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.
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.
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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.
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There’s no reason timing should falter your lifecycle campaigns. Timely transactional emails impact the customer experience.
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.
Avoid the elaborate and often times misleading verbiage. You can increase your open rates with a straightforward subject line.
You also may want to experiment with a more informative “From” name, like “Billing at Customer.io.” At the very least, anything is better than a no-reply address.
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.
Treat design as an extension of your copy and consider how you can communicate key information faster.
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You never want customers guessing how to contact your team. It’s vital that you make your contact details readily available.
Inform and DelightEvery 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:
Focus on TimingWhen 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. Customer.io 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.
Stay Away from Misleading Subject LinesWhen 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.
Send From a Recognized NameRemember 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:
Write Customer-Driven CopyThe 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
Make Design Work Double TimeTechSmith 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.