One of the biggest things you can do to avoid spam filters (especially statistical filters) is to send your messages in plain text. Maybe one out of a hundred HTML emails I get is legitimate, and my filters figured this out a long time ago.
What we've found useful is always including the customer's name in the subject.
CUSTOMER_NAME, Your order confirmation - OUR_COMPANY
It has stopped them getting deleted and, I think, they are much more pleasent to receive.
We also send a similar email for "Your order has been dispatched" and a two week follow up (again if the customer agrees)
We also send an SMS on dispatch (automatic) if the customer requests it. Does anyone else do anything like this? Have you found it effective at improving service?
Make sure you test any changes you make to your e-mail templates against the major e-mail providers such as Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. If your outgoing e-mails do not pass the spam filters, you need to tweak your template again.
All the problems and solutions presented here suggest that no matter WHAT you do, your confirmation e-mail may not get read - there are multiple points along the way where it can fail. While you can maximize your chances of its getting through, there are no guarantees.
To me, this means that having a customer service section on your site that allows customers to check on orders is increasingly important - even if they don't get a confirmation or shipment e-mail (or if they lose it), they still know they can visit the site to get the most current status of their order(s).
Yes, order status/history page is important. If users do not want to register, I've been thinking a simple security login could be order number and e-mail to give the buyer access to the details for that order. No sensitive information like bill to or ship to, but just order progress and tracking number if any.
In my experience as a customer, I know I am put off when having to sign-up to a site before buying (unless I know I'll be using the service again and there actually is something in it for me).
I agree that it is very important to have a "my account" area with order tracking and past purchases. As stated previously, this is even more important now it is becoming difficult to get genuine emails to customers. I made the sign-up inicidental to the ordering process:
when you enter your address, you have option to give a password if you want order tracking etc (if you don't you still get emails)
I have found this has worked well, and nearly everyone registers this way.
alawys asking the user to register gives the feel that he/she will not benefit from this registration and you want the information for your customer DB , so i'm don't use some thing like : "please register to .... Etc."
i'm using some thing like that :
New customers :
Please enter an Accurate Info in the following registration step to be able to:
- Track your order status
- Benefit from Xcompany points program.
- Use the wish list option
- use the Enhanced customer support form
Registering takes just a few seconds.
Reg.& Checkout >>
|Yes, order status/history page is important. |
1. Customer can check back and see that he placed his order correctly. Before I had this for every single dealer on my platform,
a)many customers either called us, or
b)entered a duplicate order by mistake, because for some kind of server hickup they didn't get an online notification
c)or didn't send the order because the were not sure (see b) if that would lead to a duplicate order.
2. Customer can check back to see if his/her order has been shipped. / if payment has arrived.
3. Customer can access his/her order and communicate with the dealer - every question/info he sends to the dealer this way is attached to the order, so both dealer and customer don't have to save all those emails - the whole order history is neatly arranged in one place.
I added this order-related communication just to test the waters and got good feedback from both parties. Makes live easier for dealers and customers.
4. While customers check back, you can sell them something else.
5. About 5-8% of emails bounce because the email box is full. We stopped trying to follow up on them, people can just log in and see for themselves.
|alawys asking the user to register gives the feel that he/she will not benefit from this registration and you want the information for your customer DB |
Good point again. Just came back from a local super store. While I was getting out the cash the clerk asked me "can I have your postcode, please". No, I answered, because they didn't
a) tell me what they needed it for
b) give me anything for the information. A lolly would be ok ;)
Since we seem to be moving towards the "register" vs. "guest" topic I'd like to get a quick opinion on this. I've always thought it was silly that some people react negatively if during the checkout process you ask them to "register", "setup an account", etc. and not have the ability to "checkout as a guest". In reality the only difference I can think of the two is that you don't ask for a password. Do people really think that when they do the guest thing the e-commerce site doesn't store their address information? You can't ship without storing that info and for tax and other legal reasons you need to store it.
I've resisted adding the guest option to my sites but I'm starting to give in just because a lot of sites do it now? Any opinions?
What is in it for you that they have "an account"? Like you said, you do have their information. It seems silly to do something for nothing when it cuts down on conversion.
philbish, your set up with UPS sounds interesting to me. Can you give up more details? I know I occassionally run into situations where the product is "delivered", but the customer claims they did not receive it. This e-mail you send would help avoid situations where you have claims of non-delivery two weeks later.
Do any of you utilize the e-mail feature of UPS, FedEx, or USPS to communicate with your customers (like philbish), but in a different way?
There are a few order statuses in my system: order received, shipped, delivered, cancelled, refunded, etc...
The normal progress of an order is order recieved, shipped (either with a tracking number or not), and delivered. After about a week of shipping the order, I would go through manually and mark each order's status to delivered, which would send the customer an email and update the status in my system (just so I keep things nice and clutter free). This was starting to take quite a bit of my time, so I decided to automate it.
