Intuitively, it makes sense that transactional email has the highest open rate across all forms of email. Seeing as a majority of transactional email is the result of consumer activity, its arrival is usually anticipated. Yet the question stands: why not grab that opportunity to include some content that would traditionally be perceived as marketing?

Few companies make use of the fact that the CAN-SPAM Act allows transactional email to have up to 1/3 of its content dedicated to remarketing. Our featured email from Birchbox, a unique discovery commerce platform that features monthly subscriptions for product trials, delivers on not only the integration of marketing in their transactional email, but also includes many other great email practices that we applaud. These include (from the top):


#1. Clear Subject Line:

“Your Box Has Shipped!” No question is left in the recipient’s mind as to what this email is about.

#2. Customized “From” Line:

The name “” is both easily identifiable as to who the sender is, and is also inviting. Avoid “do not reply” in the from line… why wouldn’t you want to hear from your customers?

#3. Strong Branding: 

The logo in the top left, overall color scheme, and format of the content is fluid throughout all of Birchbox’s emails and overall web presence. This not only gives a polished, professional appearance but also helps customers recognize and identify with your brand.

#4. Delivered a Strong Call to Action: 

By including links to track progress of the shipment, as well as a link highlighted to connect with Birchbox in the event that any questions pop up, Birchbox leaves the door open for further conversation. (Bonus: Birchbox includes links to social media sites to further promote engagement and brand advocacy.)

#5. Additional Soft Sell on Other Similar Products (Remarketing):

The bottom section is: a) clearly sectioned off from the original transactional content and b) relevant to the original transaction (don’t try and market unrelated items). This serves as additional exposure to something the customer may have missed the first time or at the very least increases product awareness. Also, the “sneak peek” video link provides a light push for re-engagement and soft sell for purchasing the full size products.

#6. Disclosed Location: 

In order to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act you must include your physical address within the email.

#7. Easy to Unsubscribe: 

By making it easy for subscribers to leave your mailing list, you create a positive user experience. Everyone has been through the nightmare of wanting to simply unsubscribe but then having to jump through a series of hoops. (If a subscriber wants to leave, making it hard on them just creates unnecessary frustration for a subscriber…best to let them leave in peace than give them no other choice than to start hitting that spam button!)

So, what’s the verdict?

This email encompasses many of our email best practices, but there can always be room for small improvements. We recommend implementing further customization—like addressing the recipient by name and including more detailed past purchase history and recommendations where applicable. Also, a quick “thank you” to the customer for their business (whether their purchase was miniscule or huge) can go a long way in building loyalty and rapport with the company. Otherwise, we take our hat off to Birchbox for a job well done!

Check out our full list of recommendations in our Marketing and Transactional Email Best Practices Checklist and download our free guide: Transactional and Marketing Email: How to Build a Powerful Integrated Email Program for more information on how to take your current email program from blah to BAM!

Kate Schmeisser
When Kate isn't trying to teach herself the ukelele, make it through the mountain of books on her nightstand, or figure out if they are actually being serious about suggested serving sizes on ice cream, she is the Creative Content Manager.