Email Marketing
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8
Nov
21
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The Ultimate Guide to Transactional Emails for Ecommerce

In general, there are two categories of emails you can use: promotional and transactional. Transactional emails are the direct result of actions visitors take on your website. Think receipts or order confirmation reports. These emails are more likely to be opened, due to the fact that customers will want to see the important information contained in these emails. This provides an excellent opportunity to engage your customers on a whole new level and effectively boost sales in a variety of ways. Before we get to each of these tactics in detail, let’s take a closer look at transactional emails and the wonders they can do for your ecommerce business.

As the owner of an ecommerce store, you have a number of ways to acquire customers. Organic traffic, paid search, display and social media ads, and emails are the dominant acquisition channels for ecommerce. While each of these channels have some unique advantages over the others, email marketing allows you to reach a customer directly and provide important information to them which they can read at their leisure. Unlike social media, chat, or other forms of direct communication, email remains an effective and low-cost way to engage your customers.

In general, there are two categories of emails you can use: promotional and transactional. Promotional emails send automatically without requiring any action from the recipients. Automatic email campaigns can feature seasonal promotions, product updates, and generally boost engagement.

For the most part, promotional emails usually get credit for new customer acquisition and a lion’s share of the 3,800% ROI that email marketing can bring. Promotional emails, however, run the risk of going unopened or unnoticed by subscribers. They are usually perceived to be salesy and therefore ignored. 

Transactional emails, on the other hand, are the direct result of actions visitors take on your website. Think receipts or order confirmation reports. These emails are more likely to be opened, due to the fact that customers will want to see the important information contained in these emails. 

This provides an excellent opportunity to engage your customers on a whole new level and effectively boost sales in a variety of ways. Before we get to each of these tactics in detail, let’s take a closer look at transactional emails and the wonders they can do for your ecommerce business.

Transactional emails 101

The main purpose of transactional emails is to convey important information to customers. Their underlying function is to increase the trust of customers. Done right, transactional emails will gain customer trust. Done wrong, they can also erode trust and lose customers, so these communications must be approached with care.

For every customer action, a store should have an appropriate email. The information must be timely, accurate, and relevant. Transactional emails show your customer that you will deliver the products, at the correct cost, and in the shortest possible time. Quick follow-ups will make the customer more likely to convert or at least research the offer more closely. 

There are several types of transactional emails you can use:

  • Welcome emails
  • Order confirmation or receipt emails
  • Cart abandonment emails
  • Shipping confirmation emails
  • Post-purchase emails
  • Account action emails

This article would not be an ultimate guide to transactional emails for ecommerce if it did not examine each of these types of emails in detail, with examples and templates you can put to use readily. So without further ado, let us start.

Welcome email campaigns

The very first transaction a customer has with your website can play out in two ways: Either the customer purchases that one product and never buys anything else, or they become a returning customer. A welcome email can make all the difference and drastically increase the likelihood the customer will return. 

A welcome email is an indispensable part of customer lifecycle marketing. With lifecycle marketing, you engage customers at different parts of the purchasing journey with relevant messages and offers. A welcome email is relevant for customers who are at the initial phase of a lifecycle. This message tells a customer they are appreciated and provides them with further information, offers, and additional value.

According to research, 75% of customers expect to receive a welcome email once they make a transaction or subscribe to content. The goal is to wow a customer and give them a reason to come back. 

There are several types of welcome emails an ecommerce website can send:

  1. New customer welcome email
  2. Newsletter subscriber welcome email
  3. Referral or loyalty program welcome email

A visitor’s expectations are not the same for an email welcoming them to a newsletter subscription versus entering a loyalty program. The actual content of a welcome email depends on what action triggers the welcome campaign. 

New customer welcome email

When a customer purchases their first product from you, they not only exchange money, they also give trust to your brand. They have bought into your marketing message and in a way have become a part of the family. By sending a welcome message to a new customer, you can set the tone for future interaction.

