All that You Ever Need to Know About Transactional Emails
Written by
Kanika Sreen
Kanika Sreen

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All that You Ever Need to Know About Transactional Emails

Published : February 18, 2022

Going from one to a billion and still counting!

Ikechukwu Izuakor, the author of a book called Great Reflections on Success, says, “Don’t underestimate the power of one dollar, for somewhere in its generation is million, billion, and trillion.”

He could have as well said “email” instead of “dollar” – one email first went out on a now-forgotten day in 1971, and a few digital generations later, the world sent 319.6 billion emails* every day in 2021.

Around 4 billion email users received these billions of emails, which were of two essential types:  transactional emails and marketing emails.

What are transactional emails?

The term transactional email refers to the mails that you receive as a result of your interaction or association with a business. Transactional emails are automated and get triggered by events or specific actions you take on a business website, app, or offline.

What are marketing emails?

Marketing emails are promotional emails that range from freebies to offers to seasonal discounts to announcers and everything in between.

What are the different types of transactional emails?

Broadly speaking, we can categorize transactional emails into a few major types: 

  • user requests and confirmations
  • account/action taken alerts
  • customers’ behavior-led updates
  • event-based triggers
  • periodic news/digests
  • response for support/feedback

The multiple touchpoints of online shopping – during and after the purchase – offer several triggers to send emails, and hence the eCommerce industry owns a significant volume of transactional emails. Other businesses like banking, finance, insurance, travel, hospitality, and trading come in a close second. 

Some common examples of transactional emails include:

  • sign-in alert
  • payment received
  • order confirmation
  • shipping notification
  • delivery tracking
  • delivered updates
  • feedback request
  • back-in-stock alert
  • unattended cart reminder
  • invoices and receipts
  • account verification
  • subscription confirmation
  • password reset
  • log-in alert
  • payment alerts
  • account statement
  • credit/debit alert
  • payment due reminder

What are the benefits of transactional emails?

Transactional emails help optimally drive the user journey and enhance the customer experience. They bring tangible value to the recipients and build confidence in the brand’s responsiveness. As they contain only relevant and personalized information, transactional emails have the highest open rates.  They fulfill the customers’ communication needs and nurture a healthy business relationship: a symbiosis that leads to customer trust and longer lifetime values.

You can also leverage transactional emails to remind, upsell, and cross-sell. One way of doing it right would be to have a personalized product curation or an invitation link to a loyalty program – right at the end of the email. Remember to do it as briefly and subtly as possible.

What are some of the best practices in sending transactional emails?

  • Gmail suggests that senders should do two things to keep transactional emails separate from marketing emails: (a) use separate email addresses for each type (b) send from different domains/IPs for each function. Considering the 1.8 billion email users Gmail has, it’s a recommendation that is undoubtedly worth following to avoid the spam folder.
  • Additionally, a link to manage or change the alerts/notifications preferences would indeed be a great-to-have feature in transactional emails.
  • Timing is the most critical aspect of transactional emails – there should be a minimal time lag between the customer interaction and the email landing in the inbox. In absolute terms, a time-sensitive transactional email should be sent within 5 seconds.
  • Choose precise words in the subject line of your transactional email and include specific information about the product or service related to the communication. Avoid including words tagged as spam words by the major mailbox service providers (MSPs).
  • Make your transactional emails as personalized as possible. Start with addressing the customer by name and with the correct title. Do not make your email feel like mandatory communication – keep the tone of voice warm and friendly, and sign off on a vibrant and positive note.
  • Keep the communication as concise and focused as possible. The customer must grasp the core information in a matter of seconds. The current average reading speed is said to be around 200 words per minute, which works out to about 30 words in five seconds.
  • Encourage two-way engagement by providing recipients with interactive components like buttons, links, surveys, polls, etc., within the email. Technologies like AMP can help make your transactional emails stand out, come across as enjoyable, and turn them click-worthy.
  • Be it a sign-up, order confirmation, or delivery update, use the opportunity to appreciate your customers in the transactional emails. Remember to include a short sentence that thanks them for being your customer. Showing gratitude is an effective way of making the customers feel good about doing business with you.
  • Do not push marketing messages or overtly promotional content in your transactional emails.  Remember that a transactional email is meant for business that the recipient has already given you. Use a helpful tone of voice and be consistent with your brand’s visual identity in your emails.

