How to Optimize the Post-Purchase Experience for Higher Conversions & More Profit

by Peter Boyle

Last updated on July 24th, 2017

Give yourself a pat on the back.

It’s time to celebrate, right?

After all your hard work you’ve finally got the sale or sign up you’ve been searching for.

You’ve used your audience data to optimize your landing page design, finesse your language, and ensure everything on the page is as perfectly personalized as possible.

So here’s to a job well done.

But, and I’m gonna rain on your parade here.

Your job is far from over.

Sure, you’ve managed to get the sale, but that’s not the end of your job. It’s the end of the purchase journey, and only the beginning of the customer journey. That’s where the real money is.

An Initial Conversion is Not the End Goal

Vanity metrics are the bane of serious marketers like you.

You know that traffic driving alone is not something to aspire to. You know that unless that traffic is converting your efforts are pointless. Because, let’s face it, your analytics data or social share stats aren’t going to pay the bills.

If you want to stay in operation and grow your organization you need to continually grow your revenue.

And while you can see some decent gains from directing targeted traffic, you’d be better off focusing on customers you’ve already persuaded to convert. They’re already invested and have a level of trust in your brand that makes it easy to sell them on new products.

The post-purchase window can be a goldmine for your brand.

When your post-purchase experience is well optimized you’ll see benefits across your business. You’ll find the customer relationships you build will increase average order value, bring repeat business, and reduce your ongoing marketing costs.

Seriously, retention of existing customers is the goal.

Customer acquisition, retention, conversions

Your end goal is not to turn a first time visitor into a first-time buyer. That’s the first milestone, not the end goal.

That initial conversion symbolizes a shift in relationship. You’re turning a first time visitor into a valued customer.

They’re no longer just some person on your site, but part of your tribe. They’re now one of the people who pay your bills, keep a roof over your head, and keep the lights on.

They’re providing you with the value you need to continue, and you need to offer them the same level of value. They deserve the same respect they’re affording your brand.

Focusing on optimizing your post-purchase experience ensures a better revenue stream for your brand. You’ll see more people purchasing from you again and you’ll be able to cut your overall outbound marketing spend.

The real question is, what can you do to improve the post-purchase experience for both the customer’s benefit, and your’s?

Alleviating Post Purchase Fears

No one likes to feel used.

To make a financial outlay and receive nothing in return but a surly, insincere thank you.

When a visitor purchases from you – it’s the first step for them as a paying customer. Their need changes. They’re no longer looking for the best service provider, but need to know how to make the most of the purchase they’ve made.

The impression you make at that point is incredibly important. It sets the tone for the consumer-provider relationship to come. This is the first step in fostering long-term customer loyalty.

And honestly, starting on the right path isn’t all that difficult. All it takes is a little thought and some basic actions.

The very first step you should be taking is a simple confirmation email. One which outlines the details of the purchase and what the next steps are.

And this isn’t just for a product based business, it can be easily amended to a service based business as well (more on that later). Let’s take a look at some examples.

Up first, Amazon.

Amazon is the king of the eCommerce market. They are, generally speaking, selling other people’s goods. And so their follow-up isn’t that complicated because their job is in delivering the product.

The key questions someone who’s purchased from Amazon are likely:

  • Has my order been confirmed?
  • When will my delivery arrive?
  • Will I know when my product has been dispatched?

Amazon’s follow-ups are simple emails which accurately address these issues. They’re short, to the point, and address the key needs of purchasers.

Amazon order, post purchase, conversions

The above email was sent a few days after the purchase was made. It tells me everything I need to know and confirms the arrival date of the product. I have no reason to complain or cause a fuss until March 6th. And that’s only if the product doesn’t arrive.

Domino’s Pizza also has a great little service for those who are waiting on a delivery.

Generally speaking, ordering food for delivery is a lazy option. Those who do are usually too busy with other tasks to cook for themselves, have a lot of people over for a party, or are just needing a break.

After ordering online, the main question nearly all customers will have is “when will my pizza arrive?”. Not one to leave their customers wanting, Domino’s offer a pizza tracker so you can see exactly where your food is in the production cycle.

It’s an absolute godsend when you’re otherwise engaged as you can make sure you time everything right for the pizza’s arrival. A simple action, but one that is very effective at answering questions before they’re asked.

Post purchase, conversion, tracking


Post purchase service doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be a single email or check to see how things are going. But something needs to happen. You need to take some action to show your customers that you understand their fears and are doing what you can to meet them.

