17 posts categorized "Transactional Emails"

Creating Best-Practice Transactional Emails

In this post, Loren McDonald makes the point that even though transactional messages are a golden opportunity to engage with customers (to introduce or extend the email relationship with customers or subscribers, to anticipate and answer questions or to cross-sell or up-sell products or services), many marketers don't take advantage of this easy and obvious benefit.

He offers some best practices for your transactional emails:

    1. Move responsibility for transactional emails into the marketing department.
    2. Set up your transactional message stream on a separate IP address.
    3. Redesign the inbox presence.
    4. Position the transactional message content front and center in the message body. Use HTML design elements to create an attractive and organized message.
    5. Add personality that supports your brand or company image, expresses your thanks for that they're customers and invites them to engage further.
    6. Use the transactional message to initiate or expand the customer relationship.

Read more here.

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Borders: A prime example of e-tailing done right

Previously in this blog, I mentioned the UK bookstore chain, Waterstone's and how they were doing a great job offering offers only available via email. Well - it looks like Borders are on par with Waterstone's email marketing strategies.


Now - apart from the From address being [email protected] (please see previous post regarding this), I think Borders are doing a great job with their email marketing and offers. Last week they offered a £5.00 voucher to download and print off and spend in-store. To avail yourself of this offer, you simply had to click the image which then takes you to a printable pdf which has a barcode on it. Simple but effective.

Borders_tvI also love how they use video in emails. I also receive Borders TV Newsletter which I believe deals well with the 'how to use video in email' issue which is so often brought up.

The newsletter shows the screenshots of the various video's within the email, then upon clicking the screenshot you're taken through to Bookzone TV and the video starts to play.


These are great ideas which are simple to achieve...but I don't believe they're ideas which are limited to retailers...so how about it?....let's really put the email channel to work and accomplish some great results.

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Anatomy of an Excellent Transactional Message

A passable transactional email focuses on only the event that just happened or is about to happen, such as a subscription request, a hotel reservation, a product order or a recurring payment. A great one describes the event in detail, uses language that makes the customer feel good about what just happened, invites him or her back to the website for more information or to expand on the event, and provides contact information for questions or concerns.

According to Wendy Roth, superior transactional emails include the following elements:

1. A personalized greeting. This is nice for general events like newsletter subscriptions, but it's essential when the transaction involves money, such as a shipping confirmation or hotel reservation.

2. A detailed description of what happened. Not just, "Thanks for your order. Your items will ship soon." Instead, list what the customers bought, the prices they paid, any special instructions, payment status, out-of-stock notices, shipping locations, order numbers, etc.

3. Customer-support contact information, including toll-free phone numbers, mailing addresses and links to online contacts.

4. Other links that encourage the recipient to go deeper into the relationship, including:

  • Email newsletters or offers
  • RSS feeds for product information or updates
  • Loyalty programs
  • Offers that cross- or up-sell products that relate to a purchase
  • Customer forums, blogs, social-network sites
  • How-to information for the product

5. A clear, action-oriented subject line.

6. Any data, except a password, that the customer needs to complete a pending transaction. This may include information needed to pay a bill or go back to a past one, change an order, or update email preferences.

7. All copy in either text or HTML text -- not images -- so that the crucial information is received even if the reader views the message in text on the dinky screen of a low-rent cell phone.

8. A link to your homepage. You never know what's going to drive someone back to your site, and this basic element gets left out more often than you can imagine.

9. A statement about what you will do with the customer's email address, plus a link to your privacy statement.

10. Any terms or conditions that apply to the transaction, such as exchanges and returns, hotel policies or posting schedules for account payments.

Source: iMediaConnection - don't forget to check out the examples on page 2

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9 Tips for Your Transactional Emails

Transactional e-mails have the highest open rates of any form of e-mail communication. These e-mails let you build lasting relationships with your customers to help improve your bottom line.

To make the most of them, concentrate on their contents and method of delivery by following these important rules:

  1. Use HTML
  2. Personalize
  3. Send them right away
  4. Protect the transactional primary purpose
  5. Link to the correct page of a Web site
  6. Always suggest additional purchases
  7. Periodically send transactional e-mails to yourself
  8. Let them know what is coming
  9. Provide a name, e-mail address and phone number

Read the full article here.

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10 Tips to Enhance Your Transactional Messages

Lisa Harmon posted these 10 tips to enhance your transactional messages over on the EEC blog:                   

  1. Include your company logo and colors to make transactional communications feel consistent with your other marketing materials.
  2. Include navigation items relevant to the transaction
  3. Use text treatments, color and graphics to maximize usablity and legibility.
  4. Make it easy to locate the most critical account and order details.
  5. Include customer service contact information
  6. Say “thank you.” 
  7. Show product photography and link product names back to your website
  8. Cross- and up-sell relevant products to already-engaged buyers.
  9. Add valuable content and offers.
  10. Protect the primary purpose of the message.

Read the full blog post and check out a bunch of examples here.

