Message Within a Message
To get a sense of what role transaction-oriented e-mails can play in a marketing program, let’s look at some relevant statistics. First, the average company sends 23 million e-mails per year, reports Forrester Research. Next, Forrester also contends that more than 90 percent of consumers (and this probably holds true for businesspeople, too) expect to receive order confirmation and shipping confirmation details via e-mail. Now, consider that various sources indicate transactional e-mails consistently achieve the highest open rates of all types of e-mails. Together, these insights bring us to the most powerful metric of all: JupiterResearch has determined that marketers can boost their e-mail marketing revenue by as much as $500,000 annually by including promotional messages in transactional e-mails.
That’s a significant marketing opportunity to be shuffling to the back burner. And yet, e-mail marketing experts note that most companies have yet to tap into the potential of their transaction-based e-mail messages.
“It’s always been the stepchild of commercial e-mail and viewed as a cost center,” says Jeanne Jennings, a Washington, D.C.-based online marketing consultant and publisher of e-mail marketing e-letter The Jennings Report. “But with a little bit of thought and investment, it can become a profit center.”
Developing Your Message Strategy
Like with any customer communication, marketers should start by thinking logically about what kinds of messaging could be shared with customers during transaction follow-ups.
The main categories of data used to develop the right message points consist of purchase history, life cycle and individual interests, says Ryan Deutsch, director of strategic services at StrongMail Systems, a Redwood City, Calif.-based e-mail infrastructure software provider.
The most prevalent type of promotional message in transaction-based e-mails is purchase-based. For example, says Deutsch, someone who buys a digital camera stands a good chance of being interested in a larger memory card for it. Amazon.com, he notes, is exceptional at this type of cross-sell and upsell activity.