6 Steps to Creating an Outstanding Ecommerce Customer Journey on Shopify (+4 Follow-Up Emails to Increase Brand Loyalty)

Did you know that 74% of consumers are likely to buy based on experience alone? Not only that, but 77% of consumers felt their customer experience was as important as the products they were purchasing.

That means, providing a great ecommerce customer experience isn’t just a nice thing to offer your customers, it’s essential for building brand loyalty and increasing profits.

Throughout every stage of the ecommerce customer experience, your customer should feel understood, appreciated, and respected. Because if you can offer an outstanding customer experience, you can expect your revenue to double in 36 months

In this definitive guide to creating an outstanding ecommerce customer journey, we’re going to offer our top six tips for creating a memorable experience for customers that visit your Shopify store that's sure to turn your one-time buyers into loyal repeat customers.

What is the Shopify ecommerce customer journey? 

The customer journey comprises all the steps your customer had to take to find new products, discover your ecommerce website, make a purchase, and continue being a repeat customer.

Typically, the beginning of your customer’s journey begins with simple web browsing, perhaps searching for a specific product, or just glancing through social media, such as Instagram or Facebook, and being directed to your Shopify store.

Once they’re on your website, you’ll need to provide a great shopping experience and enticing offers to encourage a purchase. If successful, this is known as a “conversion.” 

Keep your customers engaged with transactional post-purchase emails

When you’ve made a sale, you need to ensure that you retain your customer. 

An effective way to do this is by optimizing your most critical post-purchase emails, also known as transactional emails, as part of a customer engagement and retention strategy.

Transactional emails are simply the automated emails sent to consumers after a transaction on your store's website.

Since customers have come to expect this message after completing a purchase, it’s the perfect opportunity to provide product recommendations and new offers.

Why are transactional emails so effective at driving new sales from customers? 

It's no surprise that these emails have a higher open and click-through rate than traditional marketing emails, about 60% more because customers are expecting to receive them. This makes them a prime spot to include special promotions.

Your customer retention strategies should constantly evolve to meet the expectations of the customer by delivering personalized product recommendations and unique discounts to keep them engaged and coming back to buy more. 

Eventually, because your customer enjoys your Shopify store’s products and the outstanding customer experiences they’ve had, they'll turn into loyal customers and brand  advocates by referring their friends and family to your store.

Transactional emails are essential to the customer experience

A customer’s experience with your store should be as important as the products you’re selling to them.

How many times have you seen negative reviews for online retailers? Often the main complaint is a poor customer experience, caused by dysfunctional communication between the buyer and the seller — usually the customer has purchased a product, but is still waiting for their order confirmation or shipping confirmation, leaving them confused.

You can ensure your customers have a good shopping experience by communicating expectations clearly and promptly. And you can leverage transactional post-purchase emails to do so.

As we mentioned above, customers receive several transactional emails after a purchase, such as:

  • An instant order confirmation email
  • Shipping confirmation email
  • Shipping update
  • Shipment out for delivery
  • Shipment delivered

That’s at least five opportunities to make sure you’re providing the best experience possible. Go above and beyond for your customer, anticipate their needs, and customize each of these emails with the consumer in mind.  

The benefit of keeping the customer experience top of mind in marketing opportunities is two-fold. By including conditional product recommendations, personalized discounts, and referrals in transactional emails, you personalize the process. 

A store that takes a thoughtful and personalized approach to its customers can expect real growth. Customers will keep coming back and referring their friends and family to shop with that store if they remember that they had a positive experience.

Remember, a store that offers exceptional products, but poor customer experience cannot expect its customers to become repeat buyers. One study showed that 39% of customers with bad experiences avoided that store for two years!

That’s the power of a great ecommerce experience and why you should make sure that you take every opportunity to impress your customer. 

The 6 essential steps for creating a memorable Shopify ecommerce customer journey

From the initial awareness phase to converting your customer into a brand ambassador, there are six steps you need to take to offer a memorable ecommerce customer journey and positively impact your bottom line.

1. Awareness

At the top of the “buyer’s funnel” is the awareness stage.

This is when your future customer decides to research new products to buy. Perhaps your customer is looking to purchase organic cosmetics and begins their search on Google.

From the Google search, your customer might choose multiple paths, such as:

  • Reading a health blog about organic cosmetics
  • Following an organic cosmetics Instagram influencer
  • Watching a YouTube video about organic cosmetics
  • Clicking on ads for organic cosmetics
  • Clicking on the Google Shopping tab

Remember, your customer isn’t ready to buy at this point but is in the research phase.

