Order confirmations; shipping notifications; order refunds. They’re all examples of transactional emails.
And let’s be honest—they’re not exactly the most exciting emails you’re ever going to send.
While you might make people smile, laugh, and buy with a fantastic piece of copywriting or some stylish visuals in your ecommerce marketing emails, it’s unlikely your transactional emails will trigger much of an emotional response (except, perhaps, relief).
So does that mean transactional emails aren’t worth thinking about too much? That your design decisions and choice of words don’t matter because it’s only a receipt?
Not at all.
If anything, you need to be extra attentive for one simple reason: transactional emails are far more likely to be opened than other types of emails.
In fact, data from Silverpop shows that the (mean) average unique open rate for transactional emails stands at 45 percent—more than twice the figure for non-transactional emails.
Even more impressively, the top quartile of transactional emails sees open rates of more than 72 percent.
Imagine sending an email and having a 7/10 chance that it’d be opened; email marketers can only dream of those sorts of figures.
This is why I’ve devoted a whole article to highlighting some of my favorite transactional email examples.
7 Brands That Nailed Its Transactional Emails
What Are Transactional Emails?
Transactional emails are automated emails sent from a brand or retailer to a prospect or customer. Common transactional email examples include:
Whereas email marketing attempts to lead the conversation, transactional email is reactive because it’s driven by the email recipient’s actions. Actions like:
- Adding an item to the shopping cart
- Subscribing to a mailing list
- Making a purchase
Because of this, transactional emails are sometimes referred to as “triggered” emails.
Transactional emails also differ from marketing emails because they’re never sent in bulk. Rather, they’re personalized based on the recipient’s specific action and are sent individually.
Although transactional emails can play a part in delivering marketing objectives (like increasing customer retention and recovering abandoned shopping carts), their primary role is purely functional. It’s all about updating the recipient following an action they’ve recently performed.
As such, customers will often anticipate receiving transactional emails before they arrive, which explains their sky-high open rates.
7 Killer Transactional Email Examples
We know what transactional emails are and the types of scenarios in which you’d send them.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best transactional email examples from Drip’s vault of ecommerce emails.
When someone signs up for your marketing list, it’s definitely worth shouting about.
According to the DMA, the average customer lifetime value of an email subscriber stands at approximately $45. In other words, if you’ve got 12,000 people on your mailing list, you’re sitting on more than half a million dollars worth of orders.
So you should be taking the time to reach out to each and every new subscriber with a personalized welcome email.
But it’s not enough just to say: “Hi, thanks for signing up.”
When a potential customer first subscribes to your mailing list, it’s a key moment. Get your welcome message right, and they could become a loyal customer who makes multiple repeat purchases and recommends you to friends, family, colleagues, and anyone else who cares to listen.
Get it wrong, and they may never become anything more than a subscriber—someone who occasionally opens your emails but never clicks through to your website or buys anything.
That’s why your welcome emails should be geared toward driving immediate (or prompt) action from new members like The Spice House does here:
By welcoming subscribers with a 10 percent welcome discount, The Spice House compels them to buy straight away rather than at some unspecified point in the future.
That’s what we call striking while the iron’s hot.
Here at Drip, we talk a lot about abandoned cart emails.
Why? Because they’re one of the most effective tools in your ecommerce marketing kit.
According to the Baymard Institute, almost 70 percent of all online shopping carts end up getting abandoned. However strong your brand or brilliant your product, it’s an absolute certainty that abandoned shopping carts are costing you a ton of potential sales.
Chances are you already know this, and you’re probably already sending abandoned cart emails (if not, you definitely should be).
But are those emails as effective as they could be?
Don’t just tell shoppers that they left something in their cart—remind them exactly what they’re missing by including a description and image.
Not only that, but it’s also smart to include a star rating based on customer reviews, like Anastasia Beverly Hills does here:
It’s about saying to the would-be customer: you liked this product enough to add it to your cart; all these other people love it; don’t you think it’s time to follow through and buy it?
Follow all that up with a simple shop now CTA, and you’re well-placed to drive sales from cart abandoners without even having to offer them a discount.
So you’ve launched a site-wide sale or time-limited promotion.
