No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts
It might be time to boost your transactional messaging. Transactional emails are often very informational, matter-of-fact, and outright B-O-R-I-N G. However, with a little bit of love you can transform your transactional emails into a powerful part of the customer experience, especially considering they tend to have a much higher open rate than traditional marketing emails.
We asked industry leaders & email marketing experts from Campaign Monitor, Benchmark Email, dotdigital, SocketLabs, Phrasee, Email On Acid, eFocus Marketing, Email Uplers, Zettasphere & Monkey Blocks what marketers can do to revamp their transactional messages to help boost revenue and create more loyal customers.
Here’s what they had to say…
Think Beyond Simply Making A Sale With Your Transactional Emails
It’s not just marketers who love the transactional email. Subscribers are totally on board, too. Actually, studies have found that transactional emails are opened nearly eight times more than traditional marketing emails.
From up-sales to cross promotions, these automated emails can take a simple receipt or a “thanks for subscribing” email to a completely different playing field. And, you can make some extra sales in the process.
In this welcome email from Gold & Honey, they take a moment to introduce themselves to their new subscriber, and thank them for joining the list. But to encourage a quick first purchase, they also include a coupon code for the subscriber to use right away.
But transactional emails aren’t just about making an extra sale or two. They can also provide convenience for your audience. And when you’re in the business of making your subscribers’ busy lives easier, they’ll definitely be sticking around with your brand for the long haul.
This email from Rover does just that. The subscriber receives an automated email when a new message comes in on the Rover app. Instead of exiting out of the email and going to the app to respond, Rover includes a deep link that allows the subscriber to reply to their message right away.
The Answer Lies in Personalization
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: personalization is the key to email marketing success. No matter what kind of emails you’re sending (promos, newsletters, drip campaigns, etc.), personalizing your message so it’s tailored to each recipient is the way to maximize potential and remain relevant.
Transactional emails can seem all business. And while it’s crucial they result in the desired action from the recipient, you also have to find a way to make them valuable for your potential customer and your marketing strategy. Doing so will benefit your recipients, your sales pipeline, and eventually your bottom line.
The most effective way to personalize your emails is to use customer relationship management software. A CRM can tell you where your contacts are in the buyer’s journey, while also keeping tabs on what they’re doing on your website and whether they’re opening those emails. It can track key information, like job title, industry, company size, and budget – all factors that help you segment prospects so you can make those standard transactional emails more personalized.
Transactional Emails Matter
A sales confirmation, welcome email, order update, dispatch advice, even a password change. They’re all important. Often, they’re the first emails a subscriber or customer receives from you.
Transactional emails perform up to 40% better than standard email campaigns too. That’s because they’re usually related to a past customer action.
And yet, how many times do we marketers spend hours of time planning, designing, and optimizing our marketing emails with the best strategy, creative, and tech – only to then omit transactional emails from the same process. Often, they look lackluster and off brand.
The best way to maximize their potential is to mirror your marketing emails as best you can.
- Timing is everything – from welcome emails to abandoned cart campaigns, whether it’s minutes, hours, or days after the action, make sure the time is right.
- Get the CTA right – test all your messaging prompts like incentives, urgency, and scarcity to see what works best with your audience.
- Be helpful – remind the customer of their options, whether that’s returning to your site or completing a form, and inform them on next steps.
- Make sure it sells – but subtly. Is there an opportunity to cross-upsell or point to complementary events, products, or services? Balance the sales and admin approach.
Dissect Your Transactional Email Receipt
A poorly designed transactional receipt email will leave a bad impression (especially if the message lands in spam), cause customer service headaches, create unnecessary confusion, and can even result in a loss of revenue.
On the other hand, a well-designed receipt email will reinforce the purchase decision, leave a good impression, avoid potential customer service issues down the road, and even generate additional revenue.