Without an email welcome, a customer may feel forgotten and will be less likely to return for another purchase. A welcome message is your chance to wow the customer. 

Amazon welcome email

Another potential use of a welcome email is to provide education to your customers. Any product you sell can be put to better use if a customer is provided with additional information. For example, a company selling linens can provide extensive information on how to maintain different fabrics properly.

Educating your visitors gives them additional value at no cost and will increase their willingness to purchase additional products from you later. 

Finally, your welcome email can encourage customers to connect with your brand on other channels, such as social media.

Newsletter subscriber welcome email

Newsletters educate visitors and provide valuable information to potential customers, while increasing an ecommerce site’s authority and engendering trust with prospects. Newsletters can also encourage visitors to visit your website repeatedly, read blog posts, view video content, and check out new products. 

A welcome email to every new subscriber serves a similar purpose as a welcome to new customers—they set the tone for all future communication. According to research by MarketingLand, subscribers are most engaged in the first 48 hours, and welcome emails have a 34% read rate on average according to Return Path study

The welcome email is essential to ensuring your subscribers will read the newsletters and other promotional info you send them later on. If they like an initial welcome message, they will open future emails expecting to find similar content.

Mr. Porter welcome email

A welcome email is a great opportunity to introduce your company or brand. Make your brand a known quantity for a visitor and eliminate any potential research they might need to conduct before they make another purchase. Although some people will have already researched your company, it is never useful to assume this will be the case for all subscribers.

Consider presenting the people who stand behind the company. This way, you can create a human link with your subscribers and bring the company closer to them. 

In addition, a welcome email for newsletter subscribers explains when you send the newsletter, and what readers can expect to find in each issue. This increases the chances your newsletters will be opened and not end up in a spam folder.

Referral or loyalty program welcome email

An increasing number of ecommerce companies rely on referrals or loyalty programs. By becoming members, customers can make significant savings, get deals, or accumulate points to make additional purchases cheaper. 

Of course, a welcome email for customers who enlist in these programs is necessary. While in theory similar to a newsletter welcome, this email has a much more beneficial purpose: It explains why joining the program is such a great decision to make.

Same as in the case of a new customer welcome email, the fact that customers have enlisted into a program doesn’t mean they know everything about it. To save them and yourself from bad surprises, you need to clearly set out the rules and show how customers can collect points or other rewards and apply them to their purchases.

The welcome email for a referral or loyalty program should be highly personalized in order to indicate to customers that you understand them and are able to offer them superior service. Personalized emails have a 50% higher open rate. 

In order to personalize your emails, you need to have certain information such as the customer’s name, email address, and preferably purchase history. Collecting information about your customers is vital and you should use all the information at your disposal to make emails as personalized as possible. To do this, try to gather email addresses early in the funnel—that is, soon after a visitor lands on your site. See the article we wrote on popups.

A few additional tips

In order to make a welcome email more user-friendly, you need to enable customers to easily unsubscribe from your list. If you make it hard or impossible, you run the risk that your emails will be designated and reported as spam, ruining your online reputation and making any future email marketing a virtual non-starter.

Welcome emails are critical for establishing a relationship with a subscriber or a customer. Relevant, accurate, and personalized content enables customers to get additional value from your brand. This makes them more likely to return and purchase.

Order confirmation emails

Once a customer completes the transaction, it is necessary to notify them you have received their order, the item is in stock, and the payment has been processed. This email is akin to a receipt in a regular brick and mortar store. It is also a unique chance to engage your customers, build up their relationship with your site, and increase their customer lifetime value. 

The advantage of order confirmation emails is that they have a very high open rate. According to HubSpot, open rates of 70% or more are typical. Customers expect to receive these emails and the important information they contain. This is an opportunity that should not be missed, especially since existing customers are twice as likely to purchase again.

Urban Outfitters order confirmation email

The confirmation email informs the customer of their purchase. The secondary purpose is to establish a relationship with the customer and engender trust. Every order confirmation must contain essential data, such as the product purchased, the quantity ordered, the price, the shipping cost, and other costs.