Before finalizing the transactional email content, have a hard look at it from a customer perspective. Think of your reaction if you were the recipient and not the sender. Feel what it would be like being a customer that gets your email.

What does it take to send transactional emails?

In basic terms, a dedicated IP, a reliable SMTP API, and a good reputation with mailbox service providers are at the core of any setup that sends transactional emails. The workflows are automated with pre-defined triggers based on actions and events.

In addition, transactional email service providers create personalization, enhance deliverability, and track performance.  Analytics and insights on critical metrics help you monitor the health of your emails and improve them as part of a larger conversation with the customers.

Here are some tips for sending great transactional emails:

1. Prepare a blueprint for transactional use cases:

Create email templates that fit your overall business activities and strategy. Examples include Password Reset, Welcome email, Order Shipping, Order Verification, and Feedback email. 

2. Ensure robust delivery infrastructure:

Your ESP should ensure lightning-fast delivery to your recipients in 3 seconds or less. Its infrastructure should have the latest MTA software (Blaze) and other delivery mechanisms to enable such speeds. Every minute that passes between delivery and receipt of open lowers your ROI and brand perception.

3. Authenticate protocols to avoid snooping:

Transactional type messages contain sensitive information. So, ensure email authentication with SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. Enabling these protocols will avoid spoofing and phishing; it will also result in good deliverability of your emails.

4. Centralized reporting for engagement analysis:

Your ESP/SMTP service must offer a dashboard to visualize the engagement data from your transactional messages. It provides essential clues on what’s working right and which metrics need improvement. For example, in the case of latency in delivery servers, the lower numbers will indicate red flags to mitigate. 

5. Generating dynamic personalization:

Your ESP/SMTP service should have a tool to ensure a minimum level of personalization in the subject line and body. Develop the ability to generate emails with personalized recommendations based on customers’ past purchase orders and interactions.  

6. Using primary domain for transactional emails:

Using the primary domain for sending transactional emails has added benefits. Since transactional emails receive higher than average open rates, you can piggyback on the primary domain’s good reputation and use its subdomains for promotional mailing. It ensures that the MSPs see your domain positively and your subdomain also gets warmed up faster.

Is there an “unsubscribe” option for transactional emails?

Unlike marketing emails, transactional emails do not come with an option to unsubscribe as they are not recurrent. Besides, the information contained in transactional emails has one-time validity. Such emails are sent only once for every transaction or event related to the customer’s interaction with your brand online or offline.

Wrapping it up

Transactional emails are sent automatically and are triggered by events or actions taken by the consumer on a website, app, or offline. They communicate vital information at every critical point of the customers’ journey. And in doing so, they add value and make the customers’ brand experience smooth and likable.

Four things matter the most for transactional emails: right triggers, timely delivery, inboxing, and reporting.

Follow the best practices mentioned above and always assess your transactional emails from a customer’s perspective before hitting the send button.

With a legacy of 20+ years in business, Netcore Cloud sends 17 billion emails every month: 75% of India’s and 50% of Asia’s email traffic going through it. The G2 Summer 2021 report ranks Netcore as the global leader in the Transactional Email and Email Deliverability categories – a recognition achieved for the fourth consecutive year. Netcore also received the Highest Overall Rating as a Customers’ Choice for Email Marketing in the 2021 Gartner Peer Insights ‘Voice of the Customer’ Report.

Get in touch with us for a demo; learn how you can gain from Netcore’s proprietary Email API and in-house AI engine that set the world standards for email marketing.  Boost your email campaigns with the power of lightning-fast email delivery and superior predictive engagement. 

*As per Statista reports

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