Articles > Every Touch Point Matters: Optimizing the Thank You Page

aley-vsmOnce the party’s over, are you leaving customers out in the cold?

Thank you pages typically don’t receive much design or marketing attention. After all, by the time a site visitor sees a Thank You page the chase is over, right? The visitor purchased a widget, filled out the signup form, or downloaded a white paper – in other words, the web site has won, and another conversion stat has been chalked up in the company’s analytics package. Success! Check out our positive ROI!

It’s understandable, really. Most companies have much larger issues to worry about – such as growing their sales and trying to read Google’s mind – than the design and messaging of their Thank You pages. As a result, most Thank You pages are utilitarian afterthoughts that leave customers cold. They become merely a convenient way to track conversions and deliver boring stuff like receipts and download links to the customer. Oh, and maybe some unemotional boilerplate from the company’s “Team” thanking the customer for their transaction. If you’re lucky.

Thinking outside the conversion

As the web matures, however, more organizations are mastering the basics of doing business online. Their shopping carts work. Their landing pages are motivating. Their site content rocks. And everything’s on an iterative testing schedule to squeeze out incremental conversion gains.

With the basics out of the way, and companies looking to solidify their brand, maintain their credibility, and generate those highly valuable long-term customer relationships, more are paying attention to the smaller touch points. They’re making sure that every interaction, even those not directly related to gaining a sale or conversion, receives close scrutiny and marketing optimization efforts.

From this perspective, no touch point is insignificant. Each represents an opportunity.

A quick example of touch points

I’ll use my recent clothes-shopping trip to Nordstrom as a quick example. Notice the sheer variety and number of touch points involved in my purchase. Each had some effect on my perception of the brand and willingness to interact further with Nordstrom.

Legacy score
6 My current brand perception of Nordstrom, based on past interactions.
Web site +4 Checked for sales and specials, and right on the home page saw a promo for an upcoming in-store sale – 20% off!
Brick-and-mortar store parking -3 Drove to the mall on the appointed Sale day. Struggled with parking outside Nordstrom, cursed the parking lot design while repeatedly seeing the Nordstrom sign on the building.
In the store +2 Store’s interior design is classy and clean, not too crowded, clothes neatly displayed. (Observed to self in totally unrelated aside that men must not be willing to trundle up to the 2nd floor to shop, since their department is always on the ground floor, right by the door. Women, on the other hand, are evidently shopping masochists).
In the Women’s Department +3 Emerged into a confusing array of choices (-2) but was approached very politely by a helpful sales clerk who guided me to the Sale area (+2) and then (this is important to me) left me alone (+3).
Caught between sales clerks
-6 Gathered items to try on, then (ironically) couldn’t find the sales clerk I’d been so happy to dispense with earlier. Found another to let me into the locked changing stall. When I emerged with my selections, my original sales clerk approached me, and a turf war ensued between her and the second clerk while I stood by and became increasingly irritated.
At the purchase counter +1 Once sparring clerks worked out their sales commission split, the purchase went smoothly and professionally. I needed one blouse in a smaller size, and the clerk ordered it for me from another branch store, promising it’d be delivered to me within a few days.
Purchase completion +1 My clerk thanked me with a brilliant smile and called me by name. I received my items neatly folded into branded tissue paper and carefully placed in a sturdy, attractive carry-bag (also branded). Ever felt a Nordstrom receipt? No skimping on paper there. It’s rich, thicker than the average receipt paper, and conveys a tactile reminder of quality.
Shipped item arrival +2 Received my smaller blouse a mere two days later, in a padded envelope shipped via UPS. The outer package wasn’t branded, which gave me a moment’s pause. But the blouse was folded and wrapped in branded tissue, and arrived promptly and with a minimum of wrinkles. This is two days after I completed the purchase, and yet I’m being reminded of the brand in a way consistent with my in-store experience.
NEW SCORE: 10 Overall, my recent interactions with the company were positive, which improved my perception of the brand. Given the funds, I’ll probably buy from Nordstrom again in the future.

What do your visitors see after they click Submit?

An online Thank You page is basically the equivalent of the Nordstrom “Purchase completion” touch point I listed in the above example. Should it be the first area on a site to optimize? Of course not. But once you have the basics working, there’s opportunity here for cross-selling, brand reinforcement, clarifying the next steps in a larger transaction, and what my colleague Lance Loveday calls “goodwill enhancement”.

