Author: Shayla Price

Before You Choose a Transactional Email Service, Read This

Email marketing is a rich source for delivering customer value.

That’s why, you deserve a transactional email service that offers your team the flexibility to trigger important messages based on your customers’ behaviors. (No more delayed order confirmation emails.)

You also don’t want to deal with complicated A/B testing or reporting systems. An email platform that can test your subject lines and track your conversion goals would make your job easier.

It wouldn’t hurt if the same platform handled transactional emails along with your other onboarding and retention messages. You want to do all your lifecycle messaging in one place.

Plus, your team wants to finally ditch coding your transactional emails. You need a service that can give your marketing team more control.

And what if you need help? You want specific answers to your questions. You’ll need a super helpful technical support engineer.

Stop tolerating your transactional email service. Work in a platform that you actually enjoy. Click here for your free trial of

transactional email service infographic

Choose Your Transactional Email Service

We know finding the right transactional email service can be a major hassle. We’re here to help you choose the best tool that will improve your team’s performance.

Break free from code. Start managing your transactional emails with Sign up for your free trial today.

Before You Choose a Transactional Email Service, Read This

Order Confirmation Emails: How to Delight Your Customers Every Time

Your hard work paid off.

A customer made a purchase! happy dance

Before you go get a celebratory treat, it’s worth your time to think about the next step in the lifecycle journey. Your customer is expecting a message to confirm her purchase, or what we call an order confirmation email.

This type of transactional email is more than just a receipt. It’s an opportunity for your brand to invite the purchaser into the customer experience. From providing order details to thanking the buyer, there’s a lot of ground to cover.

Let’s learn how to delight your customers immediately after the purchase.

Focus on the Happiest Moment

The order confirmation email represents a critical moment in the customer journey. It’s your chance to create customer delight and build a better experience.

The goal is to show appreciation to your customers, while giving them the right details to succeed with their purchase. They’re amped about receiving your product. So it’s up to your team to continue that excitement between the purchase and the loyalty stages.

order confirmation email customer journey

You can think of the order confirmation email as a 1-2-3 punch:

  1. Celebration – Be happy with your customer about the purchase. Show your gratitude and make them feel good about their decision.

  2. Information – Give customers accurate details about their purchase. Keeping customers informed helps remove buyer’s remorse.

  3. Personalization – Move customers to the next step in the customer journey. Provide them with hyper-relevant resources to customize the experience.

Celebrate with a Thank You

Psychologists Lisa Williams and Monica Bartlett conducted a study on whether saying “thank you” makes a difference in developing and maintaining social relationships.

Their research uncovered that the words “thank you” goes beyond just good manners. An expression of gratitude can have a positive effect on our interactions with others.

By saying “thank you” after a purchase, you open the doors for customers to build a future relationship with your brand. The order confirmation email becomes a shared celebration, rather than a one-person party.

In the example below, online print and design company MOO makes it a point to address their customers by name and thank them at the top of the order confirmation email.

That “Thank you” is not only branded in MOO colors, it’s at least 3X larger than anything else in the message. This tactic sets the tone for the rest of the customer interaction.

order confirmation email Moo

Image Source

It doesn’t take much to initiate delight in the customer relationship. You also can extend your appreciation with a personalized message or a dancing puppy GIF.

Structure Information to Reinforce Value

Today’s order confirmation emails surpass the mundane receipts of the past. Nowadays, customers hold these transactional emails to a higher standard.

So, if you’re still compiling the purchase details as an afterthought, it’s time for your team to fast forward to the present day.

Impress your customers by thoughtfully organizing the order information. Start with the general aspects, then move along to the particulars. For instance, you can explain the purpose of the email, show the product purchased, and end with the billing details:

  • Subject – Gives a reason for the email.
  • Order confirmation number – Provides a reference to a specific purchase.
  • Products/services purchased – Lists all the purchased items (with images).
  • Shipping details – States the customer’s address, shipping method, and estimated shipping time.
  • Summary of billing – Outlines how the specific charges relate to each item purchased.

A more complex setup may create customer confusion leading to a flood of preventable customer support tickets. However, you don’t want your order confirmation emails to feel like a laundry list of information. Work with your team and run A/B tests strike the right balance.

Take a look at the order confirmation email from Blue Bottle Coffee below. It offers an effective structure and presents the information in a way that preserves the customer’s excitement.

order confirmation email Blue Bottle Coffee

Image Source: Really Good Emails

The product visuals are the most notable part of this order confirmation email. Humans are inherently visual creatures. It takes our brains only 13 milliseconds to identify images. Blue Bottle Coffee takes advantage of this phenomenon of the human brain with stylish product pictures.

The brand isn’t just reminding you about a purchased item; they’re reminding you how elegant it will look in your home. Their team uses visuals to reaffirm the reason why you bought the product in the first place.

Personalized Recommendations Win

The order confirmation email marks the beginning of the customer relationship. Adding value to your order confirmation emails is how you encourage customers to purchase more items and refer their friends.

Personalizing your order confirmation emails is one of the most powerful ways to achieve delight. You can use various data to customize the experience, like browsing history or past purchasing behavior.

That data then becomes a catalyst to tailor the order confirmation email. As a result, customers receive more value.

Cross-Selling is the Most Direct Opportunity

Cross-selling is the art of persuading a customer to purchase an additional product with his order. That product usually complements the purchased item.

Crate & Barrel executes this strategy in their order confirmation emails by offering product recommendations. The brand gives you immediate, one-click access to a group of items that—based on your purchase—they know will interest you.

In the following email, the yellow sconce that the customer purchased triggers the inclusion of pendant lights. That way, when the sconce arrives, the customer may realize she needs a pendant light too.

order confirmation email Crate & Barrel

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Educational Resources Help Customers Succeed

Educational resources can help your customer achieve success with your product. By including resources in your order confirmation emails, you ensure customers start interacting with the product right away.

Electronics provider Adafruit includes prominent links to their technical support page, YouTube channel, blog, Twitter account, and live video show in each order confirmation email. They encourage customers to explore all these DIY resources.

order confirmation email Adafruit

With, you can use the Liquid templating language to personalize your transactional emails. Let’s say you run a speciality electronics shop that sells only radios, phones, and computers.

As part of your data, each customer has a list of “recommended resources” and you want to include this list within an order confirmation email. Here’s an example of what the data you send to might look like in Javascript:

order confirmation email Javascript

Say the buyer with an id of “1” is a customer who purchased a phone. When writing this specific message, you can loop through the recommended resources in the order confirmation email using a Liquid “for” loop:

order confirmation email forloop example

It would display in the email like this:

order confirmation email forloop email

Educational resources help customers get comfortable with their new purchase. To learn more advanced Liquid techniques, visit this documentation page.

Loyalty Leads to More Sales

You can integrate loyalty programs into your order confirmation emails. This strategy gives customers real-time updates on their progress towards a reward or discount.

This example below from sweetgreen shows a LevelUp loyalty bar that fills up as the customer gets closer to their next coupon. It keeps a record of how often a specific customer has made a purchase and personalizes the bar based on their past activity. The more the bar fills, the closer the customer comes to a reward.

order confirmation email sweetgreen

Image Source: Really Good Emails

No time for a fancy loyalty bar? You also can include a discount code for customers to share with their friends. This approach prompts engagement, while offering something of value to repeat customers.