Naturally, you’ve already built your drip marketing campaign to announce the event and remind customers not to miss out on all those juicy discounts.
But you can take things a step further by combining your sale launch with your standard transactional emails.
For instance, say you’re already sending abandoned cart emails. Why not level up your ecommerce marketing game by offering personalized recommendations to customers, letting them know that an item lingering in the depths of their shopping cart is now on offer?
That’s precisely what Zalando does here:
That way, you’re not just reminding customers that they liked an item enough to add it to their cart—you’re giving them an instant incentive to complete the transaction.
Of all the transactional email types, order confirmations are often the ones that customers are most excited to receive.
They’ve finally purchased that new pair of shoes or the dress they’ve been eyeing up for days, weeks, or months.
Now they want to know the transaction was a success.
So much so that they’ll often refresh their inbox multiple times until the confirmation email arrives.
In other words: while all transactional emails enjoy vastly higher open rates than their non-transactional peers, order confirmations are practically guaranteed to be opened.
That’s a lot of pressure.
So what should your average order confirmation email contain?
Simply: all the information that customers need to see after they make a purchase.
Mango gets it right here:
In one short email, it:
- Thanks the customer for buying
- Confirms that the transaction was successful
- Explains the order is being prepared…
- …and that a further confirmation email will be sent when it ships
- Tells the buyer where to find tracking information
- Provides details on exchanges and refunds
Sure, it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing email we’ve ever seen, but it does the job. Remember, with transactional emails, substance is definitely more important than style.
You don’t need to be a UX expert (or a psychologist) to figure out the types of information customers want to see in shipping confirmation emails.
Essentially, they want to know that their order is on its way and when they can expect it to arrive.
The more specificity you can provide, the fewer reasons they’ll have to reach out to your customer support team.
Bloom & Wild shows us how it should be done here:
It offers a simple CTA that allows customers to track their order. Not only that, but it gives a precise delivery date and a range of times in which it’ll arrive.
And to top it all off, it spells out the steps in the shipping process. We can see the order has been prepared and shipped, and we know we’ll receive a confirmation email to let us know it’s been delivered safely.
That’s all our questions answered in one clear and concise email.
Okay, so that Bloom & Wild example works well.
But that’s not the only way to create an effective shipping confirmation email that speaks to likely customer pain points.
What if your product is a little more complex than Bloom & Wild’s? What if you’ve spoken to your customer support team, and you know for a fact that first-time shoppers have a bunch of additional questions?
You don’t just want to scrawl down all the answers in one huge block of text—that’d make your emails confusing at best, unreadable at worst.
Redbubble has come up with a smart approach—add an FAQ section to the bottom of your shipping emails:
Just like you’ve probably seen at the bottom of a blog post or on a website’s resource page, it features four example questions or “problems” that a customer might encounter while waiting for their order to arrive.
Rather than answering there and then, it provides links to the relevant information on the Redbubble website.
It’s an excellent way to provide the information customers need without overwhelming them.
Offering fantastic customer support can be one of your most valuable marketing tools.
Indeed, research from HubSpot shows that 93 percent of consumers are more likely to be repeat customers at companies with excellent customer service.
But “excellent customer service” doesn’t mean never getting anything wrong.
It means responding quickly and effectively when issues arise and helping customers resolve the problems they’ve encountered.
So it’s important that when customers do come across a problem and take the time to connect with your support team, you immediately follow up to let them know you’re taking the matter seriously.
That’s what Death Wish Coffee does here:
Not only does it let the recipient know their issue has been logged, but it gives them a clear timetable for receiving a response.
And it also incorporates a link to the FAQ section, where customers might be able to find answers to other questions.
As with so much in the world of ecommerce, the key to sending effective transactional emails lies in understanding your customers based on the actions they’ve performed.
Just abandoned their shopping cart? Show them how amazing your product is (and consider incentivizing them to complete the transaction).
Made a purchase? Thank them, and explain what happens next.
Contacted your customer support team? Reassure them that you’re taking the matter seriously and provide a timeframe for the issue to be resolved.
The better you know your customers, the easier it’ll be to tailor your transactional emails to perfectly fit their needs.