Whether they confirm an order, a subscription or shipping, transactional emails are always crucial to the recipient. They transmit important information that clients are waiting for. Hence, their reach is very impressive: transactional emails yield a 50% open rate and a 20% click rate! Despite these impressive figures, transactional messages are often managed improperly. Here are two classic mistakes to be avoided.
Mistake 1: Using an In-House email server, without any deliverability team to optimize it
Transactional emails have often been perceived as simple automated notifications, for which the routing could be set up once and then left alone. But if the volumes are subject to seasonal changes or strong growth, adjustments are absolutely necessary, especially if the sending is done in a zone where ISPs are fragmented: beyond a few hundred thousands emails, you have to apply throttling rules. Typically, if you send emails to different European countries, you will need to integrate each of the local rules and specificities. This is an important factor to keep in mind, but unfortunately it is all too often underestimated!
Making sure you have the delivery & activity metrics
In addition, transactional messages routed in-house are often sent without any tracking. This situation is problematic: if the sender doesn’t have delivery and activity metrics at his disposal, he cannot market efficiently, nor detect a problem by himself. If an ISP decides to blacklist the sender or apply volume limits, no indicator will allow him to react quickly enough! The effects can be disastrous for businesses.
Protect your IP Reputation in the long term
Last but not least, managing your own email server exposes you to the danger of having to reset your IP reputation, a factor that heavily impacts your deliverability. Your hosting service will actually change your IP address when you switch from one offer to the other. If your business grows and you need a bigger server, you will lose your reputation as a sender. Not good. Owning an IP address is possible, but quite complicated.
Managing an email server in-house is of course possible, but make sure you have a team who understands all the challenges of deliverability. Your team will need to optimize and fine-tune the server non-stop. They must be available anytime, in case an incident occurs. A licensed MTA can help to overcome the difficulties, but the cost may be prohibitive for many businesses.
Mistake 2: Using a marketing player who is more interested in bulk than transactional email
A lot of traditional email players (the big names everybody knows) rushed into the transactional email market. Thus, their platforms and business models are not adapted to this type of messages. Here are the 5 features they commonly lack:
The transactional flow must be separate from marketing emails. Anti-spam filters are becoming more and more sensitive, and any campaign incident can quickly result in a decreased IP reputation or worse, blacklisting. Transactional emails must always go through their own avenues, so they won’t be negatively impacted in case there is an incident. Classic ESP players offer to separate the routes, but it will be costly: many will charge a hefty fee for this.
Large ESPs base their transactional email offers on the model they built for marketing. The client needs to commit for one year of service or more and he is obligated to anticipate the volumes, etc. Some setup fees will apply, on top of the fixed yearly fee. The transactional email budget quickly blows up: from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. The ROI becomes hard to see in these cases.
As crazy as it seems, it’s a fact that many traditional players are not capable of pushing activity and delivery data in real time. For example, one of the email market leaders offers only one update every 24 hours. This a long time to wait when it comes to hard bounces for a password reset: you need this info ASAP! Otherwise, your conversions will not be optimized.
4- Real Time
Email marketing-oriented solutions sometimes allow you to prioritize some list segments. Certain recipients will be tagged as having “priority,” but none of these platforms have a per message approach. However, this is necessary to avoid a payment confirmation from being delayed because it gets stuck behind a newsletter that is sent simultaneously. Tagging a particular message as having priority is mandatory when it comes to dealing with transactional email.
5- Scalability & Flexibility
Between July and December, volumes can vary up to 200%. The email provider must be able to absorb peak activity while accounting for price changes, so that the client can benefit from it as well. Traditional players who don’t rely on a per usage model can’t answer to these needs (cf. the business model described in point number 2).
Quick win tip: Have a look at the new players who are specialized in transactional email
Several new platforms allow you to fully manage the specificity of transactional email. Mailjet is one of these transactional email services, but you can discover a quite exhaustive overview on Social Compare. As these platforms rely on SaaS models, there are really easy to test and implement.