7 Transactional Email Marketing Strategies to Increase Retail Sales
As email marketers, we are constantly trying to get the highest open and engagement rates to drive high quality traffic to our sites. It’s our mission in life, and we fight the good fight to often get returns of less than 20% open rates and 10% click through rates. Which means even less impressive traffic to your site. But what if I told you that you are already sending out the perfect traffic driving opportunity? It’s your transactional emails. Transactional emails are a truly underrated gift to email marketers. They’re the only emails that your subscribers specifically ask to receive, which means higher open rates and more active email addresses for you! (On average, a flexReceipts email sees a 65-80% open rate, for instance!) With that kind of engagement, you can’t afford not to be taking advantage of your transactional emails. And yet, so many of the transactional emails I receive (most often the receipts emailed to me) are hard to read, utterly boring, or even unbranded! Let me repeat: Someone is sending out emails destined for a 60%+ open rate without at least branding them. Don’t be that guy. Keep reading for tips on how to optimize your transactional emails. (Here’s an excellent example of a terrible e-receipt. I’ve removed all personal information, but you can still see. There’s no branding, nothing exciting. The company’s name appears only at the very bottom, which I have blacked out as a courtesy to them.)
Please note that while these tips will be applicable, with moderate changes, to all transactional emails, I’m going to focus on e-receipts because these are the transactional emails that are most ignored by email marketers. Emailed receipts are so often created by using a basic template found in a POS or eCommerce solution (not even the email marketing solution), and left alone. Frequently e-receipts are even created by the tech team, not the marketing team, which makes them even more of a missed opportunity.
1. Brand your transactional emails.
You probably knew I was going here, given that bolded sentence earlier. All transactional emails should be branded, and unfortunately, I’m surprised by the number of times I receive transactional emails (especially e-receipts) that have no branding whatsoever. Sometimes it even takes me a minute to remember where I purchased something. Branding your transactional emails isn’t hard, so there’s no excuse. The very basic things you should do:
Add your brand colors. While you want your email to look as clean as possible, adding brand colors as accents is a small, quick touch that will make any transactional email sparkle.
Use your brand font. The font you use on your website should appear on your emails, too, for consistency.
Put your logo somewhere. It doesn’t have to take up half the email, but putting your logo on your email ensures that your customers know who sent it to them.
Use your brand voice. Your customers got used to a certain tone and wording on your website. Keep your experience consistent. Focusing on using your brand voice is also a great way to ensure that “boring” emails like emailed receipts are unique and stand out.
2. Utilize images.
Images are an easy way to get information across and help a standard e-receipt pop. One easy way to incorporate images is to simply include visuals of the items the customer purchased in-line with their purchase info. This is an intelligent thing to do because not only does it make the receipt more visually engaging, but it functions as a type of bookmark to which the customer can come back and easily remember what they purchased at any time. (And for eCommerce stores, it’s a great place for customers to look at their purchases while they wait for them in the mail.) Aldo’s e-receipts are masterful at this:
You could also choose to incorporate other branded images that you may frequently use on your website. If you do this, make sure you follow the 70-30 rule to stay compliant with CAN-SPAM laws, so your emails don’t get filtered out. The 70-30 rule means in every transactional email you should have at least 70% transactional content with no more than 30% promotional content.
3. Use dynamic content to create highly targeted promotional content.
If you’re going to include promotional content in your e-receipts (which you should, since they’re your most engaged emails), you should make sure that promotional content is as personalized as possible. Don’t blow this perfect opportunity. Use dynamic content blocks in your receipts to create highly targeted bounce-back offers based on your customer’s profile or items purchased. These dynamic content blocks are extremely effective. One user of flexReceipts’ dynamic emails saw a 200% increase in email channel revenue.
Highly personalized promotional offers in an e-receipt let the customer know that at the very least you understand who you are and why they purchased what they did. You can also plant the seed in their brain of what complimentary products they should buy from you. Finally, you can also use social proof effectively in these blocks, offering items that “other customers who purchased [item purchased] also purchased [other item].” And this isn’t as hard as it sounds! A solution like flexReceipts is capable of easily creating dynamic e-receipts and providing full reporting on them.
4. Personalize your transactional emails (and beyond).
Customers give you enough data at purchase to fully customize your transactional email. Don’t stop at including their name. Use this data, for instance, to help you provide better dynamic content by location or demographics. And keep going: use purchase data to successfully segment your customers for future follow-ups, nurture tracks, and campaigns.
5. Include shareable social links.
Customers may not want to immediately purchase from you again, that’s true. But they are likely to want to share about you to their friends, especially if they had a good experience or if they’re excited about a particular product they bought. Go ahead and include social sharing buttons in your email. Some solutions may even be able to include social sharing buttons at the product level in your receipts. If you have a referral program, your e-receipt is the perfect place to encourage customers to share their link on social, as well. This receipt from Dollar Shave Club is a great example:
Adding shareable links throughout your emails helps provide a boost for your social channels, encourages customers to join your community, and it helps turn a simple transaction into a word-of-mouth opportunity.
6. Include content that helps customers utilize your product.
Customers who know how to get the most out of your products are the most satisfied. You can use your e-Receipts to make sure that your customers know how to utilize the products they purchased. You could include a helpful infographic or a link to a blog post that offers advice and directions on how exactly to put together and/or use products that require assembly or some significant level of knowledge to operate. And you don’t have to have a complicated product to ensure your customers know how to optimize their use of your product. For instance, even though everyone knows how to wear pants, a clothing retailer can include specific styling advice to help customers get creative with their new clothes (and upsell a few matching items).
7. Send along your most recent blog content.
There’s no better time to introduce your customer to your blog than right after they’ve made a purchase. They’re clearly interested in the things your blog is about and those concepts are top of mind for them. Plus, let’s not forget that this email is far more likely to get into their non-promo tab email, and therefore is more likely to be seen than your newsletter. Your customer may not even know you have a blog. If they enjoy that first post they read, they may go on to start seeking out your newsletters, rather than ignoring them or never seeing them.
There’s no better time than the present to get started on optimizing your transactional emails. See what you’ve been sending out and start making them better. Make sure to observe the 70-30 rule, and besides branding, try to stick to using only one or two of these tips/email at a time. Do test everything to see what works best for your company. Some retailers may find that educational content brings them high quality return traffic, while others may find dynamic promotional content blocks works well for them.