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E-mail marketing secrets & lies: transactional e-mails

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Transactional e-mails hit your customers’ in-boxes at a very special time:

Recipients have just interacted with your brand and have a high involvement with it, said Elaine O'Gorman, VP of strategy at e-mail marketing provider Silverpop.

“Everyone knows transactional e-mails have higher readership, but [they] don’t realize that there’s also an attitudinal difference, too,” she said. “It’s a great time to show customers what additional offers you might have and how to use your products.”

Here is one secret and one lie about transactional messages, suggested by O’Gorman and Michael Gorman, senior VP of search & acquisition at Acxiom Digital, a provider of interactive marketing technology and services, to help you get the most out of your transactional e-mail messages.

Secret: Transactional e-mails don’t have to be uninspired.

Transactional messages tend to be stark and text-based. This happens, O’Gorman said, because they are automatically triggered by a company’s e-commerce platform. Until recently, there was no way to alter these messages.

Today, however, most e-mail service providers offer tools that allow you to reformat transactional messages. You can add tracking tags to manage deliverability and can make your messages match other branded collateral. These tools also let you change and personalize offers based on behavior and past purchases.

Tools have changed so much,” O’Gorman said. “You don’t have to listen to your IT department anymore when they tell you that you don’t have a choice about sending ugly e-mail messages.”

Lie: Transactional messages always get through.

Unfortunately, there are several reasons your transactional messages may not be making it to the customer’s in-box.

First, you may not have the right e-mail address. If the customer logs into an existing account when purchasing, the transactional message may be sent to an e-mail address pulled from your ERP system, Gorman said. If that address is no longer valid, the customer won’t receive the message. A simple fix: Ask customers to confirm their e-mail address during their final checkout.

Another problem is messages that land in a spam folder because companies aren’t personalizing their “From” field and are sending from a generic mailbox that’s not recognized or already on a white list.

“Companies are using spam blocking so that only allowed, recognized addresses are getting through,” Gorman said. “If your message is coming from a random address, it’s probably going into a spam folder.”

Your fix: Make sure transactional messages meet all the same parameters that your marketing messages do, and use the same e-mail address you use for marketing messages.

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