More Evidence Transactional Emails Should Include Pitches
By Ken Magill
If you’re not marketing in your transactional emails, you should be.
New evidence that transactional emails should include sales pitches comes from digital marketing service provider Silverpop’s 2014 Email Marketing Benchmark Report.
Transactional messages are those sent as a result of some action or inaction by the recipient. They include shipping and purchase confirmations.
The mean unique open rate for transactional emails sent from close to 3,000 brands in the study was 37.7 percent compared to 20 percent for non-transactional messages, according to Silverpop.
The median unique open rate for transactional emails in the study was 38.5 percent compared to 17 percent for non-transactional messages, according to Silverpop.
The open rate—the percentage of machines that call for graphics from the sender—is a highly flawed metric in that it doesn’t accurately portray the percentage of emails that were opened.
However, it can serve as a barometer of how engaged an audience is with a sender’s messages. Silverpop’s study indicates people are far more engaged with transactional messages than non-transactional messages.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, transactional emails can lawfully include commercial content as long as the overall message is primarily transactional.
A direct marketing tenet has it that people are most responsive right after making a purchase. It is why mail order purchases include catalogs when the boxes are shipped and why donating to charity results seemingly immediately in a pitch for more money.
As a result, marketing in transactional emails would seem to be a no-brainer extension of one of the oldest tactics in direct marketing.
However, transactional messages that include sales pitches are still fairly rare, according to Loren McDonald, vice president of industry relations at Silverpop.
“They’re catching a little bit of traction, but they’re nowhere near where they should be,” he said.
One of the main reasons marketing in transactional messages is so rare is most retailers’ back-end systems simply are not set up for it, he said.
“A lot of them are home grown from a technology perspective,” McDonald said. “A high percentage of retailers are still using some home-grown IT system for their transactional order confirmations that some kid developed 12 years ago. The fundamental problem with that is a lot of those systems can’t handle HTML. They can’t handle cross sells and up sells. They can’t integrate with their recommendation engines.
“It’s a massive stumbling block,” he said.
He added that a lot of marketers are confused about the rules concering sales content in transactional emails so they avoid the issue.
However, McDonald added, making the effort to sell in transactional emails pays off.
“It’s not off the charts, but the ROI is there because people are so engaged with those emails.”
Get access to Silverpop’s whole study here.