Transactional e-mail is one of the areas in e-mailmarketing most marketing departments do not spend a lot of attention to. It is built as an extra function inside an eCommerce platform or other platforms and once set up, it might lose your attention quickly. So I want to talk about transactional e-mails a little.
A transactional e-mail is (as perfectly described by MailChimp) an individual e-mail triggered by action. So this means that the e-mail is not sent in bulk, but only to one recipient at a time. Transactional e-mails are actually send out a lot, from an order confirmation to a password reset link.
The difference between transactional and regular marketing e-mail is that the main purpose is not to generate money, but rather a desired action or notification as the result of an action. The lack of action could also be the action itself.
What has transactional e-mail to do with CRM?
Transactional e-mail design is especially useful when you are creating a 360 degree view of your customer
A lot of transactional e-mail resides in different applications. Having different applications communicating with your customer will generate a lot of (poorly designed) transactional e-mail. However, your customer is still on the same customer journey, and CRM is about the customer. Because your CRM will also be able to generate transactional e-mail (invoices, customer cases, et cetera), it is good to review your whole transactional e-mail design and strategy. Transactional e-mail design is especially useful when you are creating a 360 degree view of your customer. You will be able to offer customers a more consistent experience, resulting in a better customer journey.
Common typs of transactional e-mail
Transactional e-mails are widely used. Here’s a short list of transactional e-mail types:
- Order confirmation
- Shipping confirmation
- Service inquiry
- Password forgotten
- Welcome e-mails
- Updates or notifications
- Cart abandonment
- Thank you for [something]
- We haven’t seen you for a while
Transactional e-mails are pretty common, so this list is (obviously) incomplete. It is just an idea to get you started in transactional e-mail design.
How do I design a good transactional e-mail?
If you are to set up a transactional e-mail strategy, you might want to consider send systems that are able to monitor opens, click rates and bounces. The most ideal way would be to have the results synced in your CRM or to have CRM send out transactional e-mails. Here are 5 rules to keep in mind while designing transactional e-mails.
- Stick to a template
- Be personal
- Have a clear message
- Consistent tone of voice
1. Stick to a template
Try making a template suitable for your business
Most of the times I see companies trying to modify existing system e-mail templates into a good transactional e-mail template. That should not be the way to address this, from a designer point of view. Instead, try making a template suitable for your business. This way you are communicating consistently (at least in design) with your customers or prospect. They know what to expect from you.
2. Be personal and relevant
If you want to become truly personal: adjust the e-mail to the individual
Nothing bothers as an unpersonal e-mail message. As consumers, we all know that companies hold a lot of customer information. We usually give up a lot of privacy to place an order or ask for an inquiry. So why don’t you use that information in your e-mail? Leverage the fact that people are reading e-mail on different times, depending on their work or personal schedule. If you want to hit the average person, there is research done on what times you should send your e-mail. However, if you want to become truly personal and sending the e-mails on the right time: adjust the e-mail sends to the individual. Also, think about being relevant. If your CRM is good at keeping track of your customer’s behaviour, try using that information in your e-mails.
3. Have a clear message
Less is more, when it comes to transactional e-mail
Stick to one message per e-mail. It is pretty confusing to receive a transactional e-mail that also wants to answers frequently asked questions, offers up and cross selling possibilities and ends with a survey. The fact that your e-mail sending system is having the technical capabilities of doing so doesn’t mean you should put all the available functions in one e-mail message. Less is more, when it comes to transactional e-mail.
4. Consistent tone of voice
When you are interacting with a customer, it should look like they are speaking to the same person.
Consistency is key in transactional e-mail, as you should know by now. The tone of voice in your e-mails is also something to worry about. Often, a lot of companies underestimate the importance of a consistent tone of voice. When you are interacting with a customer (on any channel), it should look like they are speaking to the same person. This means you should change the words you choose, the length of the sentences and the overall sound to your receiver.
Once you created one or two transactional e-mails, be aware that you entered an optimizing process that may never stop.
Once you created one or two transactional e-mails, be aware that you entered an optimizing process that may never stop. After all: what happens when you use different headlines for your e-mail? Are people more likely to open it or not? And what if an action triggers the e-mail send but you decide to pause the e-mail for a day or two? Does it affect the e-mail opens? The key is to experiment. Since your target audience and the relationship with your customers is unique, there are too many variables why people do or do not want to read and take action from the e-mail you sent. That is why you should always experiment with transactional e-mail.