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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

Transactional Emails: The Marketing Tool You Didn't Know You Had

Transactional Emails: The Marketing Tool You Didn't Know You Had
Credit: Ivelin Radkov/Shutterstock

What if you could send your customers a promotional email that they're guaranteed to open, that would bring more than double the revenue of other marketing messages? If you think it sounds too good to be true, it isn't. In fact, chances are you're already sending this seemingly magical email out — you just didn't realize its full marketing potential.

Transactional emails — invoices, order confirmations, shipping notifications, password updates, and the like — are useful to your customers. They're the emails a customer wants to receive from your company because they specifically pertain to information that's important to him or her. A research report by Experian found that recipients of transactional emails not only open them almost 100 percent of the time and refer to them more than once, but also engage with them far more often than other promotional emails — if it's done right.

According to the report, transactional emails have a 20 percent higher transaction rate when a cross-sell message is included, and revenue generated from these emails is two to six times higher than a standard marketing email. Email marketing firm Campaigner, which recently released a transactional email integration tool called SMTP Relay, believes that businesses could help grow their revenue and improve their customer experience by utilizing these emails. [10 Email Marketing Solutions for Small Businesses]

"Anything used as a transactional piece [is] a huge value add to marketers," said Seamas Egan, Campaigner's manager of revenue operations. "There should be a clear line between transactional and traditional marketing, but there is some crossover. You can put a dynamic offer [in a transactional email] based on the fact that the customer made or didn't make [a certain] purchase."

"There's so much more information you know about your customer [from] a transactional message," added EJ McGowan, general manager of Campaigner. "Segmentation and targeted emails become much easier. You can hit the customer you want to talk to at the right time."

Egan and McGowan offered the following tips and best practices for using transactional emails as a marketing tool.

Ask permission first. The old way of thinking about direct marketing is, if a customer made a purchase, you can start sending him or her messages. Egan advised against taking the "assumed opt-in" approach, and recommends that you give customers the chance to tell you they want to receive promotional content in your communications to them.

"Customers want [promotional offers], but they want to be asked," Egan told Business News Daily. "If you don't have opt-in at checkout, a transactional email is a great place to offer them the incentive to join your [marketing] list. You can leverage point of sale, purchase information, location, etc., if they opt in at that point."

Don't come on too strong. Subtlety is key to a successful cross-sell. To get the best results from transactional email marketing strategies, companies need to remember that a customer is opening the email expecting information about his or her order or account with your company. Egan advises businesses to avoid using spammy subject lines relating to the promotional offers inside a transactional email. Instead, keep it consistent and relevant.

"The primary message is what the transactional message is about," Egan said. "It should be at the top, the first thing [the customer] sees. Leverage the side or bottom of the email to do a cross-sell."

Track your results. As with any of your other marketing emails, you should keep a close eye on how customers interact with your transactional emails to make sure you're getting the ROI you want, McGowan said. When you track open rates and actions taken, you'll add value to the customer data you have across all departments.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Nicole Fallon

Nicole Fallon received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.