In online selling, you know it's important to answer customers' questions quickly, respond to complaints and to let shoppers them know where their items are in the sales process. Have you shipped the order? Is there a delay? And so on.
But recently we heard you shouldn't email your buyers too much, especially after a sale. We also heard about a thing called "email overload," a problem that many buyers complain about, and wondered if that might be the root of this idea that post-sale emails might be bad for business.
People spend 11.2 hours a week reading and answering emails. About 144.8 billion messages are sent around the world every day
So we reached out to two long-time eBay sellers and educators to get their takes on post-sale communication. Read on to see what they have to say, but first, let's dig into this "email overload" problem.
Email by the numbers
What exactly is "email overload?" Just what it sounds like: being overloaded—and overwhelmed—by email. Walter Glen, an author at Lifehacker.com, reports that email overload is a common complaint among buyers. He asked his readers to share how many non-spam emails they receive in a day. The responses were eye opening.
One reader noted getting between 25 and 50 emails a day. Others said less, between five and 10 a day. Others said more, between 75 and 125.
What's more, Mashable reports people spend 11.2 hours a week reading and answering emails. It notes that 144.8 billion messages are sent around the world every day.
So it does seem that "email overload" is a problem.
Post-sale emails: Good or bad?
Keeping this in mind, we asked two eBay pros what they thought of post-sale emails with buyers. We stuck to post-sale communication because we know that despite the potential for email overload, buyers always want to hear back from sellers quickly if they have a question or concern.
Stephanie Inge, an eBay instructor and the founder of The Dallas eBaybes & eMales, says merchants shouldn't email buyers after a sale at all.
"eBay rewards sellers with an automatic 5 stars if we don't communicate with our buyers," she explains.
eBay rewards sellers with an automatic 5 stars if we don't communicate with our buyers
Inge admits eBay's new attitude is "completely opposite of the way it's been for the past 15 years," when eBay encouraged merchants to communicate with buyers after each step of a sale with a congratulatory email, a payment received email, an item shipped email, a feedback received email, etc.
If eBay already gives you 5 stars for communication in your Detailed Seller Ratings if you don't email customers after a sale, why message them? she points out.
Now that's not to say that eBay will penalize you for communicating with buyers after a sale. Its policy states, "Communication between a buyer and seller isn't undesirable. If you exchange messages—and the buyer is satisfied with your response—you may receive 5 stars for communication based on their interaction with you."
But the policy also says, "Most often, transactions without additional communication are a sign of great service, and you shouldn't receive low Detailed Seller Ratings for communication in these situations. To give you credit for transactions where a buyer doesn't need to contact you, you'll automatically receive a 5-star communication."
That sounds appealing, as does the idea of saving time. Think about it. If you do skip the post-sale communication and your shopper is happy, you can focus your energy on shipping the item, adding new inventory or another aspect of your business that needs your attention.
Kat Simpson, an eBay seller of more than 10 years, says communication between buyers and sellers depends on the platform you sell on.
"For eBay, post-sale communication is critical," she says. "It is the way you can stand out from other sellers and build those important customer relationships so they continue to be your customer. On Amazon, you can follow up carefully, but they are much more specific about what you can and can't do."
What this means for Auto-Email
For eBay, post-sale communication is critical. It is the way you can stand out from other sellers and build those important customer relationships
Now, if you're reading this, you're likely an Auctiva customer, and you know Auctiva allows you to set up Auto-Emails to automatically let shoppers know when they've bought an item, paid for an item, need to leave feedback, when you've shipped an order and more.
Auctiva provides templates for each of these messages, which you can personalize to help build your brand. You can turn on this feature to automatically email shoppers for instances like the ones mentioned above, but if the idea of "email overload" worries you, you can turn off the feature, too. Just go into your Auctiva Account Preferences and look at your "Auto Email Management" section. Then make sure the "Off" option is selected if you don't want to send these emails.
What do you think?
At the end of the day, post-sale communication is up to each seller. You might find emailing buyers to thank them for a purchase really does help create relationships and turn one-time shoppers into return customers, as Simpson tells us. Or you might think skipping post-sale emails is the way to go. After all, eBay gives you that automatic 5-star rating.
Tell us in the comments below.