In the ever-evolving world of online marketing, transactional email is often a neglected cousin of email marketing.
Far too often, online retailers are relying on a simple script provided by a shopping platform by default to generate order confirmation, shipping confirmation, cancellation emails.
Those do carry minimum necessary information for the customer, however, they are relatively bland and obsolete, to put it mildly.
Merchants that are using those are missing out on a major customer engagement, promotional, brand-building opportunity.
Transactional emails can provide online retailers with golden opportunity for improving customer service, gaining repeat sales and deepening customer engagement.
This new year, 2014, the Year of the Horse, we say teach your old horse new tricks.
Why transactional emails are better than standard bulk email campaigns
A transactional email’s primary purpose is to service the customer, confirm transactions, provide information, reassure and thank.
Customers engage with transactional emails such as order, shipping and return/exchange notifications at a much higher rate than they do with promotional and branding-focused campaigns… The exceptionally high open and click rates underscore the opportunity for companies to cross-sell products and services to highly engaged customers through transactional emails.
Over 100% average rate of email opens indicates customers tend to open transactional emails repeatedly. In addition, there is evidence that customers keep transactional emails longer than others.
Research of Experian Marketing Services further shows that transactional emails are clearly worth the investment, with revenue per email, transaction opens and click rates far exceeding bulk mail averages.
ROI for customized order confirmation email is almost six times higher than a standard marketing email.
6 Keys to Customized Transactional Emails
Besides including relevant customer service and order information, spend the time to construct and optimize the content of transactional email by using the following proven techniques.
- Maximize branding opportunity
by designing transactional emails in the same way as marketing emails.
Plain-text emails communicate well, but they fall short when it comes to communicating a brand.
- Enhance customer experience and alleviate “buyer’s remorse”
Include links to site navigation, order status, customer service, email subscription and social media.
Seeing a visually appealing designed and structured email helps alleviate “buyer’s remorse”.
- Cross-sell items
Provide a personalized recommendation by including information and images for relevant and related products in the body of the email to encourage further shopping on your site.
You can include both static (e.g. “Top Sellers”) and dynamic content (based on purchase history or seasonal items).
Some larger and advanced merchants like Ebay and Amazon use predictive models and recommendation engines to optimize the offers.
With email open rates over 100%, displaying cross sell items allows merchants to reach a highly reponsive buyer at an optimal time, resulting in repeat purchases.
Transactional emails that include cross-sell items have 20 percent higher transaction rates than those without.
- Offer Inclusion
Consider offering shoppers a discount on their next purchase, complimentary products, or an opportunity to sign up for an email list.Marketing Metrics research shows the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%.There is one caveat, however. Per CAN-SPAM Act, promotional offer cannot take priority placement within the email. As well, the subjet of the email cannot contain any promotional offers.
Following those guidelines will help avoid spam filters and at the same time incentivise the customer to make the next purchase.
- Social Connection
According to Experian study (http://www.experian.com/simmons-research/new-media-engagement-study.html), 68% of adults who visit social networking sites say they have become a “fan” of a product or brand.
Include links to connect with your store on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ to enable your customers to promote your brand.
- Use of reputable Email Service Provider (ESP)
like MailChimp’s Mandrill, to send transactional emails on behalf of the merchant.
Use of ESPs for transactional emails is a whole new topic that we’ll leave for another post.
Here are just some of the benefits it provides:
- Spam testing
- Ensuring deliverability
- Built-in reporting and analytics
- Testing for multiple email applications (Outlook, web-based)
Note that to take advantage of ESP for transactional emails, some integration is required with the shopping platform where the online store is hosted.
Marketing messages were noted to be welcome in transactional emails, as long as they’re helpful, relevant, and unobtrusive. Readers said they like coupons, helpful tips about online services, links to download a company’s app, callouts to related items, and notes about upcoming sales or events.
We spend so much time improving the user experience of our web pages and designing templates for our newsletters. Our transactional emails deserve the same treatment.
Don’t set them up once and promptly forget them. Give your transactional emails some love, too:)
Transactional email provides an ideal opportunity for merchants to engage with customers where they already have an established relationship.
Therefore, take advantage and use this valuable channel to extend your brand, and if you don’t have the time or resources to do so, then make a smart move and outsource to it to e-commerce developers, like Nakamoa.