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What Are Transactional Emails?

Transactional emails are automated emails sent to communicate a transaction. Unlike marketing emails, they’re not used to entice customers to make a purchase, but they are equally important in delivering a strong customer experience.

Transactional emails are delivered on an individual customer basis. They are generally fully automated and include information that confirms or provides further details about an existing action the customer has taken.

And, unlike marketing emails, transactional emails are not governed by the CAN-SPAM Act, and do not need to include an unsubscribe link.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the types of transactional emails a brand might send and why.

Types of Transactional Emails

Subscription Confirmation

If a customer has subscribed to your mailing list, your brand should send a transactional email to confirm their subscription. You may also require a double opt-in to reduce the risk of bot subscribers and help you maintain a clean email list. While your subscription confirmation message is a transactional email, you can also use it as an opportunity to introduce customers to your brand. You can highlight links to videos, articles, and key features on your site. You can also provide a CTA with a promotional code for their first purchase. While open rates for marketing emails are low, they’re very high for these types of transactional emails, so it’s a good opportunity to make the most of your customers’ attention without overwhelming them.

Shopping Cart Abandonment

Approximately 72% of customers in the United States abandon their online shopping carts before completing a purchase. Cart abandonment emails can have relatively high success rates. MooSend found that 45% of cart abandonment emails were opened, and 50% of customers who clicked the email completed their purchases. While emails to remind customers of the items left behind are generally considered transactional emails, it’s also an opportunity to market to your customer by providing additional discounts, if you choose, or recommending additional products that appeal to similar customers. For example, Shutterfly offers a 40% discount for customers to complete their orders.

Order Confirmation

When you send your customer a receipt with product and pricing details, this is another form of transactional email. Your order confirmation email should be sent immediately post-purchase and include the customer’s order number and, ideally, a link to view or manage their order directly on your brand’s site or app. It can also include other content you want to spotlight below the order details. For instance, Amazon’s shipping confirmations spotlight the company’s $15 starting wage in a banner ad in an effort to recruit new employees.

Shipping Confirmations and Updates

Because the order confirmation should be sent immediately after the transaction has gone through, you’ll need to send a shipping confirmation email separately as each order is processed. Your shipping confirmation transactional email should include a link where customers can track their packages, if possible, an estimate of when the order is expected to arrive, and any special instructions (i.e., refrigerate your frozen food delivery immediately). This is also an opportunity to provide links at the bottom of the message to other content that your customers may engage with, such as, “customers who bought this product also bought…” If the order is delayed, you should send a shipping update that notifies the customer of the updated delivery time.

Order Refunds

When a customer returns an item, you should send a transactional email to notify them of their refund status, including how quickly the money will be refunded to their credit card. If you have a cross-channel marketing strategy in place, you can automate these types of refund confirmations if the customer returns an item directly to your store.

Feedback Email

If a customer has made a purchase with your brand, it’s important to collect their feedback to both gauge the sentiment of the individual user and collect data in aggregate to gain new insights about your customers. Send them a quick note that asks them to rate their recent experience by filling out a scorecard, taking a survey, or leaving a review. You can provide incentives for providing feedback by offering a discount off their next purchase.

Using Transactional Emails to Engage Your Audience

Although the primary purpose of transactional emails should always be to inform your customers of the status of an action they’ve taken, these types of messages can provide opportunities for your brand to show its personality through your copy and design, and even encourage further action by promoting relevant content and offers at the end of the message.

In addition to transactional emails, you can also provide transactional messages through your other marketing channels using a cross-channel marketing platform like Iterable. For example, if a customer’s order has shipped, they can be notified of the shipment via email, SMS, and in-app notifications, with each channel providing a link for real-time tracking. This helps ensure that your customers won’t miss important messages that they may not notice in their inboxes or that may be filtered out by spam filters.

Deliverability is a key concern for most brands, so by leveraging the power of all of the marketing channels available to you to share important communications about your customers’ subscriptions, order status, and other updates, you’ll be able to ensure they receive your messages and can respond to them immediately on the channels they prefer to use. Cross-channel transactional messages can help you deliver a superior customer experience that meets your customers right where they are.

Iterable is a cross-channel marketing platform that powers unified customer experiences and empowers marketers to create, optimize and measure relevant interactions and experiences customers love. Leading brands, like Cinemark, DoorDash, Calm, Madison Reed, and Box, choose Iterable to power world-class customer experiences throughout the entire lifecycle. Discover our growth marketing solutions for personalization, increasing customer engagement, and more. Discover our platform and schedule a demo today.