Put Your Transactional Messages to Work

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Author Bio

Greg Zakowicz is a senior commerce marketing analyst at Oracle + Bronto. With more than 10 years of experience in email, mobile and social media marketing, Zakowicz knows the retail industry and its challenges, staying on top of the latest trends by leveraging deep insight into the marketing spectrum. His subject matter expertise stems from his experience in providing commerce marketers — including numerous Internet Retailer Top 1000 clients — with in-depth analysis of their marketing programs, recommendations for improvement, best practice support and implementation guidance and execution.

Zakowicz is a frequent webinar speaker and presenter at ecommerce events, such as Fashion Digital New York, SIA Snow Show and ROI Revolution Summit. He has been published by top retail and marketing publications, including Power Retail and Inside Retail, and is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @WhatsGregDoing.

Order, shipping and other transactional messages are an essential part of any successful ecommerce program, but we often overlook them as opportunities to generate more revenue. These messages produce high open rates and are sent to all contacts, not just email subscribers. What better place to cross-promote and attract attention to more of what you have to offer.

Let’s explore how to make the most of these messages:

Placement of Promotional Content

There are two primary places to feature promotional content in a transactional message: the right rail and below the transactional content. I prefer the right rail, as it keeps promotional content above the fold and naturally draws your attention.

Types of Promotional Content

What should you promote in these sections? Well, it depends on a lot of factors, such as price point and the products you sell. Do you sell items that require accompanying items that are often forgotten about, such as batteries? For example, if you sell cameras, consider memory cards, stands, selfie sticks or battery backups. If you sell clothing, consider purses, jewelry, shoes or an accompanying top or bottom.

If you don’t have the ability to easily recommend specific products, consider advertising higher-level categories in this space. You can make these recommendations as specific as possible with the help of a recommendation engine or simply feature static products or categories.

Does your brand offer great gift merchandise? Tout a gift-giving section or link to a gift reminder form where customers can enter special dates to receive automated reminders.

Also, consider introducing sister brands if that applies to your business. This is a great way to introduce your customers to other sites they may not be aware of.

You might also offer a discount here, but be careful. The last thing you want to do is offer 20% off of a purchase to a customer who just bought from you a minute ago. Instead, consider incentives such as free shipping with no minimum purchase or a discount on a specific category of items. In lieu of a discount, you could also display sale or clearance products or other sections to encourage a second purchase.

Another Avenue for List Growth

Don’t discount the potential list growth possibilities associated with an optimized transactional message. Use the promotional space to host a call-out to sign up for emails. The best part of this strategy: You can track the sign-up source and deliver a well-timed post-purchase series to these contacts instead of a traditional welcome series.

Let’s look at a few examples. These two brands take a different approach, but they both do it well.

BuyCostumes uses the right rail to promote their email sign-up and sister brands, as well as a discount, completing the trifecta!

Buy Costumes exampleWilliams-Sonoma positions their promotional content below the transactional information, but includes both product cross-sells and an email sign-up section. Notice the space dedicated to the email sign-up. They actively tell people what’s in it for them for subscribing.

Williams-Sonoma exampleCompliance is Key

Always be mindful of CAN-SPAM compliance when crafting and optimizing these messages. Remember: Transactional content must be the primary focus of the email, superseding your promotional content. It’s best to stick to the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the message is transactional content and 20% is promotional.

As utilitarian as they are, transactional messages can help you drive revenue, grow your email database and cross-promote your brands. I’ve worked with clients who generate as much as 10-20% of their yearly email revenue from order and shipping confirmation messages. That’s quite a substantial amount of revenue to just leave on the table.


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