Therefore, you need to provide free, educational content that can reach your audience at the “top of the funnel.” This is also referred to as content marketing.

To make your ecommerce site and its content discoverable during the awareness phase, consider:

  • Blogging about your product on your Shopify store's site
  • Creating YouTube videos about your product
  • Running Google, Facebook, and Instagram Ads PPC campaigns
  • Sponsoring an Instagram influencer
  • Integrating your Shopify store with Google Merchant Center to show up in the Google Shopping Tab
  • Creating infographics about organic cosmetics and the chemicals they use, then sharing this on Instagram, your Shopify store’s blog, and Pinterest

Remember, every piece of content you create needs to have a call-to-action (CTA), which is a prompt telling your customer what to do next.

Consider using these CTAs to encourage taking the next step of your customer’s ecommerce journey:

  • Follow us on social media
  • Subscribe to our newsletter and get X% off
  • Buy now
  • Comment, Like, and Subscribe
  • Share with your friends
  • Visit our website
  • Send us a question
  • Email us

2. Evaluation or consideration

At this point in the customer journey, you have successfully directed a web visitor to your Shopify store from one of your multi-channel approaches (Google search, social media, referral, etc).

You have taken your customer from the top of the funnel to the “middle of the funnel” at this stage. But your visitor may not be ready to make a purchase still. 

They want to know how your products compare to your competitors, what makes your product special, and why it’s worth buying. 

The many themed design templates available for Shopfiy stores offer the ability to provide a beautifully designed and intuitive shopping experience and really wow someone on the verge of making a purchase.

Provide great copywriting and descriptions for your products, high-quality product photos, and reasonable prices that won’t turn your visitors away.

This is where you can create additional content, such as videos, testimonials, reviews, comparisons, and convincing blogs to persuade your visitor that in fact, your products are worth purchasing.

This is referred to as “social proof” and lets your visitor know your product is real, has helped people, and will likely help them too. 

Without gaining this sense of trust, you can’t get your visitor to “convert” by purchasing a product.

3. Purchasing and using the checkout page

At this point, you’ve spent so much effort marketing to your audience and getting them to visit your store and browse your products—don’t treat the checkout process as an afterthought.

Consider these optimizations to make a smooth Shopify checkout page and increase sales conversions:

  1. Add SSL certification and other security badges to your Shopify store to build trust.
  2. Consider adding a countdown timer to create a sense of urgency. 
  3. Consider adding “free shipping” to entice your customer to purchase.
  4. Give your customer the option to checkout as a “Guest” if they don’t feel like creating an account. You can also get them to create an account after they’ve made their purchase using post-purchase emails.
  5. Redirect your visitor to a “Thank you” page after making their purchase that has unique post-purchase offers.
  6. Ensure your transactional emails, like order confirmations and shipping updates, are fully branded and personalized so that all your post-purchase emails are consistent. 

Provide the best online shopping experience for users so they can add a product to their cart and checkout without any issues.

4. Customer service

Most of your customers’ transactions will go smoothly, however, returns are a big part of the ecommerce customer experience. 

According to Shopify’s blog, 5% to 15% of your customers will return items they’ve bought from your online store.

Perhaps your customer bought too many products, the wrong kind of product, their products were damaged during shipping, or they simply weren’t satisfied with their product.

This is the stage where you can step up to fix any issues with your customer’s order and set things right — because if you don’t, customers won’t want to buy from you again. 

The following are suggestions for how to handle product returns to offer great customer service, using organic cosmetics as the product example:

  • Offer a full refund or exchange for any unopened beauty products within 30 days
  • Let the customer keep their opened cosmetics, and send them a new product
  • Let the customer return items to a physical store if you have a physical storefront
  • Ensure your transactional emails are customized to inform your customer of their order’s return and new product shipping confirmation
  • If the product was damaged, use better shipping boxes and packing materials to decrease breakage during the shipping process

5. Customer retention

Towards the "bottom of the sales funnel" is customer retention — holding onto your existing customers so they will become repeat buyers.

Did you know it’s much cheaper to sell to existing customers than it is to get brand new customers? 

Over the past six years, increased ecommerce competition and paid ads have risen customer acquisition costs up to 60% higher, making it about 5 to 25 times more expensive to get a new customer over retaining a current customer.

This is why customer retention strategies are so impactful.

Once you’ve converted a visitor into a customer, you can use email marketing to encourage customers to keep visiting the store and stay engaged with your brand.

Not only will your transactional emails be fully optimized with marketing promotions to generate more revenue than a standard order or shipping confirmation, but you can also send promotional emails, which your customers can opt-in to receive.

