Getting your message across is the biggest challenge for present-day marketers. And even if your message is convincing, well-written, and scores high on readability, you need people to open it first. Today, we’re talking about the first thing someone sees when receiving your email: the sender name, subject line, and preheader. We’re also discussing how to utilize those best for your transactional emails.
Much like the meta details for this article, the email preview has to be short and simple yet convincing for people to open them (and not drag them to SPAM immediately). There are plenty of articles on how to write the perfect subject line for your marketing email, but what are best practices for transactional emails?
First, let’s refresh our memory on what these preview details are:
Though email message details are technically identical for marketing and transactional emails, the rules of the game vary. Where marketing emails need to catch the eye in a flooded inbox, transactional emails must be informative. Since people expect them most of the time, transactional emails aren’t fighting the same battle marketing emails are. Common goals for transactional messages are to:
Most transactional emails serve to inform customers: order confirmations, updates, notifications, shipments, renewals, et cetera. All these emails are to let customers know something happened or is about to happen; a quick heads-up and maybe info to refer to later.
If you ordered something and your website said "Order confirmed", why would you still send an order with that same information? The answer is 'to build trust'. Pretty much everyone with an email address is so used to receiving emails after a purchase, that the lack thereof is confusing and probably even worrying. So to make them feel comfortable, you let them know that everything is okay - via email.
Often, transactional emails are supposed to drive action, too. Think of password reset emails, account confirmations, and notifications. They all aim to make the recipient click a button and complete something or visit their profile (and spend time on your website).
Now that we've settled on the goals for transactional emails, let's take a look at how we can translate those goals into copy for your message details.
The most prominent piece of information your recipients see is the sender's identity. It's the first factor upon which they decide whether it's a valid or a spam email and if they want to open it or not:
There’s a simple rule for transactional email subject lines; be concise. Recipients need to know what they can expect from this email. Let them know their order was confirmed, they need to reset their password, or that a shipment is on its way. This does not mean, however, that you can’t get creative in your subject line copy:
Oh, and try to keep it under 30 characters to prevent it from breaking. Shorter copy is better, anyway.
As mentioned, the purpose of pre-headers is to support the subject line. You can do so by:
With Flowmailer's advanced template builder, you can create dynamic templates with ease. This includes sender names, subject lines, and pre-headers. The example below show you how HBB24 / Beautyplaza does so with their two brands:
All three emails are the exact same Flow in Flowmailer, but the contents of the email change based on the country & language of the recipient. Within the template itself, language packs decide the language that needs to be displayed. In the order confirmation Flow it's decided what sender name needs to be displayed:
If the Language Code is nl-nl, fr-fr, or de-de, the template (first blue Flowstep before Flow Placeholder) will decide the contents of the email, whether it's in Dutch, French, or German. The 6 Flowsteps right after the placeholder are all Set Sender Flowsteps. These are based on the Language Code condition. If the language is nl-nl, the Sender Name is Beautyplaza.com. If it's fr-fr, the Sender Name is HBB24, and you can now guess what the German variant is. In the Flowstep settings, that looks like this:
There's still a lot to gain in the way most business organized their email processes, and the sender names are just a small part of it. However, it's a part that makes a true difference in the inbox. The difference between scrolling past and actually opening the email. The difference between millions of email streams and a few advanced Flows that handle complex data. Let this article be your step to better email details!
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.