Order Confirmation Emails Making Strategic Moves

The order confirmation is a celebration. It’s a useful tool for building the customer relationship. From saying “thank you” to personalized recommendations, your team can delight customers with every order.

How do you celebrate purchases in your order confirmation emails? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.

How to Design Your Invoice Emails to Include Relevant Content

The invoice is a critical message in the customer experience.

Beyond accuracy, what also matters is the design.

A poorly designed invoice email can cause customer confusion and even frustration. This pain point then could lead to a bottleneck in your payment collection.

Well-crafted invoice emails streamline the billing process, strengthening your lifecycle campaign. Plus, they keep your company top of mind with customers.

So how do you infuse a little more pizzazz and a lot more value into an otherwise bland transactional email? You redesign your invoice emails.

We have a few invoice email design strategies to help your team. Let’s get started!

Convey Relevant Content

At their core, invoice emails serve the purpose of informing customers about payments due for purchased services or products.

But there’s a problem. Customers get bills all the time, whether it’s personal or for their company. Some get noticed, while others get stranded in their inboxes.

That issue can leave your invoice email unopened or starred in an unnamed folder. Customer inaction means no payment for your business.

What you say in your invoice email matters. Some companies make classic mistakes like not stating payment options or not itemizing the services.

These blunders leave customers with unanswered questions and potentially flooding your support team with tickets.

To turn invoices into payments, start by giving customers all the necessary details to pay you. You may include:

  • Customer’s name
  • Due date
  • Purchased items/services
  • Total amount owed
  • Explantation of the charges
  • Payment methods

In the example below, the American Bar Association provides the recipient with all the pertinent information to move forward. The organization even breaks down the total due in a membership summary. Then, the orange call-to-action button expresses the need for action now, rather than later.

invoice emails American Bar Association

When crafting your content, you’ll also want to be mindful of your tone. Stay away from rude, forceful language. Instead, aim to convey concern and urgency in your message. That’ll nudge customers to take action.

Structure Your Layout

If you walk into a fast-food restaurant, you probably can guess the location of the restrooms. That’s because most of these businesses have a similar building layout.

Your invoice emails should fit the standard structure of your industry and cultural norms. You want customers to open your email and know exactly where to find the important details.

The goal is to keep it simple. Don’t feel pressured to squeeze unnecessary information into tight spaces. And don’t compromise your layout for a wacky design that complicates the email’s function.

When creating your layout, think about the sections you want to include. Grouping content makes it easier for the recipient to digest.

Check out this invoice email from the chiropractic office of Shaun Jennings. There’s a section for stating the business’s name, a section with a call-to-action button, and another section outlining the billing summary.

invoice emails Shaun Jennings

You’ll notice that this invoice email adds plenty of whitespace. This tactic makes the design easy to read for the customer. The horizontal rules provide organization to the invoice, too.

Visual appeal holds significance, no matter the type of transactional email. You can declutter your invoice emails with a neat layout that quickly draws in the customer.

Emphasize with Font Size & Color

Your customers lead busy lives. Between shopping for the family and completing major work projects, the last thing on their minds is paying another bill.

Like any message, you want your invoice to stand out from the rest. You want customers to take notice (and action) immediately.

Surprisingly, humans are hard-wired for curiosity and are always seeking out information. You can use our innate behavior to boost your click-through rate.

A simple strategy is to increase the font size or change the font color of the details you want the recipients to recognize first. This small adjustment places emphasis on what content matters most in the email.

GEICO gives a good example to follow. In this invoice email, the larger green font signifies to the recipient that he owes a bill. Their team also highlights the amount due with a different color. And of course, the orange call-to-action button with white text is hard to miss.

invoice emails Geico

When selecting colors, think about matching the email design with your company’s branding. This consistency will give customers a way to connect your invoice email with your products and services.

You can direct your customer to key details with font size and color. Just don’t go overboard and emphasize everything in the message.

Build a Mobile Responsive Design

Litmus reports that more than half of customers open their emails with mobile devices. It’s a stark reminder that your invoice email design must be mobile responsive.

But what does that really mean?

Responsive email design gives recipients an optimal viewing experience across multiple platforms. It adapts to the customer’s device, whether she’s using a mobile phone or a tablet.

Without responsive email design, your customers may find it difficult to read text, see images, or click links. They’re stuck in a desktop viewing mode on a mobile device. Yikes!

Common uses of responsive design techniques include scaling images, adding padding, and hiding content. As always, you’ll want to experiment with what works with your audience.

Ovi Demetrian Jr, founder of Blocks Edit, offers his viewpoint on designing effective invoice emails:

invoice emails Ovi quote

Below is an invoice email example from AT&T. All the vital billing information fits the mobile screen. The font is large enough where the recipient doesn’t have to squint. Also, it only takes one finger to click the call-to-action button.

invoice emails ATT

From optimizing images to adding spacing, you want to make the text and visuals easily viewable. Your team should make design adjustments to improve the customer’s mobile experience.

Highlight Useful Resources

Invoice emails keep track of purchase history, but they also can help the customer move to the next stage of the lifecycle journey.

Smart businesses don’t leave their customers in limbo after a purchase. Instead, teams look for opportunities to nurture customers into brand advocates.

The invoice email is the prime time to inform and delight the customer. You already have their undivided attention. Why not take advantage of it?

Helpful customer resources include any guides or support documentation on how customers can get the most out of their purchase. You can link to new product releases, highlight recent company changes, or invite them to an upcoming event.

They key is to add resources that matter to the customer. Avoid using it as a chance to make another sale. Customers can tell the difference between a hard sales pitch and a friendly product suggestion.

Florida Power & Light believes in helping their customers. Their invoice email offers valuable information about updating contact information, learning about the brand’s volunteer efforts, and getting experts to answer customer questions.

invoice emails FPL

Design centers around making the customer experience better. The same rule applies to invoice emails. Work with your team to combine the two and give your customers valuable resources.

Redesign Your Invoice Emails

Invoice emails are an essential part of your business strategy. Keep the payments rolling in with meaningful content, a splash of color, and a mobile responsive design. It’s never too late revamp your lifecycle campaigns.

How do you design your invoice emails? Let us know in the comments!

Transactional Email Best Practices to Strengthen Your Lifecycle Campaigns

What makes an effective transactional email?

This question rests on a lot of marketing managers’ minds. The correct answer can increase your open and click-through rates. In return, gaining your business more customer engagement and possibly sales.

While no right or wrong answer exists, there are a few transactional email best practices you can try. It’s up to your team to experiment and figure out the right formula for your customers.

The goal remains the same: strengthen your lifecycle campaigns. The following strategies offer a starting point for your team.

Inform and Delight

Every email sent to customers is an opportunity to build a better relationship.

The first objective of a transactional email is to achieve a desired action, such as confirming an email address or updating credit card details. The secondary goal is to satisfy the customer, making the recipient feel valued.

The best transactional emails accomplish two duties:

transactional email best practices duties

Informative emails serve the intended purpose of the message. For instance, the invoice email contains billing details.

As for the delight aspect, you need to offer something in return for the customer’s time and attention. Perhaps, the email has a beautiful design, a funny GIF, or a helpful resource.

Focus on Timing

When you send an email is just important as the contents of the email. If you deliver a message too late, you risk losing the attention of the recipient.

That’s why, timing is often an overlooked transactional email best practice. We just assume that all the behind-the-scenes magic happens on its own. But it doesn’t.

Marketing and engineer teams must work together to configure the triggers to deliver your password reset emails and shipping confirmations. simplifies this process, allowing you to set up event triggered campaigns.

