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What is transactional email?

Transactional emails may not be a direct marketing tool, but make no mistake. They have a huge impact on your customer relationships
Feb 5, 2020 • 6 minute read
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Learn how to write the transactional emails to maximize potential sales from your clients

Remember the most important email you sent out recently. What do you remember?
Maybe it's the confirmation of a financial deal that you finalized with a client or a receipt that you sent out. It could have possibly been a reminder that you sent to someone to follow through on an important task.
All of these are examples of transactional emails.
If you're a business owner, you need effective digital communications in place to convey trust and professionalism to your clients. Even aside from professionalism, you need a channel to communicate important details and reminders to your customers.
Before we get further into the details of how these emails can impact your business, let's define transactional emails.

What are transactional emails?

Transactional emails are generally automated emails sent out to effectively convey certain events, updates and details. Generally, these emails are sent out as a result of certain trigger events taking place. These events are predetermined to ensure that automated responses are sent out when these events occur. This allows you to stay on top of all the recent happenings and efficiently target your clients in the case of certain scenarios.
Generally, transactional emails are highly targeted with personalized information to ensure that the details are relevant to the individual recipient. There are a number of different transactional emails that are used for companies to maximize their marketing approach.
According to a recent study by Experian, transactional emails have 8X more clicks compared to conventional emails.
The statistic signifies the massive attention that transactional emails get from your clients. With all this attention, you need to put thought into creating your transactional emails. It must be clear that the purpose of these emails is not direct marketing (though they will have an impact on your brand identity and reputation). These are emails are put in place to ensure appropriate responses being sent out on time and having a comprehensive follow-through system in place.

Types of transactional emails

There are many different types of transactional emails businesses use to deal with their day-to-day operations. Here are some of the most commonly used transactional emails.

Confirmation emails

Confirmation emails are one of the most widely used forms of transactional emails. They provide confirmation that some action has been successfully completed on the site. That could include signup confirmation, order confirmation, password reset confirmation, payment confirmation or any other action that customers might want written confirmation of.

Order receipts

Order receipts are a bit different from order confirmation emails. Receipts are in a much more formal layout, are itemized and include sales tax information. This allows customers to use them for formal bookkeeping. Receipts are usually created using integrated payment receipt tools that allow you to embed the receipts into the email automatically. These are a mandatory element to integrate into your standard transactional emails.

Cart reminders

Even though cart reminders are transactional emails, they're also a great marketing tool.
Carts aren't just a way to get customers to the check out. They're also a great way to track the interests of customers and see which items they added and removed. Generally, if a customer added a product into the cart and changed their mind at the last moment, they are much more likely to be swayed to make the final purchase if they get an abandoned cart reminder email.

Account summaries

Account summaries are a great way to periodically update your customers with their purchase history and instill confidence in your site's data security. Customers today want to be promptly notified of any discrepancies associated with their account. These summaries are a proactive way to reassure your customers.

Account-related alerts

Whether it's an unauthorized login or unusual security activity, you want to let your customers know about any unusual behavior on their account. This means you need systems in place on your website to ensure customer behavior is tracked, and that any unusual or suspicious activity is automatically flagged. Even if you end up flagging actual customer activity, most people won't mind taking the extra step to confirm their account security. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way in customer retention.

Password reset emails

Everyone forgets their password once in a while. It's important to have a prompt mechanism to ensure that customers can reset their passwords easily and securely. The password reset email is an integral transactional email that lets your customers reset their passwords automatically by generating a link and allows them to be safer. Having a fast password reset functionality is also an important way to counter any potential security threats.

Shipping emails

Who hasn't been filled with excitement seeing the subject line, "Your order has been shipped"? Shipping emails are a great tool to set customer expectations on shipping times and dates. They can also head off customer service queries by keeping customers in the loop about their order.

Reminder emails

Reminder emails can be a great marketing tool. If a certain customer places an order on the same date every year, or places orders for the same item at regular intervals, you can send an automated reminder email before the date to help prompt their next order.

Thank you emails

Gratitude goes a long way, especially with your customers. Having well-timed thank you emails can be a great way to combine transactions with marketing and generate sales with promotions.

Order delay/cancellation

Getting orders delayed is a situation no business wants to face. But it's best to be prepared for the worst case scenario by having preemptive apology emails ready and configured to be sent out in cases where the orders are not delivered on time. This also applies to situations where orders are downright canceled. Being proactive with an apology can go a long way in mitigating negative feedback.

Feedback emails

Feedback emails are a great way to regularly check up on the quality of your products and customer service. They allow you to identify areas you need to improve, and the areas you're doing well can provide a great morale boost.

Transactional email best practice

There are certain best practices you need to keep in mind when creating transactional emails. Sticking by these guidelines could go a long way in creating meaningful emails that build a loyal relationship with your customers.
Professional design: It is really important to maintain a consistent visual aesthetic with your transactional emails to stay on brand.
Concise details: Make sure that you keep your transactional emails extremely concise. They should be easy to understand and include all the relevant details the customer needs.
Rapid dispatch: It is essential to have an extremely fast delivery of transactional emails because customers are anticipating prompt responses. You don’t want to keep someone waiting hours on their password reset email.
Transactional emails are an essential function for any modern-day business to effectively sustain and grow its digital sales. Having prompt, well-structured emails can be a total game-changer for your general customer impression and response.

Setting up transactional emails

Remember the rapid dispatch we mentioned a moment ago? That's going to be impossible if you try to manually keep on top of your transactional emails. Fortunately, you've got some options for automating the process.
First, you might want to get help from a professional writer to help craft your transactional emails. You want to make sure you strike the right tone, include the right information and keep the emails concise. A good writer can help create templates for all the types of transactional emails you'll need to send.
Next, you'll need to figure out how to automate sending the emails. Depending on the CRM you're using, you may already have email automation services. If you're having a CRM custom-built, make sure the programmer works this functionality in.
There are also some platforms like HubSpot and MailChimp that can help automate transactional emails. Fair warning: Depending on the size of your mailing list, these can get pretty expensive.
You could also work with a web developer to help build this functionality into your website. A good web developer can put the processes in place to make sure your transactional emails are sent promptly and without you needing to lift a finger.
Whatever solution you choose, put time and effort into crafting your transactional emails, and into deciding what events will trigger them. The last thing you want to do is leave your customers out in the cold.
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