Marketing & Advertising

5 Tips to Improve Email Order Confirmations

The holiday season is gearing up. For ecommerce merchants, it’s important that their triggered and transactional emails are functioning correctly. The objective of these emails should be to help customers through the purchase process, and to encourage repeat orders after the process is complete.

In fact, one of the most important transactional emails is the order confirmation. In this article, I’ll offer five tips to improve ecommerce order-confirmation emails.

Optimize your Creative

Many consumers will keep order confirmation emails for months, and sometimes years, after a purchase. I once analyzed clicks and sales from order confirmations when I was email marketing manager for a large ecommerce retailer. I noticed that customers would click through on an order confirmation email a year or more after receiving it. This is especially true for seasonal products or for holiday shopping. Pair this with naturally high open rates that order confirmations typically receive, and it is a powerful opportunity for merchants.

Order confirmations should contain relevant information to be effective. Below is an example of a helpful order confirmation from Babies”R”Us.

This order confirmation from Babies"R"Us contains helpful, detailed information and links to additional products to consider.

This order confirmation from Babies”R”Us contains helpful, detailed information and links to additional products to consider.

This order confirmation does many things correctly:

  • Mimics the site navigation at the top, allowing people who would like to continue shopping to do so with a direct click;
  • Summarizes all of the purchase information and links back to the order on the merchant’s website;
  • Contains a sidebar of up-sell products based on my purchase and browse history;
  • Includes a banner at the top for various offers or other information.

Use Rotating Content

One interesting element of the above order confirmation is that the banner rotates every time I open the email or click the “View in Browser” link at the top. Here’s the same email (below) with a different banner.

This order confirmation from Babies"R"Us includes a rotating, horizontal banner at top.

This order confirmation from Babies”R”Us includes a rotating, horizontal banner at top.

This is an effective tactic for ecommerce merchants because it allows you to change content or promote a specific sale without having to alter the actual HTML template to reset the triggered email.

This tactic can also be used to control the products that are displayed on the right hand side. For example, suggesting seasonal products to override the natural algorithm that is dictating the current product choices may help. In addition, since order confirmations have a long shelf life, any offers that are included may expire before recipients have the chance to use them. By swapping out the content via a rotating banner or image, these offers can easily be changed.

Send Emails Timely

Order confirmations are typically sent in real-time, shortly after the customer places an order. Delays in sending the confirmation could cause customers to believe that their orders did not process correctly. Test your order confirmations to ensure that the emails are being generated timely.

In addition, to ensure delivery of the emails, keep track of the IP address these messages are originating from and check the IPs often on a system like Return Path’s Sender Score to ensure their scores are high.

Emphasize Mobile

Most customers now check their email order confirmations from their phones. More than ever, your confirmation emails should render well on a mobile device. In doing this, remember these pointers:

  • Reduce the amount of text and increase the font size for legibility;
  • Use responsive CSS design;
  • Ensure any links or buttons are large enough to click with a finger and are not too close to other links, to avoid click errors;
  • Use click-to-call on customer service phone numbers to make it easy for customers if there is an issue with their orders. Consider, for example, the email, below, from AAA, which I received on my phone. After clicking on the “Call an Agent” link on the bottom left, a prompt appears with the number to call. This is an effective way to easily drive calls from a click.
This email AAA insurance contains a click-to-call button, making it easy to contact the company.

This email AAA insurance contains a click-to-call button, making it easy to contact the company.

Unfortunately in the Babies”R”Us example, the email (below) is difficult to read on my phone, and the links are not obvious. The email also does not include a click-to-call option, which would have been helpful.

The Babies"R"Us email confirmation is difficult to read on a smartphone.

The Babies”R”Us email confirmation is difficult to read on a smartphone.

Track Results

Do not forget to track the clicks and conversions that are generated from order confirmations. These emails are not just a customer service tool, but a crucial marketing communication. Tracking the clicks, conversions, and the timing that individuals are clicking and purchasing will allow you to better understand — and optimize — how your customers interact with order confirmations.

Carolyn Nye

Carolyn Nye

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