Using Transactional Email for Cross-Selling

I hadn’t come across this topic in awhile, but transactional email can be an effective – and low cost – method for cross-selling and gaining valuable customer insight. A transaction email is, for instance, a confirmation email sent from you to a customer after a purchase or download of some sort. Many times, transactional emails are plain text generated from a customer database. Why not make them more?

A quick article written by Dave Lewis of StrongMail Systems ( in a recent BtoB Email Marketing Insight newsletter offered a few tips on developing a program to take advantage of transactional emails.

“Compliance. While marketing messages are allowed in transactional e-mails, you do need to follow the provisions set out in CAN-SPAM. It comes down to keeping the focus on the transaction in your subject line and placement of content. Of course, you’ll want to consult with your legal adviser for the exact parameters before implementing your program.

Relevancy. Any messages or offers inserted into a transactional e-mail need to be relevant. Relevancy is even more important with transactional e-mail, as you risk losing an active customer with indiscriminate marketing offers that don’t reflect previously established interests and preferences. Helpful information related to the transaction can go a long way in establishing brand loyalty and inducing follow-up sales.

Branding. Take full advantage of HTML to reinforce your brand. Without taking focus away from the transaction itself, HTML also allows you to insert marketing messages and offers in a much more prominent, visually appealing way. Text-based offers too easily get lost at the bottom of a transactional e-mail.

Technology. Sending out relevant, highly branded e-mails requires the right technology to enable HTML and integrate with your customer databases. As a supplemental marketing channel, you’ll also want to make sure that you have the e-mail management systems in place to properly track delivery, open and conversion rates. Whether you use an in-house solution or outsource to an ESP, make sure it provides the required integration and management capabilities.”

If a quality email tracking program is in place, a small business could track what a customer may also be interested in by where they click in the confirmation email. That information could be used by the sales team for the follow-up thank you call or for future marketing efforts. Promotions on related products or services purchased could also be communicated via the email.

Yes, building a back-end program generated from a database for this program could be costly and/or challenging, but the benefits and the upside could easily offset that.


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