Email Marketing

Turn boring transactional emails into cash cows: 10 proven ideas

Are you leaving money on the table with your transactional emails? Try out these 10 amazingly creative ideas and skyrocket your sales.

Turn boring transactional emails into cash cows: 10 proven ideas

There are emails you want to send to your customers (read: the ones that make them click on checkout). 

And then there are the emails that your customers want to receive from you (like the ones that tell them their order is on the way). 

The goal of eCommerce email marketing is to match these two. But that’s a topic for another day. 

Today, let’s talk about how you can turn the boring routine customer emails into something exciting (and a win-win) for both of you. 

Yes, we’re talking about transactional emails

If you haven’t gotten serious about these emails, it’s time you did. Because they might be a pot of gold you’re simply overlooking. 

98% of your customers wade through transactional emails every day and spend around 15-20 seconds reading them. 

In fact, 64% of customers find these emails to be the most important to them 

chart showing importance of transactional emails
Source

Sadly, most transactional email designs are boring and poorly optimized. As a result, they don’t always bring sales—leaving a lot of money on the table.

So, we studied 10 high-converting transactional email examples. In the next section, we share insights to help you transform your regular transactional emails into revenue-generating machines.

Let’s dive in.

How to get more revenue from your transactional emails: 10 creative examples

1. Transform confirmation emails with memorable design and copy

Email confirmation transactional messages ensure subscribers enter valid email addresses when signing up—helping you keep your email list clean. 

This kind of email comes with huge potential—offering you an insane average open rate and engagement numbers.. 

Make them stand out with an impressive transactional email design and a compelling copy.

Chipotle does this really well.

example of transactional email with good design and copy

This is the email it sends when new users sign up. They have a minimalist but aesthetically pleasant design that makes it easy and exciting for readers to go through.

Chipotle’s email copy cuts to the chase, keeping both the headline and the CTA focused on the goal—verifying customers’ emails.

This helps the customer move on to the next part of the journey: browsing the menu, finding a store, or ordering something. 

Key Takeaways

a) Experiment with your transactional email designs (and A/B test them)

Delightful email designs offer recipients perfect email experiences, helping you maximize engagement. Appeal to them using creative designs, but keep it simple.

Your brand might be better off with less colorful designs—A/B testing the designs can help minimize the guesswork.

b) Keep the emails sharp and get to the point quickly

Cut to the chase. Your subscribers probably already know what you want to tell them before opening the email.

So, don’t waste their time with unnecessary details and delay sharing the most important information—get to the point.

The email copy should answer the question: why should I verify my email address?

c) Tell them what to do next

Once you’ve solved their most immediate problem, their mind is free. 

This is when you can subtly guide them into taking the desired course of action. 

Be careful not to overdo it. Making it too salesy may put off your customers. 

2. Achieve multiple conversion goals with your call-to-actions

Transactional emails such as welcome emails let you connect with new users for the first time. They provide an opportunity to maximize your first impression, alleviate shoppers' anxiety, and connect them emotionally with the brand.

It generates four times more opens and five times more clicks than regular emails—offering you an opportunity to leverage them for more sales.

Provide multiple and clear-cut call to actions (CTAs) in the welcome emails to invite instant actions.

We love how Michael’s and Glossier do this. 

Michael’s welcome email employs smart CTAs to achieve 2 goals: get to know their customers better to offer them a more personalized shopping experience and encourage them to make a purchase by offering an incentive. 

Example of welcome email with multiple CTAs from Michael’s

It offers a time-sensitive 20% discount on all purchases and a promo code, leveraging FOMO to enable sales effortlessly. In addition, the email invites subscribers to update their preferences for more personalized offerings.

Glossier’s welcome email is full of character and takes their customers on an exciting ride. 

example of transactional email with multiple CTAs from glossier


They immediately create a stellar brand impression with a collage of happy customer faces—social proof done right. This follows with a relevant CTA to help customers know the brand better. 

Taking a step further, they recommend some of their most-loved products and top it up with their USP of free returns and exchanges. This makes the CTA enticing for customers to explore their products. 

example of transactional email from glossier


The next part of the email continues the awesomeness. It offers customers further peek into their community and also a chance to visit their store. Sharing their socials helps the customers stay in touch. 

