Unlock transactional e-mails and boost cross-sell rates

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Metrics show that transactional e-mail messages (including purchase confirmations, account services messages and triggered alerts) significantly outperform typical marketing messages in all forms of engagement, including inbox delivery, opens, clicks and conversions.

What is surprising, however, is how few marketers use transactional messages to promote their brand and cross-sell products and services. These messages perform well because these are your most valuable customers who are either purchasing or have accounts with you. Second, the timing is perfectly in sync with when a customer is active with your brand. Third, these folks have opted in to receive urgent information through e-mail, so as not to miss mission-critical updates and information.

The reasons that marketers don't make the best use of these offers are diverse.

Triggered e-mails are sometimes locked in back-office operational systems, where the marketing department has no say. It might be a fear of privacy or legislative encroachment, or maybe it's simply a lack of focus on transactional messaging as promotional calendars and the flurry of seasonal events force us to focus on getting campaigns out the door. Whatever the reason, it needs to be re-evaluated.

Take steps to make certain that your company doesn't miss out on this great tool.

Get a handle on your internal systems. If transactional e-mail is stuck in legacy operational systems, consider what influence you can have to design templates and layouts that reinforce brand equity.

Test for lift. Conduct a test of those who receive cross-sell promotions in a marketing “wrapper” and those that receive standard system-generated messages. You're bound to see a direct link to improved up-sell and cross-conversion rates.

Develop cross-sell product affinity models, to determine what products and services should be cross promoted in an e-mail.

With the right blend of reach, relevance and timing that transactional messages provides, I expect you too will be able to unlock real power by leveraging transactional messages for marketing applications.

Kevin Mabley is senior VP of strategic and analytic consulting at Epsilon. Reach him at kmabley@epsilon.com

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