Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Making Your Shopping Cart and Auto Responder Work Together

by Ely Delaney

When someone goes into a physical store and makes a purchase they immediately get a receipt and usually acknowledgement from the cashier in the form of a thank you for coming in or thank you for your purchase. The same should happen when someone makes a purchase through your shopping cart on your website. Now this can be hard to do if you are trying to write each customer a message immediately following their purchase.

Since the internet is a 24 hour a day business, you would have to have someone sitting in front of a computer 24 hours a day, just waiting for an order to come in. Obviously this is not realistic. So the best way to accomplish the same thing only with less hands on work is to use an auto responder program that you integrate directly with your online shopping cart. Don't worry; you do not have to be a programming genius to make this happen. In fact, today most online shopping cart programs already have some form of auto responder built into them.

There are several things you should to make sure you are including when you set up your auto responder to send an automated message to a customer that has just placed an order. Remember this should be more than a "receipt". This is your opportunity to "speak" to your new client or returning client and thank them for purchasing from you as well as tell them about other products you have or specials you are currently running. You need to write your message so that you are not missing out on the opportunity.

The key is not to try and combine your thank you message with the payment receipt all on the same auto responder message that is emailed to the client. You also don't want your thank you/sales message included on any email that gives the customer a link to a download page or includes the product as an attachment - the download link or attachment would go better with the payment receipt. You want to make sure that your thank you/sales message is sent out all by itself. You don't want any other content to distract from your thank you/sales message. This will allow your customer to focus on the message and not on what they bought or how to get their product.

In this message thank the customer for their purchase repeat the benefits of your product and how it is going to help them solve the issue they may be having. Tell them about complimentary products that you have that go well with the one they just purchased or products that are similar in some way. For example if they purchased body soap, maybe they would like the body lotion in the same scent. Or if they purchased a shirt, they might like matching pants or a skirt. Include a message just letting them know about the various other products that you have to offer that work well with the one they just purchased.

The most important thing is to have immediate contact with your new customer. When someone comes into a physical store there are always small items all around the cash register. This prompts impulse purchases of complimentary items that the customer may not have thought of if they had not seen them within easy access. Your thank you/sales message can and should act as the bins surrounding the cash register in your store and therefore serving the same purpose. Just be sure not to be overly in your face about it.

Remember this person just purchased from you. At this time they are happy with you because you just provided them with a product they wanted that may have solved a problem they were having. You don't want to start slamming them with more sales messages and annoy them. This will not serve to make them repeat customers, this will only serve to annoy them and make them look elsewhere the next time they need what you are offering.

You can send them periodic messages about specials or new products, but resist the urge to email them daily; this will simply not be good for business. Your auto responder program can help you follow-up with your new customer in a way that helps remind them about you and what you have to offer. It reminds them you are there and still in business when they are ready to purchase again, but it must be used responsibly in order to help your customer and you, not to bombard them with constant sales messages.

Be sure that your auto responder messages allow your customers a way to be automatically removed from your list. Also, and maybe the most important thing, be sure that the things that you send to your list of previous customers contain valuable and related information. Don't abuse their trust by sending them only sales messages, be sure to send them coupons, free reports and simply say hello rather than making all of your messages about spending more money with you. By doing this you will continue to build their trust in you and you will be the first person they think of to recommend to friends or when it is time for them to reorder.

About the Author

Ely Delaney is the creator of "My Business Marketing Mentor", a web site dedicated to giving small business the tools they need to market their businesses both Online and offline. All without spending a fortune on Marketing Agencies!

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