Optimizing Your Return Customer Rate Through Post-Purchase Transactional Emails

Emma Kimmerly
March 24, 2022

Boom - you made a sale! You spent a good amount of money acquiring them via Facebook ads, so their checkout value pretty much equals a breakeven. This is pretty standard in today's digital advertising environment, but it's not ideal. The only way that this sale (and your business) becomes profitable is if this customer comes back and purchases again. But how do you make that happen?

You may already have post-purchase email flows running in your email automation tool, but those only get sent to customers who have opted in for email marketing. You may also have remarketing ads running to customers who haven't repurchased from you in the last 30-60 days, but what if the iOS update has blocked you from tracking them? What then?

Well, there's another pretty easy way to encourage customers to purchase from you again, and you don't have to worry about them opting into your email list, nor about tracking them on your website. You can bring them back through your transactional emails.

Wait, those emails that Shopify sends when someone purchases? You mean, the order confirmation emails or the receipts? Yes, those transactional emails. 

Legally, businesses are allowed to email their customers with transactional emails whether or not they have opted in for marketing - they are receipts, after all! Transactional emails also have the highest open rate of all email marketing, simply because they are receipts. You always want to check what you spent online after you hit “buy”, right? What about those order status notifications? Your customers are probably checking those, too. These are perfect opportunities to sell your products to them again, and before you know, they may just become a return customer.

Ok, so we've convinced you - you're ready to use your transactional emails to bring back more customers!

But how?

One of our favourite apps, Spently, allows you to do just that. Install the app into your store and suddenly, you have an email editor that allows you to customize those default (and code heavy) Shopify transactional email templates. Of course, you can also use Klaviyo and other email marketing tools, as well (just make sure you’re differentiating marketing emails from transactional ones!)

Optimizing your post-purchase experience is key to driving upsells and repeat purchases. Brands that personalize their transactional emails with recommended products, dynamic discounts, and custom branding see a 14% average increase of sales and build trust with their customers.

- Vincent Panepinto, Co-Founder, Spently

So now that you have your app of choice in place, how do you optimize your transactional emails to bring your existing customers back again (and again?) Here are some ideas you can start with:


Yes, exactly as it sounds - recommend products to someone who has just purchased from you. 

It might seem counterintuitive, but the reality is, the customer might see something they didn’t come across the first time they added to cart, or they might see something else that they want to buy next time. 

This is also a great place to recommend similar products or upsells to the product/s they have already purchased (like add-ons), in case they didn’t realize there were products that go together! No shame in placing a second order a few minutes after the first. Certain transactional email apps will let you set up rules to show certain product upsells depending on what the customer has purchased, to increase the chance they will purchase again. 


Depending on your discounting strategy, it may be a good idea to give a customer a discount code to encourage them to come back again. You’d want to create a dynamic code that is only redeemable by them. You may also want to set an expiration date, so they don’t sit on it for too long. After all, if they buy again, they will get another code (if that’s how you set it up to work!)


Last but not least, transactional emails may be the final touchpoint you have with a customer, so make it an experience they remember! Include brand assets like your logo, colours, brand fonts, and maybe even a (fake) social feed to show off who you are and what you’re all about. It’s a surefire way to leave an impression. 

Have you used Spently, Klaviyo, or other tools to upgrade your transactional emails? Has it made a difference in your overall marketing efforts? If you're an agency, do you recommend this tool for your clients? We want to chat about it! If you're not already a member of our private Facebook group, join in on weekly discussions about our email topics.

This article was written by Jess Grossman, contributing writer to DTCX and Founder & CEO of In Social.