If the order confirmation email stopped there, your customer would not find any fault with it. It would fulfill its primary function of informing the customer and keeping them in the loop regarding their order. However, it would miss out on the opportunity to upsell or cross-sell to the customer.

Upsell and cross-sell in a receipt

Upselling and cross-selling are tactics used to sell an upgraded product or a product that is related to the one the customer just bought. They enable you to increase the average order value of the customer at virtually zero additional cost.

Once a customer has decided to trust your offer and your website, it will be easier to convince them to purchase something again. When you send a receipt, include some opportunity for a customer to make the product they have bought better. A customer will likely consider this offer either immediately or after some time, when they have had an opportunity to try the product and find out what they need. For example, if a customer has bought a laptop, they may quickly realize that they need some upgrade for it.

Crate&Barrel uses order confirmation as an opportunity to cross-sell

Use a cross-sell strategy for products that do not have the possibility of an easy upgrade (upsell). To make the best use of the opportunity, offer visitors products that are complementary to the product the customer bought. A good example of this is a clothes store that offers related accessories to a customer who has bought an item of clothing.

JustBallGloves offers related items to customers as a cross-sell

Upsell and cross-sell are valuable tactics because they bring customers back to your website. They also make customers like your brand more, especially if the related products you offer are targeted to make sense and help the customers solve their problems.

If this approach seems a bit too salesy, you have other email options. For example, providing guides, a how-to section, and FAQs about the product they have bought, or links to blog posts about similar products.

Educating customers

Another way to engage your customers and provide them with additional value in the order confirmation email is to include content that makes it easier for them to use their product, or that makes the product more effective. Providing answers to FAQs, how-to guides, and similar content will increase the trust of your customers and make them like your company.

Educational content needs to be relevant, useful and accurate. Otherwise, these emails may backfire and have the opposite effect. By presenting information that is not useful or relevant, you can let the customer down and erode any trust they have in your site.

Gemini provides activation instructions in the receipt email

Another way to educate customers is to send instructional videos about the product they have bought. Emails with video content have 50% higher click-rates and over 64% of customers are more likely to purchase after viewing a video. Besides, using video you can offer a more detailed and engaging way of presenting instructions.

Lead customers to your website

Of course, you can also use the order confirmation email to direct customers to your content. Repeated studies have shown a correlation between meaningful engagement and conversion on ecommerce websites. Of course, to be effective it is not enough to just engage visitors, but rather you must provide visitors with an interactive experience that will help them focus on their goal and convert.

One of the best ways to do this is by including links to blog posts relevant to the product your customer has bought, or the lifestyle that it represents. For example, some brands link their products with a certain ethos. Patagonia, known for their high-quality clothes, links their products with stories on the outdoors and nature, exploring themes about caring for the environment.

You can also create a community for your customers either on your own website or on a social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, and so forth) to allow customers to share experiences, or help other customers use their products more effectively.

By providing a glimpse of community activity in your order confirmation email, you can get your new customers excited about the product they have just bought. If you sell digital cameras and photo equipment, for instance, you can enable your customers to share their photos and ideas in an Instagram community. Social media can also provide a platform for promotions such as giving rewards for customer contributions, contests, and other fun initiatives.

Allbirds sends an engaging, personalized order confirmation email

Final tips

The order confirmation email should never be viewed as simple info-dump, but as a good way to engage a customer with content that will expand their relationship with your company. 

Research has shown that if a customer has an emotional connection to your brand, they will have a 52% higher customer lifetime value. In addition, they will be 2.3 times more likely to pay higher prices for products. Finally, they will be 1.4 times more likely to recommend your site than other customers.

Since order receipts have a high open rate, customers will be sure to notice if you provide them with relevant and engaging content. Videos, FAQs, and how-to instructions can create a deeper relationship with customers and establish a post-purchase relationship that will lead to repeat purchases. These loyal followers may even provide marketing of their own, eventually. Of course, this is only the first step on that long journey.

