Confirmation Emails That Really Work

We believe that poor customer experience is one of the crucial reasons for customers who do not return. You spent time choosing the definite service, placed an order or signed up for their emails, and what’s next? In a perfect world, you receive a clear email confirming that everything worked as expected, explaining how and when you will receive your order, etc. What if this does not happen? Do you feel disappointed? We’re fed up with these “Your order is being processed, we’ll let you know about the next step” types of messages.

This is because confirmation emails are another type of underestimated transactional messages. Frequently, confirmation is unfairly treated as a basic email, while surveys show that “64% of consumers believe purchase confirmations are the most valuable messages in their email inbox.” In addition, confirmation emails enjoy 70% open rate. With such numbers, it is inexcusable to send nominal “order confirmed” messages. 

In this post, we explain why and how to send cool confirmation emails, what information to include, what to check for, and how to comply with all privacy rules like GDPR and CAN-SPAM.

How do confirmation emails work?

It is quite obvious that confirmation emails are sent to confirm user actions. They are automatic email messages sent after a user has completed a definite action. Usually, they are:

  • account confirmation (registration on a web service)
  • order confirmation (including shipping confirmation, trip bookings, subscriptions, etc.)
  • cancellation confirmation (downgrading or deleting account)

From a technical perspective, they are triggered transactional emails, which can be implemented with a simple if/then script in your app or as a part of your email marketing automation workflow. 

From your users’ perspective, a confirmation email proves that a particular process has been successfully completed. This is a message clearly explaining further steps (or confirming that no additional actions are requested).  

From your perspective, a confirmation email is an opportunity to deliver value to your customers by showing them everything is taken care of. In most cases, confirmation emails land in the main section of the inbox (which is especially valuable for Gmail client) and obtain high open rates. This makes such messages a great option to engage your clients and encourage them to interact with your product. 

What should you include in confirmation emails?

The short answer is: include the clear and exact information that your recipients actually expect to receive. In addition, you can include some marketing details in a way that won’t be misleading or bothersome.

“Confirmation emails” is a general title for several different types of messages. There are several common points that have to be present in all emails.

  1. Branding. There is a strategy to make company emails look like personal simple messages. Yet, your company logo and clear design help associate your message with your brand and deliver the main idea even before reading the text. 
  2. Privacy compliance.  Email address is personal information and you have to comply with GDPR, CAN-SPAM, and CCPA rules. Make sure that users gave you permission to send them account-related messages and notifications by email. Also, you have to include your company’s physical address and unsubscribe instructions. 

Now, let’s go into detail and review each type of confirmation email separately.

Account confirmation

Creating an account means that this user has just joined your community. This is applicable to all kinds of services and products, where digital communication is possible:

  • an account on a web service/application
  • a new customer of an online shop 
  • registration in an online bonus program for an offline shop
  • subscription to a newsletter

The registration confirmation is the first touchpoint with your new user or customer. Like in our everyday lives, you never get a second chance at making a first impression. That’s why account confirmation emails are so important.

The purpose:

  • add security
  • make your new members feel welcome in your community and confident with the next steps
  • increase loyalty to your brand and encourage your new members to actually use your service

What users expect to receive:

  • confirmation of their registration and instruction on how to activate their account 
  • guide on further actions, useful tips, and links 
  • contact details in case they have questions 

What you should actually include:

The decision about what to include in each type of message has to be based on both your purpose and user’s expectations. Great registration confirmation emails have the following:

  • personalized welcoming words 
  • clear CTA (call-to-action) button 
  • a brief explanation of why your recipient should press this button and what happens next
  • your contact details and/or useful links, which can add value, like FAQ’s or a “getting started” tutorial

A good example to follow:

This email template contains all four points listed in the “what to include” section: personalization, clear CTA with explanation, link to support, and a video tutorial encouraging user to start using their product. Adding a direct copyable link to confirm the account is a very good practice too.

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Order confirmation 

This is the largest group of messages and a proper place for your creativity. An order confirmation is any kind of purchase confirmation for physical goods, online services, or trip bookings.  