In other words, ignoring your Thank You pages is a missed opportunity.

Two good Thank You page examples

#1: CrazyEgg


CrazyEgg’s a pretty cool click density visualization tool we’re trying out as an alternative to a company whose name will go unmentioned due to poor customer service (touch points, again – only they ended up with a negative score). This screenshot is of the Thank You page seen immediately after signing up for a basic account.

Positive things to notice here:

  • Clear branding
  • Clear, very legible statement telling me what just happened.
  • A minimum of text. I can skim & understand the page quickly.
  • Clear statement telling me what will happen next (an email will be sent)
  • What I see is identified (“Your account details are displayed to the right”) – although arguably that should be self-evident.
  • An obvious action for me to take next (click the “back to dashboard” button)

A couple of minor negatives:

  • No actual “thank you” – jeez, I just gave them 9 whole U.S. dollars, you’d think they could at least say thanks.
  • No personalization. By now CrazyEgg knows my name, but chose not to use it here.
  • The account summary titled “Basic” could have a clearer heading.
  • The “Back to Dashboard” button is slightly un-intuitive for a first-time visitor. What IS the dashboard? Was I ever AT it before? Couldn’t say.

#2: Musician’s Friend


Musician’s Friend is, well, exactly that. This screenshot was taken right after I purchased a lovely electric-acoustic guitar and mini-amp to try out.

Positive things to notice here:

  • Clear branding
  • Clear, highly visible statement telling me what’s happened (Your order is complete).
  • My name. It’s reassuring, and despite knowing exactly how it’s done behind the scenes, I still feel special.
  • A thank you!
  • Clear statement of what happens next (a copy will be sent to my email address)
  • An order reference #
  • Clear contact info – phone # and live chat button
  • Security reassurances – a brief statement in the top area, a detailed Secure Shopping Guarantee at the bottom, and the Verisign logo
  • Clear call to action – “Continue Shopping…”
  • Cross-promotions – Clear, categorized links invite me back into the site. I can’t be positive whether my guitar purchase triggered the Guitar category displaying at the top, but that’d be very appropriate.

A couple small nits:

  • The page could be better optimized for cross-sales, using the current order data. I was offered complementary items such as guitar picks and stands while I shopped, but this is another opportunity to make a gentle offer. In this case, I’d actually forgotten a necessary amp cable and some extra strings. I would’ve appreciated seeing some order-specific offers.
  • There’s no receipt! I’m used to printing a receipt after a purchase, even though I expect a receipt copy via email. While I appreciate the clean page layout, I’d still like a link to print a record of the purchased items, price, etc.

Thank You Page Optimization Guidelines

An optimized Thank You page contains answers. Answers to typical questions such as:

Is this the right place? This is where consistent design and branding come in. The Thank You page should be consistent with the look and feel of the checkout process.
Am I done yet? Provide some indication that the process – or at least this portion of it – is complete. For example, “Payment has been received,” “Your inquiry has been sent,” etc.
Remind me – what did I just do? For some transactions, a record of what just took place is very helpful. For purchases, a receipt. After a long or complex registration form, it doesn’t hurt to be specific in the process completion statement – i.e. “Your CAR LOAN application has been submitted.” Remember, you may not have 100% of your visitor’s attention.
Are you grateful for my business? The words “Thank you” are such a minor thing, but so humanizing.
What happens next (if anything)? Be specific about what will happen next. For example, an email will be sent (to what address?), or someone will call them (who? when? why?). For transactions with a significant offline component, such as loan applications, provide a clear, informative list of steps the applicant should expect to happen next.
Is there anything I SHOULD do right now? Be specific about any immediate actions your visitor should take. For example, “Wait! You’re not quite done! Click the DOWNLOAD link to complete your purchase.” or “Check your email for a confirmation link. You must click this link in order to activate your account.”
What else? IF the transaction is completely finished (i.e. an ecommerce purchase), consider providing cross-selling or other opportunities to interact with your company. NOT, however, when this might distract your visitor from additional steps they need to complete.
What if I have questions? Provide at least one way to contact you. This goes a long ways toward reassuring the visitor.

Your reading of this blog post is complete!

Thank you for reading this Closed Loop Marketing blog post about optimizing Thank You pages! Don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything else right away – your brain will absorb and process this information all on its own.

Next steps:

  • Optimize your own organization’s Thank You pages
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Questions? Leave a question in the comments, and I’ll be sure to get back to you.