Transactional e-mail marketing still growing: Silverpop study

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Although many companies are interested, transactional e-mail marketing has yet to be adopted by most e-mail marketers, according to a new Silverpop study.

The Silverpop report, titled "How Top Retailers Use Transactional E-Mails," studied the messages sent to recipients immediately following an online purchase. Silverpop's strategic research group purchased items from 84 of the top online retailers, evaluating the e-mails on subject line, personalization, layout and promotional content. It found that only one in five retailers used transactional e-mails to promote other products.

"Far too many companies allow their companies' IT departments to send static, text-only messages," said Elaine O'Gorman, vice president of strategy at Silverpop, Atlanta.

"This is despite the fact that transactional e-mails often reach customers at a time when they are most likely thinking about the company in a positive light.

"They are also among the most highly read e-mails, with open rates often far in excess of 60 percent to 70 percent, which makes them extremely efficient vehicles for marketing as well," she said.

The study also found that nearly six out of 10 e-mails were HTML, which helped marketers boost returns, finding that text messages generally simply confirmed the purchase order and did not promote other products.

Deliverability issues troubled some retailers, as 6 percent of the transactional e-mails received during the study landed in recipients' junk folders .

Although there is a slight risk in deliverability risk when adding any design components to an e-mail, Silverpop found that most marketers marketing in transactional e-mail messages experience improved deliverability over their legacy systems.

Ms. O'Gorman attributed this to marketers using transactional e-mails insisting on better tracking and handling of the messages, often on more sophisticated e-mail marketing platforms.

The study also found that a larger percentage of retailers used the transactional message to promote commercial e-mail programs, rather than to cross-sell or upsell customers. Sixty-eight percent of companies that offer e-mails as part of their marketing programs included a link in the transactional e-mail to opt-in.

Expect to see a dramatic growth in the use of transactional e-mails as marketing vehicles in 2007.

"More and more companies are starting to realize the benefits of e-mail marketing as a strategic part of their marketing portfolio, and putting resources against it accordingly," Ms. O'Gorman said.

"Also, there is an increased familiarity and availability of technical integration methods between the systems generating the events, whether that's an order-management system or an e-commerce application, and the e-mail marketing platforms themselves," she said.

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