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How Top Brands Profit from Their Transactional Emails (and How You Can, Too)

  • Email Marketing

“Thank you for your order!” Sounds familiar? It should do: it’s the opening of any good transactional email. Did you know that transactional emails have an average open rate of 48% compared to 18.3% for non-transactional emails?

That’s because transactional emails are relevant and highly expected by consumers.

But few marketers take advantage of them resulting in a massive loss of potential profit.

In fact, most transactional emails are hard-coded by developers who—

to put it gently—have little copywriting skills (sorry Sleeknote dev. team).

These emails are often outdated, exclude branding, and are misaligned with your existing marketing, creating an inconsistent customer experience.

By optimizing your transactional emails, you can increase email engagement and drive more profit from your customers.

And that’s exactly what I’ll show you how to do in this article.

I’ll walk you through four bullet-proof ways to make your transactional emails enticing, engaging, and click-worthy.

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Let’s face it: writing good marketing emails is TOUGH. To help, we’ve put together an email marketing swipe file, including 41 email marketing examples (organized by category). Plus, a few other goodies not featured below (*cough* killer Facebook Ad examples *cough*).

How to Drive Profit from Your Transactional Emails

Transactional emails already have high user engagement, so why not take advantage to grow your business?

Besides having a high open rate, transactional emails also have an impressive average click-through rate of 8.8%.

And this is an email that typically doesn’t look appealing and has multiple links and no clear call-to-action (all things that lower your click-through rate).

Imagine what would happen if you crafted a transactional email with a great design, compelling copy and a powerful call-to-action?

So, with that, here are four tactics you can use to create high-converting transactional emails.

1. Get Loyal Customers to Refer Friends and Increase Revenue

Transactional emails are the perfect platform to ask your customers to make referrals.

You probably know the feeling:

You’ve just hit the “buy” button, and your order confirmation arrives in your inbox giving you a recap of the products you’ve just purchased.

This is the golden moment where you can ask your customers to refer friends and earn rewards—and they will.

If friends and family recommend one brand or product over the other, consumers are more likely to choose the recommended one, regardless of price or quality.

In fact, 42% of online customers find recommendations from friends and family influential in purchase decisions.

Simply include a call-to-action in your email and tell customers why they should refer friends. What’s in it for your customers and their friends?

Here’s an example from Rover:

The main focus of the email is the order confirmation (which should always be the main focus), but then notice the blue callout box:

It’s simple, clear and gives readers a reason to refer friends.

If you offer vouchers to customers who refer friends, you also encourage repeat transactions from that customer.

2. Upsell Existing Orders to Increase Repeat Purchases

Upselling to customers who just purchased a product might seem like overkill, but if you do it right, there’s a good chance you’ll increase your average order value.

The best way to upsell in a transactional email is to offer products that go well with the purchased item—also known as product recommendations.

In fact, product recommendations are responsible for an average of 10-30 percent of gross e-commerce revenues.

Here’s an example from Outnorth:

The first sentence in the email is (translated): “Thanks for shopping at Outnorth!”

Then, there’s a summary of the shipping information, the product I ordered, and the billing information (all standard in an order confirmation email).

Then, at the bottom, there’s a call-to-action to buy recommended products.

I purchased a skiing jacket, so offering items that would go well with my new jacket (skiing pants, packing bags, etc.) is a great upselling strategy.

The only problem in this product recommendation is the blue jacket on the left. It’s almost an exact replica of the jacket I bought, only more expensive.

So, when upselling similar items, make sure you avoid small glitches like this in your product recommendations.

To encourage a purchase, you can add scarcity. Tell the customer that if they add a new item to their order within a certain amount of time (e.g. 4 hours), you’ll be able to add it to their existing parcel so they don’t have to wait longer for a second parcel.

Another way to upsell is to get your customers to create an account. First-time customers will, in many cases, choose to use a guest checkout option.

In your confirmation email, you can then ask them to “upgrade” so they have an account for next time they want to purchase from you.