The email ends on a curious note with a promise of more fun stuff (plus free!).

So you see: plenty of CTAs tapping into a wide range of emotions.

Key takeaways

a) Convert leads when they’re warmest: welcome emails sell

Welcome emails let you interact with your warmest leads. They are a great space to explore multiple CTAs to encourage customers to explore and engage with your brand. 

b) Open up multiple conversion paths

Use multiple CTAs to give shoppers options, letting them take charge of their shopping journey. 

Some subscribers would probably want to browse product categories; others might like to see current deals, while some won’t mind diving straight into shopping; so optimizing the welcome email with multiple CTAs make this seamless for all shoppers.

c) Weaponize your brand strength

Make your brand shine in your welcome emails.

Reinforce brand authority with endorsements, customer reviews, testimonials, or your unique selling propositions. 77% of B2C consumers make purchases based on a brand name, so use it to your advantage.

3. Optimize review emails smartly for social proof

Approximately 92% of shoppers check reviews before purchasing and trust them 12-times more than the product description and sales copy.

Asking customers for reviews helps businesses receive instant feedback on product perception, enabling them to deliver superior customer experiences.

These act as further social proof that drive customers into purchasing. 

Charlie Hustle and Sun of a Beach are class acts in asking for reviews.

Charlie Hustle’s review request email uses a bold heading that sets their shoppers’ expectations right off the bat. They make their review requests easy to understand and action.

Charlie Hustle individualized their emails with shoppers’ first names and purchased products, humanizing their conversation with buyers. 

The brand uses in-email rating and reviews to reduce friction and shorten the conversion path.

example of including reviews in transactional emails

Sun of a Beach offers a 10% off coupon in its review emails as an incentive and provides an intuitive product rating process.

example of transactional email reviews from Sun of a Beach


Key takeaways 

a) Humanize the experience

Personalizing emails offers subscribers relevant and individualized content, driving open rate and revenue by as much as 760%.

The era of one-size-fits-all messaging is long gone. Instead, shoppers crave individual attention—give it to them.

b) Make the rating process seamless

The human attention span is narrowing—from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds presently—meaning only brands that offer shoppers convenience and immediacy will win their attention.

If your customers have to head on to another page to share their reviews, you’ve already lost them. 

Make it seamless for shoppers to share their reviews by including them right in the email.

c) Let your reviewers know that people are reading their reviews

People love being helpful. 

Let your customers know that others are reading their reviews and it’s helping them shop better. This will spur them into giving more honest reviews.

You can always be inspired by TripAdvisor.

Reviews in transactional emails from TripAdvisor

4. Use copy and incentives to prevent cart abandonment

The average cart abandonment across all industries is close to 70%, meaning only three out of ten shoppers will complete their purchase. Cart abandonment leaves massive money on the table, up to $18 billion annually for all eCommerce brands.

Cart abandonment emails can help recover part of the sales, converting up to 50% of the click-throughs. But only when you use them smartly. 

Like Brandless does. Here’s what we can learn from its cart abandonment email.

It incentivizes customers to complete their purchase by offering shipping discounts.

example of transaction email to avoid cart abandonment

It also adds a menu with product categories to make shopping any category frictionless. Plus shoppers also have an option to log in to their account right from the email.

Key takeaways

a) Use benefit-based email copy

Ensure that the copy focuses on the benefits of the items added to the cart. 

Keep it to the point, easily consumable, and actionable—shoppers are less likely to act when it takes much effort to understand or act on the information you provided.

Use clear benefit-based CTA to drive action.

b) Drive purchase with incentives

Extra cost like shipping is responsible for about 55% of cart abandonments, making it the number one reason shoppers abandon carts. Therefore, offering free shipping or shipping discounts in cart abandonment emails can incentivize purchase, driving cart recoveries.

A study shows that free shipping makes 79% of US consumers more likely to shop online.

c) Offer easily visible shopping options

Don’t make it difficult for customers to avail the incentive. If they have to make a lot of clicks to make the purchase and use the offer, it may discourage them from continuing. 

Helping them explore products and categories right within the email can help them move closer to the checkout process. 

5. Set clear expectations and incentivize referrals

Shipping confirmation email updates shoppers of their shipment status, keeping them in the loop and helping set clear delivery date expectations.

