E-mail Marketing: More Than a Formality; Tips to Transactional Success
Making your transactional e-mail more than a simple purchase receipt or shipping order was the dominant theme of StrongMail’s recent Webinar, “New Trends in Transactional E-mail.” Presenters Ivan Chalif, senior product manager at StrongMail Systems, an e-mail software delivery, tracking and management firm; Kevin Flaherty, vice president of marketing for Wetpaint, a supplier that powers wikis, blogs, forums and social networks; and Kimberly Bower, Wetpaint’s e-mail marketing manager, discussed how to take advantage of every transactional e-mail, a key moment when consumers are most engaged. The panel provided the audience with several tips to make the most of transactional e-mails.
First, Bower of Wetpaint listed five factors to always consider before sending a transactional e-mail.
1. Every user interaction is a potential transactional e-mail;
2. Make your transactional e-mail timely; these messages should arrive when customers are most engaged with your product or company;
3. Keep the content fresh. Wetpaint rotates content blocks each time customers receive transactional e-mails (e.g., Top 10 wikis, wild and wacky wikis, wiki of the day);
4. Take inventory of your transactional messages; and
5. Send an HTML version rather than text.
Transactional e-mails present the opportunity for branding. According to Chalif, this interaction with customers shouldn’t be wasted. A technique as simple as including a picture of the product the customer has just purchased along with the shipping order personalizes the e-mail to recipients. This technique also can help alleviate customer service problems since customers can make sure they’re being shipped the right items.
Other best practices offered by Chalif included the following:
* Make messages relevant to recipients beyond mere info on an offer or an interaction on the Web site;
* HTML vs. text vs. hybrid vs. multipart — evaluate what is best for your audience (e.g., if a majority of your audience uses mobile devices, then a text version is probably the better option since many HTML messages will not translate well on a mobile device);
* Test different elements, such as subject lines, content and templates;
* Make sure there’s a quick turnaround to send the e-mail; don’t allow customers to lose track of why they’re receiving a message;
* Respect your recipients by providing them enough information to make messages relevant while inundating them with unnecessary information; and
* Make sure you’re in compliance with CAN-SPAM regulations — the subject line must have a clear transactional intent (e.g., an order confirmation number) and content placement (the transactional information must be found at the top of the e-mail).
Use it as a drawing card. Flaherty stated transactional e-mails should be used to bring people back to the site. He provided several examples of transactional messages that serve to bring people back to Wetpaint’s site, including alert e-mails, add-a-survey messages, messages that provide the opportunity for recipients to enter contests, get rewards, etc. Take advantage of upselling (track SKU or purchase history) and loyalty or special cross-selling offers that get customers to revisit your site, Flaherty said.
Chalif ended his presentation by giving five factors he believes are essential to get the most out of your transactional messages:
1. data and process integration;
2. dynamic message assembly;
3. real-time delivery;
4. visibility into results, bounce management; and
5. flexibility (replacing templates, changing orders).