Ecommerce Growth

10 Simple Steps to Generate Revenue Via Transactional Emails

  • Written by Richard Protheroe
10 Simple Steps to Generate Revenue Via Transactional Emails

A report from the Direct Marketing Association recently put the average return on investment (ROI) for email at a very healthy $38. What that essentially means is that for every $1 you spend on your email marketing, you recuperate $38. Very impressive indeed! If you dig a little further into the same report it also shows that 20% of companies reporting an ROI say that the figure can rise to as much as $70. There’s no reason why you can’t be achieving figures like this and I’m going to show you how. What’s great about the 10 tips below is that they all come under what we call “transactional emails”. These are emails that customers are already expecting from you. This could be in the form of an account registration email, a confirmation email, a product review email or an ‘aftercare’ email that can take a more promotional stance. Before we proceed it’s worth noting that each transactional email you send should always have a secondary objective in mind. Have a think of what you want to, do you want to:

  • Engage
  • Build trust
  • Educate
  • Set expectations


  • Get more orders

Notice how “get more orders” is only one possible objective, this direct response method isn’t the only way to generate revenue via transactional emails. It's also highly advisable to use a quality transactional email software to automate and simplify everything. G2 Crowd have a great roundup of transaction email software here.

  1. Registration emails

According to the people over at BlueHornet, 74.4% of your customers will be expecting an email after they have registered an account. Basically every 3 in 4 people will open this email! So ensuring you provide some sort of offer, reminder of your service or guarantee is absolutely essential. It will come as no surprise then that welcome or registration emails have 320% more revenue per email than the other promotional emails you are sending. Here’s not what to do, I will protect their identity... A plain text email like this offers nothing of extra value to me, the customer. Also I still haven’t ordered at this point and this email alone might be enough to put me off! Here’s a much better example from New Look! It’s personalised, it offers a promise of future deals, it has a simplistic design and it beautifully mirrors the layout of their store. The store look is a very effective and popular design for ecommerce stores and allows customers to instantly click through to their desired category in one click. I recently spoke to recently to Steve O’Dell who is CEO of Tenzo Tea, they now have 75 retail locations in the USA after launching in the Summer of 2016. Steve mentions that registration emails were pivotal in their early success “Immediately after they sign-up, send a beautiful, well written, brand engaging email with a unique promo code for a discount on their first purchase that is good for 24 hours only. Most people won't buy yet. But here is the closer, if they still haven't purchased, at hour 22 of the 24, send them a reminder to use their code. If you are acquiring emails from your core audience, this method will have an extremely high conversion rate and return on investment”.

  1. Subject line

It’s super important to be simplistic in your approach to subject lines for transactional emails. Be personable with a name if you can, and always ensure your language here reflects that of your brand. Ben Settle a renowned world-leader in email copywriting said  “write like you talk, which makes you instantly unique in a world of swipers and people too uptight to be an original voice”. In regards to an ‘aftercare email’, you can allow yourself a bit more freedom and to perhaps compose something with a bit more ‘click bait’. George Hartley, co-founder of SmartrMail, which has generated more than $200 million for for their customers believes that Amazon’s template of sending an email “3-5 emails before and after delivery” is ideal. Matt Edstrom who is head of marketing at Bioclarity believes that email after the item is delivered should be inquisitive. ““Find Out How…,” “How To…,” and “Discover How…,” without actually giving an answer or solution are great within the subject line. This tactic causes the user to start asking themselves questions and helps convince them that your email is where they can find the answers”. An aftercare transactional email is a good time to promote like minded products. Kim Courvoisier, Director of Content at Campaign Monitor, an email software company that boasts over 200,000 customers says that by saying ““available to order” it also plants the seeds of purchase in the subscriber’s mind”.

  1. The "P.S"

This is possibly my favourite tip for generating revenue via transactional emails. It’s short, sweet and very effective. Gina from GrowthMinds, a growth hacking agency for SME’s described it to me as “a secret weapon”. “On a short transactional email the secret weapon is the P.S. Think about it - somebody might not read the entire email but people always read a P.S. Writing one of these that’s pitched or related to their purchase or highlighting something that they might be interested in is powerful”. It doesn’t have to be overly salesy and can be something playful that helps boost the chances of a sale. The above example from Williams-Sonoma is great, they entice you to buy their Christmas recipes by playing on an emotional element of Christmas. This would work extremely well to customers who are parents.

  1. Social media

As I mentioned earlier you should not always be looking to get that next order. To engage further with your audience it’s vital that you stay in touch, a simple inclusion of your social media icons on every transactional email you send will enhance the following of your brand. However if you are primarily looking for sales there are some very effective ways to get that extra revenue and that is through social sharing. Anthony Macri from ANM.Digital, who sends over 5 million emails a month for his clients explains “My best tip for transactional email is to have social sharing buttons with a offer discount for both the sender and the recipient. The other benefit is the fact that you will be getting free advertising on social media from your customers. Statistically speaking there is a higher chance a person will buy a product based on another person’s review/recommendation than from an ad”. Here’s a great example from the people at Darby Smart who invite you to “brighten a friend’s day”.

