Take Your Transactional Emails from Dull to Dynamic

If you’re sending transactional email, you already know transactional emails get a much higher open rate than other marketing emails—from 40% to 85% higher depending on the source you turn to.

You probably also know that’s rarely because they’re compelling and interesting.

Nope, they’re usually boring. They are literally a transactional message.

Yet people open them. Why? The high open rate happens because these emails are expected. I order something, and then I get an email confirming I ordered it. Then another when it ships.

As a typical consumer, I look for these emails so I can track my purchases and know when they’ll arrive.

As an email copywriter, I dread these emails from my transactional esp because they are typically missed opportunities to build brand and engage me as a customer.

These transactional emails can be bold, not boring!

You as a marketer know your transactional emails are more likely to be opened than anything else you send. And you know you are sending an email to a bona fide customer since they have already made a purchase.

So why don’t marketers take advantage of this opportunity in their customer experiences marketing?

Why are so many transactional emails the epitome of boring, just stating facts and dates only?

Why aren’t we using these emails to do more, build brand and strengthen this customer relationship?

I don’t have the answer. It’s a mystery to me. But I do have an example of a transactional email that takes advantage of the open rate.

This transactional email example shows what’s possible

Below is a confirmation email I received from a vendor after buying an item through Amazon. It’s not an example of stellar email copywriting by any means. But it is proof that a meaningful confirmation email is possible to write:

Hi Sharon,

I just wanted to take some time to personally thank you for your order. Your order is being processed and will ship out ASAP. If for any reason you are dissatisfied with your purchase, we want to hear from you. We strive to treat customers as we would like to be treated. Thus, if you have any issue (no matter what), we want to know about it so we can remedy the situation and avoid repeating it in the future. To contact us, simply reply to this email.

I’ll be following up in a week or so to make sure you received your item(s) as expected.

Thank you!

Why this transactional email is great

There are five things to love about this transactional email—and to copy! Take note, email marketers and copywriters!

  • First off, the approach. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t ever received a confirmation email like this before. I’ve received countless emails telling me my order was received, but nothing like this. This email makes it seem like the business cares about me as the customer.
  • Secondly, the personalization is spot on. I know it was automated, but still, the “Hi Sharon,” at the beginning looks natural, conversational and real—and therefore got me engaged.
  • Third, telling me I can reply to the email if there is a problem with my order makes the email even more authentic. How reassuring is that to know I can simply reply, and not go through Amazon if there’s an issue? Or compare that to the dreaded donotreply@ emails.
  • Fourth, the closing that says he’ll be following up in a week or two. I didn’t believe it, but it sounds genuine and added to my feeling that I mattered as a customer.
  • Fifth, it had a real person’s name at the end (which I didn’t include in my copy/paste). The name added to the authenticity and personalization of the email and intent.

Again, we aren’t talking about a professional email copywriter penning this message. And honestly, that also adds to the authenticity.

So if you don’t need to hire a professional to write similar transactional emails for your business, how hard would it be to tweak your own transactional emails to include one, some or all of these elements? Not hard at all, I would argue! So why not do it?

Taking dynamic to the next level
Once you realize your transactional emails deserve more of your time, you can explore the possibility of dynamic content. With a transactional esp like iPost that uses a relational database, you can personalize your transactional emails for even more engagement with your customer.

Simply including the customer’s name in the salutation can add a personal touch that increases the level of engagement. But get creative. Can you refer to a past order? Maybe you include a P.S. asking how the past order worked out. Or suggest something to go with their most recent purpose.

For example, I have been working my way through the Maisie Dobbs books series. When I order one, it would be nice to have the next book suggested in my confirmation email rather than having to look it up each time. Because that’s what happens: Each time I’m ready for the next book, I have to go online to check the list of books in order once again.

That’s just one simple example. I bet you could come up with many more, and much more clever than mine! Think about your own business and how you could use dynamic content in your transactional emails to really engage your customers. Imagine the delight they’d experience opening not a boring order confirmation email as they get from every other brand, but a personalized one that shows your company put some effort into the message.

Just say “no” to dull transactional emails

If your transactional emails tend to be the boring, dry, factual type, you are missing out on an opportunity. And your competitor might be taking advantage of that. Because if it’s not hard for you to write an engaging transactional email, it’s not hard for them either.

Yes, the customer has already purchased from you—that’s why they’re getting the transactional email. Maybe the mindset is, “Why market to someone who is already buying?”

And maybe the mindset should be, “Let’s deepen our engagement with this customer and earn their loyalty so they want to buy from us again.”

To follow through on your change of mindset is easy. All you need to do is rethink and rewrite your transactional emails to go from dull to dynamic.

That seems like a little pain for a long-term gain, doesn’t it?