Optimizing Your Transactional Messages

Posted by Stephanie Colleton on

Now more than ever, marketers need to make sure they are optimizing their email messages across the board. Every contact point with customers and subscribers needs to be seen as an opportunity. While conducting our latest research study, we noted that many marketers are not taking advantage of their transactional messages by using them to engage their customers.

Of the retailers in our study only 40% have promotional content in their transactional emails. We defined transactional as all messages related to the customer’s purchase. These included order confirmation emails, shipping confirmation emails, product review requests, customer service surveys and emails related to the item’s return.

Customers anticipate transactional emails. They know the email contains relevant information regarding their recent order. They want to make sure that their order is correct and find out when the package will arrive. This high level of engagement with transactional messages makes them an ideal place to cross-sell and up-sell to current customers.

You may be thinking that it’s risky to put promotions in transactional messages. Is it legal? The answer is yes, it is legal. While it is essential to keep the transactional content prominent (it is required by the CAN-SPAM legislation), and the transactional messaging should also drive the subject line, there is room for carefully executed promotions in these messages. The concept to keep in mind here is “primary purpose.” The primary purpose of the email must very clearly be about the transaction. Commercial material must be secondary. (And, of course, the usual caveat applies here: we are not lawyers. You should talk to yours about compliance with CAN-SPAM before making changes to your email program.)

You also may be concerned that while legal, including promotions in these messages will generate complaints and interfere with deliverability. This can be controlled by implementing a careful process of testing, measuring, adjusting and repeating to determine the most effective way to offer promotions to which subscribers will appreciate and respond.

Some of the retailers in our study did include promotional messages in their order and shipping confirmations. However, for the most part, the offers were not targeted. By targeting we mean taking the purchase or customer information and using it in the order or shipping confirmations. Of the retailers who included a promotional offer or up-sell in their order confirmation only 27% targeted the promotion. Only 31% targeted the offers in the shipping confirmations.

We do realize that it’s going to take some work to include dynamic content based on a purchase in your transactional messages. It will likely involve some data and system integration. But your messages need to work harder to add to the bottom line. It’s worth doing some simple math to see what it will cost to make your messages more relevant vs. how much more revenue you can expect from even a slight increase in your conversion rate.

Improving email communications with purchasers may be one of the most cost-effective ways that online retailers can increase revenue. In order to realize and increase ROI from the email channel, marketers need to ensure that every email message is working hard to drive revenue in addition to communicating transaction updates.

To read the study or watch the on-demand webinar, click here.


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About Stephanie Colleton

Stephanie began her digital marketing career 20 years ago with AOL followed by BMG Columbia House. She has been with Return Path for 11 years working with clients to optimize their email marketing programs by leveraging custom consulting and innovative AI solutions. Stephanie is based in New Jersey.

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