Whenever you email market, there are two types of emails that you need to be sending to your audience. The first is your standard marketing email, which is the email you are sending out to your audience on a daily or weekly basis.

It can contain information about your website, product offers, new blog posts, and information about your company. It’s a marketing tool that helps you grow your audience and promote your products. But there’s a second type of email that most business owners either don’t spend a lot of time on or overlook altogether.

The transactional email, which isn’t as glamorous as a marketing email, still needs to be an essential part of your email messaging. But why is it so important, why aren’t people taking advantage of it, and why do you need to spend time on it?

All these questions will be answered, and you’ll walk away with the knowledge about why a transactional email is a necessity for your business.

What is a Transactional Email?

An eCommerce transactional email is delivered differently. While marketing emails typically sent by you on a particular date, a transactional email is triggered by an event that happens on your website.

It’s an automated email that is controlled by outside events and sent when specific triggers are met. For example, let’s say your customer signs up for your email list to get a free eBook. When they input their email into your bar, they’ll receive an email with the eBook.

That email is a transactional one. The email address’s entering triggered it, was completely automated, and will continue to trigger until the end of time. As long as people keep fulfilling the requirements, that’s it.

Additionally, you often expect to receive a transactional email. If you put in your email address to get your free eBook, you want to receive an email with your book in it!

These emails are often very personal, focusing on a person’s needs, rather than a long email that focuses on targeting the audience.

When do you use transactional emails?

They are sent when specific conditions are met, and some of these can include:

  • Receipts and confirmations of purchases
  • Requests and resets
  • Triggers and email chains

Receipts and confirmations

receipts and confirmations

Most transactional emails come in the form of confirmations of purchases and receipts. For example, if a customer buys a product from your business, they should immediately get a receipt for their purchase.

If they sign up for a course, they should get an email saying that they are logged in successfully and can see the course. When an action is done on your website, any type of verification is an excellent time to send a transactional email.

Password Resets and Requests

If your website has a login feature, then it’s common to have one of your customers forget their password and need to have it restored to them. Whenever they send a ‘forgot password’ request, it typically goes directly to the email and allows them to reset their password.

Other requests, such as communication with customer service representatives, are also transactional emails. If a customer has problems with your services or asks for help, they expect a confirmation email to pop up in their inbox.

Triggers and Email Chains

Perhaps the most well-known use of email triggers is the ‘onboarding’ email marketing chain. Once your customer signs up for their free giveaway, then more emails are sent every day to show them all your company’s advantages.

These emails are automated and can bring customers into your business to help keep them coming back. Other email triggers can be set up to remind customers when they leave a full shopping cart unattended or remind them of a page of your website they spent a lot of time on.

What should your transactional email look like?

An excellent transactional email is just as important as your marketing ones in terms of design. When it comes to having a good email design for your transactional emails, here are a few things to keep in mind.

The information is the key

Except for onboarding emails, most people are not opening transactional emails and reading through them. They are looking for a specific piece of information that they need. Transactional emails need to have that information front and center for your customers to see.

If your customer expects instructions to reset their password easily, then don’t fill the email with sales information or large graphics. Instead, have a quick greeting and then get to the instructions without delay. Make sure the instructions are easy to follow and can be completed quickly.

If they want confirmation of their purchase, send them a copy of their receipt. Be sure to give them all the pertinent information about their purchase, and then end the email.

Save the marketing tools for the marketing emails; the transaction ones should be all business!

Keep simple graphics

A good transaction email isn’t as showstopping as a marketing email. With a marketing email, your customers will likely spend some time reading it all the way through. However, a transaction email is about speed and clarity.

You can include your logo and maybe a customized header or footer with more information, but you don’t need anything more than that. Elegant and straightforward while letting the information take center stage.

How to optimize transactional emails

optimize emails

The best way to optimize transactional emails is to include a smaller tease that will want your clients to come back. For example, at the end of your receipt email, you could put a link to your social media. Then tell your customers to check out your social media while they wait for their product to be delivered.

Or you can give your customer another call to action. At the end of your password reset email, you could tell your customer to check out another section of your website that doesn’t require a log in!

These emails do give quick bursts of information, and you don’t want to clutter them up. However, your customer is all but guaranteed to open the email to get at the information, so having some optimization won’t hurt. Just make sure it doesn’t take away from the purpose of the email.

Spend time on transactional emails

These one to one emails are going to be very important for your business, so you need to spend some real-time on them. Ensure they communicate your work clearly, allow your customers to quickly find the information they need, and then get on with their day. That’s what makes a good transactional email.

A bad transactional email experience can really linger with a customer and might prevent them from working with you again. But if you spend time on these emails and get them right, they’ll increase your marketing, the size of your audience, and the number of purchases those people make from you.

The best part is, it’s all automated. Just set it up once, and then you can move on to more important things.

Andrian Valeanu is a web designer and indie maker. His interests include but not limited to information technologies, web design, and email marketing. Founder of Designmodo.