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Marketers and salespeople work hard to earn email addresses from prospects and leads with whom they’d like to communicate in order to educate them and to stay connected with them through their buying journey.

Plus, it feels good to see a list grow and thrive, especially if it has been cultivated organically and through efforts designed to attract engaged readers. Unfortunately, not all the names in a contact database remain valid as time goes on.

Additional Info

  • Page Heading Email list decay: inevitable but not necessarily bad
Published in Email Marketing

Transactional emails, also called triggered emails, are emails sent to an individual based on some action he/she has taken. Often, these are associated with e-commerce sites and purchases, but they also include any automated follow-up emails that are triggered by any website action, such as signing up for a newsletter or completing a form to gain access to an offer or download.

In fact, there are a lot of actions that can initiate a transactional email including:

  • Email confirmations

  • Password resets

  • Username reminders

  • Purchase receipts and invoices

  • Abandoned cart emails

  • Sign up confirmations

  • Welcome emails

  • Shipping/tracking update emails

Unfortunately, marketers often think little, if at all, about transactional emails, beyond delivering the necessary facts to the recipient. Worse, they are often plain text emails that were pre-written as part of an e-commerce solution or written by the IT or development department.

Alternatively, we invest a lot of time in crafting the perfect bulk email messages to nurture segmented leads, seeking ways to further engagement and conversion as well as relationships. We A/B test, we measure, and we refine in an attempt to improve performance and grow click and open rates.

But don’t our transactional emails deserve the same love, attention and measurement?

Good open rates for bulk emails range between 15% and 20%. But transactional emails can have “8x the open and engagement rate of traditional marketing emails,” according to Campaign Monitor. These emails contain information that a user is expecting and very interested in. Recipients may even interact with the email several times and save it to reference at a later date.

Transactional emails are a great opportunity to build trust and create more engagement and drive additional purchases.

Blend transaction-related content and marketing-related content

Transactional emails naturally contain highly personalized information based on a user’s action and contain useful information the user needs or wants. But they can also contain relevant links to other products, website pages or useful information based on the trigger action, driving the user right back to the website to complete more actions.

Transactional emails are also a great place for a call-to-action which might invite the user to share with friends or on social media or might ask the user to review a product purchased or customer service interaction.

These emails can also include cross-sell or upsell products based on previous purchases or include a coupon or offer toward another purchase or encourage a user to return to an abandoned cart.

However, as Hubspot cautions, when blending email content in transactional emails, consideration should be given to legislation in different countries. What might pass the American CAN-SPAM laws might not pass standards used to define an email as transactional.

Sending via an ESP

Transactional emails, unlike promotional emails, are typically sent via an e-commerce system or website, whereas promotional emails are likely delivered via an Email Service Provider (ESP) to improve deliverability and avoid any potential blacklisting issues.

Given the critical information contained in a transactional email, deliverability is of utmost importance. To improve deliverability and protect your domain reputation, transactional emails should also be sent via an ESP.

ESPs also offer email tracking and reporting tools. These will allow you to test the messaging and promotional content in an email but also monitor open rates on critical transactional emails and follow-up if necessary. Utilizing an ESP also gives more control to marketers, allowing them to more easily update the emails and massage the messaging instead of relying on an IT department or web development company to manage transactional emails sent via the website or other internal system.

Branding and User Experience

Transactional should use the same fonts, colors, imagery and voice as other marketing emails as well as  the website from which they originated  rather than plain text, generic, downright blah emails. Using the same templates as other promotional emails and digital assets allows you to deliver a consistent brand experience to users, which according to Forrester, is a prime contributor to establishing trust, which in turn drives loyalty and revenue.

Conclusion

Transactional emails should be given as much consideration as other promotional emails. With high open rates, these emails are a great opportunity to increase trust, engagement and conversions. As with all digital marketing tactics, they should be measured, tested and refined to produce the best results and work harder for your business. Contact Savoir Faire for an evaluation of your email marketing program today!

Additional Info

  • Page Heading Optimize transactional emails to increase trust and conversions
Published in Email Marketing
Wednesday, 08 June 2016 12:35

(So-called) Email Best Practices

Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a prescribed set of steps or parameters that would guarantee success or some sort of black and white, concrete solution to achieve results? Devoid any such magic insight or secret formula, we turn instead to “best practices.”

In email marketing, we can find a lot of data about click rates and open rates and how the structure of the email, the subject or the content affects these rates.

Companies like Mailchimp analyze hundreds of thousands of messages to tell us what time of day is best for sending, how to compose an email message that gets opened and which elements an email must have to improve clicks and conversions.

This data allows us to construct rules to guide us when building our emails and email campaigns. However, just because it is a “best” practice doesn’t mean it is best for you.

