By Stephan Jukic

Email has become the new marketing domain for many small businesses, especially those operating online stores. They understand the value of online marketing campaigns and newsletters, aimed at procuring new customers and raising brand awareness. However, there’s one beneficial email tactic small business owners are ignoring: the transactional email.

Capable of expanding sales, brand reputation and target audiences, transactional emails are being wasted as a mere no-frills utility, if they are even being used at all. The smart business professional, however, doesn’t ignore transaction-based emails; instead, they leverage them for greater success. Here’s how.

How do transactional emails differ from other types of business email?

Transactional emails are follow-up messages that have a specific function: they provide information on a business action the customer has already taken.  Rather than simply engage the customer about a transaction, however, this type of email has evolved to become a marketing platform through which businesses can apprise customers of related products, additional services, special customized promotions, upcoming sales, discount clubs, coupons, new product launches, social media presence, surveys, product review requests, etc. The possibilities of what a company can promote through transactional emails are endless.

The main requirement is to keep transactional information front and center, providing ample detail, including through images and links to the website or product. Brand elements should be highly visible. Marketing content should be restricted to between 20 percent and 30 percent of a transactional email.

What are the different types of transactional emails?

Companies can take any opportunity to discuss business transactions with a customer. These are the most popular, valuable and beneficial:

  • Order confirmation
  • Shipping confirmation (with tracking information)
  • Account registration confirmation
  • Password reset email
  • Opt-in notices for newsletters or clubs
  • Customer support ticket confirmation
  • Information or approval for returns or exchanges
  • Welcome notes
  • Warranty details
  • Notification of reward points earned based on a purchase
  • Product updates or recalls
  • Reminders to reorder or replenish a product bought in the past that may have run out
  • Reminders that items remain in an online shopping cart
  • Notices that a specific item browsed in the past may now be discounted

What benefits can a company gain from transactional emails?

Here are some of the biggest benefits a small business owner can experience from using transactional emails.

Get your emails opened a majority of the time.

Research shows that customers almost always open transactional emails.  These are the least likely to end up in the spam folder. Some types, such as the order confirmation email, have open rates near 100 percent.

Nurture positive feelings toward your business.

Unlike bulk email, transactional emails are usually wanted, expected and eagerly awaited. When opening this email, studies suggest, customers are usually excited about their transactions, whether they be purchases, registration or club enrollment.  These happy feelings become associated with the brand, especially when the company includes welcome or gratitude statements.

Encourage additional purchases.

While in that eager, ecstatic mood, customers are often more psychologically responsive to sales and pitches, resulting in additional purchases. Research suggests customers are 70 percent more likely to become repeat buyers after a good transaction.  Even if they don’t buy upon receiving the email, customers can still be receptive to other actions, such as clicking links, adding products to wish lists in order to buy them in the future or visiting the company’s social media site and following it.

Boost the brand profile.

Transactional emails offer another chance for customers to see the brand logo, associate it with good news, and have the company’s name, principles and tagline seared into their consciousness. They can condition customers toward brand loyalty.

Demonstrate trustworthiness.

Many customers are wary of patronizing new companies or small businesses that might not have the same resources or reputation as big businesses.  Efficiency and thoroughness can impress them — and those traits are exactly what are represented by emails that confirm actions, provide coveted information, and demonstrate customer appreciation do.

Reap greater profits.

Since transactional emails with marketing content encourage sales, greater revenue will follow.

Expand the audience.

Deals and sales information included in transactional emails may prompt recipients to share news about promotions with friends and relatives. They may also post about it on social media. Word of mouth from current, satisfied customers is one of the greatest ways to build a wider audience. Instead of waiting for customers to share promotions on their own, companies might use the transactional email to encourage sharing, whether out of kindness or because they are interested in earning a percentage through affiliate sales.