Let’s say you want to send a unique cancellation email to all churning customers who didn’t give a reason for cancelling. (It happens to the best of us.)

You can set up a campaign to trigger only when an event matches “plan_canceled.” Then, you can filter the event data to include only users with no value in the event attribute labeled “reason.” This method ensures the right person gets your message.

transactional email best practices trigger

Click for larger image

The workflow section is where you can decide when a user receives your cancellation email. Our platform gives teams the flexibility to add delays and time windows.

In the case below, once a user matches the trigger conditions, she will enter a 12 minute delay. Then, the email will only send in a time window that matches a weekday between 8:00 am and 7:00 pm Pacific Standard Time.

transactional email best practices workflow

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There’s no reason timing should falter your lifecycle campaigns. Timely transactional emails impact the customer experience.

Stay Away from Misleading Subject Lines

When it comes to subject lines in transactional emails, it’s best to err on the side of function than creativity.

A wacky subject line could easily confuse the recipient, or worse, get marked as spam. Focus your efforts on giving customers recognizable language.

Take a look at the Orbitz subject line example below. The customer can easily spot the purpose of the email: to confirm travel arrangements. The booking site even includes the specific itinerary number.

transactional email best practices Orbitz

If word character count keeps you up at night, we have good news to share. Return Path found that “subject lines of 61 to 70 characters had a 17% average read rate.” That’s the highest of any length.

transactional email best practices graph

Image Source

Avoid the elaborate and often times misleading verbiage. You can increase your open rates with a straightforward subject line.

Send From a Recognized Name

Remember the time when Caller ID didn’t exist? People answered nearly every phone call to ensure they didn’t miss an important call.

Then, after the introduction of Caller ID, people started screening their calls. If they didn’t recognize the phone number, the individual didn’t answer the call.

In a similar fashion, email recipients screen their messages. If an unfamiliar name pops up, your transactional email will remain unopened.

You can increase your open rates by tailoring your “From” name. For instance, all billing messages come from “John @ Apple” and all your product updates will be from “Mary with Google.” Help Scout spotlights a good example of this strategy:

transactional email best practices Help Scout

You also may want to experiment with a more informative “From” name, like “Billing at” At the very least, anything is better than a no-reply address.

Write Customer-Driven Copy

The body of a transactional email is not the place to flex your vocabulary superiority. You can add warmth and personality to transactional messages by placing the customers’ needs first.

Here’s a structure to follow when writing transactional email copy:

  • Background: why the customer is receiving the email

  • Request: what the customer needs to do

  • Call to action: the direct ask or instruction for the customer

Our friends at Zapier showcase this format nicely in this alert email. This transactional email is helpful and states its purpose immediately: to save customers the pain of getting locked out of their accounts.

transactional email best practices Zapier

Image Source

The copy doesn’t sound like a robot wrote it. The Zapier team uses an empathetic explanation to convey what they need from the customer. Then, the orange call-to-action button guides customers to take action.

This simple format ensures that your copy communicates a clear message. Then, you can add hints of brand personality to delight the customer.

Make Design Work Double Time

TechSmith reports that “visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.” That’s a big reason why design is a powerful communication tool. A well-designed transactional email helps customers learn important information faster.

Transactional email design’s focus is to drive the eye toward a single call to action. Along the way, it can help create memory associations and build an emotional connection between the customer and your brand.

Lingo’s password reset email (below) is a short and sweet design powerhouse. Here are a few ways how this email design succeeds:

  • The message uses an eye-catching yellow. This color connotes cheerfulness—perfect for building urgency without being aggressive.
  • The lock icon and confetti add a touch of playfulness while serving as a way to inform the recipient of the purpose of the email.

  • The big call-to-action button is impossible to miss and contains only two words.

  • The “What is Lingo?” section is separate from the main content of the email, but still easy to read.

transactional email best practices Lingo

Image Source

Treat design as an extension of your copy and consider how you can communicate key information faster.

State Where to Get Help

Every day, businesses conjure up ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors. There’s the stage where companies add a new product feature every week. Then, there’s the moment when businesses craft a homepage with 50+ buzzwords.

These tactics work for awhile, but customers get schooled to the gimmick and move to the competition anyway.

To rise above it all, direct your attention to delivering excellent customer service. This strategy translates into answering customers’ questions and being an expert source for your audience.

Transactional emails can help facilitate this experience. Whether you’re sending a welcome message or a dunning email, you’ll want to give customers your contact information.

Flagstar Bank states where their customers can receive help in this payment confirmation email. The financial institution offers a phone number and email address. Plus, their team lists the hours of operation.

transactional email best practices Flagstar

Click for larger image

You never want customers guessing how to contact your team. It’s vital that you make your contact details readily available.

Create Your Own Transactional Email Best Practices

Transactional emails drive action. To help your customers accomplish key tasks, you need to create a path toward success. Experiment with these best practices to build your own lifecycle campaigns.

How do you optimize your messages? Share your transactional email best practices in the comments.

25 Types of the Best Transactional Emails

Transactional emails represent the unsung heroes of marketing.

These messages are informative, timely, and personal—helping customers get to know your product better. They also unlock maximum engagement with your audience, generating high open and click-through rates.

Transactional emails are delivered throughout the entire customer lifecycle, and every single one is a vehicle of value. Customers appreciate the confirmation about their order shipments as well as the security alert to check their accounts for any suspicious activity.

Since several types of the best transactional emails exist, we created this reference tool to make it easier for your team. We’ve also categorized the messages for our email librarians. 😊

Best Transactional Emails By Category

welcome Ami!Save all these transactional emails for later (plus 5 bonus examples). Get your Best Transactional Emails Swipe File.

Account Creation

The first customer email sets the tone for the entire customer lifecycle. It’s an opportunity to make a memorable first impression and get the customer excited about your brand.


The welcome email is arguably the most important email you will ever send your audience. It boasts incredible engagement rates and establishes the customer relationship.

Try sending it immediately upon customer signup. It sets the user up for success and builds brand credibility.

The Hustle’s welcome email reiterates the company’s mission. While there’s plenty of creativity in this message, it also creates the best possible customer experience with visual instructions.

best transactional emails The Hustle

Double Opt-In

Double opt-in emails are another chance to earn your customer’s trust. A quick email confirmation lets recipients know that you care about the security of their accounts.

Coinbase stores financial information for their users, so creating a secure environment is paramount to their success. This double opt-in email is straightforward and reassuring. The message may never be read again, but it builds goodwill.

best transactional emails Coinbase


Of course, many transactional emails focus on the actual transactions. It’s vital that your brand communicates billing information accurately.


Invoice emails gently remind customers to pay up without sounding too aggressive or annoying. These emails also express the value the customer received.

Algolia sends out a short invoice email letting the customer know about an upcoming payment. It then provides a link to the individual account, so the customer can view the bill.

best transactional emails Algolia


Like the invoice, the receipt is useful for financial planning and recordkeeping. Receipts can be stored in accounts, attached as PDFs, or both. In your receipt email, it’s always nice to show gratitude.

Longreads goes the extra mile and offers a gift to all customers along with their receipt. The email recipient is told the value of the membership, too.

best transactional emails Longreads


Dunning emails notify users about their credit card expirations and failed payments. These emails solve a pervasive problem at companies of all sizes: delinquent churn.

