Practical Ecommerce

5 Keys to Transactional Emails; The Yankee Candle Example

Transactional emails, by definition, are sent automatically after a customer places an order. Every transactional email is an opportunity to connect with your customer at a point where he or she is fully engaged.

But how can you optimize transactional emails to encourage customer interaction, and repeat sales? This article will offer some suggestions.

Customer Expectations

After an order is placed, your customer is expecting to receive a timely, relevant communication from you verifying that the order was received. Failing to do so will produce doubt, and potentially spark buyer’s remorse. Although online shopping has been around for years and consumers are quite comfortable placing orders online, the truth is it still remains a very apprehensive and stressful process. Many things can go wrong, and you need to reassure your customers that you received and are processing their orders in a timely manner.

The Power of Transactional Emails

Because customers are looking for these emails, they tend to have the highest open rates of any other email within a program. What’s more, customers tend to keep these particular email communications in their inboxes for a longer period of time. This means, as a retailer, you can use these communications as an opportunity to remarket.

A Series of Emails

An ideal series of transactional emails can include some of the following types:

  • Order acknowledgement/confirmation;
  • Order processing notice;
  • Shipment notification;
  • Follow-up customer service survey;
  • Request to review products bought;
  • Product review posting notification.

5 Keys to Transactional Emails

Remember that customers are more likely to open and keep transactional emails longer than others. Spend the time to truly optimize the content and design of them by including the following details.

  1. Include relevant customer service and order information. Include details of a customer’s order and shipment. Also include a way for the customer to contact your company regarding his or her order.

  2. Link back to our site. Include a way for customers to return to your site. Perhaps, frame in your top or side navigation.

  3. Encourage social networking. When your customer has just placed an order, he or she would may want to share the experience with others. Make it easy for customers to share their thoughts with others by linking to social networking and bookmarking sites.

  4. Encourage future purchases. Transactional emails are a great place to promote special offers, rewards programs or refer-a-friend programs.

  5. Include upsell/cross-sell items. Many leading ecommerce sites include in their transactional emails personalized recommendations that are dynamically rendered based on the customer’s order or browsing behavior.

The Yankee Candle Example

I love Yankee Candle, but it missed many opportunities in its shipment notification to me when I recently purchased a product on that site.

A sample shipment confirmation email from Yankee Candle.

A sample shipment confirmation email from Yankee Candle.

It gives the necessary information, but did not optimize the communication. The email is barely branded, except for the small text “Yankee Candle” on top. I’d love to see site navigation, some images, an offer for my next order, or some recommendations of products I may like based on my purchase, and perhaps some share-to-social links. I enjoy Yankee Candle and would probably follow it on Twitter and Facebook if given the opportunity. Also, this was the only email I received from Yankee Candle after placing an order. It could add a few more emails to truly optimize its transactional series.

In addition, Yankee Candle did not appear to track clicks in the one link back to its site. Make sure to track the links within all transactional emails. You will be surprised at how many people click through and make additional purchases directly from these emails and the long lifecycle they have compared to regular promotional emails.

Summary

Take the time to plan out and optimize your transactional emails. It is an opportunity to build up your relationships with customers and encourage repeat purchases.

Carolyn Nye

Carolyn Nye

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  1. cord October 12, 2010 Reply

    hi Carolyn,

    again a very good article!

    I have been working with transactional emails for almost a year now and just impressed on how business benefits from it – and customers appreciate very much the professional service of being recognized as a valueable customer.

    For anyone running on Zen-Cart, osCommerce, CRE Loaded, osCMax, xtcommerce, xtc-modified, Gambio GX or DigiStore I can very much recommend the free addon "MailBeez" (www.mailbeez.com).
    "MailBeez" is uttermost easy to install within minutes and based on a modular concept – you can add transactional campaigns from a growing choice of modules or build your own.

    keep on doing what you do
    cord

  2. Carolyn Nye October 19, 2010 Reply

    Thanks again Cord for the great comments! It is amazing how much a well thought out transactional plan can benefit any business.