Top Tips To Optimize Transactional Emails For Highest Conversions

July 26, 2015 | Admin

Last updated on June 14th, 2016

optimize-transational-emailsThe average person receives roughly 416 commercial emails every month and interacts with about 11 brands through email every day.  Consumers are surrounded by emails, so making your emails stand out from the noise is not just important, but a vital piece of your growth strategy. But what if there was one email, that no matter how many emails your shoppers received, was always opened? Wouldn’t you want this one email to be the most optimized and intentional email in your entire email program?  Yes, yes you would. And the good news is – you do have access to this email and are probably sending them every day.  If you have been in ecommerce for any length of time you know that-these are your transactional emails.

Transaction emails have proven to be one of the most effective tools in your email marketing arsenal. In fact, 64% of consumers consider transaction emails to be the most valuable messages in their inbox.  Unfortunately, most online retailers are underutilizing this trojan horse. If a customer is receiving a transactional email, that means they have already converted. Why waste time designing a post-purchase receipt when you could be spending that time on acquiring new customers.

We understand this, but by treating these emails as an afterthought, you are missing a huge opportunity for more conversion and engagement. Experian did a study that found order confirmation emails generated about 6x more revenue than bulk mailings at $0.75 to every $0.13 per bulk mailing.Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 2.16.28 PM

Maybe even more powerful than this is the sheer amount of interaction each transactional email receives.  A recent study by Receiptful discovered that shoppers spend about 14.8 seconds on their order confirmation emails. And you can see from the chart below, most people are opening these emails numerous times.

design email marketing

The data is clear that transactional emails gain far more engagement and attention than any other email in your inbox. Not even personalized or behavior-based emails can compete with these exceptionally high numbers. This is proof that the opportunity to optimize transactions emails for cross-sell can dramatically impact your bottom line.

So how should you optimize? Keep these tips in mind:

transaction email optimizationBrand it:

Always include your name and logo in each transactional email. The last thing you want is confusion about who the email is from. Shoppers should know immediately who sent the email.

Navigation Menu:

Give customers a way to navigate back to your site directly from your email. Adding a navigation menu will show readers all of your offerings in one quick glance.

Zappos does a good job of branding and including a navigation menu. But these two elements should be the bare minimum when it comes to optimizing transactional emails.  Zappos is missing the opportunity for further engagement and conversion through leaving out some key elements.  To truly optimize your emails, and maybe even gain more sales, try adding a few of these key features: 


Including images of the purchased product may seem unnecessary (let’s be honest, they should know what they just ordered) but, including an image of their product is a powerful way to encourage cross-sales. Try including images of other related products so your customer will be able to picture their new item along side others you are offering. This might just lead to a few more sales.


Your shopper just placed an order and is excited and anxious to receive it. So while they wait, they may as well see what else you have to offer. This is where utilizing prime real estate for cross-sell on your confirmation emails will lead to 20% higher transaction rates than those without.  Include a side bar of “You may also like” products, or a “Complete the Look” menu so they can envision their new item as a part of a larger collection.

Order Status:  

Buyers are excited about receiving their newly purchased item. They want to know where it is and when it will be delivered to their front door.  Including an order status is more than just a nice feature for your shoppers, it is a strategy for your business.  If you include this link, your shoppers will be far more likely to return each day to reopen and see what shipping stage their item is in. In fact, order confirmation emails that included a link to order tracking had 2x the click rate and 23% higher transaction rates than confirmations without status links.

Social Media:

Studies show that transactional emails that include links to social media had 55% higher click rates than emails with no links. Include opportunities to connect so readers can share their new product, or stay current with your offers, news and trends. And the more opportunities to connect, the more likely they are to share.

Thanks and Offer:

Always remember to thank your customer for their purchase. Acknowledge them so they don’t feel like just another number, but that you truly appreciate their choice to shop with you. Also try showing your appreciation through including a discount for the next time they shop with you. And if you pair this discount with cross-sell images on the same email, they may end up converting immediately.

Philosophy does a great job integrating nearly all of the above elements into one clean, powerful email.

transaction email optimization

Transactional emails can be one of your most effective assets when it comes to email. For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25. This is lightyears more effective than revenue gained from search and social combined.

A recent report by Forrester found that US adults were twice as likely to sign up for emails to stay in touch with a brand than to interact with that brand on Facebook.  So, as Forrester says, “If you have to choose between adding a subscriber to your email list or gaining a new Facebook fan, go for email every time.”

What are some other successful features you include in your transactional emails?

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