How to introduce more product categories to your newest customers

How do you subtly drop the ‘see what else we sell‘ email into your new customer’s inbox?

They’ve already received their order confirmation, the dispatch email (which may include further emails from your courier), the request to review their order and, more than likely your latest newsletter campaign.

You’ve communicated. A lot.

You know the value of retention, so what’s your plan for dropping your customer a quick reminder of the depth of categories you offer?

cancelled order

Firstly. Don’t look dumb. Filter out any customers that have made a return or cancelled their purchase. They don’t want to receive a ‘hope you’re enjoying your new product‘ email. They’re not.

Creating that filter within your email platform should be a straightforward process for Magento, Shopify, Demandware and BigCommerce clients. The data is there.

Secondly. Consider your timing. There is a natural urgency to hit customers whilst they’re ‘hot‘. Hours after they’re received their order. I don’t buy into this common practice. I’ve tested response rates on a variety of time-lags (hours, to days to weeks) with little commonality in success rates. I’d work to get the message right rather than fixate on the timing (that’s what data will allow you to do). My personal preference is 2-weeks post purchase.

Why? Your customer has completed their buying experience. Order. Dispatch. Use. They’re in a position to judge the value you delivered.

You know what your customer doesn’t

Now consider the purchase path your customer followed. The likely (generalised) scenario is:

search -> see -> consider -> buy

Even though you know the depth of products you sell (at least I hope you do) your customer probably doesn’t. That’s because they had a specific task in mind. They were wearing their filters.

A good example of the post-purchase nudge are a phenomenally savvy customer-first business. We recently shopped for a washing machine. I wasn’t thinking about anything else apart from the build-up of children’s laundry in the utility room. That’s the problem I was looking to solve. That’s the intent that filtered out the rest of the noise.

Post-purchase I received the usual. Confirmation. Dispatch note. Delivery times. Post-order happiness review. All very good. Top marks.

2 weeks after purchase (once the laundry routine was back on track) I received the following:



Now, typically, we’d want to push product. The latest ‘great offer‘ or ‘exclusive today‘ promotion. take a softer approach. A nudge in the direction of their most popular categories.

And, that eureka moment, they didn’t attempt to sell a new washing machine to a new washing machine customer!

Making good use of customer segmentation

Creating email customer segments

Again, just a simple use of segments can be so important to the success of your email flows. Taking people out of the segment is just as crucial as placing people in the segment.

You don’t need to be doing the volume of sales that do to use category-specific, or product-specific, segmentation.

This is about customer experience. Delivering a better customer experience. That applies whether you’re selling dozens or thousands of products a day.

In productivity terms? We’re not taking that big a chunk out of your day to create these segments.

A segmentation scenario I want you to see

Picture this. A report detailing the success of your cross-selling by product category. You build an understanding of what people click and what people do.

If, using the example above, An washing machine customer clicks ‘Dishwashers’ on the post-purchase email, where do you think you should focus your future browser-targeted campaigns?

Your customer may not be ready to buy from you immediately. However, following the process outlined above, you’re in a far stronger position to retain that customer by presenting them with category insight and tracking their click behaviour.

The importance of marketing process

This is why I constantly preach the value of data-led marketing process. Mapping out each and every post-purchase touchpoint is a critical element of your retention strategy. It will shape, not only your email marketing, but help you create custom audiences to share with social channels. That person who clicked the dishwasher link? It’s not a gamble retargeting them with product-specific offers on the back of insight you created through your email marketing.

Ecommerce marketers are so bogged down with the ‘what shall we tell them about next?’ email marketing syndrome. The crazy thing is, the data is probably there to answer that question. It just takes a gutsy marketer to step away from email repetition and begin mapping out a better (more insight-laden) sequence of emails.

5 Takeaways (plus a bonus) To Help Improve Your Post-Purchase Email Activity

Don’t fixate on timing. We see it everywhere. What’s the best time to tweet? What’s the best time to send the cart abandonment campaign? It gets to the stage where the constant questioning hinders your progress. Take the actions (send the email) and then refine timing once you have access to the data.

Don’t focus on product. At this post-purchase stage you’re just nudging your customer to consider what else, now or in the not too distant future, they may need to replace/improve. They’re, what you’d call, ‘top of funnel’ and at this stage they’re exploring category and will then dive deep into product. That’s the journey you want to guide your customers down.

Segment wisely. Know which category your customer has bought from. Don’t sell them that category again. Ask your customer, ‘Now you have x in  your life … what would y help you achieve?‘. This applies to a wide variety of ecommerce sectors. None more so than fashion. Your job is to nudge people. You’ve delivered them a positive initial shopping experience. Let them know you’re there to offer so much more.

Don’t push. The tone of your email copy is important. No talk of ‘buy before it’s too late!!!‘ Ease your customer into their next purchasing journey. Don’t forget your job is to help people to buy. Don’t be pushy.

Prepare in advance. I’m not concerned about the volume of your customers. I’m concerned about you getting these email strategies in place now (the work that will create the volume). That means taking a side step from the campaign activity and mapping out your customer’s post-purchase journey.

One final point. None of this can take place if you don’t have the necessary email marketing technology synced to your ecommerce platform. Customer segments and sequences deliver a better, more personalised, shopping experience. This roughly translates to ‘customer segments and sequences will earn you a bucket load more money‘. The basic email platforms are built for campaigning. Campaigning won’t get you far. To advance your email marketing you need to platform to work from. Klaviyo is my go-to platform.

Like this sound of all this talk of personalisation, segmented customer lists and so forth? Give me a shout. I’m here to offer my guidance to you.

Written By:

Ian Rhodes


Equipping brands with the strategy, tools and optimisation processes that drive ecommerce growth. Consultant, Writer & Conference Speaker.

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