It’s the first step that defines your position as a trusted, caring service provider.

The Cross-Sell

Let me start this section with a caveat.

Cross-sell promotions for the sake of generating revenue aren’t going to work. Your cross-sell campaigns have to be targeted to the user. They have to offer actual value.

If they don’t, the consumer will see them for what they are. A poorly veiled attempt to grab more cash.

But if properly targeted, a post-purchase cross-sell campaign can do amazing things for your business.

Amazon has a great cross-sell campaign in place during the purchase journey.

They’ve got two pretty prominently featured sections to help solicit cross-sells, items you may be interested in and items that are frequently purchased with the item you’re looking at.

Amazon cross sell

The above two sections are reportedly responsible for 35% of Amazon’s total revenue, which is pretty impressive. They can generate 35% of their revenue just by linking to a similar or related product.

It’s a pretty simple tactic to implement and can even be used again during your order confirmation email.

If you’re tracking items frequently bought together you could add a dynamic section to the bottom of confirmation emails to get users back to your store and purchase once more.

Here’s a great example from Nordstrom taken from the ReturnPath blog.

Order confirmation, post purchase cross sell

Cross selling during the post-purchase windows can be a great way to increase revenue and offer a better service to your consumers. However, you have to follow the basic rules for cross and up selling:

  • Focus on the value of taking that next step
  • Make sure the recommendation you make is relevant to the initial conversion
  • Sweeten the deal with an incentive

Highlight Use and Best Practices for the Purchased Product

SaaS services, technical products, even in-depth information products. All of these can be confusing to those not familiar with the material, industry, or product range.

And paying money out for something you’re not quite sure how to use is a real pain in the ass.

Your job as the vendor is to help people get the most out of the product or service they purchase. The responsibility is on you to help those who hand over their cash understand what you’re offering them.

Not just because it’s great for building a positive image and gaining referrals, but it’ll also help in reducing the number of returns from people who simply don’t understand how to use what they’ve bought.

In an article from last year, I explored 5 email automations that can help drive revenue. You can easily amend the below example to include a helpful guide that tells people exactly what they can use the product for.

Email automation, post purchase emails

The above already has an email focusing on useful tips. You could build that out as much as necessary. If your product is complicated, you could send 3-4  emails that take the user through different stages of product use, detailing advanced features.

A step-by-step guide drip fed directly to their inbox.

Drip feeding the information has the benefit of reducing information overload. Rather than dumping everything on them in one go, you can walk them through it and tell them about new features as they’re ready to use them.

A Little Audience Research

It doesn’t matter what sort of content you’re sending or promoting in the post purchase window. If you don’t know the main pain points of your audience then you’re not going to be able to help them.

Great marketing depends on good information. You need to know what it is you can do to help your users and take a very customer centric approach.

Following all the guides on review mining, keyword research, and competitor analysis is a good place to start, but sometimes, the best information comes directly from the horse’s mouth.

There’s a psychological principle called successive approximations that makes the post purchase window the ideal time to ask your audience their opinion.

Without getting too detailed, successive approximations is kind of like positive reinforcement. When a person takes an action and is rewarded, they’re more likely to take a subsequent, additional action. It’s like a snowball effect.

And when someone purchases from you or signs up for your lead magnet, they’ve been rewarded with the product/downloadable. That means they’ll be more receptive to your next request as long as it’s nothing too demanding.

A quick little questionnaire or question is the perfect sized request at this point as demonstrated by Floppi. Immediately after submitting an email address you’re asked to let them know exactly what it was that made you sign up.

Audience research after purchase

A quick an easy way for them to see what it was about the service that drives the most sign ups.

Gaining Social Proof

Once again this is a little tactic that plays on successive approximations. Get that initial commitment and ask for a subsequent act that builds your social proof and presence.

The claims you make about your product are often considered hyperbole. You’re going to play things up because you stand to greatly benefit from people purchasing from you or signing up to your list.

Your customers though, they have nothing to gain from talking you up, so their claims are going to hold a lot more sway with other new customers.

Getting the praise of happy customers is key to your brand’s growth.

Derek Halpern is a great example of how to grow a social presence with positive comments. After signing up for one of his free eBooks, you see the below thank you page.

post purchase social strategy

The focus is first and foremost on giving you what you want. There’s a focus on positive language about taking action and everything is geared toward making the user feel pretty pumped up.

After getting his audience fired up, Derek asks for a simple Facebook like and comment.