Welcome emails and order confirmation emails are your best options to connect with visitors who have made a purchase on your site and convert them into loyal customers. But what if a customer adds an item to their cart, and doesn’t complete their purchase?

Cart abandonment emails

One of the biggest problems for ecommerce stores is cart abandonment. Visitors come, add a product to the cart, and leave without making a purchase. According to CodeinWP research, cart abandonment in 2019 was 67.9%, equal to around $4 trillion in lost revenue compared to the total of $3.5 trillion revenues of ecommerce in 2019.

What this means, in a nutshell, is that abandoned cart recovery can lead to a revenue increase of 100% if it is 100% efficient. Sadly, this is usually not achievable in practice. In fact, only around 20% of abandoned carts can be recovered by a timely reminder sent within 24 hours.

Reasons for cart abandonment (source: CodeinWP)

The reasons for cart abandonment vary and according to the same research, the main reason is usually unexpected costs, followed by a complicated checkout process, and a lack of trust. Luckily, each of these issues is treatable, and one of the best methods to reclaim customers is email.

Cart recovery emails are very efficient as they reach your customers directly and enable them to react at their discretion. That way, a customer can visit the site and retrieve their abandoned cart even once they have closed down the window to your store—provided, of course, you have their email addresses available.

What to address in an abandoned cart email

Since there are different problems that can prevent prospects from completing a purchase, your recovery email needs to be targeted toward the most pressing issues that hinder purchase.

Around 58.8% of visitors were just browsing and added the product to the cart to see how much it would cost to buy it, without serious intent to purchase. Although you can do very little to change the minds of these customers, you can always offer to sign them up for a newsletter or engage them in some similar way so you can contact them later with promotional emails.

Abandoned cart emails are usually sent in the form of a campaign, with several emails. The first should be sent immediately and simply remind a prospect that they have left an item in the cart. This brings back visitors who seriously intended to make a purchase, but were interrupted by a real-life event, such as a telephone call.

This initial email makes it possible to differentiate the customers who have simply forgotten from those who have other issues with your store. Many factors could be at stake, but the top two causes of cart abandonment are unexpected costs and a lack of trust. Let’s explore each of these hurdles in detail. 

  1. Addressing unexpected costs

Visitors abandon their carts most often due to the price. Although there is not much you can do about this in an email, one tactic is to offer a discount in the form of a coupon. 

Saatchi Art offers a discount of 10% on products visitors viewed

Another common tactic is to offer free shipping or some other benefit to reduce the price and increase the perceived value of the product.

Asics offers free shipping

The downside of this strategy is that using it too often creates additional costs for your company and reduces your bottom line. An alternative is to offer prospects similar but cheaper products (if applicable). For example, a store that sells phones could offer a prospect a lower performance smartphone with a correspondingly lower price. In addition, you can offer lower-cost shipping that takes longer (if this is an option).

GILT creates urgency with their cart recovery email

If neither of these options are possible, use an email to convince the prospect that the product is worth the money by pointing out useful features—or better yet, by showing peer group reviews.

Finally, consider adding an urgency or scarcity element. Though this doesn’t address the price element directly, it can influence prospects and make them complete the purchase if they believe the item will soon not be available anymore.

  1. Addressing a lack of trust

It sounds serious to say a prospect has abandoned a purchase due to a lack of trust, doesn’t it? Actually, this can easily be corrected by sending emails with relevant data. 

One of the best ways to increase trust is to use social proof, such as reviews and ratings of products and services. The aim is to convince a customer that a lot of people are already buying products, so it is safe to buy from your site.

Adidas adds trust indicators to persuade customers

You can also use security indicators to reassure customers that secure mechanisms will complete their payment. Secure checkout is one of the greatest concerns for customers, as they will be concerned whether their data can be accessed by third parties.

To build trust, you can also point out cooperation with other well-known companies or institutions. It can also be powerful to get celebrities or established authorities to vouch for the quality of the products you sell. These email reassurances can go a long way to alleviate any concerns prospects may have and make them convert.

