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I am thinking of sites such as Amazon which have turned buying something into a flood of confirmation and updating emails.

And; question 2 - is there a better way to let users go and seek the status of their order - rather than providing this in a number of emails pushed at the user ?

  • Watching this happen often the situation is where I want to make a one off transaction with an organisation: However their website makes me set up an account (including possibly an email to confirm my email address); then there's an account confirmation email; then there's a 'you have bought something' email; and then if they are using 3rd party payment providers there's yet another email from them about the transaction. And then I have to go into my email account and find the most useful lookiing email to keep and delete all the rest ! And then they get into 'we have shipped it' emails ! – PhillipW Jun 30 '15 at 9:19
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I guess the number of confirmation emails depends on how many things you are trying to confirm and their timings

For example: payment processing, order shipping, deliver date etc...All of these are confirmed sometimes minutes or days apart and it wouldn't make sense to wait until the last of the sequence was ready before you sent one email confirming them all.

I think maybe you've hinted at a potential answer in your second question though I can see why people aren't doing it. Basically...Amazon could send you one email with a link to an order processing page, with which you could regularly check for updates yourself and save multiple emails.

However...Amazon will have no doubt discovered that users are forgetful or may accidentally delete the first email etc and not feel like logging into their Amazon account for details/updates. The emails are a mainly helping with laziness and also giving you a permanent record of the process should any problems arise along the way.

I guess the middle ground is to allow users to turn off update emails in their preferences and warn them at the time that this means they'll have to log into their account to check on progress. Only a small percentage of people would use that feature (likely people using Amazon apps or buying from them quite often).

In summary

To minimise notification emails make sure they are for definitively different steps in the process/transaction (i.e. payment or delivery) and aim to separate them if they occur in separate times frames unless there's a good reason.

For power users or notification weary people let them opt out but be sure to highlight the consequences.


also...it's worth noting that some brands (however depressing it might sound) will want to separate out their notifications to repeatedly remind you of their existence in the chance they'll increase their click throughs :( It's not cool but they may weigh up the benefits of that as opposed to the odd complaint from those dissatisfied with all the emails.

  • Thinking about this I would be useful if the 'unsubscribe' at the bottom of each email led directly to some kind of control panel which controlled all email preferences - next time I buy somethign from Amazon I'll see if this is actually implemented – PhillipW May 27 '15 at 11:18
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Let us think from a customer perspective. When I receive an email from amazon updating me about the product I purchased, there is my interest attached to it, therefore I will not complain about the email until each mail consists a discrete piece of information which is not repeated.

Also as Chris said, in case of Amazon it is possible that they did a research to study the forgetfulness of customers.

You will have to figure out that how many times you have discrete unique information to send to the user. Remember that every piece of this information should contain an element of interest for user. Also make sure that all the required information is conveyed to the user. The user should also not feel disconnected because you have reduced emails to a very low figure.

We can say that user is very selfish, he will see only those mails which contain information of their direct interest.

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