The New York Times sends subscribers dunning emails before, during, and after their card expiration. They also offer different avenues for payment, giving the customer choice and flexibility, while still directing them towards the necessary action.

best transactional emails The New York Times


A typical refund email offers confirmation of a successful customer refund. It eliminates the worry for the consumer.

Airbnb offers seven levels of cancellation policies, from flexible to super strict. If your cancellation aligns with the policy, a refund will be issued, and you’ll receive an email.

best transactional emails Airbnb

source: Really Good Emails


Renewal emails signal to your customers that you’re keeping tidy records and looping them in about their recurring purchases. A renewal notice is the perfect opportunity to reiterate your value to the customer and the progress you’ve made together so far.

Squarespace designs these emails as a personal note of gratitude from a customer care manager. Since it’s an auto-renewal notice, the company makes it clear that the email is just a courtesy and no action is required from the user.

best transactional emails Squarespace

source: Really Good Emails

App Extension

App extension emails allow users to take action directly within their inboxes, offering the convenience to get things done. It’s a smart way to keep your product top of mind.

Complete Task

Creating a flexible way to complete an action outside your app shows users that you put their needs first. It also recognizes that many consumers live a mobile lifestyle.

Redbooth’s task reminder emails allow users to comment on or update a task within the email itself. If the user needs to see more details, then she can visit the app to find out more.

best transactional emails Redbooth


Notifications serve up mini-reports about new activity affecting a user’s account. Since most notification emails are optional (opt-in or opt-out), customers who sign up to receive them are genuinely interested in these emails and find them useful.


When users are invited to a group, a project, or an upcoming event, chances are they’ll want to know about it immediately. This email informs your users and gets them into your app.

Asana’s email is all about directing users into a specific project and toward using their platform. They name the sender and the project along with a bold call to action. The three value propositions at the bottom help connect the dots.

best transactional emails Asana

Received a Message

It’s just not possible to receive all your in-app notifications. Emails bridges the gap, giving you a heads up on important messages and mentions that came in while you were away from an app.

Trello helps teams collaborate and be productive together. Here’s a notification of a mention. Note how Trello also makes easy to respond easily right from the inbox to the conversation.

best transactional emails Trello

Likes and Shares

Positive reinforcement encourages users to do more with your product. When customers see the value, it provides powerful motivation to keep going. 

As one of the biggest social networks, Twitterknows how to celebrate these small wins with users. With a link to the original tweet and the account of the person giving praise, Twitter’s notification email makes users want to log back in to the app. 

best transactional emails Twitter

New App Installed

How an app functions is a big deal. That’s why, you’ll want to notify users when they make changes, like an integration. 

Slack’s email offers a link to the third-party app configuration page. It also provides a customer service contact for questions.

best transactional emails Slack

welcome Ami!Save these transactional emails for later (plus 5 bonus examples).Get your Best Transactional Emails Swipe File


Alerts are timely messages regarding changes to a user’s account. These notifications carry urgency and often require immediate attention.

Password Reset

Forgetting a password is a common roadblock for users. A clear password reset email removes the barrier, ends the frustration, and allows business to resume as usual. Password requests guarantee an open, so don’t miss an opportunity to create an on-brand message that exceeds expectations.

Canva knows. Their password reset email has the same branding style as their other emails. The copy is friendly and achieves the purpose of the email.

best transactional emails Canva

Privacy Policy Update

A privacy policy is a legal document that outlines how a company uses and protects the personal data of its customers. Any changes to this document must be communicated quickly and formally.

Visa Checkout collects tons of personal data about their users’ credit history and spending habits. When Visa changes their privacy policy, the company sends an email with explicit details. The message expresses urgency.

best transactional emails Visa

Account Safety Alert

Companies monitor their users’ accounts for any signs of fraud. Account safety alerts are a precaution to prevent damage. 

Google is particularly reliable in sending these alerts when you sign into a new device. This straightforward message also gives the user app recommendations.

best transactional emails Google

Membership Update

When a company changes membership benefits, users want to know about it. A membership update is a way to keep customers informed about everything, from new processes to released features. 

Amazon Prime is a beloved service. Their membership update email summarizes the benefits. It shows the growing value of a Prime membership and entices customers to renew year after year. 

best transactional emails Amazon

New Payment Method

When people hand over their financial information to companies, they are taking a considerable risk. And with no face-to-face interaction, it’s important to reassure customers that their credit card information is stored safely and the payment process follows a strict protocol. 

Airbnb explains why they send these alerts within the body of their email. Airbnb errs on the side of transparency when it comes to payment safety. They include customers in the safety process.

best transactional emails Airbnb

Event Reminder

A simple message works well to remind customers about events related to your product or service. It draws customer attention back to your brand.

JetBlue gives all the specifics, including the customer’s name, the flight number, and the destination. The airline is on a mission to make the flight experience easier for the customer.

best transactional emails JetBlue


Order transactional emails help businesses run smoothly. They communicate the items purchased, creating momentum from the purchase to the post-delivery follow up. 

Cart Abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment is a problem across online businesses. Barilliance research reveals that over 77% of online carts are abandoned before the customer pays. While businesses can never fully recover every window shopper, the problem can be combated with cart abandonment emails. 

23andMe uses a bit of psychology along with a user’s desire for self-knowledge to get her to return to the cart. The copy shows the company’s confidence in their value to customers. It’s a powerful way to make someone think twice about giving up their kit.

best transactional emails 23andMe

source: Really Good Emails

Editor’s Note: Some experts consider cart abandoment messages as marketing emails. We included this type because these emails facilitate the customer relationship prior to the imminent transaction.

Order Confirmation

The moment of conversion is a milestone worth celebrating. You can bring that joy to your customers with an order confirmation email.

Allbirds sends a GIF of a dancing sheep to celebrate the purchase of their products. The email includes a casual version of a receipt, with images of the purchased items, the total spent, and the payment method. It also adds the call to action to view your order status.

best transactional emails Allbirds

source: Really Good Emails

Shipping Confirmation

The purchase is complete, and the anticipation is growing. The shipping confirmation email provides key details about how to track a package as it goes from the warehouse to the doorstep. It’s also a chance to continue to build excitement, and even plant the seeds for a second purchase. 

Fitbit’s confirmation email has bright product photos, a prominent tracking number, shipment information, and a link back to the store at the top. All these components add credibility to Fitbit and makes the customer experience worthwhile.

best transactional emails Fitbit

source: Really Good Emails

Order Cancellation

Stuff happens, and orders get canceled. A professional cancellation email gives the customer reassurance that a cancellation is complete (and in some cases, a refund is forthcoming), and opens the door for further purchases down the line.

Resy, a restaurant booking site, deals with cancellations all the time. When users cancel, they instantly get a cancellation email. The message is centered around the restaurant and offers the chance to reply to the email or call if the customer has a change of heart.

best transactional emails Resy

Post-Purchase Feedback

The customer journey doesn’t end at delivery. A smart company will open the floor for customer opinions, so they can continue to deliver value and win over customers for life.

Virgin America creates a limited window for users to share their feedback after a recent flight. This small gesture is a way to make customers feel valued and respected. It also shows the company’s commitment to improving their services.

best transactional emails Virgin America


Subscribing to a service is different than buying a one-off item. The customer lifecycle is longer and involves ongoing nurturing from your team. Transactional emails work as a catalyst to move the subscriber-service provider relationship forward.