  1. Addressing other issues

There are also a number of other issues that could affect a prospect’s decision to abandon the cart. One of the most frequent is a complicated checkout process. To address this issue, every abandoned cart reminder email should allow the customer to complete the transaction by clicking the call to action in the email itself. Also include detailed instructions that will enable them to negotiate the checkout process quickly.

Of course, if this is a common issue on your website, you should reexamine the checkout process and redesign it to make it more user-friendly by reducing the amount of information you ask, enabling social media logon, and similar improvements.

If you stopped there, you will certainly fulfill the main purpose of a transactional email: to inform the customer. And that would be the end of this article.

However, another common issue identified in CodeinWP research is that a customer cannot see or calculate the total cost of the order. To alleviate this concern, make sure all cart abandonment reminders contain accurate and relevant costs. If the shipping address is not available directly, you can use the average for the prospect’s city, using geo-location.

These simple tactics can go a long way and reclaim at average 20% to 25% of all abandoned carts.

Final tips

To be effective, an abandoned cart reminder should be sent within the first hour or two. This enables you to address the prospect while your website is still fresh in their mind, along with the product they added to the cart. If they really wanted to make a purchase but were distracted, they will appreciate the reminder.

For cart abandonment emails to work, it’s especially important to gather email addresses early in the funnel, as mentioned previously. Early email capture will also make it possible to understand at which point each individual prospect left, helping you understand what issue caused them to abandon the cart.

Shipping confirmation emails

Why separate the order confirmation email and the shipping confirmation email when they may be part of the same process? Well, the main reason is that there is a temporal disconnect between the two steps. Payment does not necessarily mean the product will be shipped immediately. It will take some time to get the shipment organized, packed, and sent on its way. Most customers will be extremely interested to know when the product they have ordered will arrive. If you can provide the answer to this question, they will appreciate it.

So what is the difference between the shipping and order confirmations? The order confirmation should go out immediately—as soon as the customer has completed checkout and payment. Shipping confirmation should follow only after the item the product is actually on its way. 

This process provides the customer with a greater degree of involvement. It begins with a step in the checkout process where you can provide an estimate of when a product will be shipped. This sets the expectation. To follow through, you need to continue providing information after the customer completes the purchase. When you send the order confirmation email, you can include a rough estimate of when the item will be shipped.

The logical next step is to send an email when the item has actually shipped. This status update fulfills the expectation of the customer and delights them by clearly communicating the transaction. The customer will also appreciate the extra effort you make to be transparent.

Apple store sends a great shipment confirmation email

For maximum impact, make sure you include a tracking link, so the customer can track their order. This option is available with most shipping services and customers will expect it.

Also be sure the customers may contact you if they have questions regarding their order. Providing this information can serve two purposes: It enables customers to immediately contact you if something is wrong, and it increases their trust, knowing that you are ready to listen to any complaints.

To make the shipping confirmation email less likely to be disregarded, add a descriptive subject line that immediately tells the customer what the email is about, such as, “Your order has been shipped.” A subject line connected with the shipment will instantly capture attention and make it very likely the customer will open the email.

Tradesy uses their shipment confirmation email to incentivize customers

As with the order confirmation email, the shipping confirmation email serves the primary purpose of providing crucial information to the customer, while also boosting engagement. What’s the best way to do that? Get customers excited about the product that is on the way!

Reminding customers about purchases

If there is a longer temporal difference between the order and shipment, then reminding customers about what they have bought can rekindle their excitement. Although it is unlikely that people will easily forget what they ordered, providing them with another glimpse can make the difference between good and great service.

Besides, in spite of the low probability of a shipping error, this allows the customer to make sure the items are actually being shipped to the correct location, and react in a timely manner if there has been a mistake.

Polaroid sends a shipping confirmation to excite customers about the product

Best of all, the shipping confirmation email is another great opportunity to upsell, cross-sell, and bring customers to your site to shop for more. The customer will be thrilled to see that their purchase is on the way. Capture that momentum and build on it by giving customers the option at that moment to explore your site and make further purchases.

