Improve Customer Experience and Boost Sales With Transactional Emails

It’s a win-win situation when it comes to transactional email opportunities 

No matter how you spin it, email is a marketing power tool. All too often you hear people saying that email is dying or becoming irrelevant — we beg to differ. People are still using email and 72% of people actually prefer to receive communication via email. 

With smartphones and other mobile devices, people have more access to their emails today than ever. Amongst all of the apps on people’s phones, email is now one of those apps alerting people that they have a new notification — this offers a great opportunity to reach people at nearly anytime and anyplace. 

Knowing that email is still an effective and relevant marketing tactic, let’s take a look at ways to improve your current strategy by implementing transactional emails. Here’s a look at what is ahead: 

  • Understand what transactional emails are
  • Email examples that will probably look familiar 
  • How to get your email strategy right the first time
  • How to improve sales with transactional emails
  • The difference between marketing emails and transactional emails
  • How the two emails types can work together 

What exactly are transactional emails?

Transactional emails are the automatic messages that are sent to users based on an action that they took. These types of emails are sometimes referred to as triggered emails because once the designated action occurs the email is automatically triggered to follow. 

Transactional emails are well received by customers because they provide them with something they want or need to know about. In fact, many people not only like transactional emails but often expect that they will automatically receive them. 

For example, if you purchase an item online, you expect that an email will follow with your receipt and shipping details. This is a prime example of transactional emails in action. 

Let’s take a quick look at a few different transactional emails that are not only effective but that you’ve likely received before in your own life. 

  1. Order confirmation, shipping, and delivery details

When you make an online purchase, you expect that there will be an email sent within minutes to confirm your order. That same expectation is set for the shipping and delivery details. People want to know where their items are at all times and when they should expect to arrive at them. 

This is a perfect example of transactional emails that you have experienced in your personal life (unless you haven’t converted to purchasing products online — which we highly doubt).

This is an example of an order confirmation that you would likely receive right after making a purchase. What you don’t see in this example (but we assure you were inlcuded in this email!) is the purchase details further down including the products ordered, shipping address, and more. This email also does a great job of telling you what to expect next, i.e. the shipping confirmation. 

  1. Product or service survey/review requests

Another type of transactional email campaigns that you may have seen before is product survey and product review. Often, a few days or weeks after you’ve received your product the company will send a follow-up email asking for a product review or feedback survey. 

These types of transactional emails offer a number of benefits ranging from direct feedback to positive reviews that will help encourage potential buyers. 

Many companies utilize transactional emails as a way to receive reviews on their products. This helps other buyers know what to expect when they purchase an item. This example provides a pretty nice incentive for writing a review on your most recent purchase. 

  1. Cart abandonment emails

Abandoned cart emails are a great way to boost sales. These are the emails you receive when you’ve added a product to your shopping cart, but didn’t complete the sale. They are designed to remind you about the products and get you back to the site to finalize your purchase. 

If you don’t already have an abandoned cart strategy, you are missing out on sales. Abandoned cart transactional emails can provide ROI of 40% or higher when done right. 

Abandoned cart emails remind you of a product you were previously looking at and that you added to your cart. 

  1. Forgot password/username emails

If you’ve somehow managed to dodge every other type of transactional email type, this is the one you’ve definitely experienced. Think of the last time you tried to log into an account but realized you forgot your username or password — it’s probably happened fairly recently. 

When you hit that forgot password button, an email is automatically triggered for the account and you receive an email to create a new password. A very personal email interaction and is meant for your eyes only. 

If you’ve ever forgotten what your username or password is for a website, you have seen one of these emails. They are generated when you request a copy of your information or to create a new password. Image courtesy of Postmark

How to Get Transactional Emails Right the First Time

When it comes to email, you need to make a good impression right away. Although transactional emails are often welcomed by customers, you still need to make sure to make a good impression or you may find your emails falling into spam folders. 