Free Trial Ending

The timing for free trials vary from 15 days to a couple of months. So, a user may forget about the expiration date, or even the fact that they signed up. An automated notice at the end of a trial persuades customers to make a decision, while allowing a user to save their content, should they choose not to convert.

At, we like to send plain text, personal messages to our users at the end of their 30-day trial period. We use this email as a learning opportunity, as well as a last chance to ask for reconsideration.

best transactional emails

Plan Cancellation

When a customer cancels a subscription, the cancellation email confirms their request. It’s also the first effort to try to win them back. A company can balance this plea and respect the customer’s wishes.

Hulu keeps things light-hearted in their cancellation email. It states a successful cancellation, but makes it easy to jump back into the platform with a reactivation button.

best transactional emails Hulu

source: Really Good Emails

Your Email Here

This list is just the beginning. What are your best transactional emails? Seen any great ones in the wild? Add your input in the comments section below.

welcome Ami!Save these transactional emails for later (plus 5 bonus examples).Get your Best Transactional Emails Swipe File.

How Transactional Emails Add Value to Your Lifecycle Marketing

It’s the boring things that matter most.

Broccoli isn’t appealing, yet it gives you that much-needed calcium and fiber.

Squats seem mundane and repetitive on leg day, but you’ll gain strength.

This principle holds true in email marketing, too.

While marketing emails are fun and sometimes flashy, it’s the overlooked transactional emails that deliver value to your lifecycle marketing.

According to an IBM Marketing Cloud study, transactional emails are opened more than two times as much as non-transactional emails. Moreover, transactional emails have a median click-through rate of 4.8%, exactly three times higher than non-transactional messages.

With that said, it’s time to give transactional emails your undivided attention. They hold the key to customer retention.

Let’s explore the value behind transactional emails and how your team can reap the benefits.

Delivering Continuous Value

In its simplest form, email marketing is a communication channel for your business to connect with customers. Your primary goal is to educate your audience.

However, over the years, email has transformed into an outlet to constantly sell to customers. On any given day, a buyer’s inbox contains three to five emails attempting to persuade him to purchase products.

This ongoing sales pitch annoys customers (especially if none of the products fit their needs). As a result, consumers ignore these messages or worse, hit the spam button.

Email marketing isn’t supposed to be like a random pop-up ad or a sleazy used car salesman. Rather, its purpose is to deliver continuous value to the customer.

And that’s why transactional emails earn higher open and click-through rates. They inherently give value to email recipients.

While industry experts define transactional emails differently, the CAN-SPAM Act offers a broad definition:

Transactional email: facilitates an already agreed-upon transaction or updates a customer about an ongoing transaction

These lifecycle messages can extend from welcome emails to subscription invoices to password reset emails. When customers receive these emails, they expect a high level of value.

For instance, when customers make a purchase, they anticipate an order confirmation email. And once received, they feel reassured about making the purchase.

Transactional emails keep the customer relationship alive. Justin Hieggelke,’s vice president of sales, offers his perspective:

“Transactional messages provide an instrumental connection between the brand and the confirmation of value received. They create confidence, anticipation, and a connection between the user and the brand’s value exchange.”

Your team can bridge the gap between the customer and your brand. The starting point is understanding the value within your transactional emails.

Strategy Over Tactics

In lifecycle marketing, shiny object syndrome is a real thing. Your team can get quickly bogged down by every new tactic in the market.

You can either obsess over the color of your call-to-action button, or you can turn your attention to making big moves in your strategy. Of course, we recommend the latter.

For transactional email campaigns, this process involves evaluating how each message correlates with your customers’ behaviors and then using those existing behaviors to improve the customer relationship and your revenue goals.

Let’s say every time Mary buys a product from your brand she expects an email receipt. So her natural instinct is to check her inbox.

Mary also doesn’t like sifting through multiple pages to find products that fit her needs. She would rather someone give her suggestions.

In this case, upselling or cross-selling in your transactional emails can help customers like Mary discover more value in your brand.

One solution is to send Mary an email receipt that includes targeted product recommendations. Mary is happy because she gets her receipt and suggestions without adapting any new behaviors. Your team wins by adding another revenue opportunity to an existing channel.

This strategy works across several industries. Jordie van Rijn, an independent email marketing consultant and industry influencer, gives his viewpoint:

transactional email Jordie quote

While it’s tempting to concentrate on arbitrary tactics, you’ll benefit more by building a sound strategy around your transactional email campaigns. Focus on customer behavior, then insert a path to achieve your desired goal.

Transactional Emails in Action

Strategy is dead without action. So don’t let your plans get accidently deleted in an unnamed folder on your desktop. Make a deliberate effort to execute your strategies. Below are a few examples of how transactional emails can serve your customers and your company.

In-App Alerts

Every user needs a nudge in the right direction. In-app notifications empower the user to engage with your application. It serves as a reminder for the user and creates an essential habit-forming behavior.

Makers Academy regains the attention of their users with an in-app notification. This transactional email points out that the person hasn’t completed his application. With a bold call to action, the user feels enticed to log back into the platform.

transactional email Makers Academy example

Referral Emails

Satisfied customers sit on the front lines of brand advocacy. They possess the zeal to spread the good news about your product. Your team’s responsibility is to give them the tools to make the magic happen.

Referrals emails help facilitate your advocacy efforts. Sticker Mule shares the reasoning for their email with guidance on how to participate in their referral program. Plus, their customers gain something in return.

transactional email Sticker Mule example


Payment collection dates back to ancient civilization. A timely invoice notifies customers about their purchases and the amount owed. It also is a strategy to improve your cash flow.

G Suite provides a straightforward invoice. It informs the customer that the balance will be automatically charged. This transactional email also offers clear-cut instructions on how to update payment information.

transactional email G Suite example

Privacy Policy Notices

A message full of legal jargon is probably the last thing your customers want from you. But it’s part of doing business.

Privacy policy notices inform your audience on how you collect, use, and retain their personal information. The image below shows the top portion of a transactional email from Ally. The financial institution uses a serious tone combined a method for the customer to take further action.

transactional email Ally example

Optimizing Your Transactional Emails

Once your strategy is in motion, it’s easy to put your transactional emails on autopilot. But that doesn’t help your customers or your quarterly goals.

It’s important that you continue to optimize your messages beyond inception. Yes, this process may involve A/B testing your subject lines, copy length, or even your timing.

But as a smart marketer, you want to go the extra mile. Try optimizing for value.

You can start by analyzing how a specific transactional email fits into the customer lifecycle. What is the customer’s mindset? What do they hope to achieve? How can you exceed their expectations?

For example, a welcome email serves as the first email new customers receive from your brand. These customers may be hungry for more details about your company or want more reasons to stick around.

In this type of transactional email, you’ll want to highlight your value proposition, answer any lingering questions, and add a call to action for them to experience your brand.

You’ll also want to understand how your recipients engage with your emails. With the boom in mobile devices, every customer isn’t reading emails from their desktop computer at home.

Email Client Market Share data uncovers that mobile devices is still the most popular reading environment for email. Jaina Mistry, an email marketing specialist at Litmus, offers her expert advice:

transactional email Jaina quote

Improving your transactional emails is an opportunity for your team. When you optimize for value, you’re optimizing for a better customer experience. And happy customers lead to retention.

Adding Value to the Inbox

Transactional emails play an integral role in your lifecycle marketing. Customers want to see value in every message, whether it’s a privacy policy notice or an order confirmation email. So take bold steps toward making your transactional emails valuable.

