You receive a number of transactional emails each, and every day. From receipts, to order confirmations, and notifications, to reminders — transactional emails are often a welcome site even in the most crowded inboxes. They are nearly always functional, and almost always wasted opportunities. A study from Experian (PDF) found that open and click rates for transactional emails are significantly higher than promotional emails:
People want these emails. They open them, click links and save them for later, yet very few marketers take the time to make them look good, let alone actually attempt to convert prospects or up-sell customers. Talk about a growth hacking opportunity!
I took a look at a few recent transactional emails in my inbox to analyze and grade them. While each had glaring flaws, some actually used personalized data to provide me with useful resources and potentially even up-sell me. This post should serve as a reminder that marketing opportunities are all around us, you just need to think outside the box.
Geico Billing Notification
Geico wins on customer service but they have room for improvement when it comes to email. This email is essentially reminding me how much money I have to pay them each month. It doesn’t exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy. It’s important, however, to remember that this email is a necessity … I’d rather get the information than have them dance around the billing amount with a cute marketing ploy. So in one sense, Geico got this email right. In another, they left clicks and engagement on the table. Here are a few things they could have added to this email to make it more interesting:
- A mention of their mobile app
- Social media icons and links
- A link to their blog where they interview employees (Putting a face on a corporation goes a long way towards building trust.)
- Information about Geico Now, their online magazine
These are minor add-ons that could have major impact if rolled out to their more than 12 million policy-holders.
Comcast Payment Receipt
Comcast is the worst company in America – at least according to Consumerist – but this email isn’t so bad. Just like Geico, they keep it pretty simple. And they should, considering it’s a reminder that I just coughed up another expensive cable bill. I appreciate that there is an easy way to contact customer service on the right sidebar (although who knows if it would actually be helpful) but they fall short on personalization.
The email addresses me as “Customer” and is signed “Comcast”. Why not up the customer service ante by personalizing this email with my name, and signing it “Ron, Customer Happiness Manager”? They have the data to do this. They also have the data to remind me that I have two episodes of The Walking Dead saved on my DVR. Why not remind me of that? Would it take a bit of work to make these emails more functional and interesting? Yes. Would it make me appreciate the good things Comcast offers? Absolutely.
Southwest Flight Reminder
Grade: A+ Remember the Active.com email receipt from our receipt growth hacking post? This Southwest email reminds me a lot of that one. It could easily be considered overkill, but unlike a lot of these automated emails, it gets the job done. Take a look at what’s going on in this email:
- They go for the up-sell right off the bat. Early Bird Check-in isn’t something I need for this trip, but I’m sure many people find it useful. For Southwest, it’s an easy extra $12.50 per customer.
- This email is highly personalized. Although the personal information is blurred out, it includes my name, all my flight information, confirmation number and information about the city I’m traveling to.
- Southwest is working with partners to make an extra buck. By advertising Budget’s rental cars, they have an opportunity to make an affiliate fee.
- I especially like the sections “Useful Tools”, “Know Before You Go”, and “Specific Travel Needs”. This information is really useful, especially for people who don’t travel often.
Well done, Southwest!
OneReceipt Monthly Update
OneReceipt is a very cool service that helps you keep track of receipts. It automatically collects email receipts and allows users to upload photos of paper receipts too. Once per month, I get an automated email update on my spending. Just like Mint.com, OneReceipt keeps tabs on how much you spend each month to help you save money. (As you can see, I did a poor job of that in March.)
Here’s what I really like about this email — it’s highly personalized. OneReceipt’s business is based on helping their users visualize and understand their financial data. Since they know a lot about me, it makes sense to include some of this information in their automated emails. They tell me what I spent in the month, where I spent it, and how it compared to the previous month. It’s branded, easy to read, and points me to important places like my OneReceipt dashboard, their social media sites, and even links to specific receipts.
Recreation.gov Reservation Confirmation
I know what you’re thinking — this email is hideous. Yes, it’s ugly, but this email is actually loaded with useful information. It’s the type of thing you might expect from a government-run organization. (Recreation.gov is how we reserve campsites at national parks in the U.S.)
Almost no one gives a second thought to aesthetics when it comes to transactional emails but they should, and here’s why. The information in the email details directions to the campsites (they often hard to find) and campground rules (which help keep the outdoors safe and enjoyable). Unfortunately, it looks and reads like fine print. This means no one is ever going to read it. Here are a few ideas to make this email shine:
- Include pictures of the Grand Canyon. For crying out loud, it’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world and there are tons of amazing photos in the public domain. No excuses here.
- This email absolutely needs to be mobile responsive. Campers aren’t bringing their laptops for a weekend in the great outdoors, but they are bringing their smartphones. Here’s what this email looks like on my iPhone.
- One last suggestion: Send me to the Interior Department social media accounts. They are beautiful, and a simple way for people to see what the national parks have to offer.
How do you think these emails could have been improved? Let us know in the comments.