Tips for Making Your After Sale Emails Work Harder

At the Gadgetplex we recently ordered some awesome new monitors, and following our purchase received the below email:

Dear Richard Baxter

Thank you for your recent purchase from We hope the experience met your expectations.

We always strive to offer the highest quality service to all of our customers, and we rely on your feedback to help us achieve this.

We’ve partnered with the independent review site, Trustpilot to collect reviews from our customers. We hope you’ll take a couple of minutes to write a review of your experience with us. All reviews, good and bad, will be viewable immediately on

Review us on Trustpilot

Warm regards from all at,

What product are you actually sending me? Where are you sending it to? When will I have my order? How can I track my order?

Ok, let’s pretend that the order confirmation email has already been sent, and now we’re looking to do some after sale follow up, so let’s analyse the above email from that perspective.

You will notice that the email requests for the customer to leave a review on a 3rd party site, This is just one of numerous sites which Google looks at in Google Shopping for trusted review data, and they are capitalising on that for enhanced visibility.

Why the hell should I leave a review? I mean, what’s in it for me?

This email doesn’t answer those questions, but it did spark my interest to pull together a blog post looking at ways we can improve emails like this, to not only encourage repeat sales but improve effectiveness of our marketing strategy as well.

As we touched on 3rd party review sites, we’ll start with this…

How can I generate more reviews on trusted review sites?

Here is a quick list of some of the main review sites which are being attributed to Google Shopping:

When contacting customers, rotate the requested review destination to heighten visibility across these key platforms.

Ok, so what can we do to encourage these reviews? Think of the rewards:

Encouraging customer engagement

So where can we hook up with our customers online?

Inviting them to connect on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ in the email is such a simple addition yet there are still so many situations (like the above example) that ignore this opportunity altogether.

Why should they join? More exclusive deals, competitions, freebies as well as news on the latest products and offerings – shout about it in the email!

Related products

This is more likely to be seen as part of the check-out process but there is certainly no harm in offering other products that may be of interest in a follow up email.

Or if your site has integrated with Facebook, why not show products that have either been purchased/liked by their friends.

Introduce a friend

Referrals from friends can be very powerful, so why not give a greater reason for customers to introduce their friends.

Perhaps this could be in the form of a Tweet, Facebook Share, G+ post etc and the customer could receive X% off their next order. Why not take it even further and friends who sign up via a ‘discount url’ promoted by their friend can receive X% off of their first purchase:

“I just bought an X at @[site] – now you can get 10% off your first order [discount url]”


What data are you collecting from your customers that you can potentially use to personalise these very template-y emails? How can you use this data to pull at the heart strings of customers, enticing them to come back to the site or spread the word?

Some typical data collected:

Based on this data we can transform emails to be much more personal, but ok this has been mentioned before right, so what else can we do?

Has your site integrated with Facebook Connect? Here is some data that we can get by using Facebook:

There are naturally going to be some privacy concerns, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend displaying products which X friend has purchased, unless they have given consent to do so. But that doesn’t mean you cannot use the data here to power personalisation of emails!

Reminders and related offers

“Hey, your brother’s birthday is coming up in 2 weeks! But don’t panic, we’ve pulled together a selection of gifts just for the occasion…”

Personalised wish list

You know which products they have purchased on the website, and you now know what their interests are based on Facebook; put the products in front of them in the form of a ‘dream wish list’.

Friend’s purchases

You know what their friends have purchased on the website, and based on the theory of sharing similar tastes with friends, put those products in front of the customer (without disclosing who purchased what unless consent is given).

Social sharing

If you have written a blog post or produced something that coincides with their interests – share it here!

What your friends think…

We all rely on reviews, so when they are enhanced to show exactly what your friends/family think of a specific product, the persuasive influence becomes even stronger.

Now the power of Facebook is naturally limited to the size of the active community on your site, and some parts are more applicable than others, but hopefully this gives an insight into ways of using data to add more personalisation.

My take on what this email could look like

Taking all of the above points in to consideration, here’s a mock up of how we can incorporate the above features. Please note that this is not an email template, this mock up is purely for illustration of the above features only.

[Please click on image to zoom in and read annotations]

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13 thoughts on “Tips for Making Your After Sale Emails Work Harder

  1. Talha says:

    We have a very effective sales e-mail that is primarily targetted at acquiring Google Places reviews.

    This is however limited to private customers because we provide an incentive to them for writing reviews for us.

    I have taken it a step further now, and ask our clients to give us a public recommendation on Google (+1).

    We are a service provider so our appraoch had to be tweeked and developed, its working well so far.

  2. Andy says:

    Fantastic post, thanks Daniel! Looked at doing this for clients, but what do you think is more beneficial? Asking for customers to reviews your service on external sites, or asking customers to review the product(s) they bought on your own site? Or maybe a mix of the two? No doubt both are useful, but I think it might bring better long-term results if customers were asked to review on your own site – free(ish) user generated content, aids customer experience, and might bring about better conversion results than reviews on eternal sites too.

    I guess my question is – what would you prefer?