The email’s impressive average open rate offers you a huge opportunity to drive sales, like incentivizing referrals to convert non-customers, of course, leveraging your customers’ network and goodwill.

DoorDash and Casper creatively drive more sales in their shipping confirmation emails. Let’s see how.

DoorDash uses a minimalist email design to prune distractions, helping recipients focus on the messaging: the package, delivery venue, and time. It also sets clear expectations for the customers. 

The CTA makes it easier for shoppers to track their orders on the fly.

example of shipping confirmation transaction email from DoorDash

DoorDash’s shipping confirmation emails offer shoppers $10 for referrals—a smart way to convert non-customers.

Casper’s email has a clean layout, offering zero distractions. It makes it easy to view all the important delivery details in one place. 

They also built anticipation about the arriving product with their copy. 

example of transaction email referrals

At the bottom of the shipping email, Casper invites shoppers to give their friends $50 and get $50—a great way to expand their customer base and drive more sales.

Key takeaways

a) Set clear expectation

Get on the same page with shoppers by fleshing out what to expect from the shipment. Highlight the shipping address in the email, including product and purchase information.

b) Drive customer referrals with incentives

People are four times more likely to purchase a product when referred by a friend, and the customer LTV is 16% higher than non-referred customers.

Use incentivized referrals in shipping confirmation emails to expand your reach, dive into uncertain terrains, piggyback off people’s goodwill and get sales from their social gang.

c) Go low on design noise

These emails work best with minimalist designs. This helps customers consume all the information without losing focus.

Experiment with simplistic designs to get the best results. 

6. Extract more value per sale for your order confirmation emails

Order confirmation emails are often automated transactional emails that brands send to customers after placing orders successfully, reiterating important information like order details, delivery date, and order tracking number.

It generates the most significant open and click-through rates, making it the most potent transactional email you could send.

Order confirmation emails offer you a potent sales weapon; let’s examine how Dollar Shave Club leverages theirs.

Dollar Shave Club’s order confirmation email neatly summarizes all orders in blocks—it makes checking them easy for customers.  

example of using transaction emails to add more order value

They also pack in subtle upselling by inviting shoppers to add more value. Notice how the copy Add before we ship introduces a hint of urgency reinforcing customers to take decisive action.

Key takeaways

a) Reiterate important details

Make it straightforward for shoppers to see their order at a glance. Provide the order details, price breakdown, shipping date, and of course, make editing the order effortlessly. 

b) Boost Average Order Value (AOV) with upsells

Order confirmation emails generate insanely open rates, providing a significant opportunity to increase buyers' AOV. Use upsells in your order confirmation emails to extract more value per sale and avoid being pushy.

Upselling with product bundles lets you drive more sales with less friction with price decoys, enabling you to increase AOV painlessly.

c) Use compelling copy to leverage the fear of missing out (FOMO)

Done smartly, your copy can lead to more sales. Introduce hints of urgency and scarcity principles to drive action. 

  7. Introduce benefits with new arrivals updates and re-engagement emails

New arrivals, latest models, and re-engagement transactional emails offer you fresh opportunities to engage existing customers, driving repeat sales relying on their past experiences.

Unlike new arrivals and the latest model emails, re-engagement emails target inactive customers, using face-melting benefit-based copies and incentives to rekindle the flame and bring them back to life.

Here’s how Beauty & The Bear and William-Sonoma use these transactional emails to land more sales. 

Beauty & The Bear designs its new arrival emails with its brand colors, reinforcing identity and making customers recognize the brand on the fly. 

example of benefit-based transactional email copy

It uses benefit-based copy to appeal to its vegan audience, keeping the messaging to the point and offers them multiple CTAs to self-direct their conversion paths.

It also leverages the feeling of exclusivity through copy such as Subscribe now and Be the first to try our new vegan gummies.

Beauty & The Bear’s email entices the audience with a 10% discount to subscribe to its hassle-free delivery of vegan gummies. The email also makes it seamless to shop product categories.

Williams-Sonoma re-engages inactive customers by offering them a 20% discount plus free shipping—playing on scarcity with a time-sensitive offer.

Example of re-engagement transaction email from Williams Sonoma

Williams-Sonoma uses a clear benefit and a direct CTA to re-engage their idle customers. It also offers multiple options to purchase—from the store or online. 

