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Jan 8, 2009 | 2 minute read

Reducing Post-Purchase Anxiety: Order Confirmation Emails and Thank You Pages

written by Linda Bustos

The order confirmation email. So important. The sender name, even more important.

Do we spend so much time optimizing images, product copy and site usability to reduce friction and anxiety before the purchase that we forget that the customer is still a bit concerned after the purchase that the item will actually arrive, on time, in one piece?

Your thank you page only assures the customer that you've got their credit card information. He/she still lives on a prayer until UPS rings the doorbell. These are some of the questions in the customer's mind post-purchase:

  • Did the order really go through?
  • Has my credit card been charged?
  • When will the product leave the warehouse?
  • Can I track my order?
  • What if I want to change my order before it ships, can I do that?

Most retailers address at least one of the above fears with a follow up confirmation email that the order has been received, which is usually followed up with a notice when the item has left the warehouse.

But these emails mean nothing if customers don't notice them in their inboxes. If the typical customer scans sender names to decide what to open, ignore, delete or report SPAM - why would you use vague sender names like "lindsey.flint", "web" or "do.not.reply"?

I prefer sender names that use the actual business name or .com URL + orders, like Orders. This makes it clear who it's from and the purpose of the email. If the customer is also an email subscriber, you want to differentiate your newsletter/promotions sender name from post-purchase communications.

An anomaly here is "Certified Clearinghouse" which is the actual name of the business -- too bad it sounds like the godfather of direct mail spam, Publisher's Clearinghouse.

As far as subject lines, you can't go wrong with Order Confirmation and Shipping Confirmation at the beginning of the line. In fact, this is the best approach since some email clients don't show your full subject line. If you use your branding at the beginning (or absolute worst: Congratulations! You have just ordered...), the true subject of the email may be hidden. Or, the customer may not be able to differentiate this email from your other email communications like newsletters.

Don't Forget to Optimize Your Thank You Page

It's a good idea to remind your customer to expect and check for an order confirmation by email (show which address to add to "safe list" on your thank you page). Remind customer to check junk mail folder, and try to give an estimate of how soon they should expect this email (within 24 hours max). Also let your customer know if they will receive additional emails when items ship (especially if you use multiple warehouses and items may ship separately).

Closed Loop Marketing (of Web Design 4ROI fame) has a great blog post on optimizing your thank you pages, with an example from Crazy Egg and Musician's Friend.

...And Optimize Your Confirmation Email

Judith Kallos offers 5 tips for optimizing the copy of your confirmation emails plus more email etiquette advice on her blog The I Studio.