Here are six tips to dissect your transactional email receipt:
- Transactional Email Subject Lines: Keep Them Clear and Readable
- Utilize the Preheader and Make it Descriptive
- Use a Clear ‘“From” and ‘Reply-to’ Address [Yes… Even for Email Receipts]
- Personalize the Body Content of the Email
- Show Order Details so Your Customer Can Scan the Email
- Help the Recipient with Relevant Content & Offers
To take a deeper dive into the list (and find 4 more tips), check out our blog Anatomy of an Email Receipt.
It’s Restart Time. Do You Know Where Your Brand Is?
The restart has begun. Positioning your brand now will have lasting effects on your ability to engage your audience moving forward.
There’s no question that things have changed in marketing. The short-term KPIs that drove strategies across the globe in 2019 are done.
In the new reality, consumers demand more. The signs that “engagement” at any cost was a stale strategy were all around us before we ever heard the term “Covid-19”. Now, they are impossible to ignore.
Many channels have been exposed, even as the internet’s most tried and tested channel, the humble email has revealed its quality. The transactional email has reclaimed its place at the forefront of the brand-consumer relationship.
Not every email is a sales vehicle. The focus of the transactional email is to reassure, not to sell. Brands live and die by their service, not their marketing. It’s essential that every email’s function be put first.
Transactional messages remain crucial to re-affirming your branding and tone. A customer’s order confirmation serves a singular purpose: letting your customer know that their order has been confirmed!
Learn to understand this important truth, and the world is your oyster.
Transactional Emails Are Essential To Running A Profitable Email Marketing Program
Oddly enough, your transactional emails are the most profitable ones you’ll send. I heard a presenter say that transactional emails might make up 5% or less of the emails you send, but the revenue from them can be 50% greater.
As stand-alone messages, those emails are incredibly relevant and drive high open rates. How do you maximize them? First, you make sure they look good, they’re accessible, with no spelling or link errors and no other inherent problems.
Next, link the information in those emails to upselling and cross-selling messages. If you have an email that gets opened at 70% or more and has information about products that relates to things they’ve bought, you can find yourself pulling more revenue. If you don’t do that, you’re leaving big money on the table.
It’s always surprising to me how many transactional emails lack that info. But I also thank those companies for not extracting more money from my wallet. Too bad that’s not how to run a profitable email marketing program.
Use Transactional Messages to Expand The Relationship Between Your Brand & Your Customers
Email Thought Leader
The transactional email should never be the final communication in a cycle of relationships (“thank you for purchasing, your order is on its way”), but rather the place where such relationships can expand and receive new impulse.
Try supplementing transactional email with other offers like they do in the travel industry. I buy an airline ticket and I get the receipt, but I also get offers for rental cars and hotels in that same thank you and receipt email.
These upsell techniques can still garner you more revenue that the buyer wouldn’t have considered giving you the first round if they didn’t know the offer existed. The same thing exists when I buy something online and am waiting for it. Many e-commerce brands send a transactional email to also notify that the product has been shipped.
For marketers, the opportunity is similar or identical to that seen in order confirmation emails where you can upsell or cross-sell a goal into that theme. The other thing is using these transactional emails to also get people to sign up (opt-in) for your newsletter and do it by offering them a discount applied to their purchase if they subscribe.
Choose whatever product or information works best for your business just keep in mind transactional emails are part of a larger relationship.
Let Your Transactional Emails Lead Your Customer To The Next Step
For me, transactional emails and the post-purchase and delivery phase is a massively under-utilized part of the customer journey.
The emails you send in the days post-purchase are extremely important to lead the way you would like the customer relationship to go – do a good job here and you’ll be making your job of driving a repeat purchase that little bit easier.
The aim is to provide a personalized, relevant experience – something that goes above and beyond just providing a running commentary of the steps taken between you pressing order and your items (or access to a service) being received.
Give subscribers additional information about their order, how they can make the most of their item(s) in the days/weeks/months after purchase, as well as ensure your designs are enticing and easy to ready to encourage engagement with your content.