Pre-headers and “view online” links

Pre-headers allow you to include preview text that a user will see when viewing a list of emails in their inbox. It can give valuable information about the email’s primary content in order to entice the recipient to open. It is also where the The “View Online” link is usually located. This link gives users the ability to view an HTML version online if it is not displaying correctly on their computer or device. Obviously, it’s nice to give users an option. However, on mobile devices, this text takes up valuable real estate at the top of the email. The pre-header and preview text can be hidden in the email view via CSS and still appear in the inbox preview. However, what will hiding the “view online” link do?  To decide if this should be hidden or included, you can look at how many of your users click the link or how many people view the email online or in their email client.

Day and time

We’ve seen reports that state Thursday at 3pm is the best time of day while websites mention morning hours when people are just starting to go through their inboxes. We’ve also seen it suggested that it is best to send early in the week when subscribers have not already been bombarded with and become tired of emails. But the truth is, there is no exact day and time that will work for every industry and every business. Think about  your audience and when  your messages might best resonate with them. For example, if you are emailing about a weekend event, you might aim for Wednesday when people are making weekend plans. Consider your audience’s routines: when are they online, when are they thinking about your product or service, when are they making decisions?

Personalization

Personalization became a best practice to boost open rates; however, when spammers realized this, they began using personalization in every email. Soon, recipients could easily identify a spam email based on the presence of their first name in the subject line. Personalization has become impersonal and emails with names in the subject lines are often delivered as junk mail. Should you ditch personalization because of this? Not necessarily. But consider it in terms of your list segmentation and what content or offers you are delivering to members of your audience. Be personal without being spammy.

Messaging and your subject lines

We posted recently on some considerations when crafting your subject lines such as keeping them short, avoiding overly spammy words, using targeted keywords and creating a sense of urgency. However, while these are “best practices,” it is worth noting that utilizing words such as Free won’t necessarily flag your email as spam or cause a user to automatically delete it. Spam filters will look at the email in general as well as the overall reputation of the sender to calculate your spam score. So feel free to use some of those “spam trigger” words in your testing. They might just compel your audience to click.

Your unsubscribe link

It’s been a fairly common practice to hide the unsubscribe link in small type in the footer simply to satisfy CAN-SPAM requirements in an attempt to avoid the loss of subscribers or contacts. But if people really want to leave, they will find a way. If you make it too difficult to unsubscribe, users might simply report your email as spam, which, if you have enough complaints, can affect your email deliverability. Make it easy for users to unsubscribe or manage their email preferences. Test different options including ways to “opt-down” or select different email frequencies or email types.

Frequency

Once a day, once a week, once a month? How often should you send emails to your subscribers. Finding that sweet spot where recipients remain engaged and informed and have not experienced email ‘fatigue’ from over mailing can be difficult. Research from the DMA (the UK-based Direct Marketing Association)  shows the highest percent of companies send 4 to 5 emails per month to their contacts. Does that mean this is the magic number to elicit response? Again, the answer is not necessarily. While you want to avoid sending too few as well as too many emails, the number of emails depends on the types of emails you send as well as your audience. For example, your company might send a larger number of emails particularly if transactional emails are a part of the purchase or sales process. If the emails are relevant, the quantity becomes less important.

Remember, as with anything, best practices might not be best for you. Consider these to be common practices or even average practices. Use them as the basis on which to build but don’t allow best practices to be the reason you do less or stop experimenting. With a little imagination, trial and error and A/B testing, you can develop better best practices for your business.

Additional Info

  • Page Heading (So-called) Email Best Practices
Published in Email Marketing

Bigger isn’t always better, especially when describing your subscriber count. Of course, you want to be actively growing your email list; but you also want to be sure your list encompasses people who are interested in your email content and are engaged with you rather than “dead” subscribers, names on your list who have not engaged with (opened, responded or clicked) any of your emails in at least six months.

Additional Info

  • Page Heading Reconnect with inactive email subscribers - or drop them from your list
Published in Email Marketing
Tuesday, 10 May 2016 19:10

Mobile First

More email recipients are reading email on their mobile devices.

Published in Websites
Monday, 14 December 2015 09:37

Measurement Monday: Email Marketing Analysis

Welcome to measurement Mondays, our opportunity to share some best practices, educational information and talk about all things related to measurement to start your week. In this week’s measurement Monday post, we will be reviewing some of the different metrics used when analyzing email campaigns.

Email is an integral part of today’s content marketing and marketing automation strategies, and contributes greatly to the success of each by maintaining customer relationships, nurturing leads and even attracting new contacts through sharing.

Additional Info

  • Page Heading Measurement Monday: Email Marketing Analysis
Published in Analytics

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