7 Ways To Transform Your Transactional Emails In 2017

Nearly any company engaging in commerce online sends transactional emails, yet too many aren’t maximizing their opportunity to turn these emails into revenue-generating sends.

For example, many companies are still sending IT-system-generated emails from their company servers, where they have little to no control over the content without a monumental project with IT.

Marketers that have migrated their emails to an ESP and have flexibility and control can implement a few largely untapped strategies to turn these “boring” emails into something more central to their revenue-driving ecosystem.

Transactional emails include recipients who may not be a part of your promotional list, so these messages have the highest engagement among all email types, putting this category squarely on the bullseye to drive significant revenue.

Here are some ideas I challenge you to consider in 2017:

1. Cross-sell and upsell. Many e-commerce retailers already employ a strong cross-sell and upsell strategy on their Web sites. Fewer take that same logic and put it in emails like order and shipping confirmations. Since these emails address a recent purchase, why not suggest something that will enhance or be complementary to the item(s) already purchased?  Putting two to three recommendation modules as secondary content is a good way to start.



2. Web site header. In addition to cross-sells and upsells, why not get all of your product categories shown on your Web site navigation in your transactional emails?  Many brands do this on promotional emails, but fail to be consistent in transactional emails. Make sure your email template is responsive, and create content rules on what will show when the emails are viewed on a mobile device.  You’ll certainly want to scale down these categories for  smaller screens.

3. Shipping updates. I’m taking inspiration from Domino’s Pizza Tracker for this recommendation. When sending a shipping notification, why not use open-time personalization technology to update the progress on the order? Sure, this would require some API setup, but wouldn’t this be incredibly valuable for customers, especially around major holidays when anxiety peaks about gift deliveries? Instead of making your customers go to a UPS, Fedex or your own brand’s Web site, why not put this front and center within an email?

4. Loyalty details. Does your brand have a loyalty program that tracks progress toward rewards or perks? Nudge your customers forward by showing an image tracker bar of earned points within email, or go as far as encouraging non-loyalty members to sign up so they won't miss out on points from their recent purchase. “You can earn 20 points from this purchase. Create a loyalty account by <date> to grab these points!” 

5. Important events/dates. Does your brand host exclusive in-person or online events for customers? Use order confirmation emails to tell your most recent purchasers about upcoming events and exclusive limited-time offers. You can even use open-time personalization countdown clocks to incite urgency or show critical shipping cutoff dates around the holidays.

6. Acquisition. Transactional emails are a great way to gather new promotional email sign-ups. If you send your order confirmations from the same system as your promotional emails, it’s fairly simple to do a lookup on a promotional list when a transactional email is going out the door. If a transactional recipient is not opted in on a promotional list, offer a better incentive than you do on your site to get these purchasers to sign up for email -- e.g., “Because you are a valuable customer, we’ll give 20% off your next purchase instead of 10% if you sign up for email today.”

7. Social messages. Social is a highly underutilized channel to speak to your customers with the voice of other customers. West Elm does a phenomenal job of showing customers browsing specific products on the company's site an idea of how the product looks in-home by showing Instagram posts correlated to those products. Why not do this as well in order and shipping confirmations using open-time personalization to give inspiration on how customers can wear/use the product(s) they purchased?

What are some out-of-the-box ways you’ve enhanced your transactional emails? Would love to hear from you in the comments!

Please note: Because email regulations vary by country, as always, be sure you fully understand the laws affecting your area before implementing any promotional content in transactional emails.

1 comment about "7 Ways To Transform Your Transactional Emails In 2017".
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  1. Kevin L from , January 13, 2017 at 12:26 p.m.

    April.  Love the list you put together and wanted to add a few things we have customers doing.

    Personalized Images - Merge your customer data fields into an image.  Here are a few quick examples using First Name, but we often see images like an order number/customer address on a delivery package, product name, delivery date and a lot using the customer's name.

    Dynamic Countdown Timers - Animated gifs counting down to a customer's delivery date, trial end date, renew date, or expiration for an abandoned shopping cart coupon.

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