Picture this: You’re browsing a store and you find something to buy. (Mmm, I’m picturing yet another oversized mug featuring a less-than-witty cat pun.)
You scoop up your beloved item and head to the register. Now, imagine that the clerk rang up your item, asked for payment, and then told you you’d receive your item … sometime in the future. No confirmation or Thank you! No receipt. No further details about your purchase.
*cue frustration, confusion, and sadness for my missing mug*
I don’t know about you, but when I buy something—online or in-person—I consider it a happy moment. If I was faced with a moment like I described above, my happy moment wouldn’t feel so happy anymore.
This is what customers would feel like in a world without order confirmation emails. On the surface, these messages may seem like simple transactional emails. However, they actually hold a lot of potential when it comes to delighting your customers.
Let’s dive into how to improve your order confirmation emails and keep your customers smiling.
What is an order confirmation email?
Order confirmation emails are emails sent soon after someone makes an online purchase. Some brick-and-mortar brands send order confirmation emails after in-store purchases, but for the sake of this post, we’ll be focusing our attention on emails primarily from eCommerce retailers.
Order confirmation emails are usually sent between five and 60 minutes after purchase and we’ll talk more about timing later in this guide.
The nature of order confirmation emails might seem more mundane than, say, an abandoned cart or a re-engagement email. What’s so exciting about sending a digital receipt?
Well, order confirmation emails are much more critical than you think—and represent much more than a receipt. Here’s why.
Order confirmation emails are opened extremely often.
Order confirmation emails have the highest open rate one of the highest open rates—over 70%—of any email campaign you’ll send. This is because these emails are expected; they serve a succinct purpose. Your customers are watching out for these emails and consider them valuable because they contain things like shipping information. This also contributes to a higher rate of repeat opens as customers double-check purchase information and arrival times.
In an e-commerce world dominated by Amazon’s two-day shipping, highly communicative purchase and shipping emails are key. As I said above, online purchases are likely happy moments for your customers. Waiting to receive a package can be just as fun, and your order confirmation emails are the first step to anticipating their shipment.
Order confirmation emails touch your audience at a crucial moment.
When consumers make a purchase, they willingly identify themselves, share their personal information, and convert to a paying customer (or loyally return for a repeat purchase).
As a marketer, they’ve done much of the hard work for you. At the post-purchase stage of receiving an order confirmation email, your audience is actively engaged and open to building loyalty, sharing your brand, and potentially making future purchases.
Order confirmation emails are a chance to delight.
Order confirmation emails are informative and important—they’re also impactful. They may be transactional in nature, but they also provide a chance to celebrate a fun, happy moment with your customers.
These emails are also an important way to express your gratitude to customers. A simple “thank you” can go a long way with delighting them and creating loyalty.
Personalization can also have a big impact on your audience. Your order confirmation emails should be customized to reflect each customer’s purchase information, but they can also reflect personalized browsing activity or individualized list of recommended products. This not only shows customers that you’re paying attention but it also simplifies the shopping process and creates a natural upselling or cross-selling conversation. Which brings me to my next point …
Order confirmation emails open the door to future purchases.
Cross-selling and upselling your customers can be awkward. Order confirmation emails can ease this conversation by introducing relevant products in an otherwise transactional message.
Depending on what a customer orders, you can provide a few related products in their order confirmation email. Another approach is following up with a discount offer email in the days after a purchase—customers are already watching their emails for your shipment notification and may be more receptive to additional browsing if they see a discount come through. Their shopping and purchase behavior lets you know what products they’re already interested in; it’s up to you to continue that conversation.
These emails also provide a unique opportunity to “sell” your customers on any social media accounts and educational resources. Again, in this unique post-purchase phase, customers may be more willing to explore your brand further. By including your social media links and other resources, you’re encouraging your customers to start interacting with your brand and products right away—days or weeks before they receive their anticipated package.
Order Confirmation Email Design and Deliverability
Order confirmation emails provide a unique chance to connect with, inform, and delight new and returning customers immediately after they interact with your brand.
But outstanding order confirmation email design is made of more than a simple, “Hey, thanks! Here’s when you’ll get your stuff. K, bye.” There’s a certain visual hierarchy that e-commerce customers expect to see in your order confirmation emails. Let’s dissect the anatomy of a successful one.
1) Subject Line
Order confirmation emails are arguably the most straightforward of all transactional emails. Your subject line should follow the same theme, but with a little creative flair.
Many retailers opt to send order confirmation emails with a simple “Order confirmation #123456” subject line. This definitely gets the job done and tells recipients what’s in the email.
But there’s no harm in adding a bit of personality and excitement to your subject lines, too. Your order confirmation email subject lines are a chance to boost engagement and open rates while showcasing your branding and putting a smile on your customers’ faces.
Here are some of my favorite confirmation email subject line examples:
- Thank you for your order!
- Woohoo! Order #123456 is confirmed!
- The [Brand] team has received your order #123456
- Great news—we’ve got your order!
