Nick van Dijk
On June 23rd, the DDMA Email Marketing Automation Summit (or: EMAS) brought us all kinds of new insights we'd love to share with you. Just like keeping your email marketing game up to speed, transactional emails deserve your full attention too. We've translated all the insights we got from the EMAS to actionables for you to improve your transactional emails.
Note: All the EMAS presentations, pictures, and aftermovie can be found on their website.
In a rapidly changing field such as email marketing, it's crucial that email specialists keep a close eye on all developments. During the DDMA Email Marketing Automation Summit, national and international speakers update peers on the latest trends and share their vision on the future of email and marketing automation. Formerly known as the Email Summit, EMAS has moved to a more omnichannel focus. In the 2022 edition, we surprisingly noticed some very, very good transactional email learnings.
With 12 very insightful sessions divided in two rooms, we split up to write down everything the speakers had to say. After comparing notes, we distinguished four prominent themes:
Getting marketing involved in the process of sending transactional email is what we've been preaching for quite a while. Whether it's about simply creating a prettier email, adding cross- and up sell, or using transactional data for marketing purposes - there is no reason for them not to be involved.
With the marketing department getting more involved, you need to look into the strategy behind developing, designing, and sending transactional emails. It boils down to answering five questions:
As the first keynote speaker, April Mullen (Women of Email) told us about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In a buying process, transactional communication fulfills the basic needs of your customers: Physiological and safety needs. In this stage, the customer wants to be informed and ensured of their purchase. It's your job as a marketing professional to make sure they have all the information they need in a comprehensive way. Knowing what specific needs your transactional emails fulfill makes it easier to communicate with your customers.
To our delight, this edition of EMAS included more transactional tips and tricks. Fernando Rubino Pereira's (CANYON) keynote went all in on their welcome journey. He ended his presentation with a checklist to create a better welcome journey, but we like to think it's applicable to multiple sorts of transactional emails:
Transactional emails are sent to fulfill a specific goal, primarily based on the customer's journey. You send a welcome email when someone signs up for your service, send a confirmation email when someone places an order, and so forth. In those emails, you sometimes want - or need - your recipient to take action. Thoughtful copywriting can steer your recipients to take that action.
It is ‘easy’ to write a text, but if you want your customers to take action, you have to know how to influence them. In his keynote, Christ Coolen showed us how. By using certain biases, you're able to influence the customer's brain. That's because the subconscious makes 95% of our daily choices and people are - on average - very predictable when they make decisions. When applying cross- and upsell to transactional email, here are some tactical take-aways that can help optimize conversions:
Besides the contents of your email, email marketers/developers tend to overlook their transactional email designs. Creating a consistent look and feel is important for your branding and your customer experience. Branding goes beyond just showing a logo. It's a feeling. A deeper meaning behind what you see and feel when you look at logo's, websites, even colors, and yes... emails!
Your email design is the feeling you want to get across through the inbox. It's a piece of visual communication - just as important as your written communication; your email content. But how do you go about the design? What are best practices, how do you optimize your templates, what are the trends?
At EMAS, Tim Zuidgeest (Unravel), Jay Oram (ActionRocket) and Mike Nelson (Really Good Emails) talked us through email design. Tim showed us how neuromarketing can help you optimize your templates, Jay live-coded an interactive email on stage, and Mike gave us insights in the latest of the latest email trends.
To really guide your recipients' eyes to where they need to be, it helps to be aware of the two types of attention: bottom-up and top-down. This helps you create (transactional) emails that help your recipient even more, steer their attention to where action is required, and help you upsell items in a neuromarketing-approved way.
Attention can be categorized into two distinct functions: bottom-up attention, referring to attentional guidance purely by externally driven factors to stimuli that are salient because of their inherent properties relative to the background; and top-down attention, referring to internal guidance of attention based on prior knowledge, willful plans, and current goals.
- Abstract from "Bottom-up and top-down attention: ..."
A prominent trend in email is interactivity. Whether it's CSS, AMP, GIFs - moving elements in an email is *hot*. However, transactional emails are often left out when considering interactivity. That's not necessarily a bad thing - they're meant to drive action, not engagement - but we feel some transactional emails could do well with a little interactivity. Before you start investing in interactivity, however, you should answer these three questions with yes:
Mike Nelson (RGE) walked us through the latest trends in email design. We've listed them below and looked for some transactional email examples on - could you guess - Really Good Emails:
Privacy is another hot topic in email and beyond. With massive privacy updates happening every few months, like Schrems II or Do Not Track, Apple's Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) is one of the latest in the feed. Last year, we sat down with Chris Byrne and Tobias Eickelpasch to discuss MPP already, and Romar van der Leij (DDMA) updated us on the actual effect of Apple's changes and how to work around this factor:
A large chunk of marketing professionals rely on third-party data to create customer profiles and target customers based on this data. With the rise of 'the cookieless world', however, third-party data is at risk. Beata Linz showed us how we - the email professionals - can survive in a cookieless world. The answer is simple: just ask. Customers are willing to share data that's clearly used for personalization.
Instead of using third party data to guess what customers want, you can just ask them. Transactional emails are perfect examples of data-enrichment tools: Ask people to introduce themselves in your welcome email, see what type of cross- and upsell works in order confirmations, et cetera.
Just like prior editions, the Email Marketing Automation Summit was filled to the brim with incredible keynotes, useful insights, and plenty of ways to expand your knowledge and network. With so much to learn about email, our main take-aways about improving your transactional emails, are:
Curious to what the EMAS has to offer? Watch the aftermovie or visit their website!
With years of experience in the email (marketing) industry, Tom currently manages the marketing department at Flowmailer. In this role, he mainly writes about transactional email, email deliverability, and the API-first economy.
Interested in the details & the data, Liana is currently working as Digital Marketer at Flowmailer. Whether it's writing about GDPR or optimizing our digital campaigns, Liana has proven to be a true T-shaped marketer.
Like a true Business Developer, Nick knows what is going on in customer projects, analyzes pitfalls, and writes about what he sees happening with (potential) customers - so you don't make the same mistakes.