How to Keep Customers Coming Back with Follow-Up Automation

Published: | By Margo Ovsiienko

Acquiring new customers is always costly — you spend a lot of time and money to land the first sale.

Once you make this investment and people start buying, how discouraging it can be to see them go after the first purchase. When it happens, you can start looking for reasons.

They didn’t like your product. Sometimes, it’s true, but not always. In most cases, people are busy or forgetful. It’s competition, and hundreds of other brands want their clients to spend money on them. How can you encourage people to buy? 

In this article, we will provide some inspiration on using automated emails to give people a nudge to spend more with your brand.

7 Follow-up Ideas to Get Customers to Come Back

When introducing email automation in your company, you can’t predict what follow-up tactics will work for your brand. You should start testing different things to develop an effective strategy. 

Read these seven ideas to get some inspiration for your A/B tests.

  1. Abandoned cart emails
  2. Email nurture campaigns
  3. Feedback emails
  4. Thank-you email
  5. Cross-sell campaigns
  6. Re-engagement emails
  7. Purchase anniversary email


1. Abandoned cart emails 

Abandoned carts are a huge issue for most eCommerce brands — just think how often you have started shopping and switched a browser tab.

It happens because people face a lot of distractions online or lose interest halfway before making a payment. Here is good news — you can get your customers back to the checkout page using automated emails. 

With the automation set for the users who abandon carts, you can reach them with a reminder at a better time — when they have fewer distractions or are in a better mood for shopping.

Abandoned cart emails should show all products a user added to the cart and provide easy access to the checkout page. Most automation tools for eCommerce businesses provide this email type so you can easily compose and set up your emails for automatic sending.

Check out how Gerry’s is automating these emails. They start their email with the sentence, “You have left something behind,” and summarize the cart content below. 

gerry's emailSource

2. Email nurture campaigns 

Customers won’t always be ready to buy again after their first purchase. That’s why it’s so important to maintain relationships with customers months after they buy from you. 

As part of your customer onboarding process, email nurture emails can help educate customers on your product offering and lead them down the funnel. You can achieve this goal by providing value in emails and resolving your client’s challenges. 

According to Brian Lim, CEO of iHeartRaves & INTO THE AM, “once you come up with a list of problems that your product helps resolve, explain possible solutions and communicate your product as one of the best options. How does it look in practice?”

For example, Grammarly provides freemium users with a monthly report of tool usage, shares valuable tips from their blog, and gives a discount to encourage purchases. If you use the tool quite often and see its value for your business, a discount is a friendly nudge that helps you make a final decision.

grammarly pageSource

3. Feedback emails 

Collecting feedback is a strategy that brands use to improve their offering, but that’s not the only role it plays. For example, with feedback emails, you can understand who among your customers is more likely to buy again and create the right incentives for new purchases. 

To collect feedback, you can send NPS surveys sometime after the purchase. For example, Massdrop asks customers to rate their products on a scale from 1 to 5 after a thank-you message.

massdrop feedback formSource

To send such emails with feedback forms, use POWR surveys. This plugin helps create feedback forms fast and embeds them on your website page, where you will direct people using emails.

After customers submit their opinions, you can segment them based on their scores. For example, the people who give your brand the highest score can receive a generous coupon for the next purchase. For each segment, you can send an automated email with targeted content. 

4. Thank-you email 

Sending a thank-you email after a purchase is a standard procedure for many eCommerce brands.

Most clients open it because they want to be sure that their order has been processed successfully. But confirming a purchase shouldn’t be the only role thank-you emails play.

You can use confirmation and thank-you emails to encourage customers to buy again. Here is how Methodical Coffee is doing it. In their thank-you email, they are offering a $2 discount for the next purchase.

thank-you emailSource

5. Cross-sell campaigns 

Cross-sell campaigns imply offering complementary products to previously purchased products. Offering similar products helps personalize your email campaigns and make them more effective. How does it work in practice? 

For example, if your clients have bought sunglasses, offer some summer hats or protective cream to complement their purchase. There is always a higher chance that a client would buy those complementary products rather than any other random product from your store.

Successful cross-sell campaigns are not merely based on picking the right products but also on the right timing.

Some brands sell complementary products right after the first purchase and ship them as one order to make it easier for clients to buy.

Offering to ship two orders as one helps create urgency and get people to make decisions faster. It also allows clients to cut shipping fees.


6. Re-engagement emails 

Some of your clients will start ignoring your post-purchase emails at some point. The goal of re-engagement emails is restoring their trust and increasing their interest in your offering. 

Reengagement emails also help maintain your email list hygiene — if your clients continue ignoring your newsletters, you should automatically unsubscribe them. That’s because low open rates can cause your email campaign to go to spam. So how can you build effective re-engagement campaigns?

There are a few ways to approach this task. One of them is using discounts, email bundles, or a gift. Check out this example of a re-engagement email with a gift.

reengagement emailSource

Apart from gifts and promo codes, you can also use a harsher technique — informing inactive customers of your plans to unsubscribe them if they keep ignoring emails.

When creating your email sequence, make sure you start with a carrot first (gifts, discounts, special offers) and use a stick only when the carrot tactic doesn't work.

7. Purchase anniversary email 

Purchase anniversary emails are a way to appreciate your customers, remind them of their previous purchases and inspire customer loyalty. Using purchase anniversary emails correctly will help create a positive impression and remind them about your brand. 

All this will result in getting your clients to buy from you again. So how can you set these emails up?

Personalizing these emails is not difficult — you must add a date variable with your client’s first purchase. To help automate the task and save time, you can create emails using templates and set them to trigger at specific milestones — 1, 6, or 12 months after the first purchase. That’s precisely the tactic used to create an email below.

anniversary emailSource

Wrapping up

It’s always cheaper to sell to existing customers than invest in getting new ones. By using smart email marketing strategies, you can convince your first-time buyers to buy from you again. To find the right mix of follow-up tactics, you must experiment with a few, measure their performance, and keep those that impact your business’s bottom line the most.

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