Using Transactional Emails in B2B E CommerceToday’s post is written by Sarah Johnson, Interactive Marketing Consultant at Insite Software. Email Sarah.

B2B organizations are likely to use a variety of emails to communicate with their customers, including commercial or marketing emails as well as communications of a transactional nature. What’s the difference between the two types of emails and why do they matter?

Commercial messages—or the marketing emails that you are used to sending and receiving—are often a key way for an organization to promote its products and services. Transactional communications are those that inform or educate the customer about the purchase or solicit feedback about the buying experience. In short, commercial emails sell. Transactional emails inform.

Transactional emails are:

  • Informative or are a by-product of the buying process.
  • Comprised of no more than 20% promotional content.
  • Automated and trigger-based.
  • Driven directly by user behavior.
  • Different from commercial or marketing messages.
  • Opened and read 50% of the time or more vs. regular opt-in emails which get an average of 20% readership.
  • Effective at cross promoting items that align well with the original purchase.
  • Effective at retargeting based on shopping and browsing profile.

Here are some reasons you might use transactional emails to communicate with your customers.

Purchase event transactional emails include:

  • Order confirmation
  • Order status
  • Shipping notice
  • Shipping confirmation
  • Trip preparation
  • Reservation reminders

Post-purchase transactional emails include:

  • Satisfaction survey
  • Product or service review request
  • Review notification
  • Review/recommendation
  • Replenishment or subscription reminders
  • Repurchase reminders
  • Upgrade reminders
  • Inventory updates
  • Purchase review emails
  • Thank you emails

Not sure whether a proposed email would be commercial or transactional in nature? The chart below may help you determine when a message is considered transactional as opposed to commercial.

Using Transactional Emails in B2B Ecommerce chart

To be successful with your transactional email campaign, consider the following guidelines:

  1. Leverage existing technology. Tagging and behavioral actions in your website can be tied to triggered email programs and automated transactional email opportunities.
  2. Time the emails appropriately. With transactional email campaigns, timing is everything. For instance, you might wait a month to email a review request to a book customer but only wait a week to send it to a toner cartridge customer.
  3. Design for all devices. In particular, make sure your emails work in a mobile environment, in preview panes, with image blocking on, etc.
  4. Create compelling content. Beyond making recommendations, superior content leverages customers’ non-purchase behavior, uses the right tone and makes compelling offers.
  5. Test, measure, re-optimize. Test everything, from the timing of your emails to email layout, from offers to copy style, as well as the level of personalization you use. Measure your results, analyze and then optimize for better results and start again.  Keep this cycle of measuring and optimization going throughout the life of your email campaign.