7 Best Practices for Sending Effective Email Notifications

July 26, 2022
Written by
Nathalia Velez Ryan
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own
Reviewed by
Ayanna Julien
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

7 Best Practices for Sending Effective Email Notifications

Marketing emails get a lot of attention in our industry, thanks to creative design and carefully tracked metrics. But email notifications are equally (if not more) important to engaging your customers and growing your business. That’s because notification emails focus on customer retention, with the goal of keeping recipients engaged with your business. 

Notifications are highly relevant to recipients, which is why these emails have the second-highest open rate of any email category. Still, you need to ensure notification emails convey all the information recipients need, create a positive user experience, and reinforce your brand. 

This post will cover the most common types of email notifications, along with examples. Plus, we’ll go over some best practices to ensure your success.

Types of notification emails

Most notifications are transactional, meaning a recipient's action or account activity triggers them. But some notifications are marketing related, encouraging the recipient to take a specific action. Learn the difference between marketing and transactional emails.

Let’s look at the most common types of email notifications.  

Ecommerce product notifications 

Ecommerce product notifications inform recipients about new products or discounts. Plus, unlike general marketing emails, these are highly personalized and focus on a single product. 

For example, if a customer views an item on your website and that item goes on sale, you can send the customer a notification to let them know this is the best time to buy. Users can also opt into receiving notifications when an out-of-stock item is back in stock, like this example from Sephora

Reengagement emails

Reengagement emails are automated to send when a customer hasn’t engaged with your communications for a certain amount of time. These emails aim to gauge the recipient’s interest in continuing to hear from you. You can also use the opportunity to entice them with a promotion based on their activity history or showcase some of the perks of doing business with you, like Drizly does in the example below. 

While the goal of these emails is to reengage the recipient, you should offer the option to change their email preferences or unsubscribe. Unengaged users hurt your email program, so it’s best to sunset them after a certain length of time as part of your email list hygiene

Subscription confirmation

Subscription confirmation emails are part of a double opt-in process for newsletters whereby a user signs up for your mailing list, which triggers a notification. These emails help verify the subscriber’s email address and confirm that they want to join the list. This example from Find What Feels Good keeps it short and simple. 

Order fulfillment

Order fulfillment notifications keep customers informed of the status of their order. This includes order confirmations, shipping notifications, delivery confirmations, and updates on refunds and exchanges. The Adidas email below gets straight to the point and includes a relevant call to action (CTA) for customers who just received a purchase. 

Account activity

Account activity emails inform customers about any activity on their account, starting with account activation (like the example below from Awesome Socks Club) and continuing with password changes, subscription updates, new logins, and more. This helps build trust with your customers through timely and transparent communication. 

Terms of service changes 

Terms of service changes notifications help keep your customers informed of changes to the terms they accepted when they signed up for a subscription service. Any time you make changes to those terms, you need to notify users, so they can decide whether they want to continue using your service under the new terms. 

As you can see in the HBO Max email below, these notifications are often informational with no CTA, but you should always include hyperlinks to the full terms and business contact information. 

Social media engagement

Social media engagement notification emails (sent by platforms like LinkedIn) inform users of new comments, friend requests, and other types of engagement. This benefits the platform because it entices the user to log in and spend some time checking what’s new. 

Customer service updates

Customer service updates keep users informed after submitting a customer service inquiry—you don’t want them wondering if it’s still sitting in an inbox, never to see the light of day. This lets your customers know you’ve received their request and set expectations for when they might hear back from you. 

These notifications should also include alternate contact information, particularly a phone number, so customers can get in touch with you if their question(s) can’t wait. 

Notification email best practices

Follow these best practices to ensure notification emails provide the information recipients need and maintain high engagement rates. 

1. State the content in the subject line

Notification emails tend to perform well because the content is highly relevant to the recipient. But the only way for the recipient to know this is if you state the content clearly in the subject line. 

For example, the subject line “New Sign-in to Your Account” gets straight to the point, letting the user know why you sent this notification. But more importantly, the subject line conveys the entirety of the message, so the recipient knows whether they need to take action before they open the email. 

2. Have a clear CTA

Don’t leave the recipient wondering what to do after they read an email notification. Use the CTA to take them directly to whatever action you want them to take. For example, if you send an ecommerce product notification, the CTA button should be front and center, so the recipient can easily go to a product page—and drive up your conversion rate. 

3. Focus on a single idea

Notification emails perform best when focused on a single idea or goal. That’s because recipients only dedicate a few seconds to reading these messages—according to Statista, recipients spend 10 seconds reading brand emails. 

Email notifications are the result of a specific action or trigger, and it would just confuse the user if you include unrelated information. That’s why you should resist the temptation to promote other products or services in your notifications. 

4. Keep the design and voice consistent with your brand

Your notifications should be concise, but this doesn’t mean you can forget about intentional design and copy. You want to create a consistent brand experience anywhere you connect with customers. This includes ensuring the visual elements and tone of your notification emails are in line with your marketing emails and other communications. 

5. Personalize the content

Notifications are some of the most personalized emails you’ll send because of the direct ties to the recipient’s actions or account activity. 

For transactional emails like account notifications, personalized information (e.g., name, location, account number, etc.) helps convey to the recipient this is a legitimate email from your company. And for ecommerce notifications, you can use personalization to increase conversions. For example, you can leverage the data you’ve gathered about the recipient, like shopping history, to send them relevant product notifications and promotions. 

Learn how you can harness customer identity data with Twilio Segment to provide value to your customers. 

6. Be timely

Email notifications are usually time-sensitive (and should be). Customers want to know right away that their package was delivered, not find out hours later that it’s been sitting outside their door. The same applies to account activity updates and most other types of email notifications.

One way to ensure timeliness is to use a separate IP address for your transactional emails so that marketing email metrics don’t impact deliverability. 

7. Don’t forget the boilerplate

Like all the other emails you send, notifications should include boilerplate information, such as business contact information and a way for the user to unsubscribe or update their preferences. That's because even if a notification is relevant, recipients may want to unsubscribe from product-related emails. Or, they might want to change how they receive financial updates like monthly statements. You don’t want to risk recipients marking your emails as spam because you didn’t include email preference options in the boilerplate. 

Send effective notification emails with Twilio SendGrid

The first step to sending effective notifications is setting up automation. This might sound complex, but Twilio SendGrid simplifies the process with intuitive, time-saving automation tools that help you send personalized notifications. Plus, you can find notification email templates for the most common use cases. Just customize the template to your brand and send!

Give Twilio SendGrid a try for free to start sending successful email notifications.  

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