First-timers to Forever Fans

Hi BFCM Champs, 

It’s peak szn. Welcome to the chaos.

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Just a quick announcement: 

We just released episode two of the Down To Chat podcast, and I’d love it if you took a listen. 

Cody and I chatted about testing new marketing channels, shipping insurance, and so much more.

If you listen and leave a review, Cody and I will choose one person to do an hour-long consulting call with, free of charge. Just reply to this email with a screenshot of your review.

Busy week here getting into the heat of Black Friday madness.

The growth folks have a handle on sales, discounts, hacks, and tricks.

But what have we done on the retention side? 

Fingers crossed you drive a ton of traffic to your site and sell boatloads of product. 

I’m here to help turn those first-timers into forever fans with a few straightforward and easy tactics.

  1. Retention Pre-Purchase

  2. DTC Expectation vs. Reality 

  3. Practical Post-Purchase Wizardry 

Before we get into it, a huge shout to the OG sponsor, Wonderment. We are back again!

Wonderment is my retention swiss army knife. The easy way to proactively set expectations on shipping timeframes, automatically update customers with delays, and measure shipping expectation vs reality across the business. 

The Wonderment crew is retention-obsessed and they are cx wizards ready to position you to win this season. 

Wonderment saved 10 onboarding slots for newsie readers, and can still get you live before BFCM.  🚨

Later on in this email, I’ll share some of the magic we create with Wonderment. Until then, check out Wonderment here

1. Retention Pre-Purchase 

When focusing on retention, most brands view it as an entirely post-purchase problem.

The growth/sales team will boldly proclaim “I brought these suckers, now you betta make sure you keep ‘em” while sipping on some kombucha.

As retention marketers, we say “yeah, sure” and roll our eyes as far as they go.

The questions that come to mind for retention folks all around the globe:

  • What did you promise them to get them over the hump? (more common with SDR/BDR roles in the SaaS universe than with DTC brands, but I’ve seen this everywhere)

  • What expectations did you set on the ads?

  • What story did your landing page tell?

The easiest way to lose a customer is to peddle a false narrative just to get them over the finish line. 

Early in my career, I was a CX associate at a brand that was running FB ads with FREE 2-DAY SHIPPING plastered on them.

What they failed to mention was the 3-4 day processing time before it ships.

Aside from the hundreds of angry tickets I handled, the retention rate of the folks coming through those ads was absolutely abysmal compared to our standard retention rates. 

DTC Expectation vs. Reality:

With every company I’ve ever consulted for, my first priority is always a holistic experience audit. 

It’s super important to audit messaging and expectations across the entire customer journey to ensure you’re not overpromising just to seal the deal. 

Make sure the story you are telling is consistent across the entire customer journey, all the way from the ad to post-purchase. 

Broadly, here is how I would think about that across the entire customer journey.

The most common reason for a customer to dislike your product and not return is this:

It is not what they expected.

Broken down into more detail, it can mean one of a few things:

  • Product is too expensive for the value they receive 

  • It does not work for them (in our case at JRB it can mean too oily for their skin)

  • The overall experience sucked (shipping & delivery took too long)

If they liked it enough to purchase it for the first time, why would they not purchase it again?

Because their reality did not live up to the expectations you set. 

Review the customer journey and talk to your customers. Then, reset expectations.

It might slightly decrease your new customer acquisition rate, but when done right, it should greatly increase your LTV.

What we learned at JRB is that a predominant amount of our returns are on order #1, and as we button up the education component pre- and post-purchase, I know those numbers will drop. 

3. Practical Post-Purchase Wizardry:

When navigating the post-purchase journey, the wants and needs from customers are shockingly different from what brands often assume.

Brands deliver: 

  • Brand storytelling

  • Pushy cross-selling

  • Persistent upselling

Customers need:

  • Regret minimization 

  • Expectation setting 

  • Product instructions 

Let’s jump into a bit more detail.

Regret minimization: Buyer's remorse is the psychological condition of feeling guilty after a major purchase or big life decision. It’s common across most purchases (and most decisions), obviously more prevalent with larger ones.

