What are Transactional Emails?
If you’re new to email marketing, you may find yourself confused by all the vocabulary. Which is normal – there are certainly a lot of new words and phrases you’ll have to pick up. One of those new phrases is ‘transactional emails.’ What are those? Are they different from regular emails? Should I have a third question about transactional emails?
Don’t worry, I’m here to answer all of your questions. First things first:
The Definition of ‘Transactional Emails’
Transactional emails are, quite simply, one-off emails to a single customer in response to some piece of information they gave you or requested from you. Transactional emails are never sent out in bulk.
Some examples of common transactional emails:
Welcome emails after a customer has signed up for your list.
Autoresponders that deliver requested downloads.
Autoresponders that confirm a visitor has filled out a form.
So what’s the big deal about transactional emails?
Transactional emails have higher adoption rates because customers need them, not just want them. An in-store email receipt, for example, can have an adoption rate of over 50%, which means you're capturing a lot more of your customers to market to in the future. One retailer reported a 200% increase in email channel revenue after adopting flexReceipts’ dynamic emails.
As a result: transactional emails are your greatest opportunity for engagement. If you have the time to care about only one part of your email marketing strategy, transactional emails are the emails you need to care about.
It’s fair to say that most marketers do pay at least some attention to the content in their welcome and confirmation emails, if only because these emails don’t tend to be the type that you can simply plug in a bland template and ensure your dynamic content is working and move on. On the other hand, emailed receipts suffer deeply for that exact reason. It is so easy to pick the first boring e-receipt template available, check the dynamic content, and move on. It’s amazing to me how many e-receipts I’ve received that aren’t even branded.
Ok… so what do I do?
It’s certainly one thing to decide not to ignore your transactional emails. It’s another to go ahead and act on that decision. How do you make sure that your transactional emails are great?
1. Don’t just plug in a template and let it be.
No matter what type of transactional email you’re sending, brand your email, and not just with your colors and logo. Brand it with your voice. Make sure the copy of the email – even your receipts – reflects your brand experience.
2. Don’t accept the limitations of whatever template you’ve chosen and whatever the “rules” of that type of email are.
Sure, an email receipt is supposed to just send out the information pertaining to what the customer purchased, but why not throw some other things in that might interest the customer.
Dynamic email receipts, for instance, can include content generated specifically based on that customer and their purchase. Instead of just sending out a basic receipt, you can include a content block that shows a customer what other things they might like to go with their purchase. (Do keep in mind that due to laws CAN-SPAM laws etc. you should follow the 70-30 rule of transactional content to promotional content. A transactional email may trigger filters if it contains too much promotional material.)
3. Test your transactional emails like crazy.
If you know anything about marketing, you know that you need to test everything. Transactional emails are no different. Test them; change them; make them better over time. While some systems are capable of A/B testing transactional emails, if you’re working with one that doesn’t, all you need to do is send one email out for a specific time period, report on its success, change something small, report, repeat. (It’s the lather, rinse, repeat of marketing.)
How do your transactional emails work?
Have you spiced up your transactional emails? What kind of results did you see? Leave us a note in the comments below so we can all learn!