- Here’s your [Brand] order receipt ????????
- Get excited ???? Your [Brand] order has been placed!
2) Greeting and Gratitude
It never hurts to make your customers feel known, and an easy way to do this is through a simple, personalized greeting in your order confirmation email. This is yet another way to delight your customers as they interact with your brand. By simply saying, “Hi, Allie!”, you immediately make your customer feel appreciated.
This part of your email is where you should also express gratitude for your customer’s purchase. You can include a big “Thank you!” at the top of the email. You can include it in your email subject line (as we discussed above). You can also thank you in a way that makes your customer feel good and reinforces their purchase, like TOMS does.
3) Order, Shipping, and Billing Information
This section is hands-down the most important part of your entire order confirmation email. You could include this section alone and consider the job done—however, I don’t recommend it. While these emails are considered a digital receipt, the goal is to surpass customer expectations, not merely meet them.
One way to do this is my thoughtfully organizing the order information in your email. For example, you could list specific order details, explain the shipping timeline, and confirm the billing information. Regardless how you order these details, I recommend including:
- The order confirmation number
- A list of purchased item with pricing and images (as images are easier to recognize and memorize)
- The customer’s shipping preference and estimated shipping and arrival dates
- The shipping address
- The billing address
- The last four digits of the billed card or bank account
- Any other relevant billing information, e.g. when the customer’s credit card will be charged
There’s a delicate balance between providing a basic list of information and mixing up the hierarchy too much that your customers get confused. I recommend testing a few order confirmation email designs with your audience to figure out which resonates best. You may get some ideas as we discuss some examples later in this article.
4) Redress Information
Good customer service includes being proactive and prepared for issues. Your order confirmation email should address any customer concerns (e.g. when to expect their purchase) and provide clear instructions on how to solve any problems.
Whether a customer needs to return their order, change their shipping or billing information, or cancel their order, your order confirmation email should help them do so. Some retailers opt to give express instructions on how to solve these issues or provide direct links to relevant web pages. Others simply provide an email address for customer support questions. This example disclaimer from Urban Outfitters does a bit of both.
Either way, ensure your customers don’t have to go digging to get help from your team.
5) Footer Information
Footer content is particularly helpful for transactional emails: it includes vital information but doesn’t take away from the body of the email. (Email footers can also be conveniently copied from email to email, helping you create a seamless experience for your audience.)
The information you provide in your footer is up to you, but I recommend including the following:
- Links to your social media channels so customers can stay connected to you
- Simple customer support information like a single email address, phone number, or contact form link
- The required CAN-SPAM information, such as your business address and the option to unsubscribe
Additionally, you can include links for customers to download a mobile application, share their recent order with friends, or continue shopping on your website. Notice how this example from Burst includes an on-brand footer with these features plus a section of valuable social proof.
Order Confirmation Email Best Practices
Let’s look at five fundamental best practices for sending effective order confirmation emails.
Don’t delay your order confirmation emails.
There are few things worse than an ill-timed email. This includes obscenely late order confirmation emails. No one wants to shop online and receive confirmation of their purchase a day after they made it. Not only is that poor timing, but it fails to keep your brand top-of-mind for your new customer.
Schedule your order confirmation emails to be sent ideally within 30 minutes of purchase—the sooner, the better. You want it to feel similar to being handed a receipt after buying something in a store … except much more fun and much harder to lose.
Set expectations for your future email communications.
An order confirmation email may be the first time a customer is hearing from you in their inbox. Set expectations for how you plan on communicating with them in the future—and don’t forget to give them the appropriate options to opt-out.
Make your order confirmation emails short and sweet.
Order confirmation emails may provide value in many ways, but they serve one main purpose—to inform customers about a recent purchase. Don’t veer too far from this, or you risk losing the attention, respect, and loyalty of your audience. Keep your email concise for quick reading, as recipients are likely skimming through to check their order information.
Keep your order confirmation emails on brand.
If all of your emails reflect your brand except your order confirmation emails, customers may have a hard time trusting that it’s from you. This only serves to disrupt your user experience as customers transition from your website to email.
Keep your emails on-brand and recognizable to maximize opens and click-throughs, as well as return purchases. Bonus points if your order confirmation emails reflect the design and user experience as your order confirmation web page.
Confirm your order confirmation emails are mobile-friendly.
Many people shop on-the-go; they’ll expect their order confirmation emails to be, too. Be sure to test your emails to confirm they’re responsive regardless of what browser or device they’re opened on.
Consider your call-to-action.
Every email should feature a call-to-action (CTA). Your order confirmation emails are no exception. In this case, however, your CTA doesn’t need to attempt to actively sell; it can merely ask customers to “View order,” “Track package,” or “Visit our website for more.”
Additionally, your order confirmation emails should always include next steps—what customers can expect to happen in the following days or weeks. This could be instructions about how to access their order on your website or in their account, or it could be information about when they can expect their package to ship.