The purpose:

  • confirm the order is accepted and the goods/services are available
  • provide information on further steps like payment and delivery
  • encourage your customer to make new purchases and share this experience with friends

What users expect to receive:

  • confidence of getting exactly what they ordered – ability to check the list of goods/services and prices
  • clear understanding of when and how they can receive their order – payment and shipping details
  • ability to quickly find the information about this order if they need it someday

What you should actually include:

Of course, details will vary depending on the type of goods or services you offer. Web app subscription will look differently than flight tickets. However, the rules of good customer service work the same way. After receiving your confirmation message, your customer should have the answers to all possible questions without the need to check your website or make an additional call. A great order confirmation email should have the following:

  • order identification details like order number, date, client name, or a link to the client’s account page
  • information about the order like the list of items and actual price
  • order status including payment and shipping terms
  • the best way to contact you for any order-related questions
  • client appreciation (it depends on your general policy and can include everything, from a simple thank you words to discounts for next purchases or for sharing with friends)
  • optional: invitation to review your product or service 

A good example to follow:

Here are a couple of examples of order confirmations. Both of them are clear, personalized, and contain all necessary order details. After receiving such a message, you know how to proceed and don’t need to look for extra information or contact the supplier.

Cancellation confirmation

If your customer decided to stop using your product for the moment, it is still important to say goodbye. First, it will help establish a friendly association with your brand. Second, it can be a good opportunity to get user insight and understand the reasons for such a decision. Another important point is compliance with privacy rules: with such a message you officially confirm that you delete all user data and won’t use it any more. 

The purpose:

  • confirm that the subscription is no longer active
  • collect user feedback to understand what you can improve
  • invite them to come back
  • comply with privacy rules

What users expect to receive:

  • confirmation that their subscription is inactive (and they won’t be charged or will stop receiving your messages)
  • proof that you won’t keep and use their data anymore

What you should actually include:

  • confirmation of account cancellation and user data deletion
  • details on subscription renovation and (optional) bonus for returning customers/subscribers 
  • (optional) feedback request 

A good example to follow:

This example has a clear design and is useful for both sender and recipient. It offers to take a step back and to restore the account, has a feedback request, and encourages the referral of a friend. 

Why do confirmation emails take forever to arrive?

This is quite a popular question asked on different forums and support chats. It’s time to talk about email deliverability. This one is really important – your great email template doesn’t matter if no one receives it. 

When you have purchased a new pair of jeans online or subscribed to a music service, how soon do you expect to receive a confirmation? Usually, we expect it to arrive right away. In most common cases, it has to work like this. If it takes extra time to process user requests on your end, notify them about the expected waiting time. 

In other cases, simple spam rules are the main reason for the delay of confirmation emails. Here are several tips to meet users’ expectations:

  1. Email headers. Email headers include sender’s address (“from”), recipients (“to” and “cc”), and subject. 
    • Don’t send confirmation emails from a “no-reply” address. Yes, we know, it’s a common practice. But we still don’t recommend it. “No-reply” addresses increase chances of going to the spam folder and making your message faceless. It is much better to put the name of your service, specific person, or at least something clear like customer care. 
    • Don’t put too many addresses to Cc and Bcc (Bcc is not a header, though). This may trigger spam filters as well.
    • Don’t overuse spammy words in the subject like no cost or risk-free, don’t use CAPS LOCK, or repeated signs like !!!!!!!!! and $$$$$$
  2. Email content. Don’t overuse media content like images, GIFs, and video. Test your emails. Make sure that your messages look good and everything works as designed. 
  3. Infrastructure. Take care of your sender’s reputation and use domain authentication. 
  4. What else? Notify your users about the probability of landing in a spam folder. It’s still not good but at least they know where to look. Also, you can recommend adding your address to their contact list. 

The last thing before you start working on your confirmation emails

Remember that consistency is one of the basic elements of communicating with customers.  Determine the tone and voice of your messages (e.g. friendly, strict, earnest, or joking), define primary channels and notify your recipients if you are going to change something. For example, if you always sent order confirmations by email but then decide to switch to instant messenger, let your users know what kind of notifications to expect.

In this article we have explained how and why a simple touch of branding and a user-centered approach will turn your confirmation email into a user engagement tool in several actionable steps:

  1. Define the goal and anticipate user expectations.
  2. Craft a nicely designed template (and properly test it).
  3. Take care of deliverability. 

We wish you many happy customers and are always glad to help you send better emails!

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