I basically combined an XML UPS tracking API, and an order list page. I am running osCommerce.
"orders.php" was duplicated to "mass_order_update.php", and I made the following changes:
Only pull orders with status "shipped"
Added column "last modified" - this would be the ship date
Added column "update" and "notify" both with a check boxe
As each row was queried from the database, the script would check to see if it had a tracking number. If it did, the UPS tracker was called and a status was returned. This is normally: delivered 4/24/04 or sched delivery 5/16/04 ... for example.
If the status is shown as delivered, then that orders "update" and "notify" boxes are checked.
If a tracking number is not found, the script checks to see if the current time is at least 6 days after the "last modified" time. If it is, then the corresponding boxes are checked.
I run this script about twice a day. It is very fast and efficient, and customers will get the email very soon after they recieve the shipment, rather than a few days to a week later when I was updating manually.
The "notify" box just lets me decide whether I want an email sent to the customer. Sometimes I do not... I just spoke to the customer on the phone and they said they got it... They buy things almost every week, and I don't want the email to annoy them, etc...
Here is a partial screen shot of what it looks like:
The statuses would say "Shipped" instead of "Delivered", but I just updated all the orders so there are none to show.
With respect to the question:
|What do you mean by reverse IP address? |
Is there a post or a reference site addressing the topic of increasing the chances of getting a real email through to your customers?
|Is there a post or a reference site addressing the topic of increasing the chances of getting a real email through to your customers? |
I signed up for spam-protection with my hosting provider. Every time they tag an email as potential spam they add a report where the detail how they came to the conclusion "SPAM". Maybe you can just check for spam protection software.
Good to see another Mac user round here philbish!
Looks like a pretty sweet system you have running there ... I'm starting to build a similar system now in an attempt to reduce customers emailing to see where their order is etc etc.
Did you find that your system, albeit more sophisticated than mine, reduced the number of emails received?
In our out going confirmation email we obviously state the total order value. We sent out the emails via CDONTS and use ASP as our scripting language.
On several occasions we have had problems with the £ sign being used as a special symbol in some email clients (such as AOL).
Our outgoing email is plain text and where the prices are (for example) £34.65 it is showing up as 65. The £ sign seems to be used as a special character.
Any ideas about this one and how to solve it?
Could you say 34.56 pounds or something? Instead of saying £34.56.
I didn't notice a decrease in the amount of people emailing me. The delivery "check up" email, give you tons of points in the customer service arena. People think you really care about their order, etc...
I now get tons of email replies like these:
"i want to thank you for e-mailing me that is great for your bussisness.
i love your guys products and the price is not that bad.thank for writing back."
Yep, Mac's are good ;)
chesworth: you might need to send your email as html and hope people won't mind; that way you can use a font which includes the symbol for pounds sterling. Hmmm. Or isn't there a way to do that with Alt+ keys? Yes there is, Alt+0163 - but I'm wondering if that might simply still not display properly if someone hadn't the correct character-set....
I guess I'd just opt to use plain english: pounds sterling.... or euros or whatever....
Great suggestions - I'm compiling this one!
One quick note - we added the capability for our clients (retailers) to add a note to the bottom of their confirmation email that goes out with each order. They use this note to link to sales and see decent activity from it. Simple text like "This month only, save 15% on widgetless widgenators" with a link right to the product.
Hey Abdelrhman Fahmy,
Thought any more about the "e-commerce text book"?
No one has recommended it yet, except you :)
I'm ready, but I need to take the Moderators votes and opinions before starting.
The website I work on has a system for booking training courses (loosely based on an airline booking system) that sends a formatted HTML email to an email address that automatically forwards it to the customers address for confirmation. Formerly this was done manually by someone who spent up to 75% of their time dealing with training bookings.
I also have the job of checking the confirmation emails in the morning first thing to see if any errors have occured in the booking process (not many these days.)
Probably the most important thing to put in a order confirmation email along with the order details is an easy to recognise Order ID that can be used on an internal tracking database to track orders and sort out any problems with the order.
To be honest, I get offended by emails that start with 4 lines of irrelavent waffle, and end with 8 paragraphs of waffle.
If you have to trawl through all the overpolite niceties like
"Subject: Thank you for shopping at xyz.com! Order number: 1000
Thank you for shopping at xyz.com."
and 5 million "We're always proud to be able to offer you our services and hope we can do so again in the future", then I'm likely to delete their site from my bookmarks and never return. It's not even as if they really mean it, because it's always autopasted from elsewhere. It just reeks of shallow cheesiness.
Oh, and I also see nothing wrong with negatives. I'd prefer to be told what I need to know in a simple fashion, not to dart around the issue to avoid hurting my feelings or some other nonsense.
|If you have to trawl through all the overpolite niceties like "Subject: Thank you for shopping at xyz.com! Order number: 1000 |
It's my belief that you can't say 'thank you' enough!
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