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Customers Open & Read Transactional Emails

Transactional messages remain one of the few underutilized opportunities in email marketing. Used properly, marketing within transactional (or “service”) emails can be timely, helpful and relevant. Used incorrectly, transactional emails can sour a permission relationship just as quickly.

The chart shows that most consumers are comfortable with many types of email transactions. The exception is personal finance. But even there, notifications would get a much higher approval level than statements – which the chart asks about. As the types of transactional email grow, so does the opportunity for marketers.

Why an opportunity?

  • Service emails are read far more frequently than standard newsletters.
  • Service emails can convey information about the recipients for a marketer. A receipt, for instance, suggests add-on or complimentary products. A travel confirmation places the user at a destination on a given date, opening up possibilities for relevant marketing.

Read this article over on MarketingSherpa and find out where to begin.

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How to Score With Transactional Messages

When leveraged properly, transactional messages can strengthen customer loyalty, provide a complete view of the customer lifecycle and increase sales, says email and database marketing provider e-Dialog in their report, How to Optimize Transactional Email Messages.

Today, email messages serve several purposes, including facilitating, completing or confirming a commercial transaction the recipient previously agreed to enter into with the sender. These messages include warranty, recall and safety or security information; customer service notices; subscription/membership status or account information; information related to employment relationship or benefits; and confirmation of delivery of goods or services, including updates or upgrades.

These transactional messages receive very high open rates and likely are sent from an IT or e-commerce system, not from the same email marketing platform that promotional emails are sent. The logical question then becomes, how do catalogers and multichannel merchants get the most value from their transactional messages? Here are a few tips from e-Dialog’s report.

  • Enhance messages with HTML. This allows you to quickly and easily customize the text, formatting, graphics and links of these messages.
  • Increase acquisition by adding an opt-in field. This way, by encouraging recipients who have given their email address for transactional purposes, you can entice them also to sign up for promotional mailings. List the benefits they gain by doing this.
  • Include dynamic content. Add text and imagery making the message relevant to the recipient. For instance, include an image of the product they’ve just purchased in their order confirmation or warranty recall.
  • Improve deliverability. Add a link at the top of the email encouraging recipients to whitelist the “from” to ensure your messages end up in their inbox.

Above all else, marketers should integrate the strategies and tactics used to optimize promotional messages into all transactional messages, e-Dialog suggests. Find a solution that handles automated composition, delivery, tracking and reporting of transactional and promotional emails. This provides a complete, integrated view of all customer email communications, helping marketers to plan, execute and measure a well-rounded contact strategy.

Source: CatalogSuccess

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Automated Messages: How to Improve Response Rates

System-generated emails often fall to the bottom of a marketer's to-do list, but they can have an enormous impact on user loyalty.

In this article, Simms Jenkins looks at several simple ways to properly evaluate and optimize them in order to improve response rates, delivery and overall marketing messaging:

First, these are the types of emails that fall into the automated messaging bucket:

  • Email Subscription Confirmations/Welcome Emails
  • Sweepstakes/Promotional Confirmation
  • Pre-Set Opt In-Site Notifications
  • Order Confirmations
  • Customer Service Automated Replies
  • Subscription or Profile Changes
  • Order Tracking/Shipping Notifications
  • User Name/Password Requests
  • Automated Customer Surveys
  • Email Forward/Friend Confirmations

So, you may be thinking these emails are all non-marketing, boring types of messages that have nothing to do with email marketing campaigns. Au contraire.

Let's move toward what features and best practices should be included in these underrated emails. They can pack more power than you might suspect if you give them the right strategic attention.

Test and send HTML automated emails. Don't always send all automated messages as text only. HTML automated emails can ensure branding across the email board and can deter phishing schemes. Test it if you have doubts about an HTML version of an automated message.

Deliverability matters, everywhere. Some users may receive an automated message as their first email if you send automated welcome emails. Ensure they have clear white list instructions and other relevant information to make sure that this isn’t the last email they receive from you.

Include basic header and footer information. See my previous take on Headers and Footers for elements to include in your automated messaging that mirror your marketing headers and footers.

Continue reading "Automated Messages: How to Improve Response Rates" »

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What is a Transactional Email and How Can You Use Them?

Transactional emails come in many shapes and forms and could be a very nice form of business for you, in many cases some of your best performing email.

Here are examples of transactional email:

  • Thank you emails after someone purchases from you.
  • Shipping notification of a product you sold.
  • Your confirmation email when a visitor signs up for your site.
  • Information about your customers rewards or points programs.
  • Your Privacy Policy changes.
  • Product feature changes or releases.
  • Warranty information, product recall information or safety or security information from a product or service you sell.
  • Any account balance information or statements to a subscription, membership, account, loan.
  • Product updates or upgrades, that your recipient needs to know about.

Continue reading "What is a Transactional Email and How Can You Use Them?" »

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How to Get More Out of Transactional Emails?

Question: I want to juice up our transactional emails so we can get some marketing mileage out of them, because they have a better open rate than our regular newsletters. What can I do that will keep them legal under CAN-SPAM?

Answer: Transactional emails represent an untapped resource because recipients look for them and open them more often, as you have said. You have some latitude to add some marketing content to emails sent to confirm a purchase, registration, bill payment or other transaction. But remember, the primary purpose of the email must be to provide the transactional information.

