June 10, 2008

New Chart: Transactional Emails - a Missed Opportunity

SUMMARY: Your customers open and read transactional emails – shipping notices, receipts, statements, etc. – far more regularly than typical communications. That’s why it is a missed opportunity for many marketers who don’t add complementary products or offers to these service messages.

However, if used incorrectly, few tactics have the potential to sour a permission email relationship as quickly. See three steps to create a transactional email with a purpose.
New Chart: Customers Open & Read Transactional Emails
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Transactional messages remain one of the few underutilized opportunities in email marketing. Used properly, marketing within transactional (or “service”) emails can be timely, helpful and relevant. Used incorrectly, transactional emails can sour a permission relationship just as quickly.

The chart shows that most consumers are comfortable with many types of email transactions. The exception is personal finance. But even there, notifications would get a much higher approval level than statements – which the chart asks about. As the types of transactional email grow, so does the opportunity for marketers.

Why an opportunity?
- Service emails are read far more frequently than standard newsletters.
- Service emails can convey information about the recipients for a marketer. A receipt, for instance, suggests add-on or complimentary products. A travel confirmation places the user at a destination on a given date, opening up possibilities for relevant marketing.

Where to begin?

Step #1. Take an inventory of your organization’s emails. Many transactional emails will fall outside the purview of marketing.

Step #2. Gain control of your organization’s emails. Marketing should be the last word on how emails look, what they say and how often they’re sent.

Step #3. Create a transactional email marketing plan based on the highest standards of email marketing. Why stick a bunch of marketing into receipts, for example, that may not work and worse may alienate your customer. Business rules should dictate content, using the information contained in the message itself.

A quick check of just about any inbox will find transactional emails that could have offered additional products, but did not. Such as:
o Billing notice = automatic credit card billing
o Itinerary change = alternate hotel or travel information
o Product receipt = products bought by other people who bought that product or accessories
o Monthly statement notification = products based on spending patterns, investment level, etc.

A final note: If you’re outside the United States, especially in the European Union, check your local laws. They’re more restrictive than CAN-SPAM regulations.

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