How can transactional emails bring value to your customers? Write your comments below!

Event Data: What You Need to Know

There’s power in data.

It helps your marketing team understand your customers. No more guesswork when you have actual evidence.

But with the word data tossed around so casually, it can be confusing to grasp what everyone really means. That confusion leads to frustration, not knowing how to use data to your team’s advantage.

We believe all marketers should have the technical chops to serve their customers better. That’s why, we’re looking under the hood of event data.

You’ll learn what it is and how it can make your email campaigns 10X better. Armed with this knowledge, your team can deliver personalized messaging to all your customers.

Are you ready? Let’s get technical…

What is Event Data?

Events are actions performed by users inside or outside your application that occur at a specific time. So the scope involves any user action you can track in the customer lifecycle.

This event data is recorded to show users’ behaviors. Depending on your customer base, your application may generate millions of events each day.

Your engineer can attach any related information to an event. These attributes can be used in your triggers to control who should receive event triggered campaigns. You can set any number of data keys and values.

Here’s what it looks like behind the scenes:

So, what would you record as event data?

Let’s say your company is a consumer app where users can play, create, and share music. You can record events when a user makes a new tune, downloads a sample from your sound library, or exports a file to SoundCloud.

With this event data, you can now send event triggered campaigns based on the user’s behavior. For example, if a user shares new music from your app to SoundCloud, you can send an email congratulating the user on publishing new tunes with a step-by-step guide on how to promote their work online.

Think of event data as taking an account of your users’ actions. And with those known behaviors, you can send relevant messaging, like email, SMS, or push notifications.

What You Need to Do

It’s not helpful to create any ol’ event data. Like with most things in life, it’s best that you develop a strategy.

First, think about your users’ behaviors and the goals you want to achieve with that data. If you want to know user engagement, you might look at how often users perform the main function of your app.

For a notes app, that action may be the creation of a new to-do list. A photo sharing platform might look at how often users post photos. An eCommerce store would want to know when a shopper makes a purchase.

However, this information won’t be beneficial if you don’t know what you want to achieve. So the next step is to create an outcome from the user behavior.

Going back to our music app scenario, every time a user makes an in-app purchase you want the outcome to be an order confirmation email. You also intend for the event data from the purchase to populate into this transactional email.

Now, you’re ready to sit down with your engineers. Talk to them about the project’s goals, user behaviors, and intended outcomes. These details will make it easier for the engineers to work their magic.

Here are a few useful resources for your team:

How to Make Event Data Useful

Here is where the fun begins. With your strategy and event data in hand, you now can set up campaigns based on your users’ behaviors.

Event Data as a Trigger or Filter

With event triggered campaigns, every time users perform a specific event you can automatically send them a message. You have the flexibility to send communications that fit the user’s actions.

In the example below, users will only enter a campaign if they perform the event labeled marketing_activity. It’s vital that you create a consistent labeling system that works for your team.

Each event may consist of several event attributes. You can use those specific attributes to filter an event. It helps your team narrow down your campaign’s audience. Below you’ll notice that users will only receive the campaign if they perform the marketing_activity event AND satisfy the three event attributes.

Event Data as a Liquid Reference

The Liquid templating language makes it simple to add dynamic content to your messages. You can add data specific to the user automatically.

In our platform, event data can be referenced in liquid templating. You access that data in your email text like this:

We used an event triggered campaign in our own account to send our 2017 Year in Review email. Each message contained a mix of user attributes and event data unique to the recipient.

In this case, the event data included all the user’s annual campaign and delivery metrics (e.g. active/created campaigns, sent/opened emails). This data was pulled directly from our back-end storage with an ad-hoc script written by Joe Purdy, our amazing site reliability engineer.

With that validated data, we triggered events for each user profile to queue up drafts in the campaign. Here’s a peak of what the 2017 Year in Review event data looked like:

And here’s the actual email…

Event data lets you adapt to your customers’ preferences and needs. Plus, this level of personalization sets you apart from your competitors.

Keep Event Data Concise

What you put into data is what you get out of it. With the endless possibilities of user behavior, it’s easy to get excited and want to collect every piece of data on your users. However, that practice is more harmful than you think.

For starters, too much data hinders your strategy. A data dump makes it difficult for your team to analyze events. You’ll waste precious time sifting through unwanted data in search for what you need. That process will only leave you frustrated and push back your implementation plans.

Moreover, there’s the security risk. Your company is responsible for all the information you gather about your consumers. With more user attributes comes more responsibility to safeguard their data. It’s better not to expose your customers to any unnecessary risks. Make sure your team is aware of data protection laws, like the GDPR.

Below is an example of concise event data. It includes attributes about a specific purchase. From this code block, you can see the items purchased, the type of each item, and the price of the items. There’s also an order total and shipping cost. There’s no extraneous information.

In the long run, collecting data just to have it isn’t beneficial for your company. Collaborate with your product and engineering teams to discover which data matters most.

Gain a Competitive Advantage

Data is powerful. So take the time to level up your technical know-how.

With event data, your competitive advantage is sending personalized messages to your customers. Now work with your team to explore the possibilities.

How does your team use event data? Share your thoughts below!

9 Dunning Email Examples You’ll Want to Borrow

Payment failure contributes to churn. And you don’t want that headache.

Dunning emails are an effective way to collect your payment (without nagging). These transactional emails notify users about the status of their accounts and the next steps to continue with your product.

From SaaS to subscription companies, one challenge always pops up, conveying the right tone in dunning emails. You want the core message to encourage customers to update their payment information, while reminding customers of the product value.

We’ve compiled 9 real-world dunning email examples to show you how companies use these transactional messages to reduce churn and increase retention. We’ll look at what works, and you’ll get ideas on how to improve your own lifecycle delinquency campaign.


Let customers know you’re taking action without their intervention. Spotify gives a playful nudge by notifying customers of their attempts to sort out the issue. This “no worries” approach is a helpful message, rather than a scolding.

dunning email example Spotify

Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix creates a friendly user experience. Customers can rectify their billing issue by clicking the highly-visible call to action or emailing the company directly. Their sincerity shines through with the text: “we’ll get right back to you.”

dunning email example Stitch Fix

The New York Times

The New York Times rarely buries the lede, and here they put the call to action in the headline. It’s easy to skim with the links and bolded phrases matching the banner color. And while the tone is firm, the company tells customers what they will lose if they don’t take action now.

dunning email example The New York Times


Updating billing information shouldn’t be complicated. Amazon takes an instructional approach, laying out the payment process step by step. They don’t leave the subscriber to guess what to do next. Plus, outlining the steps helps the customer deduce the length of the process. Customers can decide to do it now or when they have free time.

dunning email example Amazon


Skype’s post-dunning email makes it simple to understand your account cancellation. If you did intend to cancel your account, this reassurance from Skype is supportive. If you didn’t intend to cancel, this message gives you an opportunity to sign up again.

dunning email example Skype


Be willing to give customers a little wiggle room to correct their payment details. TypePad honors the customer relationship with a grace period after a failed charge. They also make it easy to reactivate an account beyond the 7-day extension.

dunning email example TypePad

Help Scout

Help Scout offers its customers options. You can either make a payment and continue with your service, or you can downgrade to a free plan with fewer benefits. While account deletion may seem like tough love, it adds urgency to the dunning email.

dunning email example Help Scout

G Suite

Google knows that specific colors convey certain meanings, so it’s no surprise they used yellow and red in this dunning email. These colors make customers pause and think about what went wrong. And of course, the option to cancel at the bottom is easy to miss (on purpose!). These simple psychological strategies work well.

dunning email example G Suite


When it comes to urgent notices, you can turn up the pressure without sending customers into a full-fledged panic. Squarespace has designed their dunning emails with a handy exclamation mark in the top right corner of the email, signaling customers to pay attention to the message. The company mirrors the urgency of the design with their copy.

dunning email example Squarespace

Dunning Email Examples: Drawing Attention to Retention

Payment notifications are a standard practice. But there’s always room for improvement. Whether it’s your tone or call to action, experiment with new ways to support your customers. The dunning email is your marketing tool to preventing churn and increasing retention.

