and they are eating out of your hand. No pitch……just useful info/help/advice/assistance.

    Keep up the good work Justin

  7. Justin Premick

    11/15/2007 9:35 am

    Ron and Mike,

    I totally agree – one of the things that we strongly recommend is a focus on providing value and building a relationship with your subscribers.

    Lately I find myself telling people, "nobody ever woke up and said, ‘Gee, I’d sure like to sign up to an email list today!’"

    People are looking for something of value from the first time they come to your website, to when they receive that first email from you, to when they become customers, and afterward. If you don’t provide that value, they’re not going to respond to you, and they’re not going to stay subscribed.

    Fortunately there are many ways to provide value to customers, and like Mike says, it’s not hard to build them into your email marketing campaigns.

  8. Lori Titus

    11/15/2007 2:15 pm

    Despite my best intentions, I missed the seminar today. Is there somewhere we can download it?

  9. Rob Toth

    11/15/2007 3:32 pm

    This is a great slap across the head.

    If this were on a multiple choice, I don’t think too many merchant would choose "send more advertising" as the wise next step. Yet it can be a pitfall many fall victim too.

    ALL of my autoresponder sequences used to be setup like this (further monetization attempts on the back-end). I’ve learned better and continue to work towards adding more content instead to take the customer-trust even further.

    Thanks for posting this!

  10. Demond Jackson

    11/16/2007 4:57 pm

    This is a great post with very helpful responses. I’m new to email marketing and knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. I have heeded your suggestions and feel confident about charting my course into email marketing success.

  11. T.M. Harris

    11/18/2007 1:21 pm

    Very good post, guys.

    When I do follow up emails to my customers, I put the opt-in form after the sale.

    In the confirmation mail, I first thank them, and then tell them to confirm their link so I can send them a bonus download.

    Then in the first autoresponse message, I thank them again, and introduce themselves to me, my myspace page, my facebook page, and my blog. And I give them an email address to contact me if they need help.

    But I wait to promote something else via email though, for at least a day or two.

    Usually, those who do check out my pages that I list in the email, they buy other products from me, because they’re promoted on my site. And since all my products have my name and face on them, I’m instantly branding myself, and getting my face and name beaten into their heads.

    So, the follow up email works great if you try to get your buyers to fall in love with YOU, instead of the next product.

  12. Justin Premick

    11/19/2007 9:34 am


    That’s a great example of embracing multichannel marketing! It’s great that you give people so many avenues to interact with you.


    Funny, isn’t it? When we step back and look it’s obvious, but even the most well-intentioned business can find itself doing the same sort of thing. It’s tempting to go for the short-term gains, but as you’ve noted taking that trust and building further on it can ultimately yield much better results.

  13. » Learn From a Great Email Newsletter Example: Kayak - AWeber Blog

    4/2/2008 10:14 am

    […] ripping apart some poor email examples, I think it’s high time we point out someone who’s doing an email newsletter […]

  14. Stuart Stirling

    3/20/2009 9:30 pm

    Thanks for this post! You hit the nail on the head here!

    Like Rob Toth, I used to have my email sequence full of promos..but I realized the value of my subscribers and the importance of building trust with them….of course I still have promo emails in the mix but helpful content outweighs that and my readers appreciate that…I also think that readers expect some sales pitches so a good mix of content/promos is best.

  15. Brad

    9/25/2010 9:59 am

    Thank you for the tips.
    I did not start selling yet, and have doubts on how to approach my clients and make the best of it.
    Still not sure which is the right way for me.
    I rather not sell than cause damages to my list.