MAKE IT POP!: Trick Out Your Transactional Touchpoints

My little brother got tinted windows and rims on his sage green Chevy Malibu. (Sweet!) Just as he tricked out his transportation, so must we trick out our transactional emails, leveraging the opportunity to move the meter on the messages that generally enjoy the highest open rates (excuse me—render rates!) of almost any we send. Let’s get to it with 10 top tips and several outstanding order confirmation examples.


(1) Brand! Include your company logo and colors to make transactional communications feel consistent with your other marketing materials. Apple, Coach, Crate & Barrel and Williams-Sonoma all do this. A metallic paint job and alloy rims produce a similar effect.

(2) Include navigation items relevant to the transaction, especially a link to the “Customer Service” section of your website, like Williams-Sonoma. (BTW— that is the best rice cooker ever. It plays an aweseome little song when your tasty rice is ready to eat.) This is the basic equivalent of vanity plates.

(3) Use text treatments, color and graphics to maximize usablity and legibility. This is just like hanging plush dice from the rearview.

(4) Add an upper-right “key details” module, making it easy to locate the most critical account and order details. Both Apple and Crate & Barrel pop the most relevant information up top, well within the preview pane. It’s like…the opposite of tinted windows.

(5) Include customer service contact information…and not just a URL, but a phone number with hours of availability, like Williams-Sonoma. This is not unlike the famous bumper sticker: “How’s my driving? Call 1-80…”

(6) Say “thank you.” Don’t forget your manners! Pay attention to tone and consider a letter format, which can feel more genuine and personal. Coach offers flowers with their thanks, which I find cute. They also get early-adapter points, as this particular order conirmation is from 2006. OMG…ancient! (Mariah Carey and I go way back.)

(7) Show product photography and link product names back to your website to reinforce excitement around the purchase. This is not unlike the sensation we experience when cranking up the bass on a souped-up sound system.

(8) Cross- and up-sell relevant products to already-engaged buyers. Apple does this brilliantly. (Not that I would ever listen to Bon Jovi! Must be a glitch in their recommendations engine, right? Ha ha ha…)

(9) Add valuable content and offers. Coach includes an option that allows belated gifters to send recipients an email announcing the soon-to-arrive prize. Just like triple tailpipes!

(10) Protect the primary purpose of the message—to communicate a transaction. Follow guidelines regarding transactional-to-promotional content ratios and offer placement. For instance, while Crate & Barrel does a lovely order confirmation, one wonders whether it isn’t light on the confirmation and heavy on the order. Melinda Kreuger, “The Email Diva”, wrote an excellent article about transactional email guidelines just this past Tuesday.

Plus, Email Marketing Reports has culled an exceptional collection of resources and articles around tricking out your transactional email.

A bobble-headed hula dancer isn’t a bad idea, either.

As ever,
Lisa Harmon of Smith-Harmon

–>Read other Make it Pop! posts.