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10 Steps to Crafting the Perfect Transactional Email

Transactional emails may often seem boring. Their main aim is to inform recipients about the results of their actions (order confirmations, shipping details, successful registration) or help them solve simple problems (password recovery). As such the content is nothing exciting from the recipient’s perspective, but that doesn’t mean these messages don’t have to be uninteresting and plain!

What’s more, transactional emails provide many opportunities you wouldn’t expect - you can use them as an additional sales channel or a way to build meaningful relationships with your customers. But before we get into the details, let’s list the most popular types of transactional emails so that you know what kind of messages we are referring to in this article.

Examples of transactional emails:

  • Welcome emails

  • Order confirmation emails

  • Delivery confirmation emails

  • Messages with shipping details

  • Password reset emails

  • Special action required emails

  • Account recovery emails

  • Feedback emails

  • Double opt-in emails

We also want to add one more thing here that will emphasize the role of transactional emails. Transactional emails and promotional marketing campaigns are two very different things. Promotional emails are sent after recipients interact with your content and willingly share their email addresses, e.g. after they subscribe to your newsletter. In most cases people who share their email address become your leads, and promotional emails are meant to nurture them and move down the marketing funnel.

In the case of transactional emails, messages are sent automatically after the completion of a particular, triggered action like account creation. These emails keep users up to date and provide valuable information that is necessary at a certain stage of the customer journey.

Because of their practical role, transactional emails have higher open rates compared to marketing emails (sometimes even 4x higher!). Therefore, it’s an excellent opportunity to build strong relationships with the recipients of these messages. Additionally, recipients interact with transactional emails at a much higher rate than with promotional mass emails. Because of that, these types of messages give you a chance to promote your products or services among new and existing customers.

Now, let's take a closer look at how transactional emails can improve your marketing or sales results by engaging customers or prospects.

What makes transactional emails so special

  • They help build customer loyalty. You can use transactional emails to send personalized offers to customers based on their past purchases and shopping behavior.

  • They improve the user experience. Well-crafted transactional emails can solve users’ problems in minutes or even seconds, enhancing their experience and satisfaction.

  • They reduce customer service workload. This type of email keeps customers informed, without the need for them to contact the customer service department to resolve any questions. It results in saving resources and reducing customer service costs.

  • They increase brand awareness. Transactional emails are not unexpected. Customers know they will receive them and, in fact, they expect them, often with a certain degree of anxiety. Therefore, it is an excellent opportunity to increase brand awareness.

  • They are rather personalized. Although they are automatic emails, they can, and should, be fully personalized messages. This is because transactional emails are sent out individually, based on an action performed by the customer.

10 steps for creating a perfect transactional email

Now that you know the benefits that transactional emails bring, you probably want to know the steps that you should follow if you want to create a perfect transactional email. Here are 10 tips that will help you with this process.

1. Use empathetic statements

Email personalization is indeed a good way to make users feel that a brand is close to them. However, personalization is not everything, and, therefore, you need to write in empathetic language in order to get closer to your customers.

You can use words or phrases such as: "we", "you", or statements such as: "We kept your best interests in mind while designing this product".

The idea is to make the recipient feel special. This kind of message also aims to empathize with your consumers to strengthen your relationships with them and help reinforce your brand image. This is key to earning their loyalty.

2. Create relevant and attractive content

Transactional emails are usually focused on specific actions or results. However, this does not prevent you from sending messages with valuable content and creative, eye-catching elements.

Creative content will help you reinforce your brand's identity so that it remains present in the minds of your customers.

3. Write catchy subject lines

Subject lines used in transactional emails must be straight to the point and inform the user what they will find in the message right away.

However, you can achieve that while still writing catchy and creative subject lines. How to do so? You can, for example, add an emoji that is related to the subject to catch the user's attention. But remember that the most important thing is for the recipient to immediately know what the message they are about to open is about.

4. Use attractive designs (including HTML templates)

Just because you are going to provide the recipient with precise information does not mean that the design you use should be unattractive. Make sure that the most vital elements of your email are highlighted and easy to read, the message has a great layout, typography is appropriate and in line with your brand style, your logo is included, and you use attractive CTAs and beautiful images.

5. Add relevant CTAs

Powerful calls to action are a must-have of every transactional email. Effective CTAs should complement the overall message and guide the recipients to follow the path that you want them to. For example, you can use a button to direct users to a landing page where you present your products or services in detail.

The success of every CTA button lies in using colors that stand out and placing it in the right part of the email.

6. Aim to increase interaction

Transactional emails can be a great way to get to know your customers' opinions, learn whether or not you are meeting their expectations and what you can improve. Although this is not the objective of transactional mailings, it can still be achieved. But you need to offer your customers something in return.

If you include a survey in a transactional email that can take up a few minutes of the recipients’ time, it is essential to give them something valuable in return such as a discount or a promo code. Also, make sure that the survey is related to the context of the email.

7. Include a response email

Often, users receive emails with a "no-reply" address, which means that they cannot reply to that email account. In the case of transactional emails, this would be a serious mistake because it could prevent your customers from solving any doubts they may have. No matter how clear or specific the message is, your users might always have questions that they would like to be answered, and it’s your job to make it easy for them to reach out to you.

8. Leverage up-selling and cross-selling

Transactional emails are sent as a result of a user’s action, which is why they are easy to customize. This creates a perfect opportunity to offer your existing clients products or services that can complement their past purchases and bring additional value to them. If you know the person has been looking at cheap flights to a certain destination, why not send them an email containing an irresistible discount?

If they have just bought a new cell phone, you don't want to lose the opportunity to offer them a case or other accessory specifically designed for the model they have purchased.

Including up-selling and cross-selling offers in your transactional mailings will not only improve conversion rates but will also be an invaluable tool for building loyalty.

9. Measure your results

As you know, the only way to optimize your email marketing strategy is to know the performance of your previous campaigns. By using a specialized tool, such as Coresender, you can measure the following metrics: emails delivered, open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, unsubscribe rate, spam complaints, and social shares - just to name a few KPIs. With that knowledge, you will be able to form data-based conclusions regarding the performance of your transactional emails and improve these messages in the future.

10. Conduct A/B tests

Although A/B testing is not related to creating transactional emails, it does have to do with their reach and improving their performance over time.

For example, you can test whether transactional emails that contain only the customer's first name or those that use their surname too are more effective. This same process can be applied to many other aspects:

  • Text CTA vs. image CTA

  • Navigation bar vs. no navigation bar

  • A short, direct subject line vs. a motivational phrase

  • Word order - discount information placed at the beginning vs. at the end of the subject line

  • Images vs. no images in the email body

Are you ready to create the perfect transactional email? Now you have all of the necessary knowledge to achieve that. All you have to do is follow the recommendations mentioned above. And remember that transactional emails, even though they are intended to keep your customers informed, should also be creative and, if possible, support your additional sales or marketing goals.

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