Key takeaways

a) Use benefit-focused email subject lines and email copy

People would often want to know what’s in for them before opening emails. So, make this effortless, using benefit-focused email subject lines. A/B test the headlines to learn the one that resonates with your audience more.

Beauty & the Bear’s new arrival subject line focused on the benefit its audience wanted: vegan gummies.

benefit-based transactional email subject line from beauty & the bear

Also, use benefit-focused copy to make the email compelling.

b) Re-engage inactive customers with incentives

Re-engaging inactive customers costs five times less than acquiring new ones, generating up to 7% of overall business revenue. 

You can make it effortless using incentives like discounts, free shipping, or both, as Williams-Sonoma does.

Reinforce the email with your brand identity and A/B test multiple and single CTAs to learn what works best for your audience.

c) Use your branding to your advantage

Most often, dormant customers would forget about your brand or will need more brand awareness to continue purchasing from you. 

In these cases, it helps to send emails that communicate the brand experience. Use brand colors, provide more information about your brand, share product guides to reel them back in. 

8. Drive conversions with FOMO for cancellation emails 

Cancellation emails are often automated transactional emails sent to customers when they cancel their orders or membership. 

Order cancellations are eCommerce owners’ nemesis, but you can salvage the situation by setting up the cancellation email creatively, playing on your customers’ primitive desire for exclusivity and fear of missing out (FOMO). 

Let’s learn a few things from Graze and Frank and Oak.

Graze’s cancellation email confirms delivery cancellation after thanking shoppers’ for their business. And without sulking over the break-up, it dives straight into business, offering them a fresh opportunity to restart their delivery playing on their FOMO.

Example of using FOMO in transactional emails

Graze understands the human primitive desire for exclusivity and taps into it by offering the members opportunity to taste Ellie’s new recipe. This makes it harder for customers to ignore the email since there’s something they’d miss out if they do so. 

Frank and Oak’s cancellation email gives members a 15% discount—“little going away present”—for their next non-Style Plan online order, inviting them to a new beginning.

Example of incentive-based transactional emails

The email offers members a fresh opportunity to rejoin the plan, re-affirming its benefits. It also provides them a chance to earn dollars by referring their friends.

An interesting thing to observe is how they use the copy to nudge the customers to stay back using the code NEWBEGINNINGS

Key takeaways

a) Be proactive about cancellation emails

Reach out to users before the cancellation. Remind them multiple times that their accounts will be deactivated after the trial, and tell them what to do to stop it. 

Give a specific deadline for action and an expected action from not taking action.

b) Honor your customer’s cancellation request but keep your door open

If the customer chooses to cancel, honor their decision and cancel their account.

But ask them why they cancel and leave a link for them to rejoin. You can also provide other incentives, like a time-sensitive offer to re-engage them immediately.

c) Connect to their fear of missing out

Humans are loss averse—they'd rather avoid losses than acquiring equivalent gains. So, focus on the benefits the customer may miss for not using or engaging with the product rather than what they stand to gain. 

Tap into their fear to re-engage them.

9. Nudge your customers with irresistible deals in your holiday emails

Over 83 million US consumers shopped online on Cyber Monday 2019, making it the biggest shopping day in US history—based on the number of shoppers.

According to different data, the National Retail Federation said most retailers generate 20% to 30% of their annual sales during the holidays, generating up to $39 billion from Black Friday-Cyber Monday sales in 2020, according to different data.

Holiday email marketing is an effective channel to boost sales. Here’s how brands are using them in a profitable way. 

FatFace integrates social responsibility into its holiday marketing. It’s a great way to encourage and promote its customers’ philanthropic interests. 

Its holiday email invites customers to shop on Black Friday to help them donate up to £250,000 to local charities—incentivizing them with free UK delivery. Making the offer time-sensitive helps to drive immediate action.

Example of adding deals to holiday transaction emails

FatFace reinforces the email with its brand identity and uses black and white color to project professionalism and avoid distractions.

Bonobos offers massive discounts in its holiday emails to drive sales. For example, the store gives customers a 30% discount on Cyber Monday on all products and up to 60% off—definitely an irresistible offer.

