Fill in the blank: “Not all ____ are created equal.”
What did you come up with?
How about… emails?
“Not all emails are created equal.”
But…an email is an email is an email, right?
Brands send out many different kinds of emails, each with its own target audience, purpose, goal and use case. Two of the most common types are promotional emails and transactional emails. The former mainly focuses on customer acquisition, retention and engagement, while the latter is about facilitating a one-to-one interaction to complete a particular transaction or process initiated by the recipient.
Despite these differences, both forms can work together to help brands create a powerful email program that builds meaningful relationships with the audience, now and in future. In fact, this potential for relationship-building is one of the most important reasons for using a single platform for sending both promotional and transactional emails. And Email Studio in Salesforce Marketing Cloud is one such powerful and integrated platform that benefits both the marketer and the end recipient. What are these benefits? Keep reading to know more!
But first, the basics.
Promotional vs Transactional Emails: What Are They and How Are They Different?
In general, a promotional email is any type of email with commercial intent. It is usually timed and sent strategically to a groups of contacts – either prospects or customers or both – and its purpose is to engage with recipients in order to persuade them to take a certain action, such as making a purchase, registering for a service, downloading an app, visiting a brick-and-mortar store, etc.
A transactional email on the other hand is more ‘one-on-one’, i.e. sent to facilitate the completion of an ongoing transaction that is usually ‘triggered’ at the request of a user (recipient). This is why transactional emails are also known as triggered or programmatic emails. These emails are often time-critical, because recipients are waiting to receive them in response to a particular transaction.
Here are the common types of both promotional and transactional emails:
|Coupons||Registration confirmations/Welcome emails|
|Limited time sale notices||Purchase receipts|
|Special offers||Account notifications, e.g. signups|
|One-off event invites||Password changes/resets|
|Product updates||Shipping information|
|Newsletters||Legal/policy updates or notifications|
|Abandoned shopping cart messages|
Promotional vs Transactional Emails: Guidelines and Best Practices
For both promotional and transactional emails, following certain best practices can help brands improve their chances of reaching their recipients’ inboxes and achieve their goals.
Best Practices for Promotional Emails:
· Personalize the ‘from’ line so the recipient can identify you as the sender
· Include a salutation to build a personal connection from the get-go
· With ‘special offer’ type emails, state the offer clearly and make sure it is relevant to that recipient
· Present the value proposition in the subject line in an intriguing yet friendly manner
· Keep the copy brief. Less is more!
· Use dynamic content (images, photos, infographics, etc) to catch and hold your recipient’s attention
· Add a clear CTA that aligns with the overall email narrative
· Pay attention to branding elements like logo, design and layout, and use them consistently
· Create mobile-friendly emails
· Make it easy to unsubscribe, especially for US recipients. It is required by law (CAN-SPAM Act)!
· A/B test your emails to optimize them and increase conversions
Best Practices for Transactional Emails:
· Avoid using a ‘noreply@’ address in the From field
· Include contact information so customers can reach you if required
· Clearly identify the reason the recipient is receiving the email, preferably in the subject line itself
· Make the email mobile-friendly and include a plain text version
· Ensure the email is aligned with your brand to eliminate uncertainty about who the email is from
· Include dynamic personalization to make recipients feel valued
· Keep your copy enthusiastic but helpful, informational and brief
· If possible, allow subscribers to reply
But the best practice of all is…
…to send both transactional and promotional messages from a single email platform. Doing this has a number of benefits, which we will cover in the next section.
As part of the SFMC platform, Email Studio offers a perfect medium for building automated, engagement-worthy custom email campaigns with its handy templates, forms, buttons, text and many other user-friendly features. With its simple drag-and-drop functionality, emails can be crafted and sent either individually or in bulk, depending on your brand’s needs. Either way, you can get your message across when customers are most likely to engage with your brand. Whether it’s basic transactional emails or more complex promotional emails, Email Studio enables brands to create effective campaigns throughout the customer lifecycle, thus driving engagement and conversions at every stage.
It is common practice about email marketers to use different messaging platforms for promotional and transactional messages. Many of them assume that this will improve their email deliverability rates. While this can be true, the problem is that a ‘split’ setup like this often results in ‘disjointed’ messages that don’t have a consistent brand ‘look and feel’. As a result, improved email deliverability comes at the cost of poor engagement and lower conversions. But sending all messages from a single, unified platform like Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) eliminates these issues without affecting deliverability.
Sending both transactional and promotional messages from SFMC Email Studio offers other benefits as well:
1. Get a complete view of the entire customer journey
A deeper understanding of the customer journey can empower brands to deliver seamless and hyper-personalized user experiences. This is critical to building a lasting relationship with customers that continues to deepen and grow over time.
67% percent of marketing leaders believe that creating a ‘connected’ customer journey across multiple touchpoints and channels positively impacts customer loyalty and determines the success of their overall marketing strategy.
Source: Salesforce Fourth Annual State of Marketing report
Today, customer journeys tend to encompass many different communication channels and message types. When all messages are sent from SFMC Email Studio, marketers can ensure a cohesive customer experience and improve their marketing and remarketing outcomes.
2. Track the customer experience with useful insights
Customer experience has a direct impact on brand perception, which in turn affects their satisfaction, loyalty, and ultimately the performance (sales, profits, etc) of the business.
Because customers can interact with a brand through both promotional and transactional emails, customer experience insights can be extracted from both. However, these insights can be more useful if extracted and analyzed together from a single platform like SFMC Email Studio. Email Studio can provide more holistic information about customer ‘patterns’ and ‘trends’ from both types of emails in a single place. For example, is engagement with promotional messages higher or lower before a transactional message is sent? Does engagement with a certain type of transactional message indicate that someone might unsubscribe soon? Since messages and experiences can be easily compared side-by-side in Email Studio, marketers can get more insightful and actionable data to improve their Email Marketing RoI.
3. Simplify reporting for senior management
Extracting reports regarding the performance of email campaigns – whether transactional or promotional – is something all Email Marketing managers are required to do. However, if emails are sent from different platforms, differences in formats and data points can make it tedious and time-consuming to create useful and cohesive reports.
With Email Studio, the metrics for reporting on both types of message types are consistent and can be seamlessly built into the same report for ease of analysis and comparison.
4. Reuse assets for optimized Email Marketing programs
Although promotional and transactional emails have different goals, their assets can still be reused. By using the same templates and content blocks, you can not only optimize your content but also implement campaigns faster. This can improve your responsiveness, which will have a positive effect on customer experiences and ultimately on brand performance and conversions.
Promotional and transactional emails each fill a distinct space in the world of Email Marketing. But only those marketers who send these messages from the same platform can optimize their entire email program and get the best possible returns from their Email Marketing investment. Salesforce Marketing Cloud Email Studio provides such a platform with all the tools needed to create a powerful, integrated email program. Make the most of it!