How to Get the Most Out of Your Transactional Emails

(Updated October 2017)
What are transactional emails? Shipping and delivery confirmations, password resets, notification emails, and receipts—these are all transactional email examples. And compared to marketing or bulk emails sent from the same company, transactional emails are eight times as likely to be opened. Are you making the most of the huge opportunity provided by transactional emails to build your brand and boost revenue?

What Is Transactional Email and Why Is It So Important for Marketers?

Transactional email definition:
What does transactional mean? In terms of email transactions, the meaning of transactional involves the automated email messages that are triggered in response to specific interactions with your websites and applications, such as placing an order or signing up to receive an email newsletter. Created on a one-to-one, individual basis, these emails are being sent at a time when your prospects and customers are highly engaged with your company. So that means they expect, want, and may even need the information contained in those transactional emails.

Which of the following is an example of transactional information? Purchase receipts, social media updates, account creation and notifications, password resets, product shipment and delivery notifications, loan reminders, and changes to employee benefits all fit the definition of transactional email. This is opposed to a marketing or bulk mail definition: emails sent to prospects and customers that comprise of promotional content, such as emails providing discount offers, announcing sales, and email newsletters.

When It Comes to Emails, Transactional Means Higher Engagement

The following email stats revealed in Silverpop’s 2015 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study give a good indication of the high levels of engagement associated with transactional email versus marketing email:

  • The open rate for transactional emails was more than twice that of nontransactional emails (44.9% versus 20.8%). And for emails sent by the high-performing brands that were in the top quartile of this study, the open rate was even higher: 72.2%!
  • The average click-through rate was 10.4% for transactional emails compared to 3.2% for nontransactional emails.
  • The average click-to-open rate was 20.1% for transactional emails versus 12.5% for nontransactional emails.

11 Tips to Get the Most from Transactional Emails

So, what can you do to be sure your company is taking advantage of the extreme interest that recipients have in your transitional emails? Here are 11 tips for doing just that:

  1. Follow up immediately. As the saying goes, “Strike while the iron is hot.” Your customers are primed to respond — they’ve just engaged with you (e.g., made a purchase). So, they’re ready and waiting to hear from you regarding that interaction.
  2. Be sure your sender name and address is easily recognized. The “From” name is often the first thing a recipient will look at to determine whether or not to open an email. So, use a sender name that identifies your company or brand, rather than a “donotreply” address or a customer service representative’s name that’s likely unfamiliar to recipients.
  3. Create subject lines that are personalized and provide details about the email contents. As we demonstrated in a previous NewsLever feature, personalizing an email can precipitate as much as six-times-higher transaction rates compared to emails that aren’t personalized. Using recipients’ names is one way to personalize the subject line, as well as including details about their transaction.Also, let your recipients know exactly what information is in the email (e.g., receipt, delivery notification), which also enables them to easily search for it at a later date if they need to. Here are a few examples of strong transactional subject lines:
    • “Victoria’s Secret Shipment Confirmation – Order #6053255”
    • “Your Etsy Purchase from SusiesStash (43681)”
    • “Your order of ‘Flash Furniture’ has shipped!”
    • “Your Met-Ed Account – Enrollment Confirmation”
  4. Make your preheader count. Too often, marketers don’t take advantage of the copy in the preheader — the first line of copy in the email message body, which appears as a snippet of text next to the subject line in most email clients and mobile devices. So, important email transaction details you can’t fit in the subject line could be included in the preheader. Click here for an article that’s packed with email preheader best practices to help optimize the performance of your transactional emails.
  5. Provide branding consistent with the rest of your email campaigns. In other words, include your logo and incorporate brand colors and the same fonts used in other email communications. Then, recipients will know that the transaction email is from your company right when they open it.
  6. Make customer service the focus of your transactional email content. In addition to including all of the information anticipated by your recipients, make sure there is adequate contact information for customer service–related queries, including phone numbers, email addresses, as well as links to frequently asked questions and help pages.
  7. Optimize for mobile. A significant portion of your subscribers is probably opening your transactional messages on mobile devices. That’s why optimizing your transactional email templates for mobile by using responsive design is a best practice that will help drive conversions. Click here for information about how to optimize the mobile user experience by adding responsive design to your email marketing program.
  8. Populate receipts with items purchased by other customers who bought the same item. This is a great way to cross-sell and upsell products that customers are likely to be interested in purchasing.
  9. Send transactional nurturing emails to customers who have an order on the way. Include helpful links to articles, tips, white papers, and videos, for example, which show the best uses for the product purchased.
  10. Include social media links to connect with your customers. Compared to loading your transactional emails with promotional content, this is a less aggressive technique for providing prospects and customers the opportunity to learn more about your company and products. A bonus: transactional email sent that includes social media links has been shown to get a 55% higher click rate55% higher click rate compared to transactional emails that don’t offer social media links.
  11. Optimize your transactional email delivery by finding the transactional email provider that best meets company’s needs. In addition to transactional email services’ features pricing, for example, take a look at and compare email automation tools, email tracking capabilities, and whether there’s a dedicated IP. Also, be sure to assess the email API that gives access to the functionality in an email platform for creating and sending transactional emails.

Are you getting optimal performance results from sending transactional emails? Are you confident that your transactional email provider is the best transactional email service in terms of email deliverability and meeting all your transactional mail needs? Contact the team of experts at FulcrumTech, and we’ll help you implement best practices to get the most out of all your email-marketing campaigns.

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