9 Transactional Emails You Need To Be Sending
(And How To Optimize Them For Conversions)

transactional illustration

Email has been a reliable way of fostering relationships with customers for decades. Not only have many brands grown a large following through email marketing, but many have also been built on the backbone of email marketing.

And brands that have successfully used email marketing to grow their business know one secret – send different types of emails to your list. But no matter how much you may spice up your email marketing mix, there’s one email type that you can’t do without – the humble transactional email.

What Are Transactional Emails?

Transactional emails, as their name suggests, are an email type that facilitates an agreed-upon exchange between the sender and recipient. A typical example of a transactional email would be a receipt for a purchase.

What’s the difference between transactional emails and other marketing emails?

The main difference is that transactional emails are triggered by events or interactions set in motion by the customer rather than by a company’s marketing campaign. And because your customers expect them, they enjoy a high open-rate. In fact, according to research, they enjoy 8X more opens and generate 6X more revenue than other email types.

That’s exactly why you need to give your transactional emails more love than other email types. Yes, even more than your money printing promotional emails.

5 Important Reasons You Need to
Pay Attention to Your Transactional Emails

While transactional emails are the least sexy emails in a marketer’s toolbox, they are one of the most important email types every business should send. Failing to pay attention to your transactional emails could lead to you losing customers. Here are 5 reasons you should make transactional emails a priority:

  • Build Trust

    Communication is the backbone of trust. And customers trust brands that give them feedback on every step of their customer journey. Especially when it involves a monetary transaction. When a customer receives an email confirming their transaction, it immediately builds confidence, ensuring that they have a positive experience with your brand.

  • Drive Sales

    Designed well, your transactional emails can help drive more sales. For example, an order confirmation with images of accessories to the purchased product or related products can encourage customers to order the accessories. Even if the customer doesn’t purchase immediately, your email will give them a reference point to start from when they think of making a purchase. This will ultimately lead to repeat sales, a big contributor to every business’ growth.

  • Increase Brand Awareness

    Especially for first-time customers, transactional emails like shipping confirmation or feedback emails are a great way to increase the chances of customers becoming familiar with and building a relationship with your brand.

    For your transactional emails to succeed at helping increase brand awareness, you’ll have to ensure that you design them well. This means ensuring your email template design follows your brand style guide.

  • Drive Customer Engagement

    Personalized transactional emails are a great way to encourage customers to interact with your brand more. Because personalization makes them feel special, your customers are more likely to develop an emotional connection to your brand. As a result, they will be more likely to follow your brand on social media or any other marketing channels you use.

  • Helps Create a Positive UX

    The customer journey is a very important aspect of your marketing and sales. A poor customer journey could lead to some customers abandoning the journey. Those who make it to the end might not want to go through it again. While there are many elements that make for a good user experience for customers as they go through your customer journey, one important one is the transactional email.

    And in today’s world, customers buy into the experience more than they do the product itself.

    Transactional emails make the customer flow better as it helps customers know exactly what’s happening and what other steps they should take next.

    Now that you’ve seen how valuable transactional emails are to your business, let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the important transactional emails you should be sending.

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9 Transactional Email Types
You Should Be Sending

So what are the different types of transactional emails you need to be sending to your customers?

Let’s quickly take at 9 of the most important ones you need to be sending and how you can optimize each for maximum impact.

Opt-In Confirmation And Account Activation Emails

The very first email you get to send to your subscribers is the opt-in confirmation email. This can also double as your account activation email.

Often used in cases where you use double opt-in when subscribers sign up (as you should always do), the opt-in confirmation email is your first chance to impress. A few tips on doing just that include:

  • Let recipients know where they signed up from (in the example below, it’s from signing up from a mobile device)
  • Tease them with what they can expect by confirming their email (“we’ll help you find your Slack workspace…”)
  • Highlight the one step you want your subscriber to take so they know exactly what to do without even thinking about it
Click to preview

Notice how Slack makes sure their branding is clearly evident in this transactional email. This is not just for the sake of aesthetics. Slack knows the power of branding and they make sure they use every touchpoint to increase brand awareness.

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Order Confirmation And Receipt Emails

You’ve closed the sale. Congratulations!

Now you can relax and focus on landing the next customer, right?

No, exactly the opposite. Once a prospect orders a product from you, it means they’re interested in what you have to offer. As such, nurture them to become a repeat customer.

That’s where your transaction emails come to play – your order confirmation email to be exact.

For most brands, an order confirmation email serves one main purpose – to confirm that the order has been successful. This puts your customer at ease as they know their latest purchase has been a success. Unfortunately, this is where most brands end. While the order confirmation email would have achieved its main purpose, it could be optimized to do more.

