January 04, 2024

The Post-Purchase Customer Experience: B2C marketing case studies of effective strategies for big-ticket items


Your main goal as a marketer or entrepreneur is to get customers to purchase your product.

The more you focus on what happens after that purchase, and how you communicate what happens after that purchase, the more successful you will be.

While this is true for every product, it’s even more true for a large, considered purchase than for something simple like a pack of gum. So today we bring you examples with results from luxury retailer Shinola, a local contractor, and an adventure travel company.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

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In this article, we show you examples of three ways focusing on the post-purchase customer experience can help you your brand:

  • Customer Engagement – See how Shinola integrated QR codes and personalized communications to boost open and click rates
  • Word-of-Mouth Marketing – Read how a local contractor leveraged WOMM on Facebook by sharing the post-purchase experience
  • Social Proof – Discover how a small-group travel company brought transparency to the trip experience by showing that others would be on the trip that prospects were considering purchasing

Quick Case Study #1: How digital product registration lead to 78% email open rate for Shinola

Shinola is a Detroit-based luxury design brand.

BEFORE – Product registration challenge

The retail company used a card-based product registration system. The card mentioned the warranty and provided a written URL the customer could visit to register the product.

Creative Sample #1: Product registration card

Creative Sample #1: Product registration card

The card had a low engagement rate. This left the lifestyle brand with little information about its customers and hindered its ability to connect and provide customers with a great experience.

AFTER – Enhanced customer engagement strategy

To improve the customer experience, the team made three key changes.

Step #1: Product registration with QR code

The team allowed customers to register their luxury products with just the scan of a QR code. The new card also mentions the content customers will receive – “Get tips and tricks for watch care, maintenance, and use…” (Please note: Event though the creative samples show different warranty lengths, the warranty length did not change. Some products have a three-year warranty, and some have a lifetime warranty).

Creative Sample #2: QR code registration (front)

Creative Sample #2: QR code registration (front)

Creative Sample #3: QR code registration (back)

Creative Sample #3: QR code registration (back)

Step #2: Human, in-person communication from the retail sales team

In-store salespeople began emphasizing the importance of product registration, communicating to customers how they could access post-purchase product care and maintenance resources. Retail associates could even help customers register in store, reinforcing the importance of the post-purchase experience and high-touch service levels.

Step #3: Personalized email journeys and quicker customer service calls

After capturing key owner data, including customer information and opt-ins, the luxury goods retailer used the data to reduce resolution time for customer service calls. The team also created personalized email journeys to provide value through the post-purchase experience with product care and maintenance information, rather than direct marketing.

RESULTS – Customer registration success metrics

“Using this strategy, we've more than doubled our watch registration percentages within our first six months and our registration rates have only continued to climb – highlighting that our current registration process is the easiest it’s ever been for our guests,” said John Hurlahe, Senior Manager of Brand Experience, Shinola.

With the new process, product registrations increased from 15% to 35%.

The personalized post-purchase email journey had a 78% open rate with an average click-to-open rate of 20%.

“The metrics showcase the power of knowing who your customers are and responding with content that matters to them,” said Heather Wilkerson, SVP, Marketing, Registria (Shinola’s product ownership experience vendor).

Quick Case Study #2: How local contractor expanded organic Facebook post strategy to grow from 2 to 26 leads per month

Apex Installations is a general contractor.

BEFORE – Simple posts

The team started doing Facebook posts. The posts were simple with one post per project.

For example, the below post was a straightforward before-and-after photo of a kitchen remodel they had finished. The post has visual appeal, but there's not much content for the audience to consume or interact with.

Creative Sample #4: Simple Facebook post (February 2023)

Creative Sample #4: Simple Facebook post (February 2023)

“Our Facebook was something we didn’t really spend too much time on at the beginning of the year. It just didn't seem to get a good response from our customers,” said David Alderman, Owner, Apex Installations.

 AFTER – Three-phase posts (before, in-progress, after)

The team changed the post strategy from one post per project to three posts to show the customer’s journey – one before, one in progress, and one after. Each before and during post would include a teaser like ‘make sure to check back later this week to see progress/finished pictures!’ This not only boosted post views and interactions, but also built familiarity because customers that return frequently begin to recognize the brand.

Referencing Joseph Campbell’s ‘hero’s journey’ narrative pattern, Miles Campbell, Owner, Trillium Marketing (Apex’s marketing agency), told me: “The best marketing and sales is telling a story where your customer is the hero (or can relate to the hero). With just one post of the 'after' pictures, there's no story. And while three posts is not enough to cover every point in the hero's journey, we can show more of a story that other potential customers can relate to. We can show some of the challenges with the ‘before’ pictures, imply that we are 'the mentor that helps the hero overcome their challenges,' show the customer's goal being achieved, and show what their new reality looks like (‘after’ pictures). It's a story with a character arc.”

The team added a quick description of the work to the post to be transparent about how the remodeling is done and the types of materials used.

“For example, we started posting that for every tile shower or tub, we use a Schluter waterproofing system behind the tile. Then in every 'during/progress' post, we mention that we installed a Schluter system and post a picture of it. We've probably posted at least two tile jobs per month over the last 10 months, so our hope is that when a customer wants tile installed in their shower, they expect us to offer a Schluter system, and they know exactly what it is and what it does,” Campbell said.

