Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 51 seconds

Combining promotional messages within transactional emails is increasingly being viewed as a powerful way to address growing challenges associated with digital marketing.

As more marketers embrace the strategy, vendors are responding by enhancing their technology to make it easier to customize transactional emails. At the same time, marketers need to take care to observe regulations and ensure that best practices for marketing with transactional emails are followed.

Transactional emails are emails that are triggered by specific events. They include emails that are sent to individuals who subscribe to online newsletters or need to reset their passwords.

They can also be used to confirm specific events, such as when customers make online purchases or when products are shipped to consumers. Since they are highly relevant to recipients, they have substantially higher open rates than emails that are sent for purely marketing purposes.

Broadly speaking, email remains a highly popular marketing channel, in large part due to its high return on investment. But, it is not without challenges. Perhaps the biggest challenge is for marketers to differentiate their emails from the large volume of marketing emails that are already being sent on a daily basis.

For example, more than 17.5 billion emails were sent last cyber week from just one platform, the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, as previously reported by MediaPost.

When considering that Salesforce Marketing Cloud is just one of many email platforms, the total volume of emails sent during that week is probably considerably larger. The 17.5 billion total for Salesforce was a 41.6% increase from the prior year, which illustrates that email volume is growing quickly.

Marketers also have to contend with growing suspicion among consumers regarding the nature of emails, thanks to the growing occurrence of online scams.

A recent study by email validation firm VALIMAIL has determined that approximately 6.5 billion fake emails, or emails that have fake “from” addresses, are sent out worldwide every day. With those challenges in mind, marketers are leveraging the high open rates of transactional emails by including marketing content within the communications.

A recent Marketing Land column maintains that various marketers have differing strategies for complying with the CAN-SPAM Act when combining promotional content with transactional emails.

Unlike pure marketing emails, the act doesn’t require transactional emails to have opt out provisions as long as the emails are primarily for transactional purposes. One common interpretation of that stipulation is that emails should have an 80/20 balance of transaction content to marketing content to qualify as transactional emails.

Some marketers, however, push the envelope by having a 50/50 balance. It’s also important to avoid having an excessive amount of marketing content in transactional emails in order to prevent the emails from being filtered out as spam.

Transactional emails should also be sent from different email addresses than pure marketing emails. That way, if a recipient ops out of receiving marketing emails, it won’t complicate sending out transactional emails in the near future.

Transactional emails have traditionally been preset templates, which has made it difficult to customize the communications, but technology vendors have been working to address that issue. Adobe has recently enhanced email and cross-channel marketing capabilities within Adobe Campaign, which is part of the company's Experience Cloud, reports ZDNet.

The technology links to transactional databases and uses predictive technology to customize content. Email technology provider Campaign Monitoring is also promoting its ability to allow marketers to customize transaction emails with a specific webpage dedicated to the matter. 

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