Marketing and Transactional Email Best Practices Checklist

February 27, 2013
Written by
Carly Brantz
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

Marketing and Transactional Email Best Practices Checklist

Blackboard-ChecklistRegardless of what type of email you send—marketing or transactional, you should always follow email best practices to make sure your emails get delivered to your subscribers. The following is a high level overview of the key elements you should be thinking about when you send email through your web application.

1: Customize the “From” line: Avoid using “no reply” in your from line. Instead, personalize it in a way that makes it easy for your customer to identify you as a sender.

2: Write Clear Subject lines: Make the purpose and content of your email obvious. If you are sending a promotional email or special offer, state the offer clearly such as “30% off today only.” If your transactional email provides shipping information, ensure your subject contains words like “Your Order Has Shipped.”

3: Address Your Reader By Name: Always make a personal connection by including a salutation in every email you send. Personalization is especially important in transactional email because it affirms your relationship with your subscriber and makes your customer more comfortable with the transaction details.

4: Brand Your Company: Be sure to include your logo in every email and ensure that your email templates have a similar look and feel (regardless of which department is handling your mail streams). This will build trust and brand recognition with your customers. In order to better brand your emails, you can now create your own transactional email template with SendGrid's Template Engine.

5: Personalize Your Content: For marketing emails, use data like your subscriber’s past purchase behavior to drive your communication. If your subscriber purchased size 8 shoes in the past, then send an email communication with only shoes that will fit.  If sending a transactional email, keep in mind that 1/3 of your content can be dedicated to remarketing. Use a subscriber’s recent purchase to offer a complimentary product such as pants to match the sweater they just purchased. Check out this great email from Lands' End as an example.  (However, 30% is a maximum number. Monitor your deliverability rates to make sure that including these marketing techniques isn't preventing your emails from reaching your subscribers. If so, scale back your marketing messaging.)

6: Deliver a Strong Call to Action: Tell people what you want them to do and where you want them to go. In a marketing email, make sure to pair your offering with a clear directive like, “Choose Your New Boot,” “Invite a Friend,” or “Sign Up Now.” For transactional emails, invite your customer to engage further. Provide clear links to your fan pages, offer clear instructions on how to track packages or change orders; and if promoting complimentary products, make it easy for them to add those items to their cart.

7: Send HTML and Plain Text Emails: Design email templates that are compatible with users on the go. Don’t forget to create plain text messages as they can be easily read on smartphones and tablets. Remember to create short URLs and keep messages to the point. For an example of a great plain text email, read this email from Cyfe.

8: Make it easy to Unsubscribe: Don’t make it difficult for people to opt-out, and be sure to process requests within 10 days. For more info on whether you should include an unsubscribe link in transactional email, refer to our blog post on the topic.

9: Pre-populate customer information: Use account information to help move your customer through the “check-out” process faster. Additionally, add profile data that can help you segment and target your messages based on preferences and behavior.

10. Disclose your location: Include your company name and a postal address in every email you send.

11: Say thank you: Sometimes the key to increasing sales is not asking for one. Be sure to show your appreciation by offering email exclusives or providing helpful information in your marketing emails. In transactional emails, always thank your customer for their order no matter how big or small the purchase.

For more delivery tips, read our Deliverability Guide.

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