Here are some interesting examples to inspire you:
Oberlo does a great job of showing a visual timeline of next steps to help make the most of the platform.
Kurgo follows up the purchase with a link to a video tutorial on how to use the product in an optimal way (this type of communication can also help to reduce calls to customer services and your returns rate; by addressing common questions or issues people have and how to resolve them), as well as other related product upsells.
You may also choose to test the inclusion of an email opt-in call out if customers don’t subscribe during the purchase process, or suggest additional items they may be interested in as Huckberry does in this example:
Above all, this is the time to go above and beyond and show the customer that you care and be helpful.
Steer Away From Drab, Info-Only Transactional Emails
With an average CTR of 4.8%, transactional emails are a powerful means of showcasing your products or services and promoting your business. Most of the transactional emails in a subscriber’s inbox are drab and just share necessary information or reminders.
Marketers can make these emails more interesting by using persuasive vocabulary, engaging visuals, animations, and fun subject lines. When you add innovation to the mundane email newsletter, it is bound to draw the subscriber’s attention and get them to take action.
For example, allbirds sends out a cute order acknowledgement email. The email has an animated hero image with a metaphorical copy and all the order details that the subscriber could be looking for.
Transactional emails also give you an opportunity to upsell or cross-sell your products or services and let them know about your referral incentives, if any.
Another transactional email to inspire you is the password reset email by Wistia. See how they have played with the subject line and made it more fun for the email recipient.
These are great tips to make your transactional emails compelling for the subscriber while being relevant and valuable.
Start With A Question. What Is The Next Step Based On The New Purchase?
Answer this question: What would be a logical and desirable next step for a customer after a purchase?
Because that is what you should put in your transactional email. The answer depends on your brand, offer and possibly what was purchased or whether this is a first purchase.
It could be a complementary product, help to get the most from their purchase, enrolling in a loyalty scheme, downloading your App or many other things.
Whatever the answer is to the question, the point is the purchase has given new context to the relationship not to mention demonstration of trust in you.
Starting with a simple one size fits all approach is better than doing nothing. If you can, then include different content for different people. Such as depending on the purchased items, or whether it’s a first purchase or a frequent buyer.
See below the example emails illustrating different options used by brands.
Booking.com try a cross sell to other services you’ll likely to need for your stay, restaurants, taxi or car rental, including this block of content after the booking confirmation details:
That makes sense for travel. For Apple they want to help product adoption and create a good user experience by offering a session to help using the product.
Brands that have a large product range with products that are complementary to the purchased include those. As with this example from Amazon.
Behavioral content solutions can make including the right products based on purchase totally automated. Making this approach highly scalable with relevant content for all shoppers.
But start with the question; what is the next step based on the new purchase?
Don’t Abuse The Opportunity To Send A Marketing Message.
Transactional emails provide a fantastic opportunity to engage with your customers further, and build a better relationship with them immediately after they’ve taken that important step of purchasing from you, and yet most brands miss this opportunity.
First things first though, the absolute most important thing is that your transactional email accomplishes the goal it’s designed for. If it’s an order confirmation, then that needs to be the most obvious purpose of the email to your customer. It should contain details of the order, order reference, delivery info if relevant, easy options to edit the order, contact customer support or find the delivery tracking link. If you don’t do this, you’re just abusing the opportunity to send a marketing message.
Then you need to think, what is the next thing I need this customer to do? Can you ask them to join your awesome loyalty scheme? Do you have a social media channel that you’re absolutely nailing and all your customers will love? Invite them to follow you there. Give people an opportunity to join your email list if they haven’t already.
Finally, be aware of regulations these days. The focus of these emails MUST be transactional, with just a ‘oh by the way you might like this’ at the bottom. If the subject line, or the main content of the email is not about the transaction, it’s a marketing message that they must have opted into originally.
More No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts Coming Soon
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