Here are a few best practices to help get your emails right the first time around: 

  • Use personalization: if you’re sending a customer a receipt or shipping email, you’ll want to make sure to use their name and include details about the product or service they ordered.
  • Use a reply-to email and provide contact information: if someone has a question related to their order, it’s much easier for them to simply hit reply rather than searching for a customer service number. The easier it is for your customers to address concerns, the better their experience will be — this means also include contact information when needed. 
  • Identify your company: make sure your customers know who the email is coming from. They know your company name, not Kim in accounting. 
  • Use brand recognition: you’ve been working hard to align your brand and make sure it is easily recognized, so why wouldn’t you take the time to brand these emails? If a customer opens an email from your company and it looks nothing like your other communication, they may be a little weary or think it is a scam. 

Improving Sales with Transactional Emails 

Not only are transactional emails beneficial for your customers, but they can also present an additional selling opportunity for you. In fact, it’s 60-70% more likely you will sell more products to an existing customer. Transactional emails are a great place to start this new sales cycle. 

There are a few ways to, directly and indirectly, use transactional emails to increase sales. First, let’s address the most direct way to improve sales with these types of emails. 

Selling to existing customers yields a higher return on investment. That’s because the probability of selling to an existing customer is way higher than that of just a prospect. Image courtesy of Groove.

Upselling Products Through Transactional Emails 

Upselling is the idea of providing the customer with more products that might fit their interests in an effort to increase sales. Here’s the tricky part about including upselling in transactional emails: you don’t want to boast promotional content in these types of emails. 

With that said, we believe it is still an area of opportunity and can be done right. If you’re strategic in your upselling efforts and know when the right time to promote products is, you’ll reap the benefits. 

You’re probably asking how do you know when the right time to send customers upselling content? We’ve got a few tips to help you navigate this selling opportunity. 

  • Add value by providing relevant product recommendations by using predictive product recommendations. 
  • Make sure the timing is right. Promoting products with an account update email might not be appropriate, but a thank you email is a great place to recommend additional products and bring visitors back to your site. 
  • Promote appropriate products. Make sure the products you are upselling are complementary or make sense to promote. You don’t want to send an email sharing the product they just purchase or a product that is almost identical. 

In a more indirect way, transactional emails can help promote additional sales by acquiring customer reviews and referrals. How does this help your sales? Because 91% of people read online reviews. The more product reviews you receive, the more positive feedback that is available about your products. 

Transactional emails are a great way to obtain these reviews and referrals. You’re already in communication with your customers about their product, so why not request a review of your product or service? 

To get the full benefit of reviews and referrals you may need to add an incentive, but if the profit of potential sales outweighs the cost of that incentive its a no brainer. Encourage your loyal and return customers to provide you with the tools to make your next big sale. 

How are transactional emails different from marketing emails? 

Although transactional emails are used for marketing purposes, there is a difference between them and simple marketing emails. When we refer to marketing emails, we mean the emails you send out to customers to promote your company or products and services. 

A few common examples of marketing emails would be campaigns designed to educate customers on your products and services, new product announcements, and event invitations and reminders. 

Transactional and marketing emails play a very different role in an overall marketing strategy. Each has a different purpose — one is designed solely to promote this such as products and services while the other is meant to communicate details based on a specific action. 

It’s important to have a good mix of both email types. But transactional emails have much better open and click rates when it comes to information related to a sale. Image courtesy of XCart

Another way to think of this is that marketing emails include content that is sent to a large recipient group, whereas transactional emails are sent to one person with content that only applies to them. 

Why do these differences matter? Because if you understand how they are different you can see how they can work together to improve your overall marketing strategy and improve the customer experience with your brand. 

Combining Forces for an Improved Customer Experience 

A customer’s experience with your company can make or break their opinion of your brand. If you are sending too many marketing emails and overloading their inbox, or maybe not sending enough transactional emails someone may feel they are having a poor experience with your brand. 

When people have a poor experience, they are much more likely to tell people about it — think back to the idea of referrals and how important they are to sales. Now imagine if people are talking about their poor experience rather than your great product if could negatively impact your sales. 

Why do we bring this up? Because you need to use both types of email, but you find a healthy balance between them. When done right, they can work together to create a customer experience that will keep people coming back — that’s what you want to work towards. 

We’ll leave you with one last thought. If your current strategy isn’t providing an excellent customer experience or improving your sales — do you have the right transactional and marketing email plan in place? 


Blogtrepreneur is a website where busy entrepreneurs learn to strategically use blogging as a way to exponentially grow our business and make more money.