The post-purchase experience is a vital part of the customer journey. At a basic level, a post-purchase flow lets customers know that everything is running smoothly through transactional messages like order and shipping confirmations.

But when you go beyond transactional messages, you can use them to reduce returns, improve the customer experience, and increase customer retention.

The modern post-purchase flow includes both email and SMS to reach customers in multiple places and takes advantage of the strengths of each channel.

In general, email is best for long content and messages with several images in them. SMS is ideal for time-sensitive messages, reminders, and other short messages that can be conveyed quickly by text.

Consider these 11 essential messages to include in your post-purchase flow. Then, test the number of messages, the content of each email and text, and what channel each message is delivered on for maximum impact.

Every brand's flow will look different. The goal isn't to bombard your audience with messages but to send the right messages on the right channels to effectively engage your customers and inspire them to take action.

1. Order confirmation

Channel: Email and SMS

The first message in your post-purchase flow should be an order confirmation delivered via email and SMS. This is the moment when customers will expect to receive a notification that their order has been received.

By email, include all order details, including shipping address, items ordered, and the price paid, so that customers can confirm it is correct.

SMS is a great channel for order confirmations and other transactional emails because customers will instantly see that their order has been received. By SMS, the confirmation should include just the basic information they need to be sure that the order was placed: the order number and a quick notice of what to expect next. For example, "We'll let you know when it ships."

2. Shipping confirmation

Channel: Email and SMS

Once your order ships, it's important to let customers know that the item has been sent so they can track their orders. Then if it seems like their package is stuck in transit, they can notify you.

Keep your text message basic with a short message that includes a tracking link.

For your shipping confirmation email, include more details like the shipping address again and the items that have shipped -- this is especially helpful if a customer's order has been split into two shipments. Then they won't be surprised when they only receive part of their order.

3. Delivery confirmation

Channel: Email and SMS

Once your order has been delivered, it's important to let customers know so they can keep their eyes peeled for the package. Again, since this is such an important message, it's worth sending an email and a text.

When a customer is notified of delivery, they can make sure to take it off their doorstep, so it doesn't get stolen or damaged by weather. And they can contact you if the package was delivered to the wrong address.

In your delivery texts, include the tracking link so they can quickly find the tracking information if they need it. And in your delivery confirmation emails, include what items arrived and a way to contact you if they had any delivery issues.

4. Thank you message

Channel: Email

If you're just sending a quick thank you, you can include that in your order confirmation email or text. But a separate thank you email can help you build deeper customer relationships.

In your thank you email, you can go into your brand story or values to help customers connect to your brand on a more personal level.

When crafting your thank you email, think about how it differs from any messaging in your welcome series for new subscribers. You don't want to say the same thing to customers already on your subscriber list, so you may have a second thank you message to send them.

And for existing customers, you might skip this altogether.

5. Loyalty program email

Channel: Email

Loyalty programs are an excellent way to turn one-time buyers into repeat customers by rewarding customer loyalty.

In this email, highlight the benefits of joining and show what customers will gain from their recent purchases. That might be points that can be collected and redeemed later or a free gift once they've spent a certain amount with your brand.

6. Product education messages

Channel: Email and SMS

Educating your customers about the product they ordered before it arrives can keep them excited about their purchase. And once it's delivered, more detailed how-to guides can help them learn to use the product.

Before an order arrives, consider sending customers an email that teaches customers more about the materials or how the product was manufactured. No "how-to" at this point -- they won't be able to take advantage of the instructions without the product in hand.

When an order arrives, you can send an email with setup or onboarding instructions. Or send a text that links to a page on your website or a video that makes setup easy.

7. Request for review

Channel: Email or SMS

After a customer has had time to use their new product, ask for a review you can post on your website. This is a great way to get feedback on your products for future product development and gain more credibility in the eyes of potential buyers.

It can also help surface issues that came up for the customer, like a broken or missing part or difficulty using the product. Then you can have a customer support specialist reach out for a resolution.

It's one more way you can show customers you care.

In your post-purchase email, include an invitation for customers to leave a review. Many review platforms embed a review form right in the email.

If you collect reviews through SMS, you can use automated conversations to gather customer feedback.

8. Referral program emails

Channel: Email

Since friends and family are shoppers' #1 source for recommendations, it's worth highlighting your referral program as part of your post-purchase flow. This is the time customers are most excited about their new products.

You can tie your referral program to your loyalty program to offer incentives for recommendations such as points, discounts, or gifts.

These messages are usually best sent by email so you can give new customers all the details about your program.

9. Cross-sell offers

Channel: Email and SMS

After a customer has purchased one product, you can use post-purchase emails and texts to suggest additional products they might be interested in based on their purchase history.

It's a personalized way to increase customer lifetime value and the chance that a customer will buy from you again.

You can send these by email or text, so play around and see what works best for your brand. By email, you'll be able to go into more detail and recommend several items. By text, you'll only be able to highlight one item and some top benefits. But that might be all you need! Then you can take advantage of the high open rates of text messages.

10. Replenishment reminders

Channel: Email or SMS

Replenishment reminders are perfect for consumable items that need to be reordered, like beauty or household products.

For example, if you sell coffee and customers typically place a new order every month, send out a reminder to repurchase before a customer is likely to run out.

You're doing customers a favor, so they don't run out of something they rely on while securing repeat purchases.

By email, make it easy to reorder by including an add-to-cart button for their previous order or other items in their purchase history they buy frequently.

By SMS, you can automate reorders right in the text thread to create a frictionless experience.

11. Winback messages

Channel: Email or SMS

Winback messages are sent to inactive customers who haven't purchased in a while. These messages are all about re-engaging those lost customers and encouraging them to buy again.

You can use winback campaigns to offer discounts, freebies, or even a special deal just for returning customers. If you're just offering a deal, that can be sent by text.

But you can also do more in an email. Use winback emails to highlight what customers have been missing out on -- whether that's a new product line, a better shipping policy, or other updates to the company that would make them interested in buying again.

Create an integrated post-purchase flow with Emotive

To create a comprehensive post-purchase flow that seamlessly integrates email and SMS, you'll need the right tools for the job.

Emotive is a best-in-class SMS marketing platform built for ecommerce. It integrates with your favorite email marketing platforms so you can use your flows to reach customers on both channels.

Segment your audience to send relevant messages to your customers. Automate two-way conversations to provide personalized product recommendations, answer FAQs, initiate returns, and even place new orders by text. And plug Emotive into your ecommerce ecosystem to sync across your customer service and marketing tools for a seamless customer experience.

Want to get started with an engaging SMS strategy? Book a demo to learn how Emotive can make SMS your next best revenue channel.