Mastering the Order Confirmation Email: The Opening
May 24, 2018
Part 2 of 5

This article is the second part of a five-part series on crafting the perfect order confirmation email. In the first part, we discussed the relative importance of the confirmation email in the business process, as well as the general goals that should be sought by this particular communication. In our second part, we'll go over the details and reasoning behind the opening section of the email.

As a whole, the order confirmation email offers your business a unique chance to use personalization to its fullest. You can use the order confirmation email to address the customer directly and thus build a relationship in ways that are not possible using the usual, more generic marketing channels.

Once the sale transaction closes, the customer expects your business he or she has been dealing with to know them. During that brief period between the end of the sale transaction and the delivery of the product or service, you as a business have a direct, trusted relationship with the customer. He/she/they expect your business to know them, including all the details that were part of the exchange. Whether that transaction is the signing of a service contract or the order of a product, you are expected to know your customer's name, address and all the other identification information that was required to get to that point.

This changes as soon as the product or service has been delivered. That is when the business relationship ends, as there's no need to maintain trust between the parties. As the seller, your ability to use that information becomes severely limited. For that reason, it is your job to make the best of that information while it is usable, for the benefit of the client as much as for your own.

In no particular order, you should be able to use the order confirmation email to do the following:

  • Solidify the relationship at a personal level
  • Make your business sticky for the customer
  • Provide valuable incentives for further engagement
  • Open new communication channels
  • Anchor the trust to other components of the business

The order confirmation email, like all forms of business communication, is a funnel. The first section or slice of that funnel is about grabbing the reader's attention. It should be used to thank and congratulate the customer for the order. While technically an introduction, if often referred to as the "celebration" part of the message. Here are the components that you can use to solidify the relationship at this stage of the funnel:

  1. Thank the customer by name
  2. Use a personalized celebratory message
  3. Use a combination of joyful colors, fonts, and graphics to emphasize the celebration
  4. Announce what the customer should expect in the following parts

In a plain-text email, you would write that first part of the email like the following:

 


 

Subject: Confirmation of your order from ABC Inc.

Thank you for your order, customer name.

I hope you're having a great day in downtown Chicago.

Check out your invoice summary below, along with the details of your delivery. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out by phone or through our service desk: we're here to help.

 


 

There is an infinite number of variations to the above example. Here's how Amazon does it:

In short: you need to carefully craft the language of your opening section based on multiple factors -- factors such as the type of sale transaction, the relationship you hope to establish with your customers, the type of product or service you sold, the general expectations from both parties, etc. All these need to be evaluated by the people who live and breathe your organization's culture. Just copying someone else's message style verbatim just isn't enough.

Throughout this process, you need to keep in mind that the order confirmation's priority is to 1) make the customer secure about his/her purchase, and 2) ensure the continuity of the relationship with that customer.

Now add a third goal: the copy should sound and feel better than the Amazon message above, by making it more personal and closer to your business and values. You are not Amazon: you can do better.

Final advice on crafting a perfect opening to your order confirmation email: test it. Have people review it and give you honest, unforced feedback. Use people from inside your organization as well as real customers from the outside to gather comments and evaluations. Even if you manage to do all this, you should still A/B test your opening if you can. The result of putting attention to these details will have a significant impact on your business.

Here are a few potential opening celebratory sections for emails you could use:

[to be continued...]
The Mailman

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