How to Use First Purchase Emails to Create Loyal Customers [Examples]

Illustration by Rodrigo Fortes Illustration of plants being watered

When working toward the long-term success of a company, building a loyal customer base is far better than using the slash-and-burn sales method. It’s much easier, and economical to run a business that encourages repeat buyers, rather than a business focused on making a single sale and then moving on to the next prospect.

The first step toward cultivating a customer relationship that inspires consumers to engage and invest in your brand is a first purchase email.

A first purchase email, which is a type of post-purchase email, provides you with myriad benefits and opportunities. It’s a low-cost way to re-engage with a prospect, gather information about their experience, and build brand loyalty.

Though most e-commerce businesses are fully aware of the importance of post purchase emails, many fail to capitalize on the special advantages of a first purchase email within their e-commerce marketing strategies.

What is a First Purchase email?

Unlike other types of post-purchase emails, you only get one shot per customer at a great first impression when it comes to a first purchase email. This type of WooCommerce follow-up email is exactly what it sounds like — it’s the email a customer gets right after they make their first purchase with your company.

These emails give you an opportunity to reiterate your company’s culture and mission, ask for feedback, and offer special discounts. 

Basically, you want to go the extra mile in a first purchase email to ensure that the customer feels valued and part of your company’s brand.

The benefits of sending First Purchase emails

The majority of marketing budgets are spent on identifying new leads and garnering new prospects. This is partially because attracting a new customer costs five times more than keeping an old customer. You end up spending a lot — in both time and money.

By using first purchase emails, you can improve customer retention inexpensively. When that email shows up in their inbox, the client sees that you appreciate them and their decision to buy from you. It kicks off the process of building a long-term relationship with your new customer.

When you use a first purchase email to convert a new client into a loyal customer, you’re also improving the return on investment (ROI) from your e-commerce marketing strategies.

Even before you factor in the financial advantages of repeat purchases from loyal customers, email marketing efforts are known for their high ROI. In fact, the median ROI for an email marketing campaign is 122%.

Then, when you add in the benefits of returning customers, your ROI really goes up. Returning customers are twice as likely to convert than new customers. Additionally, they spend, on average, 67% more than new customers.

A first purchase email is also a great way to provide additional information for your new customer, ensuring they have a better experience with your product or service. The email can include tips, how-tos, background stories, and social proof.

Different types of First Purchase emails

Most email marketing tools will allow you to automate and customize the emails you send to first-time customers after they’ve made a purchase. The specific timing you set to send these emails should be a function of your team’s e-commerce marketing strategy and analytics data. 

Some marketing teams choose to send the first purchase email immediately, capitalizing on their brand being at the top of the consumer’s mind. Others wait until a few days after an order is placed to give the consumer some space. 

There are also marketers who send a series of first purchase emails as part of a drip email marketing campaign. In that case, they might send one email for each of the first purchase email types described below. 

First Purchase emails to send immediately

There are three primary types of first purchase emails that you can send immediately:

  • Welcome/thank you email
  • Introductory email
  • Product guide email

A welcome/thank you email typically is an upbeat email that provides information about your customer’s order. This could include a recap of the purchase, a tracking number, or information about the next step of the ordering process.

Example of a first-purchase email from Coco & Eve
Coco & Eve’s welcome email is anything but boring.

Welcome emails are very effective. On average, these emails produce 320% more revenue per email than other promotional emails. 

Three ideas you might consider including in your welcome/thank you email are:

  • Product recommendations
  • An invitation to follow your company on social media
  • Coupon codes for their next purchase: Customers who buy products through email spend 138% more than those that shop with the company, but don’t receive offers via email

An introduction email is slightly different from a thank you email. Instead of focusing on the purchase, this type of first purchase email is used as a platform to tell your story. Appealing to your new customer on an emotional level will help them feel connected to you and your company.

If your product is unique or unusual, it’s particularly important to send a first purchase email immediately (or at least before they receive your product or access your services). This is a product guide email, more commonly known as an explanation email.

First purchase email example from Quip
A first purchase email from Quip reinforces the buyer’s decision to buy from the brand.

In an explanation email, you can offer customers a deep dive into the various features of the product they just purchased. You can also provide instruction on assembling it and talk about the best practices for using it. 

These emails are particularly helpful when they’re media-rich. Consider adding an infographic or a link to a tutorial video.

Links to additional content about the customer’s purchase are particularly powerful. They encourage the buyer to engage with a landing page or your social media profiles.

First Purchase emails to send after the order has been received

Even if you send a first purchase email immediately after a customer hits the “order” button, there are other types of first purchase emails you might consider sending.

These emails are best sent several days after the customer has made the purchase — after they’ve received the product or accessed your services.

When it comes to the best e-commerce marketing strategies, there are two primary types of first purchase emails that work best when sent later on: a request for a product review or an ask for a customer referral.

Requesting a product review 

Right after a customer has received your product is a good time to tap them for a product review. 

Example of a feedback request email from AppSumo
Here’s an example of a feedback request email that comes within a few days of a new purchase via AppSumo.

Reviews are beneficial for several reasons. 

First and foremost, a product review gives you direct feedback from a customer so you can see which aspects of the product are resolving their pain point. It also gives you an opportunity to address any issues they may have as soon as possible.

Beyond this specific sale, customer reviews are also powerful pieces of social proof that you can use in your marketing efforts. According to Brightlocal, more than 90% of customers are influenced by online reviews.