Order Confirmation Email Examples
Let’s discuss six real-life examples of order confirmation email templates and their strengths and weaknesses.
I order Chewy products for my cats like clockwork, and this is the order confirmation email I receive every time my subscription order goes through. The layout of Chewy’s order confirmation emails is pretty straightforward—shipping and billing information, order details, and instructions for customer service.
A few things stand out to me about Chewy’s email. First, its customer service information is mentioned at the beginning and the end of the email. If I were a customer who had issues before even opening the email, I’d know how to get in touch without having to scroll to the bottom.
Second, Chewy doesn’t hesitate to remind me how much I saved in this order. My savings are repeated in the order summary, line item details, and the order total. As a customer, this only motivates me to head back to Chewy to see what else I can save on. Finally, I dig how simple the email footer is. Simple graphics and labels explain some of Chewy’s customer benefits, and I can click each for more information on its website.
The only critique I have is this email doesn’t include the required CAN-SPAM footer information. If I wanted to unsubscribe, I couldn’t do it from this email.
I have to manually renew my personal domain name every year, and this is the order confirmation email I receive from Hover after doing so. Order confirmation emails are just as important for intangible purchases as they are for those that are tangible—even though they don’t require shipping information. (This is especially the case for a business purchase like this as I need this as a digital receipt for my taxes.)
Hover’s order confirmation email is pretty simple. It greets me by name, thanks me for my order, and details my order number, price, and total. What I appreciate about this email is its resources—Hover explains a few ways that I can get in touch and also includes a link to its blog should I need to do some of my own research.
Flying can be a tricky experience, especially for those who don’t fly very often. There are many rules and regulations, but Southwest does a great job of explaining those in its order confirmation emails. (Note: This email is llong, so I only screen-captured the bottom part of the content—you won’t see my personal flight details, although I will discuss them below.)
Despite their length, however, I appreciate how much detail Southwest includes in its emails. I have all my flight information and next steps in one place. I personally use the Southwest mobile app to manage my flights, but for someone who may be flying only once in a while, this order confirmation email provides more than enough information and guidance.
In my opinion, a strong point of this email is the “Prepare for takeoff” section. It gives me a breakdown of what to expect leading up to my flight. It also includes a handful of vibrant calls-to-action (CTAs) that can help me prepare for my trip. Finally, the “See more travel tips” resource is a handy link for new and veteran flyers alike.
Uber sends beautifully simple order confirmation emails. Whether I grab a ride for five or 50 minutes, I can expect an email from Uber within minutes of reaching my destination. It also includes a lot of information in its order confirmation emails, which I’d argue is acceptable given the nature of the “order” (i.e. not a physical products purchase).
A few key things stand out to me about these order confirmation emails that I appreciate as a customer and passenger. First, the email header is recognizable and thanks me for my purchase and participation in their rewards program. Secondly, it provides unique updates for my area and how they might impact my future purchases.
Finally, I appreciate the section with detailed driver information. It reiterates who provided my ride and gives me a chance to tip and rate my driver after I’ve arrived.
(Note: This email is long, so I only screen-captured the top part. The bottom part also includes a review of my rideshare route, the option to share my unique Uber code with friends and family, and links to customer support and my Uber account.)
For Christmas, I bought my fiancé and his brothers tickets to the Blackhawks vs. Penguins NHL game; this was the order confirmation email I received from SeatGeek. I was surprised at how simple it was, but I was receiving the tickets via the SeatGeek mobile app, after all.
The main CTA—seemingly more important than the order details themselves—is all about the SeatGeek app. As a fan, this was helpful because the app was how I could access my Penguins tickets, but as a customer, I would’ve liked to see the order information above the fold.
However, I did appreciate how the SeatGeek Help Center link was included in the introduction. This provided an easy way to access FAQs and customer support if I needed to.
Moo is my favorite website for all things business cards and printing. I’m also a big fan of their branding and how they weave it through all of their marketing—even their order confirmation emails. I received this email after ordering my business cards and was immediately delighted by the personalized greeting and the big “Thank you”
It was also fun to read the “Received by” and “Next destination” copy. This is one way that Moo spices up their otherwise straightforward order confirmation emails.
Moo follows the typical layout for order, billing, and shipping details. One critique I have is that, as a customer, I’d love to see an image of the product I ordered—if only to jog my memory and reignite my excitement for the shipment. Moo also includes many CTAs and links to track, manage, and ask questions about my order. While the content is a bit overwhelming, it’s helpful to know there are many ways I can reach out for help and support for my purchase.
Your order confirmation emails don’t have to be run-of-the-mill transactional messages; they can be informative and supportive while keeping a smile on your customers’ faces.
Order confirmation emails are the key to building trust and loyalty with your customers—both new and returning. When customers order from your e-commerce website, you’re given a unique chance to celebrate and delight them. By improving your order confirmation email design and messaging, you give your customers a reason to open your emails, look forward to their purchase, and return for more.