6 Common Mistakes Retailers Make With Transactional Emails

retail-transactional-emails

Research by Campaign Monitor shows that transactional emails have 8 times the open and engagement rate of regular marketing emails. This statistic isn’t surprising to me, what is surprising is the number of retailers we encounter that couldn’t care less about their transactional emails!

Transactional emails are widely underestimated and undervalued. Many retailers think, ‘The sale is made, it’s out of our hands now’. But remember, what are the four steps of the customer journey again? Aquire, Nurture, Convert and Retain!! 

Any good marketer knows that their job doesn’t end at the point of conversion!  Transactional emails have some of the highest open and click-through rates because they include information that the client is actually after (order numbers, tracking numbers, account details ect.) not information we assume they want (promotions). So if you have deemed the process to be unimportant and palm it off to someone else you are missing a huge opportunity to build customer loyalty and encourage that customer to become a repeat-purchaser.

Today you will learn:

  • The 6 Most common mistakes made with transactional emails
  • Tips for optimising your transactional emails

The 6 Most Common Mistakes Made with Transactional Emails

Written by Robots

Transactional emails are often palmed off to someone outside of the marketing team. In fact, Heinz Marketing, reports that 53% of transactional emails are not controlled by a marketer. The email is too often written by customer operations, IT or another department who is entirely outside of the marketing teams strategy loop. So although it wasn’t technically written by a robot it is likely to be without personality and entirely detached from your overall strategy…and therefore it may as well of be.

“You’ve Hit a Dead-End” 

Making your transactional email a dead end is a huge mistake. I like to think of the customer’s journey as a circular sequence, there is no beginning and end, customers can move back and forth between the stages. By making your transactional email a dead-end you’re closing off this circle, your customer’s journey becomes linear.

Transactional emails are a great space for retaining and nurturing customers, encouraging them to become repeat-purchasers. Your customer will likely still be on the computer when they receive it and are obviously in the mood to do some shopping. Now is a good time to encourage reviews, promote new arrivals or direct them to your company blog or social – within a transactional email.

Below is a great example of a transactional email that doesn’t hit a dead-end. All of the order details are clearly presented (without jeopardising on design), the ‘What to Expect for Delivery’ is highly relevant and useful for the customer and an incentive for recommending the brand is offered.

Tip: Ensure your email hierarchy still places the transactional information centre stage!

Transactional Emails

‘Do Not Reply!’

Imagine if you just made a purchase in a store and were hastily shuffled out the door by staff. This is what it can feel like to get a transactional email with a ‘no reply’. By including the ‘We’re Always Here For You’, Joybird is doing a great job at saying “Hey we already have your money, but guess what?! We still care!” You need to continue to foster and nurture customer relationships past the point of sale as a returning customer is far more valuable to you than a one-off sale.

Tip: Transactional emails offer a great opportunity for updating your customers buying preferences and determining the temperature of the lead for further list segmentation.

Get’s the Job Done, Zero Personality

If you haven’t put your graphic designer to the task of designing a transactional email that is inline with your style, then you’re missing an opportunity. A transactional email doesn’t need to be dull and lifeless. Below is a great example of how you can make a transactional email easy on the eyes AND still include all the relevant information.

Check out our blog: 3 New Tricks to Spice Up Your Emails on Mobile Devices

Transactional emails

Too Much Advertising! 

You don’t want your transactional emails to be deadends in your customer journey, but you also don’t want them to look like JB HiFi on Boxing Day. The most important piece of content is the transactional information and nothing should ever overshadow this! I believe it is always best practice to provide the information in hierarchical order and if possible, above the fold (without scrolling down). Any promotions or content you provide further down is a bonus, not the main show.

Not tested or trialled

As mentioned in the beginning, transactional emails have the highest open rates of all emails. However, there’s always room for improvement. You should be testing your transactional emails just as you would any other campaign. It is easy to have a basic email set-up that you could leave for a year and it would never need an update, but this isn’t best practice. Transactional emails need a little bit of TLC (tender loving care) so don’t overlook testing and improving them over time.

Check out our blog: 6 Crucial Email Marketing Metrics and How to Track Them


I hope after reading this blog your marketing team has put transactional emails back on the agenda and are looking at ways in which you can feed them back into your pre-conversion strategy.

If you find your team is in a bit of an email marketing rut then why not check out our digital sophomore program. Pick from over 20 email marketing modules to tailor the perfect training program for your team.

Due to a large January intake, we have limited spaces left in the Sophomore Program. Click on the image below to learn more and submit an inquiry and we will let you know if you qualify!

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