It’s important to note that promotional emails are different from transactional emails. Although transactional emails can also include some promotions, they’re primarily used to provide purchase details. Promotional emails are used to get the word out about sales, new product lines, programs, and events. 

Send these types of promotional emails to your customers when they haven’t made a purchase in a while or to offer seasonal promotions:

  • Birthday promotional emails offering a special birthday discount — “[Name], Claim Your Birthday Gift From Us!
  • “Win back” emails to send to inactive customers who haven’t bought from you in a while. Make sure to include a time-sensitive discount offer — “We’ve missed you! Here’s a special offer from us
  • Abandoned cart emails — “Oops, you forgot to checkout. Here’s a discount from us

6. Customer loyalty and advocacy

The last step of the customer journey is to increase customer loyalty.

This is done through consistently excellent customer experiences, selling great products, recommending personalized product suggestions, and encouraging customer feedback and engagement.

At this point, you should set up a referral program or a loyalty program to reward repeat customers and let them advertise your Shopify store to their friends and family.

You can use point systems, loyalty reward cards, or customer loyalty programs that incentivize your existing customers to make more purchases and referrals.

To encourage referrals, set up a Shopify referral program to let your best customers become brand supporters. 

The 4 best post-purchase emails to optimize for an improved customer journey

As you know, once you’ve converted a new customer, you need to focus on turning them into loyal buyers.  Learn the four most important post-purchase emails to your customer and ways to ensure they make the most impact on building brand loyalty and encouraging repeat purchases.

1. Send a personalized welcome email with a special offer

When a shopper creates their account with your Shopify store, add a special offer in the customer account welcome email to get your first repeat purchase.

Many online stores offer a 10%-20% discount on the customer’s first order after signing up for an account.

Make your customer feel special by taking a  personalized approach. Use your customer’s name, plus the discount amount to create their discount code, for example “SAM20.”

2. Send order confirmation and shipping confirmation emails with product recommendations included

It’s best to include at least four product suggestions at the bottom of order confirmation and shipping confirmation emails. As we’ve mentioned, these messages typically have the highest open rate, so it’s a great opportunity to make another sale and show the customer what else you offer. 

These can include cross-sells, which are similar “add-on” products, that are complementary to what your customer has just purchased. Additionally, you can also try to include ecommerce “upsells”, such as suggesting premium or upgraded versions of the product your customer is buying. 

Using UpOrder, you can make sure to recommend new products that your customer hasn’t explored or purchased from your store yet, giving you an easy opportunity to generate more revenue from these transactional email templates.

3. Customer feedback request email

Asking for your customer’s feedback is a good strategy for building brand loyalty and encouraging engagement.

It gives shop owners an opportunity to listen to their customer’s feedback and learn from their mistakes that might be costing them new customers. Collecting feedback also lets your customer feel understood and appreciated.

To get this feedback, you can embed links to customer surveys inside of your post-purchase emails as clickable buttons. 

When asking for feedback from your customer, consider asking these questions:

  • What do you like about our products?
  • What don’t you like about our products?
  • How was your customer experience?
  • How was the checkout process?
  • How likely are you to refer our products to a friend?

You should also include a blank paragraph box so they can write a more in-depth response.

Take your customer’s feedback seriously, because their input can help optimize the ecommerce customer journey and make the whole experience simpler and more effective.

And then to thank your customer for their time, give them a special discount code to encourage another future purchase.

4. Send an abandoned checkout email to signed-in members who left before purchasing

When your customer is logged into your store’s site, adds products to their cart, continues to the checkout page but leaves without purchasing, you can send them a specialized abandoned cart email.

There are many reasons why customers leave without purchasing — mainly due to high or unexpected prices, or because they’re not ready to buy yet.

With UpOrder, you can review your customer’s abandoned checkout page and send them an email linking them back to the checkout.

According to Shopify’s blog, a store can get back 3% to 14% of lost sales from sending abandoned checkout emails!

Price is often the main reason for an abandoned checkout page, consider giving your customer a limited-time offer discount to reconsider their purchase. 

Try UpOrder — customize your transactional emails to provide a best-in-class customer journey

Go from basic email notifications to new post-purchase revenue opportunities by easily upgrading Shopify's 25+ transactional emails.

Customized transactional emails will help give your customer a personalized experience. Every step in the transaction is another opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with consumer. 

When they enjoy interacting with your brand, they’ll keep coming back — and that’s a win for everybody.

Download the UpOrder app today and watch your sales from customers increase by at least 15%.

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