  1. Confirmation emails

As popular as the register account email, the confirmation email also boasts an open rate of over 70% Jordie Van Rijn of Email Monday and Email Vendor Selection recently named “One of 23 Thought Leaders Every Online Marketer Must Know“ by HuffingtonPost says you need to capitalise with your confirmation emails on what he calls “mental momentum”. “As each transactional email is triggered by an action, these emails have very high engagement. Use that mental momentum to promote the ‘NBA’, the ‘Next Best Action’ you would like them to take. For example, say with an order confirmation, it isn't always an up or cross sell but could also be to update their preferences, opt-in for the weekly newsletter, etc. (Side note: make sure to take a look at these epic newsletter templates to get the most out of your weekly email roundups.) Although it is not the main message, it is the main conversion point. So make that the NBA promotion has a high place in the visual hierarchy. You can increase that by use of contrast-full colors and allocating more space to it”. It may not be the obvious choice to upsell here but it’s worth reminding customers if they have time to do so. Laura Hall from Shiply says you should prompt your customers with a message like ““If you change your mind about purchasing the matching belt, you can add items to your order for the next 2 hours before it’s dispatched””. This is ideal for coaxing them impulsive buying decision out of people and it might just pay off! Chad White, Research Director at Litmus and writer of Email Marketing Rules, an Amazon best seller states that you need to follow the “80/20 rule for transactional emails” and that the extra engagement you get with confirmation emails is ideal to “promote related products”. This example from Discount Supplements highlights this well, the addition of the red circle with an enticing offer is also very eye catching!

  1. Product recommendations

It seems astonishing, but only 39% of online retailers send personalized product recommendations via email. However, 80% of consumers like it when retailers emails contain recommended products based on previous purchases. Further evidence is that 45% of online shoppers are more likely to shop on a website that offers personalized recommendations. I received this email just a couple of days following my order from MyProtein. The subject line read “Richard, look what’s gone on offer!”. You could include options like this below the information in your confirmation email, or as an ‘aftercare’ message.

  1. Imagery

Imagery is a subject that gets majorly overlooked in emails, despite being a catalyst when it comes to generating revenue via transactional emails. KimCourvoisier explains how you can enhance your imagery. “Take it a step further and show that product in context to the subscriber’s life. For example, Bloom That, a San Francisco based florist shows this Rose-Yay Rainbow package floating in a pool inviting the subscriber to dive in and have a blast”. A graphic like this would be perfect in the footer of an email to entice potential customers in. Perhaps trying it in a registration email to give a flavour of what your brand is about. When delivered, many email clients unfortunately block images, here’s a list from Campaign Monitor on which ones are applicable. Therefore it’s important you edit the alt text in your email so that it shows in the email and customers will know what they are about to see when clicking. Image courtesy of Campaign Master You can either do this in the email text editor or via the html editor by following the below instructions: <a href="_HTTP://YOURLINK.COM_"><img class="alignCenter shadow" src="_CTA BUTTON IMAGE HERE.JPG_" alt-text="_THE ALT-TEXT GOES HERE_"/></a>

  1. Layout

When constructing any email, Kim also mentions how the perfect layout should follow the inverted pyramid model. Similar to the email above, any additional graphics or content added to your transactional emails should follow this method. This ensures that the email contains a headline which highlights the key message, which leads into the CTA. A great example in ecommerce would be to use this format for your registration email. Once registered, offer them a big CTA button that implores them to ‘Start Shopping’.

  1. Personable

Adding a personal approach is a great way to generate revenue via transactional emails. It’s no surprise! A personalised email subject line can result in a 22% higher chance of it being opened. So a good CRM system which allows you to store your customers and export them to a top email marketing software is essential. However the personalisation doesn’t have to stop there. It is important to remember that one-way communication is a thing of the past. Stop using those “do-notreply@” email addresses, immediately. Real humans have two-way email conversations. If you want to be real, you have to let them reply to you. Here’s an example of a few emails I received over a few months whilst registering accounts with ecommerce companies for the benefit of this blog post.

  1. Product reviews

After the order has been confirmed it is essential to send out a product review email. These review emails help convert more customers – bumping conversion rates by up to 76%. They build trust by establishing social proof and they improve your organic rankings. Here’s a few examples i’ve received in recent times. Have a guess which one I responded to instantly? That would be the Argos one! Why? Because they offered me the chance of £100 in vouchers. Offering an incentive to get something back is essential in receiving lots of feedback. A great tool for this and a personal favourite of mine is Yotpo. Yotpo offers a great, simplistic, mobile friendly review system that allows your customer to stay within the email without leaving.


To conclude let's have the final word from Vincent Panepinto of Spently, who specialise in transactional emails for Shopify customers. "More customers open transactional emails because there is context as to why they are receiving them and important information they need to access, which makes it a great place to recommend similar or trending products, include discounts, or referral incentives". Tried any of the techniques above to help generate revenue via transactional emails? Any of them worked particularly well? Agree or disagree with anything I’ve said, let’s have a discussion in the comments below.

About the author


Written by Richard Protheroe

Richard is a Content Specialist at Veeqo. He loves writing about ways for ecommerce retailers to increase their sales with marketing tips, advice on website optimisation and social media best practices.

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