Transaction emailsâ€”that is, those emails that confirm orders or that a product has shipped, for exampleâ€”can be an additional layer to a companyâ€™s email strategy. Just tread carefully to make sure you donâ€™t cross the line into outright marketing.
The US CAN-SPAM Act exempts transactional and relationship emails, writes Fawn Young, marketing strategist at Bronto. These, however, are rigidly defined as:
- Facilitating or confirming a commercial transaction;
- Providing warranty, recall, safety, or security information about a product or service;
- Providing information about a change in terms or features, account balance information regarding a membership, subscription, account or loan.
But while a transactional email must stick to its mission, it still can be used as a marketing vehicle, Young says. “Just be sure that the marketing portion of the email is below the transactional or relationship information and not the dominant message of the email.”
In addition, keep the 80/20 rule in mind, she also wroteâ€”meaning that 80% of the message is transactional and 20% is promotional in nature
Improving Service Around Transactional Emails
Another caveat: before a company uses a transaction email to upsell or cross sell, it should make sure its services around the transactional email are solid-â€“and the emails themselves pleasing to the eye, writes Loren McDonald at Silverpop.
Namely, transactional emails tend to be text-based and ugly. They also can be difficult to find in an inbox. “Many companies rely on homegrown transactional systems or ecommerce platforms that lack the authentication, delivery and bounce processing infrastructure common to email marketing or dedicated transactional email systems,” he writes.
If You Think That Is Badâ€¦
For companies thinking of using these tactics for transactional communication in other channels, the situation is even worse.
A November 2011 report from Bronto found that just 14% of marketers currently collect SMS opt-in from customers in all channels, while only 7% text to send out marketing messages, and 6% text to send out transactional support messages such as confirmations and order status. Between one-quarter and one-third of respondents plan to employ these capabilities in the next 12 months.
Another study released in November by Econsultancy in association with Foviance, just 9% of companies say that SMS/MMS touch points are very integrated into their overall customer experience.