A simple task which most users seem happy to take as Derek has 4000+ comments and over 100,000 likes. Both of which will help his visibility on Facebook gathering more customers.

If you’ve chosen not to cultivate your own Facebook page then you could easily add in a request to review email. Give the user maybe one week with the product, so it’s still new and exciting and shoot them a quick email asking them to leave a review.

Nordstrom post-purchase experience


Another great example from Nordstrom on how to gather reviews and improve social proof.

Keeping the Ball Rolling

So far the tactics advised in this piece have all focused on the immediate. They’re implemented within hours of a user converting. But what about further down the line?

What about a few weeks or months after a user has purchased from you? What should you be doing then? Cause a lot of businesses get this wrong.

The stats I opened with aren’t new. We all know existing customers are far more profitable than new customers. But does that mean you should be spamming them with all of your new products and services?

Hell no.

Justice getting someone on your list, to continue marketing to them you need to get their permission. This isn’t just because it’ll prevent you from pissing people off, but it’ll also keep your messages as targeted and relevant as possible. Something that’ll reduce churn, increase your CTR, and prevent your emails from getting hit with deliverability based penalties.

And just like with your audience research for CRO, there’s two ways to ask for this permission. Implicit and explicit.

In CRO research, implicit data is collected from indirect sources. Think the action a user takes, like what links they click and their on-site behavior.

Explicit data is collected more directly, through surveys, registration forms, etc.

So, how does this work with promoting new products or services? Well, let’s look at some real life examples.

A couple of weeks back I got an email from Jon Morrow of I’ve been a long-time subscriber to his email list and like the fact that he rarely pushed products, especially those which aren’t part of his own brand.

But I get an email asking me if I want a free eBook written by Danny Any of Mirasee.

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 11.42.13

Free books are always a good thing so of course I say yes and grab my free copy.

That click demonstrates my interest in building online courses. And, low and behold, two weeks later I receive the following email from Jon.

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 11.44.27

I can’t say for certain, but I’m 95% certain I wouldn’t have got that second email had I not clicked to download the book. The two are part of the same service and interest in one is a great signifier of interest in the other (If Jon or Danny reads this, I’d love to know if that second email would go out without the download).

It’s a great example of implicit data permission.

But what if you’re running product store and are running unrelated sales or promotions? Would Implicit permission be enough?

Well, perhaps. You could send an email with a link to a free PDF to upcoming sale items. As long as you;re clear on the products and offers you might be good to go.

But you might be better to simply outright ask users if they want to hear about X, Y, or Z.

I’d recommend you do this on an ongoing basis. We’ve all seen and ticked those little boxes upon sign up to a business that we’re happy to hear about promotions from them or their partners.

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 11.52.57

Example from Domino’s Pizza

But how long does that desire to be further contacted last? Usually, it’s not long.

You should be reaching out with any major new developments or products and asking your users if it’s something they might be interested in.

Don’t worry, you can send what is essentially a long-form sales letter to get them to sign up, but you need to get that permission for various reasons.

Fostering Long Term Loyalty

Loyalty building doesn’t begin and end within the immediate post-purchase window. Sure, it’s great to set the foundation for a long, value-based relationship then, but you need to keep the focus on your users for the months and years to follow.

Your existing customers are the most valuable segment you have in more areas than the financial. They show you the kind of person who loves your brand, adores your product, and what sort of help they need.

And that all needs to be fed back into your wider marketing strategy, particularly to your content production.

Use the implicit ad explicit data collection of your existing audience to inform, revise, and upgrade your content strategy.

Produce blog content that helps them overcome their problems, create webinars answering their biggest problems, and roll out social shares to content that is of high value to them.

This is not only going to help keep your existing customers coming back for more, but it’s going to help attract new visitors and make converting them into paying customers 10X easier.

A Conversion is Just the Beginning

Don’t operate your business on conversions alone.

Sure, it’s conversions that drive revenue and help you hit those KPIs. But by re-engaging existing customers you’re making the task of hitting targets so much easier on yourself.

The first conversion you see a customer make is an indication of interest. It shows you that they like what you have to order and gives you a path to follow to bring them back into the business and spend more cash.

Don’t let that opportunity go to waste. Your existing customers are the most profitable segment available to you. Take a little bit of care and start building relationships from the very first conversion made.

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Peter Boyle

Pete Boyle is a conversion focused copywriter and marketing consultant. He helps brands increase their revenue through compelling copy and smart email campaigns. Click here to connect with Pete or download one of his free marketing guides.


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