What makes an effective dunning email? Share your thoughts below!

How to Reduce Delinquent Churn With a Dunning Email Strategy

Payment collection is rooted in ancient civilization. The first known handwritten document in Great Britain is an invoice that dates back to 57 AD.

dunning email strategy ancient invoice

An invoice dating to the first decade of Roman rule. [Source]

Sophie Jackson, a member of the Museum of London Archaeology team, told Culture 24, “It’s essentially one merchant asking to be paid 105 denarii for goods delivered.”

And while a lot has changed in how we communicate about accounts receivable, the basic notification to inform our customers hasn’t.

Today, dunning emails strike the same balance of firmness and tact that wooden tablets did. And the stakes are just as high!

When a customer’s credit card fails or expires, they might not even know it. But your business notices the revenue loss.

Dunning messages minimize that risk. These transactional emails remind customers of what they love about your product and why it’s worth updating their payment methods.

Let’s take a deep dive into how a dunning email strategy can reduce delinquent churn and get your customers back on track.

Tackle Delinquent Churn With a Dunning Email Strategy

Churn is most often thought of as cancellations, but you might be surprised to learn that the number one source of churn for SaaS companies is delinquency. According to Price Intelligently, 20-40% of SaaS companies’ churn springs from failed and expired credit cards.

Why? Well, credit cards expire every month.

Since it happens regularly, you can prevent churn before it happens. Your dunning email strategy should include three elements:

  • Timing: Create several emails, giving customers multiple chances to solve credit card issues
  • Copy: Consider the reasons why customers would want to reinvest in your product
  • Call to Action: Make next steps easy to follow

Ami heartReady to improve your retention and revenue?
Click here to grab a free ebook!

Timing: When to Get in Touch

To reduce churn, it’s important to remind your customers to fix their credit card issues. That means developing lifecycle emails specifically for delinquency.

In, there are a couple of ways to build your delinquency lifecycle campaign. If you have the card expiry data associated with the customer profile, you can set up timestamp tracking. Or if the card expiry data is located in another platform, like Stripe, you can send an event. A delinquency lifecycle campaign might look like this:

  • Pre-dunning 1: Customer enters the delinquency segment with one month until expiry. The first dunning email is triggered.
    • Customer either updates card and exits the segment, or
    • Takes no action and remains in segment.
  • Pre-dunning 2: The next email is triggered a week before expiry.
    • Customer either updates card and exits the segment, or
    • Takes no action and remains in segment.
  • Dunning: The third email will arrive on the day of expiry.
    • Customer either updates card and exits the segment, or
    • Takes no action and remains in segment.
  • Post-dunning: A final email is sent a few days after expiry (with a warning that the customer’s account will be deactivated due to credit card failure).
    • Customer exits campaign.

Let’s say you take the timestamp tracking route. You would create a segment with users whose credit cards expire within 30 days. The data would appear as an attribute in Unix timestamp.

dunning email strategy credit card segment

Then, you would create a segment triggered campaign. Be sure to create a workflow with emails and a timeframe that matches your audience’s behaviors.

dunning email strategy credit card workflow

To ensure users only receive the dunning emails if they remain in your segment, use the settings below in the Goal & Exit section. Once users update their credit card information, they will exit the campaign. (Click here to learn how to send API calls to update customer profile data.)

dunning email strategy credit card exit

If you want the campaign to work more than once–multiple card expiries by the same person, you’d need to make it re-enterable. Reach out to our friendly support team for assistance on that process.

And while it may seem like a lot of prodding, people actually respond to multiple reminders better than a single warning. A Harvard Business School study found that “redundant communication, coupled with an escalating sense of urgency, is integral to communicating because it gets the job done.”

The same study also mentioned that people respond better to reminders in various communication formats. So while you may prefer to send these transactional emails, consider other multi-channel options, like SMS, push notifications, or in-app messaging.

Copy: What to Say and How to Frame It

The copy of a dunning email is relentlessly focused on a single goal: getting customers to the billing page.

The key is to keep the customers’ needs in mind. Leading up to the call to action, you can use copy to demonstrate your value to the customer.

Remind Customers Why They Love Your Product

Rather than sending a boring email, your team can spice things up by delivering customers a love letter (kind of). Give your audience reasons to appreciate your product.

Hulu’s dunning message takes an emotional approach. Coupled with the headline to keep watching, it reminds the customer why they signed up for Hulu in the first place — to enjoy unlimited entertainment and watch their favorite shows on demand.

dunning email strategy Hulu

Set a Deadline for Urgency

Without urgency, a dunning email fails to satisfy its objective — getting payments on time. Netlify adds an extra push in every element of their messages.

The subject line demands the customer’s attention by capitalizing the most important words. The greeting reiterates that action is required by stating: We need your help!

The Netlify team also provides the amount of the outstanding balance. More importantly, the customer is given a 10-day deadline to make changes.

dunning email strategy Netlify

Make Something to Lose

The risk of losing something makes people realize the value of things. For your company, it’s an opportunity to show customers how much they really want (and need) your product.

Mailflow’s dunning copy reinforces the idea that a customer relationship exists and that it will be lost if the credit card information isn’t updated.

Their team also shows what the customer stands to lose. By mentioning the number of campaigns, emails, and contacts in the subscriber’s account, the message appeals to our natural instinct to protect what we currently own — a cognitive bias known as loss aversion.

dunning email strategy Mailflow

Offer Ongoing Support

Payment issues also can signal that a customer needs additional guidance. You want a frictionless process that makes the customers’ lives easier and shows your dedication to a great user experience.

BuzzSumo follows its firm subject line with an empathetic and informative message. First, they state the problem and offer a likely explanation for why it happened. After providing reassurance that they’ll try to charge the card again before canceling, the company ties it all together by thanking the customer and adding an offer for assistance in the footer.

dunning email strategy BuzzSumo

Call to Action: What to Do Next

Without a clear path to retention, dunning emails will fail. You want to achieve the desired action without intimidating your customer.

We like to go with our tried-and-true golden formula for driving action:

dunning email strategy golden formula

While the copy can provide motivation with tactics such as loss aversion, value statements, and deadlines, the CTA provides specific instructions.

Dunning emails are the rare case where specificity wins over brevity in the CTA. Your instructions should leave no room for guesswork.

The above examples all include specific CTAs:

  • Hulu: “Reactivate now”
  • Netlify: “Please update the payments setting for your Netlify team by going to its settings”
  • Mailflow: “To keep on sending you’ll need to update your payment information”
  • BuzzSumo: “You can follow this link to update your card today”

After the customer clicks the CTA, continue to be helpful. The billing page should have clear instructions about how to update the credit card information and troubleshoot other issues.

