Q&A: How to Get The Most Out of Transactional Email

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SendGrid email experts Danny Randa and Tim Falls took us through the landscape of transactional email and presented tips on how to take advantage of this communication channel. Later, they answered …

SendGrid email experts Danny Randa and Tim Falls took us through the landscape of transactional email and presented tips on how to take advantage of this communication channel. Later, they answered some questions that they did not have the time to answer during the webinar here.

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  • 1. How to Get the Most Out OfTransactional EmailWebcast Q&A With Danny and Tim
  • 2. Last week, SendGrid email experts DannyRanda and Tim Falls took us through thelandscape of transactional email and presentedtips on how to take advantage of thiscommunication channel. Later, they answeredsome questions that they did not have the time toanswer during the webinar here. You can also access the webinar here.
  • 3. Q: Without following CAN-SPAM, what sort of open rate is normalto expect? A: With transactional emails, the CAN-SPAM regulations can beremoved from the equation. Normal open rates for transactional emailcan vary, depending on the exact purpose of a specific email- e.g.purchase receipts will likely earn much higher open rates thanfirmed/follower notifications. When analyzing your transactional emailopen rates, you should aim to achieve a 30-50% open rate. Dependingon the exact nature of each category of mail your app is sending youmay see rates lower or higher then this. For really importantemails, you could see open rates as high as 80-90%, or as low as 10-20% for less important messages that may be filtered and/or deletedbefore ever being opened.
  • 4. Q: What’s the increase in deliverability from newsletter totransactional? Percentage? A: Once again, this is difficult to put a hard number on. If you arefollowing best practices and sending relevant, valuable content; bothtypes of emails can achieve high deliverability. However, you’re likely tosee much higher rates of unsubscribers, even if you have a strong opt-in policy process. So, even the best newsletters are more likely to runinto deliverability problems than transactional emails simply becausethey are more susceptible to user behavior that will negatively affect thesender reputation.
  • 5. Q: As someone who uses email to market our products, myconcern is that a company like Facebook will partner directly withcompanies and pass messages through the Facebook system andbypass the email inbox. Should this idea bother me? A: I don’t see this as a strong possibility or a likely threat, especiallyin the near term (i.e. the next 5-10 years). This really just comes backto the argument as to whether or not email is dead, and it’s not. Socialnetworks and their built-in messaging will certainly have their place inonline communications, but the effect on email usage will be negligible.Companies like Facebook use email heavily to market its ownproducts, for advertising, and for transactional email. Facebook lovesemail and couldn’t live without it.
  • 6. Q: How do you manage all of the out of office/auto reply bounces? A: If you get auto-replies, such as the “out of the office” reply whenyou send a transactional email, then you should just let that messagebe. These are called “soft bounces”, and they’ll eventually get the emailwhen they get back to their inbox. If you notice that you get this replyrepeatedly when sending to a particular email address, it’s probably agood idea to remove them from your list, or place them in asuppression list, so as to not send to them anymore. Some peoplerecommend allowing 3-5 soft bounces before removing someone fromyour list.
  • 7. Q: How do you feel about HTML versus plain text emails fortransactional emails? A: In most cases, you’d ideally include both variations (i.e. sendmulti-part mime emails). Plain text emails should be the priority if youare only going to send one version. Most people do not have their mailset up to display all images. Assume that they won’t enableimages, and design your emails with this assumption firmly in place.You can create your transactional emails in such a way that yourcustomer will see buttons and colors and such in plain-text versions-you just have to do some homework and be smart about your design.Look at some examples from other companies that are doing this well.If you are including HTML, take advantage of its capabilities and createan awesome experience for those customers who do enable images bydefault or on a per-message basis.
  • 8. Q: The deliverability guide you have mentioned doesn’t go intoexactly what a good ratio for words to images is. Does SendGridprovide any kind of support or access to a test bed for standardSPAM nets to see possible scores? Is there a way to see what thepotential for this email to be caught? A: Great Question! We recommend IsNotSpam andProgrammersHeaven as great tools to double check the potential of anemail to b caught by a spam filter. At SendGrid, we do have a spamchecker app that uses SpamAssassin to assign a score to emails thatyou request for us to send through your account. You can configure thatapp to prevent emails from being sent that do not meet the minimumspam score that you specify. The Drawback to this method is that itdoesn’t work for simply running your email through the test beforeactually attempting to send to your customer, but we are hoping to seesome improvements to this feature in the not-too-distant future.
  • 9. Q: How many emails can you send at one time before they will belabeled as spam? A: Sending a high volume of emails will not necessarily result inany emails being flagged as spam. By following best practices outlineson our blog, white papers, and webinars, you can achieve very highdeliverability rates consistently. Companies like Pintrest andFoursquare send tons of transactional email and see great deliverabilitybecause they do it right.
  • 10. Danny Randadaniel.randa@sendgrid.com@dannyrandaTim Fallstim.falls@sendgrid.com@timfalls