The team tried to get the posts shown to more people that are interested in home improvement services by adding hashtags. “Include relevant hashtags (#bathremodel, #showerremodel, etc.),” Campbell advised. “When people search in the group or on Facebook in general, posts with relevant hashtags will show up first. So for example, if a customer is looking for a bath remodel, all posts with ‘#bathremodel will show up first.”

The team also posted in local groups to reach a larger audience.

Here are some examples of a set of posts about one project.

Creative Sample #5: New Facebook strategy, ‘before’ post (November 2023)

Creative Sample #5: New Facebook strategy, ‘before’ post (November 2023)

Creative Sample #6: New Facebook strategy, ‘during’ post (November 2023)

Creative Sample #6: New Facebook strategy, ‘during’ post (November 2023)

The team makes sure to add a before/after side-by-side image for every ‘after project’ post.

Creative Sample #7: New Facebook strategy, ‘after’ post (November 2023)

Creative Sample #7: New Facebook strategy, ‘after’ post (November 2023)

“It may not seem all that complicated, but it's the minor improvements every day that lead to the best results,” Campbell said.

RESULTS – Enhanced lead generation

For the example posts above, the post from February 2023 (before they made the improvements reached) 500 Facebook users and resulted in two new leads in the month of February.

After they made the improvements, they saw those numbers increase. For example, the posts from November reached 2,800 users (‘before’ post), 4,900 users (‘progress’ post), and 5,200 users (‘after’ post).

The first comment on any post was usually from the homeowner that hired Apex for that project saying that the work looks great and they love it. That first comment from the homeowner usually leads to a few other comments from their family and friends like ‘Looks great!’ or some other short affirmation, resulting in word-of-mouth marketing.

“Since the family and friends are also likely in the area and in the local groups on Facebook, it boosts the views/impressions for that post,” Campbell said. “I can't say for sure why this improved with the three-post strategy, but my hypothesis is that it's due (at least in part) to frequency. More posts for each project means the homeowner is more likely to see at least one post about their home.”

The company got 26 new leads in the month of November. “We've almost tripled yearly sales just with this Facebook strategy,” Alderman said.

Quick Case Study #3: How small tweaks to online checkout process helped travel company increase sales by 22%

Customers can book small-group trips with local adventure guides on Skyhook Adventure’s website. They click a ‘Book Now’ button on a trip page that takes them to the first step in the checkout process.

BEFORE – Streamlined travel booking checkout page

The checkout landing page was designed to be simple and clutter-free. The main information placed in front of a potential customer at this point in the funnel was:

  • General trip information
  • Number of travelers for the booking
  • Rated excellent on Trustpilot
  • Price details
  • Trip header image
  • Promise of a flexible booking

Creative Sample #8: Checkout landing page, before

Creative Sample #8: Checkout landing page, before

“Booking adventure travel is a considerable investment for most people. A lot goes into a traveler's purchase decision, and we wanted to win their trust quicker,” said Megan Firth, Chief Operating Officer, Skyhook Adventure.

AFTER – Dynamic social proof and urgency-driven travel checkout page

To increase urgency and social proof on the checkout landing page, the team added:

  • A prominent box in red to show how many remaining spaces are left on this trip (for example, in creative sample below, there are two left)
  • Another prominent box in green to show the number of people already booked on the trip (for example, in the creative sample below, 12 other people have booked already). If they've completed their profile information, their image avatars appear.

Creative Sample #9: Checkout landing page, after

Creative Sample #9: Checkout landing page, after

Typically purchase decisions in travel can take days or weeks while a person does their research and weighs their options. But, faced with the reality of limited spaces remaining on the trip as shown in the red box, the traveler is prompted to act quickly and book their space before someone else snaps it up.

The page already had some social proof with the Trustpilot rating, but I noticed it was moved further down the page. When I asked Firth about it, she told me, “Each trip page houses its own reviews, so travelers typically read reviews before clicking ‘Book Now.’ There was no need for the Trustpilot bit to be too prominent – it's simply serving as a reinforcement to say the person is in good hands; they're booking with a business rated excellent by their peers.”

The team further boosted that social proof by showing that potential customers will be joining a small-group trip with ‘X’ number of other people who have booked already. If image avatars display at this point, they further humanize the entire process, reassuring the potential customer that they're making the right decision by booking.

I asked Firth how they communicated that traveler avatars would be displayed, to ensure there weren’t any privacy concerns. “There is a section on every trip page (and often in the FAQs) that lets travelers know they'll be added to a group chat after booking. It's also in our booking terms to say that anyone who books through Skyhook gives consent to feature their photographs, videos, and images in our promotional and marketing materials,” she said.

RESULTS – Conversion-boosting travel page optimization

The combination of these two changes to the page caused an uptick in sales of 22% compared with the previous month.

As you can see in the creative sample, if a traveler hasn’t updated their picture, only a generic avatar will show. To help get more images of travelers, the team is redesigning the guest profile dashboard and guest trip form (which is where the traveler inputs their profile pic, name, contact information, and required travel information).

The profile picture field was at the bottom of the dashboard/trip form with no clear direction that they wanted the person to add their image. Now, the profile image sits at the top of the form, and there's a 'plus' sign to add your image. This will hopefully result in more people adding their image. “It's a new feature, so we'll continue testing it. So far, results look promising with the bump in conversions,” Firth said.

Related resources

3 case studies of marketers that made a positive change in customers’ lives (while getting results for their business)

Marketing Research Chart: How customer understanding impacts satisfaction

Product Development Chart: A “minimum viable product” is not enough to satisfy customers

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