We regularly send promotional emails like newsletters and new arrival blasts to attract customers to our stores or, more importantly, incentivize (whether it’d be through a new product or an offer) our existing customers to hop back in. It’s part of our cadence and for good reason. Especially since returning customers spend 67% more than new customers

Although, not all customers will open every single email they receive — especially with Gmail’s email filters.  Not to mention, not all shoppers sign up for email marketing in the first place. We understand that being present in their inbox allows your brand to stay on top of mind. 

So how can you combat the saturation, lack of visibility, and continue to foster retention? This is where transactional emails are introduced. These emails are often under-leveraged, but when customized, they can increase sales and boost repeat purchases.

 

What are transactional emails in Shopify?

They are different types of post-purchase emails that you can send to customers based on automated triggers and in tandem allowing you to display recommended products, deliver discount codes, incentivize referrals, and even drive traffic back to your Shopify store through navigation bars. 

We’ll discuss everything you need to know about transactional emails.

Let’s get started. 

You might think transactional emails are triggered exclusively by financial interactions like shipping confirmation emails or order confirmation emails. 

This is a fair assumption but transactional emails encompass a broader scope. 

Here are some examples of other transactional emails on Shopify:

  • Order canceled email
  • Order refund email
  • Draft order invoice
  • Email cart from POS
  • POS exchange receipt 
  • Gift card created 
  • Abandoned checkout email
  • Password reset email
  • Shipment out for delivery
  • Shipment delivered
  • Return label instructions 
  • Account welcome

And a few others, but they may fall under follow-up automation territory, ie. thank you email, product review email, etc. 


Why do transactional emails matter for Shopify merchants? 

Put yourself in your shopper’s shoes.  They have just made a purchase and their excitement about it is at an all-time high.  They’ll undoubtedly check the order confirmation or shipping confirmation emails to validate their order information, and maybe check to see if that discount code was applied correctly, or the estimated date of arrival.

Once they receive an order, they might also be prompted to leave a review through a product review email in exchange for a next-purchase discount code. 

This is why Mailgun reports that transactional emails have a high open-rate of 80% to 85% which beats most marketing emails that are somewhere between 20% to 25%. 

While transactional emails are often opened, they’re more than just information about transactions and accounts. These emails let customers rest assured that their transactions were successful.


Why branding matters for transactional emails? 

Branding is essentially making your brand memorable by including a logo, design, or content that captures your brand’s personality and voice. If your brand were a person, how would you describe it? Would it be fun, witty or formal? How do you visualize its look and style?

Long-time ecommerce managers will know what it takes to create a brand. However, branding should be integrated into your transactional emails tooSince they have very high open rates, transactional emails offer an opportunity to engage with customers. 

Avoid sending transactional emails that look the same as every other store out there. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to encourage customers to keep returning to your store. 

 

Here are a few examples of clever transactional ecommerce emails:

Ibotta — a cash-back app for purchases in groceries, retail or travel — sends account creation emails with the brand’s logo and social media accounts. Users utilize the app for cash-back in-store and online groceries so it includes an image of everyday purchases like bread, milk, and eggs.

Example of a clever ecommerce transactional email from ibotta. Example for Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants.

 

Food52 — a food community,  sends abandoned cart emails that include the price and the item left in the abandoned cart. They also include information about express shipping, referral program offerings, and links to social media accounts.

How to use transactional emails to boost your Shopify sales? 

Now that we’ve explored how you can use transactional emails to boost your business, how can you use them to boost sales? Here are some elements that you should consider adding to your transactional emails.

Display product recommendations

We love to see product recommendations based on our interests, past purchases, or perhaps get a pulse on trending and popular products sold by certain merchants. 

Barilliance found that shoppers that clicked on recommendations were 4.5x more likely to add items on the cart and 4.5x more likely to complete their purchases. Sadly, only 39% of online retailers send product recommendations through email. 

These product recommendations play a huge role in repeat purchases. When customers find items that are personalized, they are likely to check them out and eventually make a purchase. 

Now, how do you add product recommendations in email? 

