If I am about to send out an email campaign, "25% off storewide for 7 days!", is this creating a bad user experience for customers who have just made a purchase within the last few days?

Are there any human behaviour studies that state that recent customers should be excluded from upcoming marketing OR is the rule that all customers should be included?

I'm concerned more with the experience of the customers than sending out as much marketing material as possible.

  • 2
    In my mind this isn't really a UX question, more along the lines of marketing. I'll wait to see what the others have to say though. May 16, 2012 at 10:31
  • You're about to send a newsletter even if you call it campaign or special offer or what not. Question is if your users opted in to receive newsletters. If yes, you can at least legally send them and they might not be upset. If they never signed up for a newsletter... you know what I am about to say. I also thinks it's not really a UX question. May 16, 2012 at 10:38
  • Thanks for the input, I understand that it's one of those quetsions on the cusp between Marketing and UX.
    – rlsaj
    May 16, 2012 at 11:31
  • 1
    I can see why this question can seem more like marketing - but only because it's probably the marketing dept that manages the email campaign, but really this is about the customer experience which is entirely relevant to the bigger picture of user experience. If you consider the customer journey map - then email contact after engagement at a digital touchpoint is all still part of that journey. May 16, 2012 at 13:58
  • 1
    I added a little blurb at the end to try and make it more clearly about UX. I think this is an okay UX question, it just sounds quite marketing focused at first glance.
    – Ben Brocka
    May 16, 2012 at 14:15

3 Answers 3


I don't think it's for the sender of the email campaign to decide whether to censor the list for people who recently purchased.

You are probably more likely to properly offend someone who finds out that their friends got an email offer and they didn't get one themselves, than you are to annoy someone who receives an offer they would have used if they'd got it a week earlier.

Customers are intelligent enough to realize the way the world works and that you cannot predict the future. It happens to most people at some time or another.

But they might have every right to feel personally victimized should they find out they have been deliberately left out! Is that surely not worse? How would you explain that to someone: 'We didn't want to upset you.' Somehow, that doesn't quite wash!

I should add that in any case, you should have a policy in place for managing customers who do contact you saying they'd just bought a product and now find it's in the sale. Some retailers have a policy that they will refund the difference if the purchase was made within 7 days or some such. Some say they will do no such thing. And then some say their policy is not to do so but as a goodwill gesture will do so on this occasion. Guess which policies ends up keeping customers returning in the long term.

If you don't have that policy set up, then do so now, before sending out the email.

  • Thanks Roger, very good insight here. We now, because of your comment, have a policy for customers who contact us following a recent purchase. We credit their saving to a future non-sale item, purchase.
    – rlsaj
    May 18, 2012 at 23:50
  • fantastic - that's great to hear! May 19, 2012 at 7:03

The answer is dominated by your customers and industry in a way that's very hard to measure. Nevertheless, the answer is probably closest to "people who have purchased from you recently are likely to do so again".

Even for charitable organizations, a "live fish" is a notably good candidate. In the US where "Unsolicited Commercial E-mail" (a.k.a. spam) is technically prohibited by law, my recently having conducted business with you turns it from "unsolicited" to an "established business relationship".

I recently purchased an auto through a buying service that sent my contact information to 3 area dealers. They are still inducing me to buy a new car, even the dealer that sold me one ("I can only drive one at a time, thanks"). Car sales is a notoriously aggressive business, but it is the rare site that I've given my address to that does not use it for future marketing, even professional societies and firms that should know their customer demographic better.

All of this is anecdotal, but the last few hundred years of marketing practice bears out the utility of doing this. E-mail is easy enough to trash or block, and it has been a long time since I've heard anyone express surprise "I bought something from Jaslr Corp. and they sent me an advertisement a week later".

Make the mail, short, to the point, and mostly with an inducement to follow a link to a site to find out more. You'll be able to measure the response rate, and you run a small risk of alienating.

If you do provide a "click here if you don't want to get future e-mail from us", do make sure your system respects that preference. Failing that bit will tend to annoy.

  • I agree with the comments above that say this is a mostly a marketing question, and being new to UX (but not SE) checked the FAQ. The question isn't wildly off topic, and was well presented. Please don't stone me too hard for answering.
    – msw
    May 16, 2012 at 10:58
  • nor stone me for asking it initially. Thanks for the insight msw.
    – rlsaj
    May 16, 2012 at 11:32

It's hard to know, because it can vary depending on the users and the purchases in question. For example if you were selling consumable goods I might come back to stock up on more if they are now cheaper, but for a car I might not have the same reaction.

There's nothing stopping you from learning for your self - tools like Mailchimp have this functionality built in. Design an experiment to discover whether sending mails of this type to recent purchasers is worth it, then use the results to decide whether to continue.

An idea may be to not send the email to all users in this segment for the campaign and compare metrics between those that didn't receive it, and those that did but weren't recent purchasers. You might choose to do analysis over repeated campaigns to get worthwhile results. You may choose to test using different messaging for recent purchasers compared to others.

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