With retail purchases, you can easily enjoy the product right away. Instant gratification resolves some buyer’s remorse.

When purchasing online, the space between “place order” and “order delivered” is often filled with rethinking.

It’s important to re-sell the product. Increase hype around the product. Remind them why they purchased it in the first place. Give them the full spiel.

Expectation setting: While most of your competitors are already focusing on pushing the next product, stay ahead of them by focusing on ensuring customers are in the loop and excited about their first one.

Make sure you let people know the expected shipping time frame and keep them in the loop with potential delays using a tool like Wonderment.

We proactively reach out to folks if their order is delayed pre-transit or in transit.

This is our current tracking page! 

Product instructions: While product instructions might be more relevant in the beauty space than it is, say, in the healthy soda world, it’s something that too many folks sleep on.

In our universe, here’s an example of some basic post-purchase email copy.

This is for face pencil: 

Makeup that looks like skin: The Face Pencil. 

Virtually undetectable; Face Pencils cover redness, lighten dark spots and circles, correct discoloration, and even out skin tone.


After WTF or Miracle Balm, start around the nose to cover redness. 

Next, apply around the mouth, spot correct wherever you see discoloration or brown spots, as needed, and blend in with fingers.


Have a sharpener (sold separately) on hand to release more pigment. Have 2-3 shades on hand to accommodate changes in your skin tone. For the best results, use the Eye Cream to prep the under eye for a smooth and effortless application


Even out your skin tone with WTF.  Use the Face Pencil on top if you have darkness or blemishes that require additional coverage.

Credit: Joanne Coffey, JRB 

Once you cover the basics and ensure your customers are having a great experience with their first products, cross-selling and upselling are a lot easier and come across naturally. 

More about that in a later newsie. 

Until next time, Eli 💛

That’s it for this week! 

Any topics you’d love to see me cover? Drop a reply!

For this week's CX chronicles, I'm thrilled to be joined by Elizabeth Morris, Director of Customer Experience at Bobbie, a simple & trusted European-style organic infant formula. We used Bobbie for Noah (my kiddo) and absolutely loved it. Fantastic product with a great team and top-notch CX. Thanks for taking the time, Elizabeth!

What’s your CX philosophy?

  1. Show compassion. You hear empathy tossed around a lot in CX, and it’s almost lost its meaning. I like compassion because it’s more active. It can be surprisingly powerful to let down your guard and allow yourself an emotional response, like saying, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that. That sounds really stressful. I hope I can help.” Taking a minute to step back and think about what I would want to hear at this moment if I was the customer can often make you rethink a response for the better. At Bobbie, we'll sometimes send flowers to a customer who's going through something tough. I think it's really important to give CX discretion and budget for those small acts of compassion.

  1. Write like you speak. So much human interaction happens between two screens, but there’s often a mismatch between our writing and speaking voices. Formality creates distance and makes you sound like a bot, not a person. When you type like you talk (and maybe throw in an emoji here and there to help convey tone), customers are more likely to relate to you as a human. It feels silly, but at Bobbie, we swear by the “read-aloud” test, literally speaking what we’ve typed to make sure it sounds natural before hitting send.  

Your fav Bobbie CX story?

When our website was the only place you could buy Bobbie, we’d sometimes have customers whose babies’ appetites changed and they’d run out before their next delivery. Of course, as a parent, it’s a total nightmare to find yourself without formula, and many people don’t realize it’s often not easy to substitute another brand. 

We set up geographic Slack channels for the whole Bobbie team—not just CX—and shipped everyone four cans of Bobbie and some branded tote bags. When a customer wrote in nervous about facing a gap between deliveries, we’d send out an SOS to local team members, and they would personally deliver an extra can, on us. If our team was juggling work or childcare and a delivery wasn’t possible, sometimes we’d buckle a can of Bobbie into the backseat of a rideshare and deliver it that way. 

It was something that would never scale, but we still do it now and then. I never want to stop doing something surprising just because we can’t do it for every customer. We hope it made a difference for customers, but it turned out it was also a special way for Bobbie employees who would normally never have the chance to talk to customers and feel close to their experience.