For example, once customers get access to a Skillshare course, the brand upsells related classes they may like. This is how you can recommend similar products to customers.

 

Add next-purchase discount codes

There’s no denying that customers love discounts. A study found that consumers redeemed 2.84 billion coupons (of 319 billion coupons distributed) in 2018. Coupons.com also found that coupons make customers happier. Recipients that got a $10 voucher reportedly had a 38 percent increase in oxytocin levels which is 11 percent happier than those who did not receive a coupon. 

The numbers show that discounts can boost sales. 

While a big sale could negatively impact your profits, giving out a small next-purchase discount code can encourage customers to keep making repeat purchases. Eventually, it could also cultivate brand loyalty. You don’t need to give a big discount to grab a customer’s attention. A 5% to 15% is enough to keep your brand top of mind. 

Uber gives a generous 20% discount for the customer’s next 5 rides. This helps foster the habit of using Uber instead of cabs or public transportation. 

Utilize referral marketing for your Shopify shop

Customers are more likely to trust referrals from friends and family when considering a purchase. Nielsen found that 84% of consumers trust recommendations from family, friends and colleagues which makes it one of the top sources for trustworthiness. 

Ogilvy also had similar findings and found that 74% of consumers believe word-of-mouth is a key influencer in their purchasing decision. 

These numbers show that consumers can be your biggest brand advocates. Of course, people are more likely to trust their network as compared to sponsored messages. So, if you don’t have a referral program in place, then you might be losing out on a missed opportunity. 

One way you can get customers to join your referral program is to promote it through emails. Maude lets customers and their friends get $5 off any kit when they make a purchase through their referral program.

 

Add navigation bars to your Shopify transactional emails

Navigation bars might seem simple but they can get customers back to the website. I am willing to bet you have it on your site, why not have it in your most opened emails?

While a CTA button can get customers to their desired page, a minimalist navigation bar can let them access the home page or a product category. So, customers that aren’t interested in the email’s offering can easily return to the main site and help fulfill the businesses’ other sales goals. 

Having a navigation bar shouldn’t be a hassle too. You can add links to 2 to 3 main pages of the website. 

For example, Classic Specs’ order confirmation email has a link on their page for men’s eyewear, women’s eyewear, and the user’s account. The navigation bar looks simple but the text’s font aligns with the brand’s style and it’s easy to click for mobile users.

Add real-time tracking features

When customers make a purchase, they want to receive the package as fast as possible. Shiprocket reports that 56% of customers prefer having same-day delivery of their purchases when they shop online. 

Not all e-commerce businesses can afford to offer same-day deliveries but you can alleviate a customer’s impatience by offering real-time tracking. This way, customers know that their purchase is on the way and the date of when they’ll receive their offer. 

Real-time tracking can also reduce the bulk of “Where Is My Order?” calls managed by customer service. Get Elastic reports that this type of call can make up 70 to 80% of customer inquiries during the holiday season. 

Implementing real-time tracking can drastically reduce the bulk of work for your customer service employees. 

For example, Firebox gives customers the opportunity to track their orders so they’re not left waiting impatiently.

Ready to get started with your transactional emails? 

Personalized transactional emails can greatly boost the sales of your business. Order confirmation and shipping confirmation emails with real-time tracking can have a big impact on your customer’s experience. 

Product recommendations based on past purchases and browsing behavior can help customers find products that interest them and inspire repeat purchases. Add in a next-purchase discount code to entice customers to return to your website. 

Customers aren’t always interested in what you have to offer so be sure to place a navigation bar that can direct them to other pages on the website. 

How to get started? We might be biased, but we recommend using Spently, a template builder to create and customize your transactional emails.

They are not meant to replace your email marketing automation platform like Klaviyo, but they are rather a supplement to it. If you are interested in using Spently, let us know and we can get you a 30-day free trial. We like Spently because they are willing to do the work to prove how valuable their platform truly is.

The app lets you create emails through a simple drag and drop builder. There’s no need to learn how to code or be a seasoned designer. 

The free Starter plan includes basic tools that your business needs to customize transactional emails and boost repeat purchases by adding these relevant marketing components.