If you’re an experienced digital marketer, you’re likely familiar with the power of data-compliant bulk email and SMS. But there’s another dimension to digital communication that’s just as crucial, especially when it comes to customer retention and service delivery: transactional email and SMS. Unlike their bulk equivalents, these types of messaging aren’t meant for mass consumption, aren’t normally scheduled or filtered, and are often sent as automated responses to individual customers’ online actions.

In this overview, we’ll explore what transactional emails and SMSs are, how they differ from bulk messaging, and why your business could benefit immensely from using them.

Why Your Business Needs Transactional Email & SMS | Everlytic | Transactional Messaging | Woman With Credit Card & Cell Phone

What is Transactional Email & SMS?

Transactional messaging is a type of automated digital communication that’s used to send business-critical communications to your customers based on the actions they take online. This is especially true when interacting with your digital touchpoints, for example, your website, CRM, messages, or even your business’s mobile app.

Unlike bulk communications, transactional emails and SMSs are sent to only one recipient at any given time. In other words, transactional messaging is hyper-targeted and does not rely on segmentation to narrow down the intended audience. Furthermore, it’s sent directly from a server, which means lightning-fast delivery of crucial information to customers when they need it.

Common types of transactional messaging include:

  • Password resets and reminders
  • Abandoned cart notifications
  • Customer feedback requests
  • Shipping and event notifications
  • Customer service messaging
  • Sharing of notices and statements

As you can see from the above list, transactional email and SMS represent the nuts-and-bolts communications that keep customer relationships going. In fact, a Marketing Charts survey revealed that nearly 60% of respondents believed that transactional email is crucial for retaining customers.

How Does Transactional Email & SMS Work?

As mentioned, these messages are sent directly from a server. The technologies used to send them are SMTP and API, which calls for some explanation. SMTP is short for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, which is basically a set of digital instructions that directs the sending of emails between servers. API, or Application Program Interface, allows online applications to “talk” to each other.

To send messaging via these tools, you’ll likely have to use a transactional messaging provider who will generally guide you through the following steps:

  1. Signing up with the service provider
  2. Verifying your sending credentials
  3. Configuring your SMTP and/or API
  4. Integrating your various touchpoints with their platform
  5. Training on message creation and sending

Defining Good Transactional Email & SMS

There are aspects of good transactional messaging that depend both on you and your service provider. For starters, a reputable service provider should be able to guarantee that your transactional messaging is:

  • Secure: Your messages and customer contact data must be kept secure to avoid costly data breaches. Only opt for service providers who put a high priority on data security.
  • Fast: When properly implemented, transactional emails and SMSs are typically delivered in real time, when customers need it.
  • Scalable: You can’t control how many interactions customers will have with your digital touchpoints. When your business is growing at full tilt, you’re transactional messaging must keep up. Reputable service providers offer you consistent performance in peak and off-peak times.

Check out Everlytic’s Transactional Email Calculator to get a clearer picture of how many transactional credits you’ll need to support your customers and grow your business.

Why Your Business Needs Transactional Email & SMS | Everlytic | Transactional Messaging | Man Sitting at a Laptop Computer

One of the main strengths of transactional email and SMS is their ability to reliably get business-critical info to customers when they need it. Make your transactional messaging as engaging as possible by keeping your content:

  • Relevant to the customer’s actions: For the message to be sent, a customer had to take an action. Make sure the response aligns seamlessly with that action.
  • Easy to navigate & understand: Give the recipient clear instructions on what to do after receiving the message, e.g., a highly visible CTA for downloading documents.
  • Mostly clear of promotional content: Transactional email and SMS is not marketing. Be extremely cautious about upselling or cross-selling in these messages, and if you do, only do it when it’s relevant, adds value to the customer experience, and only when you’ve obtained the necessary consent (see ‘Data Privacy in Transactional Email & SMS’ below).
  • Optimised for multiple touchpoints: Make your transactional messages as accessible as possible on mobile, desktop, and tablet.
  • Personalised to grab attention: Personalisation works especially well in transactional email and SMS since the email itself is tailored to the actions of a specific customer.

Looking for a detailed summary of transactional email best practices? Get our Transactional Email Guide and learn what you can do to create effective messaging that helps your customers achieve their business goals.

Improving Transactional Email Deliverability

Even though your deliverability can be substantially improved by using a service provider that prioritises email reputation management, there are a number of measures you can take to boost it too, like:

How to Trigger Transactional Email & SMS

Because transactional messaging is automated, you can potentially trigger it using a large selection of customer behaviours. Some digital communication platforms, like Everlytic, allow you to trigger transactional email and SMS when a customer, for example:

  • Clicks a link on a message
  • Opens an email
  • Subscribes to a list
  • Unsubscribes from a list
  • Visits a landing page
  • Clicks a link on landing page
  • Updates their profile on a database

Who Benefits from Transactional Messaging?

The short answer is: any business. That said, there are a handful of industries whose way of doing business lends itself well to this form of automated comms. These include:

  • Logistics: Making sure that elements of a supply chain communicate flawlessly while ensuring that customers know when, where, and how orders will be delivered.
  • Healthcare: Simplifying billing and updating patients on diagnoses in real-time without compromising on confidentiality and data privacy.
  • Private Security: Providing crucial security functions like password resets and keeping track of customer statements to support account collection and sending.
  • Retail & eCommerce: Notifying customers on when orders have been received, processed, and sent out for delivery.

If you’re looking for ways to integrate automated messaging into your ecommerce journeys, get your hands on our eCommerce Email Automation Guide.

Why Your Business Needs Transactional Email & SMS | Everlytic | Transactional Messaging | Woman Reading Off a Cell Phone

Personalising Transactional Email & SMS

Transactional email and SMS work exceptionally well with message personalisation. That’s because customers are expecting this type of messaging when taking deliberate actions on your digital touchpoints.

In fact, SmarterHQ says that 72% of consumers will only engage with messaging that’s tailored to their specific interests. This means they’re looking for the digital equivalent of professional, face-to-face customer service. When used in transactional messaging, personalisation will engage your audience, making them feel appreciated.

Transactional Messaging & Automation

Automated communication workflows and transactional messaging are similar in many ways, but their objectives (and application) are quite different. For one, transactional email and SMS aren’t normally used to nurture prospects towards a buying decision.

Despite being separate, these modes of communication can complement each other almost seamlessly, especially when used as part of an integrated customer management strategy. Transactional email and SMS for real-time, business-critical support, and automated workflows for engaging customer journeys.

Data Privacy in Transactional Email & SMS

Typically, you don’t need to obtain permission from clients to send them transactional messaging because sharing transactional information is part of any normal business relationship.

Still, if you do use transactional email or SMS, ensure that your messaging doesn’t contain overtly promotional content since it would then constitute direct marketing. You can only send this sort of content to subscribers who’ve purposely opted in for it.

In addition, your customers will likely expect business-critical information on these channels, so using them for other purposes, like direct marketing, could frustrate them and hurt your brand.

Not sure what impact POPIA may have on your digital messaging? Download our POPIA Guide to get some clarity on the topic.

Boost Retention with Transactional Messaging

The result of effective transactional messaging is often satisfied customers who feel appreciated and heard. By offering them seamless everyday interactions with your business, you’re reinforcing your brand promise. Happy customers are also more likely to keep buying from you, opening the doors for more effective up- and cross-selling. If you’re not doing so yet, it’s definitely time for your business to explore this powerful aspect of digital communication.

Access a New Dimension of Retention-Boosting Value

Transactional email and SMS are powerful retention-boosting channels that can supercharge your customer experience. Harness them to support your business.