  3. Jacques says:

    Yep, it’s really bizarre how few people seem to get it.

    I’m the email guy for an ecommerce site, and we see so much traffic come back to us from transaction emails it’s crazy. People have to be absolutely insane to not optimise these things.

  4. Agreed – brand aware, happy customers return in droves. To ignore this component of our marketing strategy is quite mad! I love the idea of using the channel to increase the number of followers on Facebook / G+, etc. – that type of strategy’s going to have a critical impact on a retailer’s social search results.

  5. Thanks for your valuable input, Daniel. I work at Trustpilot and I think you raise some valid points about these autogenerated review invitations. However, things are a little more detailed than they appear.

    Overall, we see around 7% of these emails converting into a review. Even without a clear “what’s in it for me” statement in the message. That’s a pretty good rate, and I believe the humble question: “Will you please review our service” actually resonates very well if you have done your part of the job as a merchant. To some people giving a reward or entering a raffle in return for a review can look like bribery and in most cases an honest question will do.

    Having said that, we encourage our customers to modify the design and copy of the invitation email, which can be done in our administration module. The invitation is an important part of the after sales, and an optimized template will make the message more relevant and lead to even more reviews.

  6. Drew Brigham says:

    Great post, some really good idea’s there that I’ve never considered (such as friends purchases).

    We actively target buyers in our after-sales email to submit a review (negative reviews welcomed too, etc).

    One quandary I’ve always had is where to target reviews?

    At the moment we’re focusing on requests for products reviews on our product page (to provide reviews for other potential buyers and increase unique page content).

    We’d love to get reviews for any of the various review sites (e.g. ReviewCentre) and also Google Places – but the reviewer must submit the review from their own account (we can’t re-post a review they’ve sent to us, on their behalf).

    So the question is:
    Do people tend to focus on one ‘target’ at a time, asking users to submit a review to a specific site/server (e.g. product page, Google Places, g+1, Review Centre..etc) – or does anyone have a good technique (or wording) to prompt users to submit their review to more than one destination?

    [I always worry that asking a purchaser to submit a review to multiple locations will put them off. As we have a low-volume-high-value process, where we only make 1-2 sales a week, its hard to track the effect of changes we make sometimes]

  7. Jacques says:

    Well, the way we work is that we only publish reviews to the site if they’re about the product. Reviews about the service don’t get through.

    What we’re trialing in those instances where someone has posted a really positive review about the service that we’ve not been able to publish is to send them an automated reply asking them to submit the review to TrustPilot. We include the review in the email alongside a link to TP to make it super easy for that person to republish the review.

  8. Richard says:

    Hi Joakim

    Obviously the opening email I received wasn’t generated by Trust Pilot, though I’m sure you realised that!

    A 7% conversion to review rate is quite impressive! I’d love to understand the CTR on positive reviews vs negative. Is negative higher? (Our hypothesis is that may be the case).

  9. Adam Sherk says:

    Nice mockup. There’s a lot going on in it, but you’ve spaced it out well and everything serves a useful purpose.

  10. Paul Gailey says:

    I use a near similar template as a TrustPilot customer and am experimenting what works best, be it single call to action text emails, image based (can be spam filtered defeated), or multimessage ones . However I regard the timing of the review request email as crucial to it’s success.

    TP easily allow you to set a X days delay of issue of the email relative to the moment of order even without using their API. In the case of my client they are not issued until X moment happens in the customer lifecycle. And as X is controlled by the personal sales advisor via a CRM system, in effect the customer only receives that email at the time of maximum propensity of goodwill which in the case for financial services is a delicate moment.

    The other key thing is as the email is actually sent to a verified email address via the TP system, albeit spoofing the from @, it means the customer can practically single click to complete the review as it autocompletes account creation for them, and then their review will display from a registered account. That’s a crucial difference as opposed to sending customers emails for example to Google Places where, unless users are logged in, they are forced to login, and that’s is why I think the review conversion level on TP can be reasonably high.

  11. @Richard Sure, I realise that. My comment was on autogenerated emails compared to customized. The example you provide could be from any company in the world.

    The key aspect to get a review is motivation. An upset customer will always have a motivation to write a bad review (anger or even revenge), they will yell about you on Facebook, their blog or elsewhere. They could just as well yell on Trustpilot where you have a better chance to get alerted and respond quick.

    For the satisfied customer – that will represent some 90% of your customer base if you are doing a good job – you need to give them a motivation to give you a review. Could be that you are a small underdog in your industry, who fight against some big players – use that in your own advantage, as people tempt to support the small fishes in the pond.

    Thanks for the compliment on the CTR. We strive to make the process as simple as possible and exclude unnecessary data.
    I don’t have stats on CTR on good vs bad reviews. But on average a 1 star review is 3 times longer than a 5 star review… Again – the motivation thing….

  12. Ed Fry says:

    You’ve also got the option of simply making your customers smile. Derek Sivers put this little number together in about 5 minutes earning him tonnes of links, likes and customer love :]

  13. sylvain says:

    I actually use trustpilot, that’s how I find your post.
    Great analysis, I kept a few great ideas of yours in mind.

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