Cyber Monday discounts on holiday transaction emails by Bonobos

Bonobos uses a compelling GIF to draw attention to the offer. It uses a single CTA to remove distractions and make the conversion seamless.

Key takeaways

a) Make use of scarcity 

Shoppers hate missing out on good deals—so use time-sensitive offers to create scarcity. For example, you could embed a count-down timer in the email to create urgency and FOMO.

60% of millennial consumers often make reactive purchases within 24 hours after experiencing FOMO.

b) Use rewards to drive sales

Offer some loyal-customers-only incentives, making it clear in the email that the offer is exclusive to reward loyalty.

Customers are more likely to purchase from you if they feel valued and appreciated. Forrester reported that customers who belong to loyalty programs spend $42.33 more over three months.

Drive more sales by offering customers incentives for every $$$ spent, like $5 for every $30 order.

Example of loyalty inducing transaction emails

c) Add some personalization

Holiday seasons can be a hard time for customers. They receive a lot of hard-sell from brands. 

This is your chance to be different. Yes, sales are important but done the right way. 

Keep in mind your subscriber’s emotions and pen down a warm copy that spreads warmth and joy. Ensure that you keep the subscriber’s benefits in mind. 

10. Extend genuine support in your delivery confirmation emails

eCommerce brands send confirmation emails to shoppers when their orders arrive. This marks the end of a sales journey and another opportunity to begin a new sales conversation.

Use the delivery confirmation email to set customers up for success, offering them assistance to ensure a positive experience with their new items.

It’s a great way to extend all the help they need and close the relationship in a warm way. This will offer enough incentive for them to purchase from you again. 

We love how Ralph Lauren does this. 

It catches the reader’s attention with a straightforward design and lots of white spaces to make the email easy to read and digest. 

The email highlights the order tracking number, delivery address, and order details to set clear expectations. All of these are placed above the fold to make them easily noticeable. Shoppers have an option to view the complete order details using the CTA button.

Example of delivery confirmation transaction email from ralph lauren

The product image and the specifications take center stage. This helps whet the anticipation of the customers. 

A smart move is adding an Order FAQ section in the delivery confirmation email to answer shoppers’ questions, alleviate their concerns, and provide them quick help. 

Also, the email’s above-the-fold product categories menu lets them shop any category—a great way to keep the door open for repeat purchases. 

Key takeaways

a) Offer assistance with FAQs

Adding an FAQ section to the email to address shoppers’ concerns in real-time is a great way to improve customer experience and establish trust. It also frees up time spent dealing with repetitive questions, letting you focus on more pressing things.

Set it up at the bottom like Ralph Lauren’s, so it doesn't distract from the main message.

b) Make re-purchasing effortless

Make it seamless to shop any product category while reading the email message. For example, add a product category menu above the fold and offer incentives like free shipping, discounts, or rewards for their next purchase, to drive return purchases.

c) Make it unconditional

Don’t club genuine help with a sales pitch. Offering help with their order is a good gesture that’s going to build up your brand credibility. 

It’s surely going to translate into more purchases. 

free conversion rate optimization audit

Transform your transactional emails today

Online shopping is expanding rapidly, growing to an estimated 2.16 billion global online buyers by the end of 2021, up from 1.66 billion in 2016, making it big enough for brands to succeed.

Sadly, only 2.17% of visits convert to sales, leaving huge money on the table. 

Here’s a rundown of all the advice we shared in this post: 

  • Use straightforward designs and a single CTA in email address confirmation transactional emails to drive the bottom line.
  • Give shoppers options in your welcome email with multiple CTAs, allowing them to self-direct their conversion paths.
  • Make it seamless for shoppers to give reviews in the email.
  • Use benefit-focused email copy in cart abandonment emails to recover lost sales.
  • Set clear expectations in your shipping confirmation emails and incentivize referrals to drive conversions.
  • Extract more value per sale with your order confirmation email using upsells.
  • Re-engage inactive customers with incentives and benefit-focused copy.
  • Drive conversion from cancellation transactional emails by playing on customers' fear of missing out rather than product benefits.
  • Boost sales during holidays with irresistible offers.
  • Offer assistance with delivery confirmation transaction emails and open a fresh opportunity for a new sales conversation.
  • A/B test these ten transactional emails to send only emails your audience will love

Happy selling!

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