Here are a few elements you can add to this particular transactional email to optimize it for more engagement (and sales):

Include a Call to Action

An order confirmation shouldn’t be the end of the customer journey. It should actually a doorway to a deeper relationship with your customer. While they’re still excited about their purchase, give them a gentle nudge to interact more with your brand. This could be anything from sharing the experience on social media to browsing through some related products or accessories. Here’s a great example from Door Dash:

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Source

This is a perfect example as DoorDash includes 3 CTAs (Track Your Order, View Your Receipt, and Refer a Friend) to get customers to interact with the brand more.

Add a Bonus

People love snagging sweet deals. That’s why they purchased your product after all, isn’t it? Sweeten the deal more by adding a bonus in your order confirmation. Of course, the bonus should be tied to a specific action you want your customer to take. Not only will this encourage interaction, but it will also help boost your image in your customer’s eyes as they’ll deem you very generous.

As you can see, an order confirmation can do more for your business than just convey important information. Optimized well, it can be used to drive sales and encourage engagement.

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Shipping Confirmation

Shipping confirmation emails are another transactional email type that is heavily under-utilized. Because your customer is excited about their purchase and anticipating its arrival, your shipping confirmation email has very high chances of being opened.

And that’s why you need to optimize it to drive business growth.

Here are a few tweaks you can make to your shipping confirmation email to help your brand sail into the sunset of e-commerce success:

Tell a Story

In most instances, it only takes a few sentences to let customers know all the details about the shipping status of their purchase. Take advantage of this to tell your brand story. No, don’t ramble on about how good your brand is. Instead, use storytelling to assure your customer that buying your product is the best decision they could have made.

Click to preview

Source

Get creative but make sure to keep it brief. After all, you don’t want to overshadow the main purpose of the email.

If there’s one thing that makes people anxious, it’s waiting for a product they ordered online. Use a friendly tone in your shipping confirmation emails. In fact, a little bit of humor is encouraged. This helps put your customer at ease, making all their interactions with you positive. Of course, positive experiences are the best way to foster and build trust with your customers.

So, next time you send out that shipping confirmation email, use it for more than just alerting your customer that their order is on the way.

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Delivery Confirmation

One of the most important reasons for sending a delivery confirmation email is to confirm that your customer’s order has been delivered to the right address. While this email may seem to be more of a ritual, it can be used to nurture stronger relationships with your customers. Here’s an interesting example from Ritual, a big player in the health and wellness niche:

Click to preview

Source

Simple enough, right?

However, Ritual included certain subtle and overt elements that you can borrow for your delivery emails:

  • Branding. Scrolling through the above delivery confirmation email and the companies website feels exactly the same. From the tone to the brand colours even to down to the typography, it’s all the same.
  • Hyper-personalization. Good sleep is one of Ritual’s product marketing angle. The language employed in this email adds a touch of personalization as the recipient can easily connect their purchase to this email.
  • Option to change the delivery date. This is one of the overt elements in this email. Very few brands give customers the option to edit their delivery date. By including this option in the email, Ritual are showing their customers something very important – that they care enough to bend over backward to please.

Remember, every email you send is an opportunity to interact with your customers. Treat it like a date and always aim to please.

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Feedback Emails

Customer feedback is crucial to ensuring that your brand always delivers an exceptional experience. The feedback email is a great way to get to know what your customers think of your product and customer journey. For this reason, it should be an integral part of your transactional email campaign.

However, the mistake many brands make is to make it a bland email requesting feedback.

The result?

Little or no interaction.

Here’s how you can optimize your feedback emails to increase their engagement rates.

Craft an Irresistible Subject Line

One reason many feedback emails go unopened is that the subject line reeks of “here’s another boring survey”. Therefore, to increase your open rates, unleash your creative juices and craft subject lines that your customers won’t be able to resist. Here’s a great example from Abstract:

Subject line – First Came Sketch, Next Comes…

Click to preview

Source

Personalize Your Copy

Besides a captivating subject line, personalize your email copy. Not sending feedback emails is a big mistake many brands make. But an even bigger mistake is to send an impersonal feedback email. Personalizing the email copy will help make your customer “own” the survey. As a result, this will increase the chances of them taking time out of their busy schedule to give you the feedback you need.

