Why Are Transactional Emails A Goldmine?

How Internet-Based Businesses Can Maximize Their Small Business Email Marketing Campaigns


by Willie Pena


Small tech startups and Internet-based businesses have a cross-sell platform that brick-and-mortar stores lack, although many fail to take advantage of it. Small businesses that operate online depend on transactional emails to get crucial information to customers with whom they have already done business. Unfortunately, in sending receipts, shipping notices and purchase reminders, many online businesses are including just the basic transactional information and often in the most boring and non-stimulating way. This is a mistake. Transactional emails are more than a trade necessity; they are a prime marketing tool.




Big box companies already know this and use order confirmations and other necessary exchanges to pitch additional products. New companies and small-scale internet-based enterprises generally do not, whether due to lack of knowledge, manpower, finances or time. However, even if it costs to upgrade email practices to integrate them with marketing promotions, the money and time spent will be worth it.


Why Are Transactional Emails A Goldmine?

Experian, an information services company, researched the value of transactional emails and found that customers open them, not 80 percent or 90 percent of the time, but nearly 100 percent of the time. No other type of email has this perfect open rate, certainly not bulk mail, which Internet-based businesses typically use for marketing promotions.


When a customer does business with a company and subsequently receives confirmation or reminders related to that transaction, they are generally happy, eager and trusting of that company. This mood opens up the customer to see the brand in a positive light and they are usually willing to try other offerings from that brand. Experian documented that transactional emails can definitely generate revenue and went so far as to assign values to different types of transactional emails.


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Messages with shipping information, such as tracking numbers and expected delivery date, had the most value at 80 cents. Emails that confirmed the placement of orders and listed what was bought had the second highest value at 75 cents. Even responses to customers who were dissatisfied with a product and wanted to return it, were profitable; messages about returns and exchanges were worth about 53 cents. Bulk mailings have less than half the value of transactional emails, ranging from 26 cents to just 13 cents.


Not only are customers more willing to read and re-read emails related to transactions, they are willing to engage – as in clicking, visiting and acting – whether it’s filling out a survey, downloading something or browsing related products.



Including marketing messages about discounts, sales, and related products requires subtlety. They cannot be the main focus of the email without turning the customer off. Details related to the actual business transaction should be front and center with all the essential details as well as a warm thank you message (Thank you messages increase click activity by 35 percent). The spaces after and around the transaction details are prime marketing areas.


If your business is still using plain text for transactional messaging, switch to HTML, which will allow headers, brand logos, product links, product images, bold and bigger text, and more style overall. Include pictures of any items purchased, browsed or left in a shopping cart; be sure to cross-sell by including any similar and related products that would enhance the user experience. If there are no related products, consider a sidebar displaying and linking to the company’s most popular items.


Businesses can also include advertisements about upcoming sales or offer customized discount codes to be a used on a next purchases. The more a promotion is individualized and related to prior buys, the more a customer’s interest will be piqued. Do not make the mistake of hyping the offer in the subject line, as this will often reduce the email to spam.


Don’t stop at offering products, however. Customers respond well to service offerings that are in transactional emails as well. Tech start-ups might pitch repair services, web site design or set-up, cloud services, general technical support, trial use of new software, access to a beta website for testing and review, hosting, or other services.


Internet-based companies, in additional to products, can use transactional emails to request survey participation, entice customers to becoming social media followers, or offer newsletter signups opportunities. The choices are endless.


The most sophisticated transactional emails resemble a company’s website: with a full color branded header, links to product categories, and quick links to main website pages. They also assure the customer that the message, links, and overall transaction are secure. This improves the customer experience and makes them less concerned about clicking through the email.


For greater email success, leverage your transactions!


authorWillie PenaWillie Pena writes about transactional emails and email marketing campaigns for small businesses for Easy-SMTP. Connect with him on Google+ and LinkedIn.



Photo Credits

Thos Ballantyne | Courtesy of Willie Pena