Transactional Email Trends to Look Out For in 2014


What the Heck are Transactional Emails?

First, what exactly are transactional emails? This is a relatively new part of email marketing and a lot of online business owners might not be entirely sure what we’re talking about here: Transactional emails are basically all those messages you send your existing or new clients as part of a transaction or business relationship.

In other words, sales receipts, shipping notices, renewal warnings, product licensing information and customer service response queries are all part of the transactional email landscape.

This is what distinguishes transactional messages from classical promotional emails, which you use to inform but are specifically promotional in purpose.

An Emerging Email Trend

Recognition of transactional emails as potentially powerful email marketing tools is a fairly recent phenomenon that’s only now really starting to catch on with many internet and offline business owners who use internet marketing with their clients. Some businesses which previously barely engaged in email marketing are also jumping onto the bandwagon because transactional mail marketing doesn’t seem as heavily promotional to them, it’s more in line with the current trend of permission marketing to your clients.

Furthermore, with the emergence of social media, regular, promotional email marketing has taken a slight dent in some industries and using transactional emails, which are still being sent in larger numbers than ever as part of most business operations, as a substitute vehicle for email marketing is a practical and awesomely logical idea.

But okay, you’re probably wondering how email marketing and transactional messages fit together; let’s cover that.

Why are These Emails so Important to Marketing?

The most interesting thing about transactional emails is that their open rates are much higher than those of typical promotional emails. This is because your clients are expecting something they know to be useful and informative from these messages when they receive them.

This is where the marketing opportunity in transactional emails lies; by incorporating subtle and relevant marketing and advertising messages along with your existing transactional message, you can turn an obligatory transactional email into a convenient marketing vehicle with much better conversion than what promotional emails typically create.

This is the expanding trend with email marketing in general and transactional mailing specifically, and it’s slowly but surely starting to take off as we’ve already explained above.

There’s good reason for this increase in value; as studies done by corporate researchers at Experian show, revenue per email for transactional emails vs. promotional mailings is as much as 4 times larger, depending on type of transactional message. Additionally, according to the same research, open AND click rates for many transactional emails can be as high as 120% (the over 100% being due to repeat opening by customers). These are truly remarkable numbers.

Furthermore, this growing popularity and return on time investment is reason for why you as a marketer also need to take advantage of the trend relatively soon, before saturation even with transactional emails occurs and revenue per email shrinks from the high it’s currently enjoying

In simplest terms, the trend towards turning transactional messages into marketing material is growing, is showing itself to be an extremely powerful selling opportunity and it’s still tolerated or even welcomed by many customers because they don’t consider it intrusive since its part of an overall package of needed or at least important information.

What Should I Do With My Email Campaigns?

Now that you’ve seen how the basic transactional email process works, the natural question becomes, how do I take advantage of this trend and make my own routine practical messages to customers work better for me.  If you are having trouble setting up transactional emails, check out this troubleshooting guide.

Quite simply, you need to start incorporating your brand, general good impression and a targeted, contextualized message into all of your own transactional messaging.

In the first and most basic step, this means creating emails that are consistently pleasing to look at, neat and to the point in terms of valuable information, of both the transaction related and promotional kind.

Secondly, your brand should be clearly visible but not intrusive somewhere in the body of your message. Do not let the basic opportunity to remind your customers of who you are and what you’re generally about get lost. Just make it very quick and easily encapsulated in s simple brand message that goes with every email.

Do not mess with your email subject text. It is still first and foremost a transactional message that you’re sending and by interfering with its core subject matter, you’ll destroy all the benefits that marketing through these kinds of emails can give your email campaign.

On a related note, marketing through your transactional messages also means making sure that context and relevance are strictly adhered to when it comes to specific offers. You do not want to irritate your client to the point of making them stop opening even the shipping messages, receipts of sale and renewal notices that they get from you! Thus, what you need to do is insert specific advertising messages that are actually relevant to the details of the transactional message you’re sending across.

This will vary enormously but for example, if you’re sending s client a refund/return notice, include a replacement or related item discount offer in the message. By doing something along these lines, you’ve created a promotional offer that also happens to be practically useful, inside the body of an also useful customer service email. If you pull this sort of mix off correctly, your transactional campaign will truly see benefits.

Finally, as a parting piece of advice, understand that a transactional campaign only works with transactional messages, so work to make every new visitor and potential customer into someone who is engaged in an information or sales relationship with you as quickly as possible through your more promotional email campaign. Transactional message marketing is not a replacement for classical customer acquisition; it’s a powerful complement to it.

Note: This post is a guest post from a member of our DMR Insider Community.

Image credit: Yoel Ben-Avraham via flickr