10 Marketing Tips for Transactional Email

Customer Experience
Customer Experience

Transactional email is the backbone of standard outbound business messaging. Used for everything from order confirmations to password resets, transactional (aka service-based) email is sent every minute of every day from almost every company doing business online. Incorporating marketing content, such as upsell and cross-sell offers and loyalty program information is easy and legal. When done right, incorporating marketing content into transactional email can generate additional revenue through consistent brand management, extend a personalized website experience to email, and optimize the customer experience by coordinating efforts across all departments.

Despite these benefits, 2007 research conducted by MarketingSherpa found that 50 percent of marketers still sent plain text, although 90 percent sought to improve their transactional email within12 months. This, despite survey results that found 54 percent of consumer? respondents read their transactional emails very often or always compared to just 21 percent for all commercial email. It's time for a significant upgrade to transactional email.

Here are 10 tips for effectively incorporating marketing into transactional emails:

1. Stay relevant

Leverage an event to trigger a relevant marketing email. Carefully match marketing content with the specific transactional event. Use CRM data to help define your rules so you don't, for example, inadvertently promote something sold in the transaction.

2. Test, monitor, and modify

Create simple rules to determine what marketing content to serve up to customers in transactional email. Carefully monitor performance (opens, clicks, conversions) and modify the marketing content and template as needed.

3. Create serial programs to support transactional messages

Subscription renewals and replacement products are ripe for serial programs to prep the recipient that a new transaction is on the way. Generate these serial program emails in advance of each event confirming the items selected, and include upsell and cross-sell opportunities, giving the customer the opportunity to add or change the subscription product fulfillment.

4. Design for recognition

Because the preview pane impacts the success of email programs, approach email creative with recognition in mind. Transactional and promotional emails and newsletters don't have to be identical in their creative approach, but should be similar. Non-congruent email designs create a whiplash inbox experience.

5. Comply with CAN-SPAM, EU, and other laws and regulations

CAN-SPAM and the EU Anti-Spam Directive outline how to legally incorporate marketing content into transactional emails. Once your new transactional email design is finished, run it through your appropriate legal counsel to match it against the rules. Although no law dictates the quantity of marketing content that can be incorporated, use 25 to 35 percent of marketing content as a general rule of thumb. Remember, the purpose of the message is to confirm the transaction, so the design should lead with that effort.

6. Send follow-on marketing messages

Use promotional offers in transactional email to trigger follow-on messages during subsequent days and weeks. Serial campaigns are always more effective when using behavioral targeting to customize follow-on messages per recipient.

7. Keep things in balance

Monitor recipient responses to transactional email programs. Both positive (open, click, conversion) and negative (complaint, unsubscribe) interactions provide the data you need to perfect your marketing content strategy.

8. Get other stakeholders onboard

Get key stakeholders onboard, especially from departments that actually issue the email. Point out the benefits, including improved brand awareness, increased revenue, improved deployment efficiency, increased visibility into mailing results, and broader access to data.

9. Prepare for success

Be sure others in the company are prepared to support the new campaigns. Alert call center operators and others when necessary, so they can contribute to campaign success.

10. Centralize all email

Deploy a solution that centralizes email on a single technology that provides the visibility and flexibility you need to send, track, and manage marketing and transactional email campaigns.

Incorporating marketing into transactional email can improve branding and increase sales. All it takes is the right deployment solution, straightforward best practices, and the imagination of a dedicated email marketer.