Retain More Customers Than Ever Before

A dunning email strategy tackles a pervasive problem in SaaS companies. The solution is to capture customers who didn’t even want to churn in the first place.

By connecting with customers before credit card delinquency, you’ll save your team the hassle and boost retention. Plus, you’ll strengthen existing customer relationships.

Ami heartReady to improve your retention and revenue?
Click here to grab a free ebook!

3 Profitable Businesses That Rely On Email Marketing

We often think of email as a vehicle, transporting information from your company to customers.

That email might offer the latest product updates or a helpful consumer tip. However, email also can initiate long-term brand engagement and facilitate new sales.

With 34% of Americans checking email throughout the day, your customers are probably engaging with their email more often than they are engaging with your product.

So why not make something worth your customers’ time and attention?

What If Email Was Your Only Product?

When email is your only product, it inevitably raises the stakes for making something people desire. By learning from businesses built on the back of email alone, we can see how much more we can do in our own emails.

First, let’s talk about how Scott’s Cheap Flights activates its user base of travel enthusiasts.

Convert Free Users With FOMO

Growing an email subscriber list is challenging, and monetizing it into a business with $4 million ARR and 20 employees might seem impossible. By hooking users into great travel deals for free, Scott’s Cheap Flights uses FOMO to amp up conversion rates for its 600K subscribers.

With daily engagement and sometimes more, the company delivers valuable emails to convert its subscribers.

In the email above, value is expressed throughout the entire message, everywhere from realistic cost breakdowns, to when the fares will likely expire, to where to eat when you arrive at your destination. The email eases the pains of budget traveling and lets customers know how to make a magical vacation possible.

Scott’s Cheap Flights also adds urgency. The notes section encourages readers to follow through with booking:

By allowing free users to sample the full product with specific, time-sensitive deals, the company sets up the calls to action (CTAs) to upgrade the service. In an interview, the founder describes the upsell strategy as such:

“The only real promotion we do is to put a little note or two in the free emails to let subscribers know about the types of deals they missed out on. We’re trying to hit the right balance of not scaring off free users by bombarding them with upgrade requests, while also making sure that those free subscribers who might want more know about the premium option.”

The language of Scott’s CTAs is classic FOMO. This fear of a future missed opportunity is highly motivating, especially when the opportunity is definite — a particular location for a particular price.

Outside of the actual emails, Scott’s Cheap Flights regularly launches promotions and events to push current free users to convert into premium subscribers. One strategy included a simple price increase. The founder describes why price increases are a surprisingly valuable conversion tactic:

“At first it was scary to increase prices… though the fear was tempered by the fact that we kept people grandfathered on their original plans. But we noticed an unexpected twist: During the 48 hours preceding the scheduled price increase, sales skyrocketed. It was a eureka moment. Nothing like an impending price increase to nudge fence-sitters into upgrading now rather than putting off the decision. Plus with a built-in audience of free subscribers, we had a group of people much easier to upgrade.”

Realizing the low-hanging fruit of so-called fence sitters, Scott’s Cheap Flights targeted this same group with a Black Friday deal. In late November 2016, their team offered yearly subscriptions for $19. The offer was only good for 72 hours and caused a huge spike in premium purchases, proof of which Scott provided in one of his five Reddit AMAs:

Click here for the original image

Scott’s Cheap Flights proves that the first step to monetizing your email subscriber list is delivering a free product people love. With a few well-placed, highly targeted calls to action, you can increase conversions without constantly selling.

Segment by Hunger to Increase Engagement

If you want to boost repeat customers, zero in on the audience that needs you the most. Death to Stock has made their 200,000+ subscribers happy by increasing communication to those who have shown interest and reducing outreach to less-engaged customers.

Death to Stock’s audience is a particular group of people with a specific problem — creatives desiring inspiration. They work differently from most stock photo sites. Customers come to them searching for a place to start, not to find finishing touches. The company wants to discourage one-off customers and encourage people who want to solve their ongoing challenges.

To help users take that leap, each monthly email features a story around the photo pack. This strategy builds both context and curiosity leading into the download.

The welcome email includes the story behind the free photo pack.

Of his goals, founder David Sherry has said, “When it comes down to it… did I encourage someone today? Did I equip them to create their best work? Did I help them break some rules by breaking some myself?”

Their commitment to an audience in the discovery phase of creativity has led them to a somewhat counterintuitive segmentation strategy. Instead of focusing on particular behaviors or preferences, “we segment based on hunger. We know that when people engage a lot, they have a pain point. We relieve that by sending them more content.”

An example of how you can create a segment based on hunger in

This results in a delightful customer experience for the users that interact with their product the most and no complaints from people who don’t really need it.

Sometimes Death to Stock will send surprise emails to its hungriest subscribers outside of the regular cadence, containing new photos or collaborations. These rewards don’t just go to premium subscribers — free users get them, too.

In another interview, Chief Operating Officer Shaun Singh notes the unexpected end goal of their engagement strategy:

“Eventually what happens—and we always want this to happen—is that they get really, really good at their craft and they end up leaving. Either because they’ve honed their creative eye and end up taking their own images or now they know exactly what they want so they go to buy one-off images.”

Without the pressure to keep customers for life, Death to Stock doesn’t waste any resources reeling disengaged customers back in. By implementing segmentation, they’ve defined a niche in the stock photo market that allows them to grow based on demand and help more customers who depend on their service.

Create a Word-of-Mouth Machine for Endless Referrals

Once users are actively engaging with your emails, let them know how to spread the word. With a 35% open rate and 3.5 million active subscribers, theSkimm’s secret to constant growth is referral emails, or refer-a-friend messages.

theSkimm’s daily news digest is made for quick reading and easy sharing. Shareability is embedded in the content.

The founders developed a voice that sounds like a best friend who knows the latest gossip. Each section has a quippy headline and prominent share buttons, making it easy to tell your friends. The top of the email almost always includes a referral link.

A referral link sits at the top of theSkimm newsletter.

For those who share theSkimm more than once in a while, the company offers rewards and incentives for continued loyalty. As a result, the Skimm’bassador program has grown to include over 13,000 members who have referred more than 10 people each.

The first hint of the VIP treatment subscribers receive is in the birthday shoutouts at the bottom of each Skimm email. The asterisks, indicating Skimm’bassadors, serve dual purposes — to give individuals extra recognition and also to create visible social proof of theSkimm’s popularity.

theSkimm’s goal is to be the catalyst for cocktail party conversations both online and offline, and to do so they need to know what their readers are talking about. They use a combination of unsolicited feedback and outbound user surveys to find that pulse and incorporate it in editorial decision-making.

“[T]hankfully we get a LOT of daily feedback. It helps us understand a) what we are doing well, b) what we could be doing better, and c) what are things we could be doing, but may not have been thinking about,” growth lead Ryan Stuczynski says.

Through their feedback analysis, theSkimm has also tapped into how their readers talk to one another. To aid Skimm’bassadors in their sharing efforts, there’s a guide for sharing best practices, including this section:

Through its pitch-perfect tone, theSkimm creates an intimate bond amongst customers. And with its referral emails, they’ve started a conversation that never really ends.

Making the Most of Your Email

Email can be a useful tool throughout the entire customer lifecycle for boosting activation, retention, and advocacy. Since email is such a personal medium, it can directly influence your customers.

Even if email isn’t your main product, it can carry a lot of weight. By sending emails that go after big product goals, you can create communication that matters.

What role does email play in your customer journey? Share your thoughts below.

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