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How To Send Order Confirmation Emails (And Make More $)

By Bernie Reeder

Pop quiz. What’s wrong with this order confirmation email?

Apple order confirmation email

Answer: It’s a huge missed opportunity. 

Unbeknownst to Apple, order confirmation emails like the one above can be a super scalable way to build trust with new customers, get referrals, and drive more sales for online stores.

You just have to know what levers to pull. 

Here’s a look at 9 ways you can use order confirmation emails to build trust and turn one-time purchasers into repeat customers. We’ve also included sample order confirmation email templates you can copy to jump start your own automated order follow-up emails

What Makes Order Confirmation Emails Such An Under-The-Radar Opportunity

Three reasons. 

1. The Recency Factor 

Their purchase is still fresh in your customer’s mind and it’s likely they’re still online (maybe even on your website). 

2. The Expectation

People want to know their order went through. They’re actively waiting to hear from you. In fact, the click through rate for order confirmation emails is three times higher than promotional emails.

Click-Through-Rates By Email Type

3. The ROI

Repeat customers are easier to sell to and spend roughly 500% more than first-time buyers

All of which makes order confirmation emails a pretty powerful way to get in front of the right people at the right time to help drive more sales. 

What To Include In An Order Confirmation Email

Post-purchase emails are first and foremost useful — that’s why people engage with them at such high rates. You can’t skimp on utility here. 

At minimum, order confirmation emails should contain:

  • Product information (name of product, quantity purchased, photo)
  • Order number
  • Buyer’s payment info 
  • Shipping information (address, method, estimated arrival date)
  • Vendor/online store contact info

[Do this with Privy: You can use Privy Email to add order summaries in Order Follow Up Emails. Try it in-app here.]

These types of emails can take on several formats. Here are nine of the best use cases we've seen. 

1. Upsell With Recommendations

Have you ever escaped McDonalds without hearing, “Do you want fries with that?”

Probably not. That’s because they know the best time to get a customer to buy is right after they order. 

The same applies to an online sales upsell. By recommending relevant products or services in your order follow up email, you make it easy for customers to spend more. 

Especially if the recommendations are personal.

Recent Accenture research found that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy if a retailer knows their name, purchase history, and recommends purchases based on that history. 


Here’s how Airbnb does it. 

Airbnb order confirmation email example

What’s smart about this email is that Airbnb is recommending excursions located in the same area as the stay I just booked. It’s definitely relevant to my trip, and adds value by suggesting things to do that I might not have known about. 

2. Show How You Did Them A Favor 

If someone does you a favor, you’re probably going to feel a bit indebted to them. 

This psychological desire to even the scales is known as the reciprocity effect, and it can have a profound impact on customer loyalty, advocacy, and retention. 

For example, highlighting things like free shipping or applied discounts in the order summary is an easy way to demonstrate how you helped your customer save money. Here’s how DSW does it:

dsw post-purchase email

DSW is one of many online shoe retailers.

But they’re the only one that just saved me $70. 

By subtly showing how they gave me multiple discounts, they’ve made it much more likely I give them my future business. 

3. Say 'Thank You' To Keep Buyer’s Remorse At Bay

Clicking a “buy” button can be both exciting and nerve-racking. 

Did you make the right choice? Should you have waited for a sale?

Immediately after making a purchase, our brains kick into what is known as “post-purchase rationalization” mode. People want reassurance that they made the right decision and look for reasons to feel good about what they just did. 

Adding a thank you note to order confirmation emails can help shore up positive feelings and ensure buyer’s remorse doesn’t set in. 

Here’s a look at how we incorporated this principle into one of the confirmation email templates available in Privy. 

Privy order confirmation template

Think of it as an opportunity to delight your customers so they’re even more attracted to your brand. 

Maybe even throw in a sheep pun or two like Allbirds:

allbirds thank you email

4. Ask For A Referral

Remember when we were talking about reciprocity a little bit ago? The same concept will make or break your referral request. 

