[Updated April 2017] From deliverability risks to DMARC email authentication and other factors, This Email News Digest covers some issues that email campaigns encounter with transactional email.

A Checklist from Email News Digest

Does your current email service provider or sending platform measure up when it comes to the demands of a successful transactional email program?  Here’s a quick checklist of points to bear in mind:

• Deliverability: What delivery rates do you see on your transactional emails?  Percentagewise, this ought to be in the upper 90s.  Don’t take excuses for anything less.

• Reporting: Does your system allow you to track and report all messages that go out, whether from you or an authorized affiliate?  Too many providers don’t track them at all, to be honest.

• Data Complexity: If you’re merging targeted marketing messages, for example, with transactional emails, can your provider handle the complex data rules involved?

• Design:  Too many transactional emails are design disasters that miss CRM opportunities galore, or just look bad, period.  People appreciate clear, directive design – and it fosters reactivity.

• Testing: Often, transactional email templates don’t get tested in all environments, particularly HTML.  If your provider doesn’t offer that capability?  There are plenty that do.

• Response Management: Is anyone doing it?  When customers reply, somebody has to respond – even if it’s to a ‘do not reply’ message.   They’re trying to open a dialogue – jump on it!

Our shamelessly self-serving full disclosure?  We can attest that SparkPost helps senders execute on all of these points.

DMARC Helps Businesses Win at the Reputation Game

This post by Linda Musthaler at Network World reminds us of one danger DMARC guards against that might not immediately be first in mind: the ongoing, often incremental damage to your brand. As Linda explains,

 According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, an average of 418 companies had their good names besmirched as part of a phishing attempt each month in the last quarter of 2012. Perhaps your own company was among them.

“Besmirched” is putting it gently (and a favorite word at Email News Digest).  Companies and providers are often victims just as much as users.  And transactional emails are obviously a primo target.  But the short-term and long-term damage to a brand can be significant – just look to Yahoo! and its recent email woes. We’ve got to remember that, regardless of whether an attack owes its success to an internal vulnerability or to the outrageous sophistication of the hacker, it’s your reputation that takes a hit, however miniscule, in the perceptions of most users.

A brand is really and truly owned by the marketplace, not the company behind it: it lives in the mind of customers, stakeholders and the public.  Policing that perception on every front is why firms spend billions to protect themselves at every touchpoint. It’s often unfair, but even the smallest stains on your reputation can build until a meme takes over – for instance, that Brand X’s email platform, whether outsourced or enterprise-based, is unreliable, phishing-ridden, and somehow reflective, in its hiccups and failures, of the brand itself.


The Open Advantage of Transactional Email

Transactional emails simply get opened.  Makes sense, of course.  But how much more often than other items in the inbox?  Let’s throw out a number…well, it’s a pretty confirmed number: transactional emails have an open rate of 52%.  When you put that in context, as Marketing Sherpa did, it’s obvious that they’re on the order of being 100% more effective than e-newsletters, in Chris Hexton’s analysis at MarketingLand (source of the 52% number).

Why the superior open rates? Transactional emails are contextual and organic, for starters – they’re sent in response to customer action and desire.  That context is, as Hexton points out, getting larger, creating opportunities like those the social sites such as LinkedIn understand very well, as they exploit user involvement with their social nature to maximize downstream engagement.

Avoiding Deliverability Risks in Transactional Email

Here’s a trenchant post by MailJet that gets at one of the most critical risks in transactional emails: how to avoid the spam folder. Transactional emails have a higher reactivity rate than other emails, so anti-spam filters give them a higher reputation score, and don’t consign them as spam – usually!

But just a mistake or two in addressing, formatting or other simple-to-redress areas could send your message into Spamville.  Moreover, it means subsequent transactional emails might get go the same route – and that’s not good for business.

Want case studies on brands that are using transactional email successfully? Download the Guide Building Trust and Loyalty with Transactional Email!

Transactional Email News Digest

Solving the Email “Problem”

If you feel like the amount of email showing up in your inbox is growing all the time, you’re not alone. The Radicati Group Email Statistics Report (PDF) documents that overall global email traffic is expected to grow by seven percent annually every year for the next four years, while business email will grow annually at a 13 percent clip. Dileep Thazhmon from PowerInbox has an article on the The Next Web discussing how email is evolving, and strategies that people can use to gain more control over their experience. Interesting stats:


A normal user receives about 60% transactional, 30% notification and 10% personal emails a day. Yup, your most prolific email sender is probably an automated bot.

Routing Transactional Emails: The 2 Classic Mistakes To Avoid 

Wise words from MailJet’s Elie Chevignard on the challenges companies face in delivering transactional email: 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.

Email Marketing Metrics Study Identifies Top Performers & Sets Industry Benchmarks 

The results are in from Silverpop’s global 2013 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark study. If you’re curious how your industry—or you next email marketing campaign compares—take a seat. Possibly more metrics than you can digest in one sitting, the study takes on open rates, CTRs, CTORs, hard bounce rates, and unsubscribes. When it comes to list management, the key differences between top and bottom performers were most apparent by percentage of hard bounce rates and unsubscribes. While top performers received less than a 1 percent bounce rate, low performers experienced close to a 10 percent bounce. Top performers included education, computer hardware, telecom and electronics, and retail.

Improving Your WordPress Site’s Transactional Email

If you run your blog or online business on WordPress, that platform’s transactional email capability is a critical channel for reaching readers and customers. Here’s a good take on why bloggers should assert ownership of their transactional emails and steer away from the humdrum impression your site makes using basic WordPress functionality. Not only can you add some personality and tie up wayward branding – you can finally get confirmation that you’re not the only one reading your stuff with easy analytics software made especially for you.

Think only marketing emails need to be authenticated? Think again. Email authentication of transactional email ensures that your customers receive important transactional notifications in a timely manner. Find out more about DMARC authentication in our Don’t Deprioritize DMARC webinar!

Don't Deprioritize DMARC webinar