Transactional emails are the cornerstone of a customer’s experience with your company and often generate the majority of email revenue. When customers make an order, forget their password, or add a new user to their account, how do you provide that information and give them a seamless experience—and how can those emails improve retention and engagement?
In this webinar, special guest Becs Rivett-Kemm and the Litmus team reviewed transactional emails from your peers and provided hands-on design feedback, copywriting suggestions, and strategic takeaways that you can apply to your own campaign.
Didn’t have a chance to watch the webinar live? Don’t worry. You can access the full recording and the emails we reviewed and read the Q&A below.
We didn’t have time to get to all of the questions during the live webinar, but we’ve answered them here on our blog. Have any additional questions? Please leave them in the comments.
What is considered a transactional email?
Becs Rivett-Kemm: In the most simple terms, transactional emails are one-to-one emails relating specifically to the actions of one particular user.
Jaina Mistry: Adding to Becs’ answer, the actions that a particular user has taken could be engaging with an app, actions at a store (online or brick and mortar), or on a website. Those actions then trigger an email consisting of content and information the user needs to know or be aware of. Transactional emails can only be emails that alert the user to something important, like changes to their account.
How often should you update your transactional emails?
Becs: I would recommend checking your transactional emails at least once a quarter. Here are some items to check for:
- Is the content still relevant? Ensure there’s no outdated content in your transactional and triggered emails.
- Does the email still display correctly? Email client support can change often and without notice, so make sure you regularly test your transactional emails in all relevant reading environments to ensure they look great and perform.
- Do the links still work? You never want any broken links in your emails so test those regularly. Also, make sure all the correct link tracking is in place.
Bettina Specht: You might want to review your transactional emails sooner if your performance metrics are falling behind your expectations. You’re seeing a sudden decrease in click-through rates for one of your triggered emails? Review your email as soon as you can to see if broken CTAs, rendering problems or other issues impact email performance and fix those before the email is sent to more subscribers.
Is there a general rule of thumb for placing CTAs above or below the fold?
Becs: For me, the CTA shouldn’t be about above or below the fold, but about providing the user with enough information to understand why they should be clicking the CTA. This might be selling benefits or telling them about the process or action they’re about to do.
Jaina: And don’t be afraid of incorporating your main call-to-action in the copy of the email as well as being an actual CTA button. For example, if your main goal is to have someone log into their account, there’s no harm in linking the action in the copy, as well as having a CTA button in place.
Many transactional emails are designed to look like personal letters or notes from an individual. Would you recommend that practice?
Becs: Making some of your emails plain text is a great idea to give them a more personal feel and put the focus on the content. If you’re using HTML, I’d avoid a signature image—for me it doesn’t feel natural and just lifted from direct mail.
Jaina: I agree! It’s all about the context of the transactional email. And it could be something that’s worth testing, depending on the action you want the user to take upon receiving the email.
Should you use no-reply addresses as the reply-to in your transactional emails?
Becs: It’s very useful to monitor if people used a wrong mailing address or their transactional email wasn’t delivered. I learned a lot from monitoring a no-reply email address at my old job! If such an address is active, you need to find a way to act on responses, not just ignore them.
Jaina: Setting up an autoresponder to direct folks to a place where they can get in touch would be the way to go if you can’t have a monitored reply-to email address.
What should the from name be for a transactional email?
Becs: That depends on your brand, but in most cases I recommend to just go with the company’s name. Always make sure you have a from-name set up. I see too many companies who don’t specify a from name for their transactional emails and you get an order confirmation from firstname.lastname@example.org, so the from name is just “payments.” It makes it very hard to find in the inbox.
Should transactional emails include an unsubscribe link?
Becs: Transactional emails don’t require an unsubscribe link, and my advice is not to include one. If you put it in there, what does it mean? You won’t receive any more payment notifications? If you wanted to, you could include a link to your email preference center to let the subscriber manage what emails they’d like to receive from your brand, but make clear that they won’t be able to opt out of crucial transactional messages. I wrote about how we manage opt-ins at Conversio over here.
Jaina: Agree with Becs. Remember to make it clear to the user why they’re receiving the email by adding a short line of copy in the footer of the email. “You’re receiving this email because you requested a new password/changed your plan/etc.”
Do graphics in transactional emails hurt deliverability?
Becs: The key to good deliverability is engagement, so ensure your emails are engaging—with images or without. So as long as you’re not serving up an all-images email, then no, it’s not a problem. When you include images in your transactional emails, make sure to optimize the file size and add ALT tags.