Transactional emails are one of the few things you can expect to arrive in your inbox – and this makes them powerful! Nothing causes panic quite like making a big purchase online and realizing the order confirmation has yet to make an appearance in your inbox. This simple transactional email is a powerful tool for any company, so make sure you harness it to its full potential.
The Good finds that transactional emails are opened eight times more often than promotional emails. The main factor that sets these two types apart is that transactional emails are emails that recipients EXPECT. Recipients are willing them to arrive and, when they do, they see higher open rates and engagement than marketing and promotional emails. This email real estate is important, but so often underutilized, and many don’t see it as the powerful sales tool it can be. We’ve gathered a few ideas to help you polish up your transactional emails, but first:
What are transactional emails?
They’re one-to-one communications related directly to subscriber actions. They’re often triggered by a request or action like the below:
- Account creation and activations
- Welcome message
- Security alerts
- Password resets
- Purchase confirmation
- Shipping notifications
- Updates/notices/product notifications
- Answers to a customer service request
- A shopping cart is abandoned
- An item is back in stock
They facilitate an action or provide a requested service to the customer, making them a welcome arrival to the inbox – a coveted place to be! An error or delay in a transactional email can impact the level of trust with your customer, further proof of their vital importance to your company. As a pivotal avenue of communication, transactional emails provide you with a huge marketing opportunity. Transform these short, boring messages into pockets of potential!
Creating effective transactional emails:
- Timing: Your customer is expecting a swift response to their action or request. A transactional email should be automatically triggered and arrive in your customer’s inbox as soon as possible. In this case, timeliness is directly related to your trustworthiness as a company.
- Messaging: Ensure the email’s subject line and the opening line of copy are clear and direct – reflecting exactly what the user is waiting for. State why the message is in their inbox. While marketing elements can be added, it’s important the balance should be weighted towards the task they’re expecting most.
- Personalization: Transactional emails exist as a direct response to a particular customer, so why not make that clear? The customer is aware you can see their details so ensure you include their name and the action they have taken: “Hi Jane, we’ve shipped your order of XXXX to XXXX.”
- Design: Keep your brand consistent, even in the most simplistic of transactional emails. Use your brand’s signature colors as another way to add strength to the brand you have built. Make sure your emails are mobile-friendly too!
Tips to maximize marketing potential
A transactional email is primarily functional. It communicates a clear message in a timely manner, but as an expected message your customer is likely to open, it also creates an opportunity for relevant marketing.
- Set things out in the correct order: Always put your transactional message FIRST and ensure the vast majority of the message you create is focused on that transaction.
- Cross-selling and upselling: Personalized product recommendations influenced by a purchase are a great marketing option to include in a transactional email. You could simply point to similar or related content, or highlight a sale on that content. It’s messaging that comes with a purchase confirmation and is tailored to the customer so it feels personalized and is more likely to be effective.
- Provide several contact and social avenues: As your user has made a purchase, ensure you display all the avenues they can take to ask further questions about shipping or similar products. This also creates a natural space to include social media buttons and channels so they can follow and interact with you there. This means they will have eyes on your future marketing campaigns through social media.
- Use transactional emails to stay fresh in their mind: A transactional email is personalized and expected, and creates a direct pathway for re-engagement with a customer. Remind them why they came in the first place, and why they should definitely come back.
Transactional emails and the CAN-SPAM Act:
The CAN-SPAM Act is a law that establishes requirements for commercial messages. It’s paramount you keep it in mind when putting together your transactional emails so you don’t cross any lines between marketing and transactional purposes, potentially leaving you with a hefty penalty.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states that when an email contains both kinds of content, the primary purpose of the message is the deciding factor. You don’t want to be sending a transactional email acting as a disguise for a marketing message. Keep the purpose of your email clear – if it was designed to sell, it’s a marketing email, if its main function is to follow up on a transaction, it’s transactional. While you can access the marketing potential of a transactional message, its main function must stay the main function.
The FTC website provides some helpful examples and further outlines the main requirements of a transactional email:
- Facilitates or confirms a commercial transaction that the recipient already has agreed to;
- Gives warranty, recall, safety, or security information about a product or service;
- Gives information about a change in terms or features or account balance information regarding a membership, subscription, account, loan, or other ongoing commercial relationship;
- Provides information about an employment relationship or employee benefits; or
- Delivers goods or services as part of a transaction that the recipient already has agreed to.
A transactional email can aid you in maintaining a relationship with your audience while making the most of your messaging opportunities. Optimize your emails while meeting your customers’ expectations and adding value to every message.