9 Ways Transactional E-mails Help Build RelationshipsSeptember 12, 2008 By Arthur Middleton Hughes
Transactional e-mails are the most powerful messages you'll ever send to your customers because they have the highest open rates of any form of e-mail communication. These e-mails let you build lasting relationships with your customers to help improve your bottom line. To make the most of them, concentrate on their contents and method of delivery by following these important rules:
1. Use HTML. HTML lets you know that readers have opened and clicked. By using text, you're throwing away a golden opportunity to interact with your customers and monitor their engagement.
2. Personalize. E-mails should build relationships that lead to loyalty and repeat sales. One of the best ways to do that is to use customers' names.
3. Send them right away. Why wait? Your customer is sitting at her computer in a buying mood. She may not be in a similar mood tomorrow when she's thinking about something else.
4. Protect the transactional primary purpose. There are two basic requirements for transactional messages within CAN-SPAM, which are easy to meet:
- The subject line should clearly identify the e-mail as transactional in nature. "Your forthcoming trip to San Jose" is clearly about a transaction. "Great deals on sheets and pillows" is clearly not.
- Start with the transaction information. Don't ever start a transaction with promotional or irrelevant material. Get right to the point up front. You can put commercial material below the fold, as long as a reasonable person's perception of the message is that it's transactional.
5. Link to the correct page of a Web site. How many e-mails have you read that link readers to a homepage? Or worse, that suggest copying the URL into a browser? If customers take the first route, they'll end up in a place that may have nothing to do with the product they just purchased. If they take the second route, you'll never know if they did this or not. Everything in e-mail marketing should be measured and tested.
6. Always suggest additional purchases. According to a recent study, 79 percent of transactional e-mails from major corporations contained no offer of additional products or services in the e-mail. Even worse, many of these e-mails included a warning not to respond to the e-mail. The best performing up sell is a product relevant to the original purchase. If a customer bought winter boots, sell her a scarf, not a blender.
7. Periodically send transactional e-mails to yourself. Sometimes the results of automatic e-mail messages are really unfortunate, like this one: "… with the 0 points you've earned, you're on your way to redeeming for your next Award Flight." Sending a few e-mails automatically to yourself might reduce the possibility of this kind of embarrassment.
8. Let them know what is coming. A good transactional e-mail should be part of a series of messages: "Thank you for your order." "Your order was shipped today." "Please rate the product you received." Let them know in the beginning that they're going to get three messages, and what each one is.
9. Provide a name, e-mail address and phone number. To build relationships, your transactional e-mail should be from a person and includ their name, e-mail address and phone number — someone your customers can get in touch with in case something is not quite right.