Final tips

While a shipping confirmation may seem redundant, you should never pass up an opportunity to engage the customer. Since transactional emails are actually expected by customers and have, as we have seen, very high open rates, it means that each message will likely be read. 

In order to comply with relevant laws, you need to make sure the email is primarily transaction-oriented. If you choose to make an upsell pitch, first provide the critical information, such as when the item shipped and when the customer can expect it to arrive, before embarking on the promotional part of the email.

Post-purchase emails

Once a customer has bought and received a product, that’s it, right? You can high five and expect them to return and purchase something more from your website. The answer to this is no! In fact a big NO-NO!

To keep customers loyal, you need to constantly engage them with your content. Once they have purchased a product, there are several tactics you can use to engage them further. After all, a happy customer can be your best marketing channel.

While we have mentioned product education already in the sections on receipts and shipping emails, a separate feedback email can be sent to customers after they have had some time to spend with the product and form their impressions. Use it to set up a two-way communication with your customers and prove to them that you actually care about their satisfaction.

Types of feedback

You can gather two general types of feedback: feedback on your website and services, and feedback about the product a customer has bought. 

The first type enables you to improve your website and make it more effective. You can ask customers questions about your website content, as well as the user interface and experience. Answers to questions such as “What almost stopped you from buying from us?” or “How did you find out about our products?” can help you improve the content or user experience.

The other type of feedback is to gather reviews or ratings of products. This is important as it allows you to post this feedback to your website and prove to prospects that there are other people who are happy with the products. This type of social proof is also authentic as the customers who have already purchased the product will be able to offer an honest and unbiased view of it.

Post-purchase survey

Once a customer has received a product, you can use a survey or another similar form to obtain feedback from them. Feedback is especially meaningful from people who have actually bought into your marketing message and trust you. By asking them questions like how they decided to buy your product, and what almost made them give up before buying, you can gain valuable insights.

You can also ask customers to provide a review or simple rating of the product. This can contribute to establishing social proof and you can show the reviews and ratings on your website to other prospects to increase their trust.

Nest asks customers to take a survey

Offering an incentive

Although email is good at reaching your customers directly, getting customers to actually provide feedback is another matter. Readers may simply be too busy or not motivated enough to respond. 

Whatever the reason, engaging them is necessary to make your survey and feedback gathering effort effective. Since in essence they will be doing you a favor, it is necessary to offer them something in return (one of Cialdini’s Principles of Influence).

Handy offers discounts of up to 40% off for customers who fill out a survey

Often companies will offer direct benefits, such as discount coupons. These can be very effective in getting customers to answer the survey. However, as is always the case, these will impact your bottom line.

An alternative is to provide information that could be useful to your customers, such as a blog post. Some sites, such as those that sell beauty products or similar items, can offer customers sample quantities of products. Here you can also use the advantage of personalization and offer products that match each customer’s preferences.

Another way to motivate your customers is to point out that their reviews are valued by other people (this is something Amazon does with success) and so incentivize them to contribute. If a customer knows that people have read their previous reviews and found them helpful, they will be more likely to provide new ones.

Making it interactive

New types of email protocols allow you to place interactive code directly into an email and enable visitors to interact with the content of the email itself. This option is increasingly supported in Apple Mail and Gmail email services and it is gaining the support of others (such as Microsoft Outlook).

The advantage of interactive emails is that they do not require customers to leave their email provider and visit a separate website that hosts the survey. This is less distracting and saves the customer time.

Insurify provides a simple survey to customers

Simple surveys also increase the likelihood that visitors will actually submit feedback before going back to reading the content of their inbox.

Gathering product feedback

Ecommerce websites need to use every possible way to increase the trust of visitors that browse their products, and one of the best ways is product feedback. According to research by Norman-Nielsen group, 68% of customers trust online reviews provided by other customers. Furthermore, products that have more than 20 reviews have 84% higher conversion rates.