If you ask for a favor without giving anything in return, you rub people the wrong way. 

The key is to make your post-purchase offer so good your customer will want to recommend, share, refer, etc. because it makes them look good. 

Wine subscription service Winc nails this idea in their order confirmation emails.

winc email confirmation

Tip: Make sharing as easy as possible, so you’re not asking new customers to do heavy lifting. 

After clicking on the CTA in Winc’s email, I landed on a page that looked like this:

winc referral landing page

The referral link was ready and waiting to be copied, with pre-written Facebook and Twitter posts ready to go. 


5. Showcase Your Loyalty Program

Referencing your loyalty program in order confirmations can help retain customers by showing how their purchase contributes to future rewards. 

Uber calls attention to its rewards program multiple times in the example email below. It shows exactly how many points a customer has earned during their ride, as well as the price protection benefits that come with spending more money on their services. 

uber receipt

6. Offer Cross-Promotional Deals

Know an online store that sells to customers like your own? 

If they’re not a competitor, try reaching out to see if they’re interested in partnering up on a post-conversion campaign. 

How it works:

  1. You insert a discount code or coupon for your partner’s product at the end of your order follow up emails. 
  2. They do the same for you. 
  3. Voilà - everyone’s products get promoted to brand new audiences

Take a look at the order confirmation email from Drizly below. The alcohol delivery service  partnered with Home Chef to offer customers $35 off their first order. 

Drizly order confirmation

Odds are Home Chef is running a similar promotion on Drizly’s behalf to their customer base. 

It makes sense -- food and booze are pretty perfect complements. Better yet, each brand is able to advertise their product in front of new potential subscribers without spending a big budget. 

7. Get To The Aha Moment Faster 

There’s a pivotal conversion point known as the “aha moment.” 

It’s the moment when new users first realize the value of a product. They get it. And it can be powerful enough to leave a lasting impression that keeps customers coming back for more. 

Similarly, to turn one-time customers into repeat purchasers, they need to experience that aha moment as soon as possible. 

What are some ways you can use purchase confirmation emails help get customers up and running with their new order as fast as possible?

For Starry, the answer is to direct people to download their mobile app immediately after they sign up for internet service.

starry service confirmation email

Not suggesting this ahead of time could potentially slow down the installation process and create a bad first impression. 

And with 33% of Americans saying they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service, it could have been a costly omission too. 

8. Use Coupons To Welcome First Time Buyers

Time for some quick back of the napkin math. 

If I send 100 new customers an order confirmation email, about 45 people would open it according to recent research out of IBM. With a reported CTR of 5%, that means I’ll have 2 people back on my online shop. 

Compared to most email campaigns -- that isn’t half bad. 

But imagine how much better it could be if I actually gave them a good reason to shop again. 🤔

Adding coupon codes to an order confirmation is another way to build good will with new buyers and incentivize them to come back and make another purchase. 

[Do this with Privy: To drive urgency, you could choose to use a unique coupon that expires within a few days.]

Here’s an example from the team at Williams Sonoma that puts this idea into practice. 

williams sonoma welcome email

9. Set Expectations With Detailed Next Steps

Make customers feel confident in their purchase by giving specific details about what happens next. 

Building trust through order confirmations is especially relevant for convenience-based subscriptions like Amazon’s subscribe and save, or food delivery services. 

People rely on these subscriptions to simplify everyday life. To remain loyal customers, they need to trust that merchants will auto-ship the right items, at the right time, to the right location. 

Farmer’s Dog gets this. They do a great job keeping dog owners up to date on exactly when, where, and how their pups’ recurring food delivery will arrive. 

Farmers Dog Order Confirmation Email

Once you’ve decided how you want to use order confirmation emails to get more repeat business, we’d love to help you out. Learn more about Privy Email or sign up to start sending today. 

Send Order Confirmation Emails With Privy


Topics: How To's


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