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Password Reset Emails

Ah yes, the password reset email. So-called because you send it to customers who have forgotten their passwords and have requested to reset it. This is one transaction email you won’t use every day. But it’s one email that has a 100% open rate. And that means only one thing – once given an opportunity to send it, maximize it. Here are a few tips to help you squeeze this opportunity out of all it has:

  • Keep it short and concise. At this point, all your customer is concerned about is resetting their password and accessing their account. So don’t include too many elements in the email.
  • Use a reassuring tone. Being locked out of your account can be unsettling. That’s why it’s important that you use a reassuring tone in your password reset emails. Just creating an environment that makes your customers feel safe will go a long way in etching your brand on their hearts.
  • Emphasize your brand elements. Password reset emails are a challenge for many marketers because they’re usually a negative touchpoint. However, executed well, you can use them to offer a positive brand experience. A good way to do this is to employ a touch of humor in your copy.

Here’s a brilliant example from Slack:

Click to preview

Source

This transactional email from Slack has the hallmarks of a well-crafted password reset email in that it embodies all 3 elements above:

  • The branding is clear
  • The tone is reassuring
  • The touch of personalization (you) helps turn a would-be tense situation into a lighthearted moment

A classic example that even the most “blah” email can be used as a memorable touchpoint.

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Subscription Renewal Email

If you run a subscription-based business, then you know how important your subscription renewal email is. This is a transactional email that is triggered by a customer’s subscription nearing its expiry date. As such, it is a reminder that they should renew it.

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Source

A poorly designed one could result in fewer customers renewing their subscriptions. A well-optimized one, on the other hand, can increase the chances of more customers continuing using your service.

So how can you optimize this type of transaction email?

Start Your Campaign Early

Don’t wait until a few days to remind your subscribers that their subscription is about to expire. Instead, start sending reminders at least 3 months before the subscription expires. Doing this will help you:

  • Warm them up to the idea of renewing the subscription
  • Get feedback on what you could do to improve your service
Employ FOMO

People fear losing something than they do gaining. This is why the fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful marketing tactic. Use your subscription renewal email to show your customers the benefits they’ll miss out by not renewing their subscription.

Dangle a Carrot

Even if your customer enjoyed your service and are highly likely to come back, it’s still a great idea to offer them a reward for renewing their subscription. This could be anything from a discount or a free gift. Not only will this encourage more renewals, but it will let your customers know that you appreciate them.

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Cart Abandonment Emails

Cart abandonment emails are one of the most sent transaction emails. That’s because cart abandonment rates are as high as 69.57%. Fortunately, a good portion of these can be recovered using a cart abandonment/cart recovery emails.

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Source

But to increase the chances of your customers completing the purchase they abandoned:

  • Time it right. Don’t bombard your customers with a barrage of cart abandonment emails. Instead, send the first email about an hour or 2 after the cart has been abandoned. This will help you leverage the purchasing urge that the customer has.
  • Include an image of the abandoned product. Showing the abandoned product in your email is a great way of reminding your customer what they are missing. It’s also a great way to rekindle the emotional connection your customer had with the product.
  • Leverage social proof. Social proof is a powerful way to get customers to retrieve their abandoned carts. Include reviews of the product in your email to fortify the FOMO effect.
  • Provide support. Sometimes customers abandon carts because they failed to checkout. Offer them assistance in completing their purchase.

Cart abandonment emails are one type of transactional email you need to pay attention to. Ignoring them will definitely result in you leaving some money on the table.

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Reactivation Emails

Reactivation emails are sent to subscribers who haven’t interacted with your emails in a set period of time (60-90 days) or have not opened a certain number of emails from you. For your reactivation campaign to be a success:

  • Craft a captivating, scroll stopping subject line
  • Remind recipients what they’re missing by not opening your emails
  • Tug at your customers emotions

Need an example to inspire yours?

Click to preview

Source

One important reason to make sure you send a reactivation campaign regularly is that it ensures you maintain a healthy email list.

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9 Transactional Email Types You Should be Sending

  • Opt-in Confirmation and Account Activation
  • Order Confirmation and Receipt Emails
  • Shipping Confirmation
  • Delivery Confirmation
  • Feedback Emails
  • Password Reset Emails
  • Subscription Renewal Email
  • Cart Abandonment Emails
  • Reactivation Emails

5 Transactional Email Best Practices You Must Follow

Transactional emails are a great way to facilitate an exchange between you and your customers. They’re also a great way to build lasting relationships. But that’s only if you execute them strategically. Let’s quickly look at 5 transaction email best practices you can implement to help you do just that:

  • Personalize

    Personalization is a must for any email you send. Unfortunately, many brands neglect to do this for their transactional emails. They see it as a waste of time – after all, the deal has been sealed. But just because you’ve bagged the coveted sale doesn’t mean you should put less marketing effort in that customer. In fact, you should even put in more effort to make sure they keep coming back.

    And that’s where personalization comes in.