Overall, only 66% of customers are ever asked to leave a review of a product or service. Of those customers, about 76% are willing to provide a review. In other words, the odds for amassing social proof are good, as long as you actually ask for that review

To encourage your customers to leave reviews, make sure the process is simple, quick, and pain-free. 

Send your customers a link to a landing page with review examples from other customers that related to the product they purchased. Or, you could include a survey widget within the email. 

An example of a feedback request email from TrustRadius
TrustRadius sends emails that make the feedback process friction-free.

You can also boost engagement by providing a promotional code for their next purchase.

Requesting a customer referral 

Give your buyer a chance to interact with your product or brand for the first time. Then, once they’ve had some time to fall in love, reach out for referrals. 

Customer referrals are important for building loyalty. People trust other people’s recommendations more than any marketing claims you might make about your own product. Referrals are especially effective when they come from someone the prospect knows or someone who seems similar to them.

Customer referral email example from Qapital
Qapital lays out the benefits for referring new customers in a way that’s easy to follow and act on.

Additionally, on average, any customer who is referred to you will end up being about 18% more loyal than a non-referred customer. So, the customers you might get from a referral are higher value prospects than customers who find your company through other marketing channels.

When working to get customer referrals, it’s best to incentivize the process for both the customer and the prospect. Consider sending a promotional code to your customer that offers a discount to their friends, with a credit to the customer’s account whenever their referrals use the code to make a purchase. 

Example of a referral email from EveryPlate
If you’re looking for inspiration around creating a first purchase email that encourages referrals, meal kit brands like EveryPlate can be useful.

First Purchase email best practices

If you’ve read this far, you now have a better understanding of the types of first purchase emails you might add to your email marketing campaign. Next, you need to understand and implement the best practices for first purchase emails.

Top e-commerce marketing strategies for email boil down to a few key points:

  • Articulate the goal of the email
  • Create a positive customer experience with the email
  • Personalize the email
  • Optimize the email for mobile devices

Articulate the goal of the email

Before diving in completely, you’ll want to establish the goal of your first purchase email (or emails). This will impact when you set your automated system to send the email. It will also affect the design and content of the email. 

Once you’ve settled on your goal, create a positive customer experience with your first purchase email. 

Create a positive customer experience with the email

You can build a first purchase email that delivers a positive experience by paying close attention to your copy, your design, and your call-to-action (CTA).

When crafting the customer experience of your first purchase emails, use A/B testing to hone it down to its most effective state. You should test various subject lines, content, images, and CTAs — just not all of these elements at once.

Though a positive experience is crucial to all types of first purchase emails, it is especially important if you’re seeking referrals or asking for a product review. This is because 83% of customers are likely to refer friends or family after having a positive customer experience.

Your CTA is also an important part of enhancing a customer’s experience. By creating an inviting CTA button — whether it calls for them to submit a review, follow you on Facebook, or refer a friend — you make it easier for them to help you.

So, make their life easier (and experience better) while you encourage them to give you that extra little marketing bump.

Personalize the email

It’s also essential to personalize all your email marketing efforts, especially first purchase emails. According to a Forbes survey of executives, 40% indicated that their company’s customer personalization efforts helped increase basket sizes, maximize sales, and boost profits.

Thankfully, with a first purchase email, you already have a lot of data about the customer you’re addressing. 

Based on the purchase they’ve already made, you should have their geographical location (if you’re shipping a physical product), name, and an idea of the types of products they’re interested in. Use this information to serve them relevant content and product recommendations.

Optimize your First Purchase email for mobile devices

Since about 81% of Americans own a smartphone, it’s no surprise that more than 60% of them use their mobile devices to check their email. 

Failing to optimize your first purchase emails for mobile devices will undermine your efforts to create a positive experience for a majority of your customers. 

The easiest way to ensure your first purchase email is mobile friendly is by using responsive email templates. 

Additional ways to make your emails mobile friendly include:

Set up your First Purchase email with MailPoet

Setting up a First Purchase email in MailPoet

Building and sending your first purchase email on MailPoet is a breeze. MailPoet is a premium plugin that works in tandem with WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a plugin that turns your WordPress website into an e-commerce storefront. 

Once both WooCommerce and MailPoet are installed on your website, you can easily set up automated emails (including personalized first purchase emails) to send to your customers.

MailPoet for WooCommerce has four types of automated emails: first purchase, abandoned cart, purchased in this category, and purchased this product.

All of these can easily be accessed through your WordPress dashboard by going to the MailPoet plugin > Emails > WooCommerce.

Final thoughts: E-commerce marketing strategies: Using First Purchase emails

First purchase emails give you a unique opportunity to build a strong relationship with new customers. You can also gain insights into your product, beef up your products’ social proof, and plant the seeds of future sales.

Of course, you need to follow a set of best practices and e-commerce marketing strategies to ensure that your first purchase email is effective in achieving these goals. By articulating your purpose, creating a positive customer experience, personalizing your emails, and optimizing your messages for mobile devices, you’ll be on the right path.

Unlike other types of post-purchase emails, you only get one shot with your first purchase email series. Given the potential ROI, the time spent perfecting your emails and automating your systems is worth the effort.

MailPoet’s robust system for creating and delivering powerful first purchase emails will open up new possibilities for your company.

Download the MailPoet plugin for your WordPress e-commerce site today.