Transactional email is often thought just to relate to transactions that take place on your website (i.e. if someone makes a purchase… you send an email) but it’s really much more than that.
Think of the word action in transactional – specifically referring to user action on your site. Transactional email is triggered email that is sent to a specific individual or subset of your audience once they perform a desired (or in some cases undesired) action.
Here are a few examples of transactional emails:
- product purchase notification
- abandon checkout reminder
- add to cart reminder
- “thank you” email
- monthly invoices
- password resets
- other confirmations
These emails are sent in real-time to your customers based on the triggers you’ve set up in advance and when you’ve set these specific emails to be sent. They are designed and setup ahead of time so that customers have a seamless experience.
Here are a few steps to get you started with transactional emails…
1) Track Users
The first and most important piece of setting up successful transactional email is to track user actions on your website. In order to send well-timed emails you need to know what each user is doing and when.
delivered to your users at the right time like Postmark or Sendgrid. There are services that track actions and manage email content like SendWithUs. And then there are services that do both like Customer.io, Knowtify.io or Vero.
That being said there are also other services that can help you track users like Segment.io or Popcorn Metrics which don’t send email but do track user actions and send the data along to your preferred email provider. If you don’t have any developers to help you get this setup, the last two options I mentioned would be a good place for you to start.
You can also check the for a list of email services that integrate directly with your shopping cart software. Woo Commerce and Shopify both have a lot of integrations and add ons to sort through that will help you get started here if you’re not sure.
Remember that not all email services offer transactional emails so your Mail Chimp or Constant Contact won’t work here.
2) Choose Your Triggers
Now that you’ve figured out how to track users and where to send the data, it’s important to decide what actions are going to trigger transactional emails. There are obvious ones like when someone first signs up and less obvious ones like if someone hasn’t visited your site in a while and you want to entice them back with a coupon code.
Start jotting ideas down on paper of what user actions you think warrant an email. Don’t over do it here because it’s easy to overwhelm users with too much email but think about where in the customer lifecycle you can add value.
For example, once someone adds something to their cart, gets distracted and leaves your site, they often like a friendly reminder email to let them know that item is waiting for them and they should grab it before it’s gone!
3) Design Your Emails
Sadly, transactional email services don’t typically come with the nice drag and drop template builders that your regular email provider may offer but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost for all of you non-coders out there.
There are plenty of pre-made email templates available to get you started.
I recommend choosing one or two main templates and then customizing them for specific content as needed. Add photos, your logo
social links, or any other elements you think should be included in most if not all of the emails your customers receive.
4) Start Sending
Now it’s time to put everything together and assign your triggers to the content you want sent at specific times. Regardless of which email service you’re using, make sure they have good analytics to show you how well each email is performing.
That way you can adjust your emails to make sure you audience is finding the content useful and staying engaged.