If half or more of the content is commercial, though, it tilts the balance from transactional to commercial, and CAN-SPAM rules would apply. In particular, you would need to add a working unsubscribe link and physical postal address, which is never a bad practice for any message, transactional or not.

Three tips:

  1. Add only 1 commercial element such as an opt-in invitation, a link to related or complementary purchases, or an offer to download a white paper.
  2. Place the commercial material in the bottom half of the message body so that the transactional element is clearly visible at the top of the email, in case the recipient reads the message in the preview pane.
  3. Make sure the subject line reflects the transaction, not the offers.

Source: EmailLabs

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Fundamentals Of Marketing Via Transactional Emails

In this article, Vistaprint's Trynka Shineman explains how you can drive first-purchase conversions and increase repeat purchases through transactional emails.

"Using transactional emails to cross sell and to offer benefits when the open rates are known to be high is a perfect way to get your message across, create loyalty and make the customer aware of other things you have to offer.", she says.

Here's what she suggests:

1. Introduce relevant offers. Cross selling a complementary product in order-confirmation emails is one example. Reminding customers who have abandoned baskets to complete their transaction is another example.

2. Create promotions or triggers tied to a specific customer behavior. Examples of created events/triggers (in addition to required password reminder/order/shipping confirmation emails) are expiring customers' baskets, a one-year anniversary and backordered items back in stock.

3. Pay attention to deliverability. Not only are these e-mails a great marketing tool, but they are critical for customer satisfaction and retention.

4. Use HTML instead of text format. Images provide a vehicle to showcase products and draw attention to offers. It also allows the information to be structured in an efficient way, including positioning your logo and offers to create a strong call to action while the primary purpose of the e-mail is kept intact.

She finishes by saying that you should "take advantage of the opportunities presented in transactional e-mails. It's a perfect way to deliver value and relevant messages to the customers you've already worked so hard to secure."

Source: DMNews

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How Top Retailers Use Transactional Email: Revenue Boosting Tactics

To determine how top online retailers use transactional emails, Silverpop studied the messages sent to recipients immediately following an online purchase. Findings from the report, titled "How Top Retailers Use Transactional Emails," reveal how some companies capitalize on using this targeted marketing channel to cross-sell and up-sell relevant products to customers, while others fail to exploit the full potential of transactional email marketing.

To identify best practices, Silverpop's Strategic Research Group purchased items from 84 of the top online retailers as identified by Internet Retailer magazine. Each transactional email was evaluated for subject line branding, personalization, layout elements, promotional content and various administrative elements.

Key findings of the study include the following:

Continue reading "How Top Retailers Use Transactional Email: Revenue Boosting Tactics" »

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Unleash the Potential of Transactional Email Messages

A lot of companies are still missing out on important opportunities for additional sales and relationship building through transactional email messages. Some are even undermining well-executed email marketing strategies by allowing these highly anticipated and widely read messages to come out of separate corporate IT or e-commerce systems.

So how can you avoid missing out on these key touch points in a budding customer relationship? Find the right partner to integrate transactional messaging into the marketing platform, use the right tools, and focus on applying the following best practices to customize, track, and optimize transactional messages:

Continue reading "Unleash the Potential of Transactional Email Messages" »

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Tap The Potential of Transactional Emails

Transactional e-mails (purchase confirmations, shipping notifications, monthly statements, service notices, etc.) offer the perfect chance to provide service and sell products at the same time. Recipients are customers by definition and have often just made a purchase -- the best predictor of readiness to purchase again in most industries. They anticipate, open and read transactional e-mail more than any other form of e-mail, sometimes revisiting the same e-mail multiple times. When was the last time your company sent a weekly promotional e-mail with an 80 percent open rate?

Kevin H. Johnson explains in this article why you should take charge of your company’s transactional e-mails and take advantage of the compelling sales opportunity they represent.

Source: DMNews

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Integrating Promotional Content Into Transactional Email Messages

In this week's issue of BtoB's E-Mail Marketer Insight Heather Palmer Goff, Director of deliverability and ISP relations at Responsys, answers the following question:

What are some key guidelines for integrating promotional content into transactional e-mail messages?

Here's what she answers:

Continue reading "Integrating Promotional Content Into Transactional Email Messages" »

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Add A Marketing Message To Your Transactional Emails

If you interact with your audience through the online medium then chances are that you already use triggered messages in the form of transactional notifications such as a welcome message, a thank you email, or a purchase confirmation email. It is well understood by most online marketers that these welcome and purchase confirmation messages have very high open rates (sometimes over 70%) and while there is no stated or unstated stipulation that these messages have to be free of marketing messages, they are generally just plain transactional messages.

So always consider placing a marketing message and a call to action in your transactional notification. For example, a purchase confirmation could include offers for complementary products or services, a thank you message could also promote your "refer-a-friend and earn additional rewards" program. A little planning will help you determine which marketing message and which call to action to include.

Source: Bluestreak's "BlueNotes" newsletter.

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