It’s important that you give customers an incentive to create an account and focus on the benefits of doing so.

eBay emphasize the importance of creating an account in their emails:

(And yes, I bought a Minion teddy bear. Don’t judge!)

3. Help With Resources and Increase Customer Loyalty

A great way to increase customer loyalty and encourage repeat purchases is to make sure your customers are happy with the product they just bought.

You should always encourage customers to make full use of the product, and help them overcome any obstacles that might prevent them from being satisfied with the product.

This might sound confusing, so let me give you an example.

I recently bought this carpet from Ellos:

I was excited about my new purchase until I realized: Rikke, you’re the biggest klutz, and you’ve just bought a white carpet. WHITE!

I suddenly felt less confident about my purchase and I was very close to returning the product.

I ended up reaching out to Ellos and asked them about how to clean the carpet, to ensure that when (not if) I spill something it’s not the end of my new carpet.

My point is that had Ellos sent me a cleaning guide in my confirmation email with the best way to clean the carpet, I would have felt much better about my new purchase and would not have been tempted to return it.

You can also include how-to guides, and best practice tips in your confirmation email depending on the product they’ve bought.

Help people make the most of their new product to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

For instance, if you sell electronics, you can include a short video guide to show customers how to use the product’s features.

When customers feel they can take full advantage of a new product, they’ll be more satisfied with their purchase.

Including a video guide is a great way to illustrate how the product works (no one reads the written manual anyways).

Happy customers will also result in great feedback and reviews, which leads me to the next item on this list…

4. Get Valuable Feedback For Optimization

Never underestimate the value of good feedback and customer reviews.

Good reviews increase the credibility and trustworthiness of your brand and your products, whereas bad reviews do the opposite.

That’s why it’s important to ask for feedback and reviews when your customers are happy and their purchase is still top of mind.

If you want feedback on the customer’s shopping experience on your website, it’s best to ask right after they’ve made the purchase (read: in your order confirmation email).

I’ve broken down an example from Nelly below.

(It’s in Danish, but I’ve included it because I think the design and structure is good)

The top part of the email includes Nelly’s branding and an attention-drawing image.

The headline of the email lets the reader know that this is an order confirmation, which is followed by “Hi, Rikke Berg Thomsen! Thanks for ordering from Nelly.com”

The second part of the email summarizes the items I ordered:

Once again, the products I ordered are the focus of the email, but just like Rover, they include a call-to-action at the end of the email:

In this case they ask for feedback and link to a short survey.

The email is simple and only includes that one call-to-action making it easy for readers to give feedback. You can even ask for a review of the product your customer just bought.

Don’t ask for a review in your order confirmation email. Your customers haven’t received their product yet, so it doesn’t make sense to ask them for a review at this time.

Wait until you’re sure the product has arrived and that the customer has had time to use the product (this varies depending on the product they’ve bought).

Then you can send an email asking for a review.

Here’s another example (in Danish) from Skousen:

I’ve translated the email so you can see exactly what they wrote, and why it’s a great email:

Two weeks after I bought this clothing steamer, Skousen asked me to write a review for the product.

They use an image of the product I bought to establish relevance and make it clear which product they want me to write a review about.

The call-to-action is clear, and by offering me a chance to win a gift certificate, they give me an incentive to write the review (which I did).

Free Downloadable Bonus

Want More Email Marketing Inspiration?

Let’s face it: writing good marketing emails is TOUGH. To help, we’ve put together an email marketing swipe file, including 41 email marketing examples (organized by category). Plus, a few other goodies not featured below (*cough* killer Facebook Ad examples *cough*).

Conclusion

There’s a huge opportunity to increase customer loyalty and repeat purchases in your transactional emails, so make sure you take advantage of it.

Your IT department shouldn’t be writing copy for any emails you send, and especially not the emails that have the highest open and click-through rates.

Try to implement one or two of the above tactics in your transactional emails, and I’m positive you’ll see immediate results.

Finally, make sure that you don’t take the focus away from the purpose of the email. Finish off with a strong call-to-action that will drive more engagement from your customers and leave them satisfied with their purchases.

Have you tried any of the above strategies? Or do you have another great strategy you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.

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