Successful eCommerce campaigns ride on the backs of enthusiastic, thankful customers. That sounds obvious, but gushingly appreciative reactions are few and far between — especially when it comes to transactional emails.
More from PostFunnel on email marketing:
5 Top Quality Tips to Transcend Your Welcome Email Stream
How to Make Customers Look Forward to Your Email
5 First-Rate Email Tips to Deepen The Relationship With Your Customers
What most transactional emails miss is this single ingredient: the human touch. Amazon, for instance, nails speed of service. But mere speed can’t fill the void of genuine connection. You’ve seen this email so often it’s become white noise: a perfunctory thank you and ‘hope to see you again soon’ message followed by recommendations that have nothing to do with the order itself:
Think of bland transactional emails as the fast food of eCommerce. They’re nice if you’re in a hurry, enjoy mediocre treatment, or have outright given up.
Instead of fast food correspondences, here’s how to send transactional emails that delight; or, if you will, a three-course transactional feast to generate return customers and create brand evangelists.
- The ‘Thanks for Signing Up’ Transactional Email
In eCommerce, email addresses are sacred, especially those of prospective customers. Getting a visitor to sign up represents powerful micro-conversion which begs for continued momentum.
That’s why being given an email address at the top of the funnel is your best chance at making a memorable first impression.
Frank Body, for instance, does this through a universal footer that’s personable, conversational, and aesthetically on-brand:
The email that immediately follows is likewise packed with personality. Naturally, it delivers the discount code:
But it also builds brand familiarity, and segments new subscribers via content rather than heavy-handed sales:
As another point of inspiration, Native Deodorant delivers two sign-up emails nearly back-to-back. The first, promotional; the second, personal.
The power of the second shines in how different it looks and reads compared to the normal ‘Here’s your discount’ email.
Your own thank you should follow the same principles. And above all, deliver exactly what your new subscriber asked of you, immediately and with as little friction as possible.
After an opening ‘Thank you,’ the second paragraph — written directly by one of Native’s co-founders — tells its origin story. The remaining paragraphs then unpack its brand values while still linking directly to two of the product’s key differentiators:
Where Frank Body and Native both shine is precisely where most eCommerce transactional emails fail: establishing meaningful connections with their prospective shopper right off the bat.
- The ‘Order Placed’ Transactional Email
The second necessary transactional type is the purchase confirmation email.
Order confirmation emails have the highest open rate — as high as 70% — and people spend an average of 14 seconds reading them. Buyers expect to have their purchases acknowledged, and they don’t expect much beyond a transactional email.
Instead of taking a perfunctory tone, get creative and think about how to craft a genuinely reflective representation of your brand. You can’t fake authenticity, so write something from the heart, dig in to your values, and touch upon why your company exists.
Bondi Sands takes a brand-authentic approach to its purchase confirmation email, while showing off its personality. The picture in the screenshot below is actually a gif, which makes it even better.
Pay special attention to the fundamental difference between Frank Body’s subscriber thank you and Bondi Sands’ purchase thank you.
With the former, Frank Body segments at the same time as selling. Just like abandon cart emails, it’s important to keep it short and specific. On that note, Frank Body is clever at those too, with subject lines like “Babe, did you just ghost?”
With Bondi Sands’ confirmation, it’s gratitude from top to bottom.
There’s no upsell. No ‘recommended’ products. It’s straight and to the point. Why? Because the best way to spoil a good thank you is to add an ‘ask.’
Not surprisingly, Native also nails its confirmation email with a personal continuation from Julia (the co-founder from the sign-up email).
Purchase thank you emails are not the place to include a fresh offer or promotion. Unless — and this is sensitive ground — that offer aligns directly with the purchase itself. Many eCommerce sites that rely on auto-generated recommendations fail miserably. Remember that confirmation email from above. A hard shell case cover for a laptop isn’t exactly related to a book purchase.
Instead, Native closes out its confirmation email with an offer to win a free travel size deodorant:
What makes this such a clever addition are three elements. Number one, it’s free. Number two, it’s closely aligned with the product just purchased. And number three, it’s one for one with the onsite post-purchase confirmation:
Though not selling a physical product per se, Airbnb also excels on this front. The opening half of the email contains all relevant purchase information:
It uses the rest of the email, however, to provide helpful recommendations on content related directly to the destination and a CTA at the end to save money in exchange for referrals:
- The ‘Order Complete’ Transactional Email
Last in the sequence comes the completion email. Keep in mind that this final email is the most important for generating lifetime customers.
Because people remember experiences based on the ‘peak-end’ rule. When we think back and form opinions about people, products, or events, we don’t actually evaluate the past in its totality.
Instead, we automatically fall back to (1) the peak — that is, the high or low point of the transaction — and (2) the end — its final moments. How do you end on a high note that’s people-centric? The answer is reviews.
Lush does a fantastic job of using this post-transactional email to solicit customer feedback. It’s fun, cheeky, and focused.
The big idea is singularity. Nordstrom unappealingly crowds their review email with no less than 15 clickable options.
In other words, keep it simple: if you’re going after a review… just go after a review. Compare Nordstrom’s email to Handful’s:
Finally, highlight the fact that it’s not just for your own research, but for other customers as well. People want to help each other by sharing their opinions – and this is a good way to let them do exactly that.
Not Just Transactional
Far too often, transactional emails are an eCommerce afterthought. But they shouldn’t be. Instead, transactional emails are your most obvious and least threatening opportunity to connect with customers, strengthen brand identity, and follow up to get their opinion.
Every consumer expects them. What they don’t expect is to be wowed.
With passionate, high-quality, friendly, and well-planned transactional emails, you can be the high-class restaurant in a city filled with drive-thrus. People will keep coming back because you don’t just sell a product; you establish a relationship.
In the end, people care more about a buying experience than they do about just buying. Transactional emails are your way of fulfilling that natural desire and encouraging your customers to return and spread the love.