10 Tips To Drive More Value With Transactional Emails

Transactional emails are a digital marketer’s best friend because they trigger from your customer's actual behavior, have off-the-charts engagement metrics, and can build your brands long after the transaction is history.

Here are 10 tips to turn these engaging emails into opportunities to achieve your goals: upsell, next purchase, post-purchase satisfaction, etc.

1. Send transactional emails ASAP. Sending confirmation or follow-up emails in real time (as close as you can manage it) reduces "FUD" (fear, uncertainty and doubt).  Smartphone customers in particular appreciate a prompt acknowledgement that their transactions succeeded.

Talk to your IT staff about coordinating your business systems so that confirmations are sent in real or near-real time.

2. Use a readily identifiable sender name. Which would you recognize more quickly: "customer service online" or "PGE Payments?" Does "" inspire confidence?



Always choose a sender name that conveys immediate recognition and brand identification. Generally avoid using an email address or a personal name.

3. Write a detailed subject line. Pick one that goes heavy on information. Testing will show you which construction drives more interaction. Consider these examples:

Blah:  "Order confirmation"

Best:  "Your Gentleman Cyclist order of Sidewinder Elite Mountain Bike and 2 more items."

4. Add secondary information in the preheader. Many email clients pull this first line of email copy into the inbox, giving you a third source of information. Don't waste it with boilerplate copy such as "View the web version" or "Add us to your address book." One idea: Mention the product name if your subject line doesn't include it.

5. Answer your recipient’s questions in the message body. "Was my transaction successful?" That's what your customers want to know. Don't just say, "Thanks for your purchase. We’ll be in touch." List products by name (with images if possible), price and payment source. Add branding (logo, colors, images) or unique content to make the transaction memorable, such as the hotel manager's greeting in a reservation confirmation.

6. Design for mobile screens. Maybe they purchase on the desktop, but your customers might read transactional emails on their mobile devices first. Finger-friendly navigation, fewer but bigger images, bigger buttons and responsive or mobile-friendly design will make your emails easier to engage with for viewers on all screens.

7. Go beyond the transaction. If you know that your transactional messages are your most opened emails, leverage that engagement to build customer loyalty.

Tell webinar or podcast registrants where and how to log in. Add download links for white papers or slide decks. Links to demo videos, FAQs and user forums can increase post-purchase satisfaction for pricey or high-consideration products.

8. Add next-step suggestions. Give customers reasons to click through from your transactional emails. Show them how to move to the next phase, whether it’s upgrading to your paid service, joining a loyalty program or buying again.

Suggest strategic or companion products, or ask buyers/users to review their experiences, but don't let promotional content overshadow transactional information. See No. 10.

9. Invite nonsubscribers to opt in for marketing emails.  A dynamic copy block can display your email newsletter opt-in to nonsubscriber customers, while serving alternate offers to existing subscribers (e.g., download your mobile app or follow you on social media).

10. Comply with email regulations governing unsubscribes and marketing content in transactional emails. Many anti-spam laws around the world differentiate between transactional and commercial messages. CAN-SPAM, for example, would consider your transactional email a commercial message if your subject line and/or the primary content focus on promotional information and not the transaction. Thus, you would need to include an unsubscribe link or instructions.

Bonus Deliverability Tip

Send your transactional and marketing emails from different Web domains and IP addresses. This way, whatever happens on one domain or IP address shouldn’t affect your sender reputation and deliverability on the other. If your marketing IP gets blocked or blacklisted, you’ll still be able to get your transactional emails delivered to customers.

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