4 Ways to Make Your Transactional Emails Work Harder

Posted by Henry Gutierrez 

A constant challenge for marketers is properly crafting a transactional message after a customer has made a purchase. What should be included? How much promotional content can it contain? How many emails can be sent?

While the main purpose of a transactional email should always be to confirm the actual purchase and costs, post-purchase emails can be much more engaging (and effective) if you include some additional elements. Here a few examples of great post-purchase emails that include more than just transactional information.

Relevant Upsell
Airbnb sends a purchase receipt as an independent campaign, but also sends a confirmation email within a few minutes after the transaction is completed. The confirmation message, “Reservation confirmed for [location]” has at least 50 percent of the email covering important reservation details needed by the customer (e.g., address, rules, check-in times, etc.). The rest of the content mentions relevant activities at the location of the booking. These suggestions help drive traffic back to the site and offer upsell opportunities.

Here’s another great example of a promotional campaign highlighting associated products, this time from Best Buy. Several days after a purchase, Best Buy sends an email referencing the initial purchase, along with recommendations for other relevant items that may be of interest. The subject line is also personalized with a reference to the purchase: “[Name], customer picks for your new audio purchase.”

Best Buy email screenshot

Rewards
Cava’s post-purchase emails manage to mention the restaurant chain’s reward program in a subtle way. The intent with the online order confirmation is to display important details such as pick-up time for purchase, the cost, and credit card used. In addition, a graph displays how much money has been spent toward the reward program. There’s no detailed description or link to the program itself, but the graphic quietly and effectively reminds you how close you are to free money without taking over the content.

Cava email screenshot

Discounts
Sears PartsDirect sends a purchase confirmation with order number, billing information, costs and guarantees. Toward the end of the email, it includes a promo code to take advantage of a special offer. Additionally, another good practice included here is the inclusion of links to Sears PartsDirect’s social media channels.

Sears email screenshot

Reviews
UberEats sends only one email to confirm a transaction. Typical receipt elements are included above the fold, with a call-to-action button asking customers to rate the order.

Tips to Improve Your Transactional Emails

Following are a few things to remember as you work to improve your transactional emails:

  1. Purchase confirmation is the priority. The purpose of transactional messages should be to outline the important details of the purchase. Upsell and promotional content should never be the main focus. However, these elements can make the email more effective.
  2. Minimize the number of campaigns. Be careful about the number of messages you’re sending. Campaigns can easily add up considering the different elements you want to include: receipts, order confirmations, shipping notifications, survey requests, reward programs, etc. Ensure you’re accounting for all campaigns a subscriber receives, across all sending platforms.
  3. Avoid redundancy. There’s no advantage to repetitive campaigns. Some of the senders I researched for this article repeated subject lines and content on subsequent mailings, which is more likely to get your campaign ignored than drive the results you’re looking for.
  4. Keep your branding consistent. Consistent branding across all campaigns — promotional or transactional — is critical. Marketers will sometimes send transactional messages from a different platform without noticing that they’re using a different “From” name or color scheme.
  5. Test and monitor. What works for others may not work for you, and what works once may not work forever. Therefore, keep an eye on your metrics and test as much as possible. Important metrics to monitor success include opens, clicks, spam complaints and “deleted without opening” rate.

This post originally appeared in Total Retail.

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About Henry Gutierrez

Henry is an Email Strategist for Return Path's Professional Service team. His current role includes executing client-specific projects to maximize ROI and deliverability. Overall, he has worked in the email industry for almost 12 years, with experience both as an analyst for an ESP and on AOL's postmaster team.

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