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Taking Transactional Email to Market

If you conduct any type of ecommerce, you likely send email to your customers to confirm purchases or account modifications that they have made. But how can you use these emails as an opportunity for promotion while remaining respectful of your customers?

First – Keep in mind that there are two major types of email – commercial and transactional. Commercial email has one purpose: promoting a brand, product/service or cause.

Second – Transactional-focused emails are far more complex. Most commonly, transactional emails are used to:

  • Welcome new registrants or customers
  • Confirm transactions
  • Provide notification of shipment
  • Outline return policies

In short, this type of email supports a critical part of your relationship with customers – they provide confidence and build trust in your brand.

Third – These guidelines for transactional email demonstrate a respect for your customers and assist in compliance with industry legislation (i.e. CAN-SPAM). Here are the key rules for transactional emails:

  • 80% of the content, imagery and space of a transactional email should serve to support a previous or pending transaction – rather than be promotional.
  • Marketing content should be below the fold – and clearly set apart from the transactional information.
  • Marketing offers presented should be somehow related to the transaction. For example, if the transaction is a purchase of an iPod, the marketing content could highlight relevant guarantees, product support or iPod accessories.
  • Use subject lines that clearly identify the email as transactional. For example, "Confirming Your Purchase of…"
  • If more than 20% of the email’s content, imagery or space is used for promotional purposes, you must include an "unsubscribe" option that will be honoured. Keep in-mind that if you do this, you run the risk of losing contact with a purchasing customer.

Follow these rules and your transactional emails will serve your brand and marketing objectives well.