    Click to preview

    Source

    Allbirds take personalization seriously as is evidenced in this transactional email. Not only do they use the recipient’s first name, but they use language and imagery their customers easily relate to.

  • Use a ‘Reply-to’ Address

    One of the most important elements of a successful relationship is 2 way communication. That’s why it’s important that when you communicate with your customers to let them know that they can reach you any time. To do this use a “reply to” address. Using a no-reply address makes your customers think you’re just after their hard earned money.

  • Timing is Everything

    Most transactional emails are time sensitive. Make sure to send them out immediately after an event has triggered a response from your end. Because customers expect them immediately, delaying in sending them will result in a less than satisfactory experience and can lead to customers losing their trust in you.

  • Make it Clear what the Email is About

    Make it Clear what the Email is About

    • Who. Who is the email from?
    • What. What’s the purpose of the email?
    • What. What’s the purpose of the email?

    Clearly highlighting these in your email will help your customer digest your email content faster. It will also help you adhere to various email sending regulations like CAN-SPAM, for example.

  • Prioritize Security

    Transactional emails, by their very nature, are important emails that just have to land in the recipient’s inbox. To reduce the chances of them ending up in the spam folder, implement strict security protocols that will improve deliverability. Beefing up your security will also discourage malicious elements from trying to take advantage of your emails.

Transactional Emails - They’re Not Sexy,
But Used Well, They Too Can Sell

In the world of marketing, transactional emails are considered the least sexy type of email you can send to customers. But that’s just a misconception. Treat your transaction emails as an extension of your brand and your marketing and they can do wonders for your bottom line. Be careful not to overdo it and turn them into marketing emails though. This will defeat their purpose and irritate your customers.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What qualifies as a transactional email?

Transactional emails are automated emails that facilitate an agreed upon exchange or process between the sender and recipient.

Any email that confirms or assists a purchase or process between sender and recipient qualifies as a transactional email.

Some examples of transactional emails include:

  • Welcome Emails
  • Thank-You Emails
  • Receipts & Order Confirmation Emails
  • Password Reset Emails
  • Feedback Emails
  • Reactivation Emails
  • Shipping Notification & Tracking Emails
  • Delivery Confirmation Emails
How do you write a transactional email?

Transactional emails should be given as much thought and effort as other marketing emails.

Use the following questions to help you write effective transactional emails:

1.) What happened prior to this email being sent out?

The content of your transactional emails will revolve around the action or event that triggered them. Get clear on what that action was, what it means to your business, and what it means to the recipient.

2.) What’s important about this action to me and the recipient?

One of the purposes of transactional emails is to provide the recipient with important information that they may need to use or reference later. Figure out what information is important and relevant and include it in your email.

3.) How can I provide extra value to the recipient?

Great transactional emails are an effective marketing tool. They can help build a better relationship with your customers and demonstrate excellent customer service. It can also provide you another opportunity to promote your products and services.

For example, some companies use order confirmation emails to upsell or cross-sell customers. Others use order confirmation emails to tell customers what to do next as well as when and how to expect delivery of their product.

4.) How can I organize and design the email to make it as easy and convenient for recipients?

Transactional emails often involve sending important information to recipients. But you can add extra value to these emails by making them organized and making the important information as easy as possible to find.

With an order confirmation email, for example, you could try highlighting, bolding, or putting a box around the important order information.

Do transactional emails need unsubscribe?

No, transactional emails do not require an unsubscribe link.

This is probably due to two reasons:

  • Transactional emails are sent after the recipient takes an action that triggers the email. That action can be considered tacit permission to send transactional emails.
  • Unsubscribe links are provided so people can opt-out if they don’t want to receive any more emails from a company. Transactional emails are usually one-off situations, so recipients won’t be receiving any more emails anyway.
Can you opt out of transactional emails?

Unless a company gives you the option of opting out before the action is taken (for example, when companies allow you to choose whether or not to receive a receipt in your email), there is no way to opt-out of transactional emails.

GDPR and other marketing compliance rules don’t require businesses to allow opt-outs or provide unsubscribe links in transactional emails.

Are survey emails transactional?

It depends on the situation.

If you send a customer feedback survey to shoppers who just completed a purchase, then this could be considered a transactional email.

But just sending a survey to customers does not necessarily qualify as a transactional email.

Do I need permission to send transactional emails?

No. Current marketing compliance rules do not require businesses to get permission, allow opt-outs, or provide unsubscribe links for transactional emails.

Some companies will allow customers to choose whether or not they want a receipt delivered to their inbox. You may consider doing the same for receipts and other types of emails, but only as to avoid annoying customers and providing better customer service.

What are some good service providers for sending transactional emails?

The following are some popular transactional email service providers:

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