Gathering honest and authentic reviews from customers is critical for any ecommerce website. Of course, there are many ways to gather reviews and some are more effective than others. 

To effectively gather product reviews using email, you need to send the review request email after the customer has received the product and had time to form their impression. To send it in time for a customer to provide authentic and honest feedback, you need to study how long a new customer takes to get familiarized with a given product and be able to provide meaningful feedback.

Getting customers to provide reviews requires some incentive. Many brands offer a discount, free shipping, or an opportunity to win a free gift. 

Taylor Stitch sends a product feedback email

For the review to be effective, the process must be short and simple. If a survey is complicated or takes a lot of time, it is very likely the customer will not bother. Sometimes just using a five-star system or something similar to rate products can be the most effective way to gather social proof.

Loyalty programs

Another post-purchase activity you can engage in is a loyalty program. Loyalty programs reward customers for purchasing on the site. By collecting points, tokens, or other forms of rewards, a customer can make significant savings during their customer lifetime.

Once more, email is an ideal medium to present the loyalty program to your customers. If you have a loyalty program, make sure you send an email shortly after a customer completes a purchase that explains how the program works and what rewards they can expect from participating. 

Do not assume that because you may have mentioned it on the website or the receipt email all customers would know about it. People tend to overlook information that is not relevant to them at the moment when they make a purchase decision, and they might miss it in the receipt email. An email that specifically addresses and explains the loyalty program will get undivided attention from customers.

DavidsTea sends a nice loyalty and rewards program email

To make your loyalty program more effective, you should send the following emails periodically to all the customers that participate:

  • Balance of their reward account
  • Referral codes to repeat customers
  • Remind customers they are close to rewards
  • Personalized emails with rewards for best customers

Each of these will make sure customers are aware of all the advantages and perks available to them. That way you can delight your customers and increase their customer lifetime value.

Final tips

There are many ways to collect answers to survey data. Sometimes websites use post-purchase survey pop-ups that immediately engage a customer with questions. This tactic has the advantage of being able to collect data while it is fresh, but it may be intrusive.

Using email, you can let customers open and answer the survey when it suits them. Another advantage is that you can time the survey to allow visitors to answer it after they have time to form their opinions about the product. For example, you can time an email to be sent seven days after the customer should have received a product.

Crucially, email allows you to engage customers without intruding into their user experience. When they open the transactional email you have sent, they will be ready to dedicate some time to fill out a survey.

Account action emails

A special category of transactional emails concerns the actions your customers can make on their account. These can include simple things like editing profile information, or sensitive matters such as changing credit card information or the password they use to log on to their account.

Many ecommerce websites enable visitors to register and create an account. This is useful to both the customer and the store for multiple reasons. The customer is able to complete purchases quickly and without going through every step of the checkout process. By providing their shipping address, payment data, and similar information, customers can simply click on purchase and confirm the order. Other advantages for customers include the ability to access a personalized offer that takes into account their preferences and tastes.

Advantages for the store are also very clear. By having access to customer information and being able to accurately track their interactions with your site, you can increase personalization. By offering customers products they like and that match their tastes and preferences, you can increase the likelihood they will remain loyal customers.

An account is not without disadvantages, and if not carefully managed, these disadvantages may outweigh the advantages. One challenge of allowing customers to create accounts on a website is the security of the data. It is certain that without a great deal of trust, no customer will ever register for an account. The cases of compromised customer information data are well known, even with large companies such as Yahoo! and eBay.

Provided you have managed to get customers to create an account, you need to enable customers to make changes to their profile, such as address or user name. Emails also enable you to alert customers that their information has been changed and let them know that their account has possibly been compromised or tampered with.

Password reset emails

The most important aspect of account security is a password. You need to enable customers to retrieve their passwords quickly and effortlessly and using email is ideal for this.

If a customer is unable to login or forgets their password, then the mechanism to recover it must exist. This mechanism in most cases relies on email.

