Leveraging the power of transactional messages

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Of all types the e-mail messages delivered to consumers, transactional messages including welcome notifications and order confirmations have the most positive consumer reception. Transactional e-mails are very often the most wasted opportunity in marketing as well.

Typically, with text ads void of eye-catching imagery, consumers are far more likely to spend time reading these messages because they are expected and carry relevant, useful information. In fact, 73% of consumers said they appreciate any post-purchase follow-up. That should be music to the ears of marketers. Consumers want to receive these messages. This makes them a perfect vehicle for contextual or up-sell advertisements.

Over the summer I purchased a flat-screen television off a very reputable retailer's Web site. I immediately received a standard e-mail confirming the receipt. A few weeks later the television arrived. It looked great, but I really did not know how to get the thing to work. I would soon learn that I needed a special HD cable to connect the TV to the cable box. If the retailer would have inserted an up-sell ad in the confirmation e-mail, chances are I would have added this product to my order. As it turns out, I purchased this from another retailer in-store days after the product arrived. Successful marketers must champion a shift from bulk e-mail marketing toward transactional and customer-centric messaging.

Base cross-sell and up-sell offers on customer purchases and preferences. Find the right partner to integrate transactional messaging into the marketing platform, use the right tools, and focus on constant best-practice adherence to customize, track and optimize transactional messages. Jupiter Research estimates that the average online retailer could generate $500,000 annually by improving the delivery and cross-selling abilities of transactional e-mail — not to mention the value of establishing brand continuity across every consumer touch point.

Elevate transactional e-mail to a multichannel marketing tool by following this three-point code of conduct:

Immediacy. Include marketing content in your transactional e-mails and send promptly and securely to your customers. Eighty-eight percent of customers surveyed by TargetX expect a response to e-mail inquiries within 24 hours. Many companies still don't meet this benchmark.

Integration, Flexibility and Relevancy. Tightly align your e-mail execution architecture with your data sources. Once accomplished, you'll be able to trigger time-sensitive e-mails and personalize messages incorporating customer preferences. An August 2007 Sterling Commerce & Deloitte survey found that 27% of US adult Internet shoppers interested in time-saving solutions welcomed an offer or shopping experience based on purchase history.

Reporting. Leverage accurate, detailed and real-time reporting. The data will determine appropriate message composition, channel selection and more.

Marketers invest heavily in branding e-mail promotions while often forgetting the power of transactional e-mail. Since operations groups often manage transactional e-mails, at times it seems that promotional and transactional e-mail aren't even being sent by the same brand. It is time for marketing to step to the plate and leverage the power of these e-mails.

A quick blurb about a new product or service is all that needs to be included into these messages to catch they eyes of the customer. You have already won the customers; increase their loyalty by increasing the value you deliver.

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