Most customers will find it easiest to retrieve their account password using emails. Email remains the most private channel of communication that still allows a large amount of interactivity, such as password reset links. Thanks to the fact that most email services contain phishing security, it is unlikely that a counterfeit email purporting to be from your company will end up in the customer’s inbox.

Jet provides customers with a simple email method to recover passwords

By clicking a simple link, the customer will be able to select a new password and regain access to their account.

However, there is a possibility that a user tries to login to their account, but makes an error in typing in their email address, triggering a password reset notification. Or, that there is a real McCoy, as in somebody trying to hack an account. In this case, if a customer receives a password reset notification, they may have genuine cause for concern.

It is necessary to reassure them by noting that a password reset is time-limited and they do not need to do anything (unless they suspect their email account is actually being hacked). In other words, unless a customer actually clicks on the password reset link, their password will remain the same.

In order to alleviate any distrust from customers who are not familiar with these technicalities, you could also use a link or a button for them to indicate that they have not actually requested a password reset. This will help ease their minds and increase trust in your website.

Final tips

Make sure a password reset email is sent within 30 seconds of the reset request. If it is sent later, customers may get distracted or even turn to competition to perform the transaction they wanted to make with your website.

Alternatively, customers who do not receive a password reset email may contact your customer support. Either of these outcomes may hinder your future relationship with that customer. In order to avoid this, make sure your emails send reliably and instantaneously, so a customer is served while their attention is still fixed on your site. 

Another important point is to make sure that the emails are not poorly formatted or contain sloppy writing. There are two reasons for this: they look unprofessional and they may look like phishing emails that slipped past the filters. While this applies to all emails, password reset emails are a special concern, due to the sensitivity of the process.

Conclusion

Email is among the most powerful tools you can use to boost customer engagement with your ecommerce website. The problem is that promotional emails can come across as gimmicky and go unread—or worse, lose customers. Fortunately, you can harness transactional emails to do the work usually associated with promotional emails. By tying promotional elements to transactional emails, you maximize the likelihood that your most important promotional messages will be seen and acted upon.

Each type of transactional message has a specific role to play in marketing and acquisition strategy. Their common characteristic is that they follow the direct action of a visitor on your website, delivering a piece of relevant information. 

For each interaction a visitor makes with your website, you can send a corresponding transactional email to increase their engagement and make them follow up on initial interaction. To recap, the major categories are: 

  • Welcome emails
  • Order confirmation emails
  • Cart abandonment emails
  • Shipping confirmation emails
  • Post-purchase emails
  • Account action emails

At each stage of the purchasing journey, these emails present indispensable opportunities to engage the visitor further and increase the likelihood they will convert and become a regular customer. 

With a welcome email, say “Hi” to a customer, show them that their business is valued, and give them a chance to upgrade their product, or shop similar items. Present the unique benefits and advantages your company offers. Shorten the customer’s research path and increase the likelihood a satisfied customer will return and purchase additional products.

With both the order confirmation email and the shipping confirmation email, the primary purpose is to convey critical information, but the secondary purpose is just as important: to provide customers with additional information and resources at the moment when upselling or cross-selling is most welcome. If a customer abandons their cart, remind them about it with a series of helpful messages geared toward resolving any issues the visitor may have encountered. 

As a direct line of communication between your store and site visitors, email is also your best option for post-purchase communications, such as sending surveys, gathering product feedback, and explaining loyalty programs. In a survey, ask customers questions that allow you to improve the user interface of your website, put more emphasis on content that works, and improve the content that does not. 

You can also check up on how a customer is enjoying a new product and see if there is anything they may need to know. This allows you to find out what features they find useful or what is missing and could be added in the next iteration. It also shows that you truly care about the customer’s satisfaction.

Building trust and wowing visitors at each stage of the customer journey represents a significant step in making them repeat and loyal customers. The added value provided through relevant email content will delight visitors and encourage customers to appreciate your brand more and more as they build an emotional connection to it.

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