Save 37% off PRO during our Black Friday Sale! »

Transactional Email Best Practices

E9b5eb3bc9115bb0d3c2bb4e7dc0504f?s=47 Wildbit
December 02, 2016

Transactional Email Best Practices

If you're sending transactional email, there's a lot of tiny details to get right. They're easy to fix, but they're just as easy to overlook. This gives a quick run-through of the gotchas so you can send the best possible emails. Adapted from Postmark's Transactional Email Best Practices guide.

E9b5eb3bc9115bb0d3c2bb4e7dc0504f?s=128

Wildbit

December 02, 2016
Tweet

Transcript

  1. Transactional Email Best Practices

  2. Think of transactional email as another interface to your software,

    and give it all of the attention that you’d give to designing any other interaction.
  3. From & No-reply Addresses 1

  4. Glossary from address and name The combination of the email

    address and name that you’d see in your inbox. While a name is optional, we recommend including one to aid recognition. ex. Postmark Team <team@postmarkapp.com> from name from address
  5. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ For the

    From Name, use the product or company name that will be most familiar to the recipient. 1. A recognizable From Name can increase open rates. 2. Without an explicit name the email client will simply display the email address or the initial portion of it.
  6. Do this… Not this… “I’ve never heard of this company.

    Must be spam.”
  7. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Avoid redundancy

    in the From name and the subject line. 1. Redundancy wastes characters when good content can dramatically improve open rates.
  8. Do this… Not this… Wasted & Redundant Characters

  9. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Keep names

    concise and human-friendly. 1. Longer names can be cut off in previews. 2. Human-friendly names can increase open rates.
  10. Do this… Not this… “Who? What?”

  11. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Be cautious

    using end user names as the From Name for an email. Use “Jane via Application” or “Jane (Application)” instead. 1. Many email clients will automatically add senders to the address book if the recipient replies to an email. If the name is “Jane Doe” they may end up with an entry like “Jane Doe <support@application.com>" in their address book, and that can lead to confusion down the road. 2. Since the email isn’t actually from that person, but only triggered by that person, including the product name helps provide valuable context.
  12. Do this… Not this… If they reply to this message,

    chances are they’ll get a new contact added to their address book, but it will be using the product’s email address rather than Jane’s.
  13. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Pay attention

    to avatars associated with your email address through Google, Gravatar, etc. 1. Avatars can help aid recognition and increase open rates with email clients that use them. 2. Avatars help validate the authenticity of the sender now that Gmail is using avatars to display warning graphics for unauthenticated email addresses. 3. People sometimes still have old irrelevant or inappropriate avatars associated with email addresses.
  14. Do this… Not this… Gmail will replace avatars with this

    symbol to warn recipients when sender authentication fails.
  15. Subject Lines & Pre-headers 2

  16. Glossary preheader A short text summary of the email included

    at the beginning of the body so that it’s visible in the email client’s preview.
  17. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Ensure subject

    lines are uniquely identifiable for each email. 1. Searching for a specific email is difficult when all subject lines are exactly the same. 2. Unique subject lines help recipients more quickly identify and understand the significance of an email against other related emails.
  18. Do this… Not this… Which order?

  19. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Use pre-headers

    to complement subject lines with additional context. 1. Searching for a specific email is difficult when all subject lines are exactly the same. 2. Unique subject lines help recipients more quickly identify and understand the significance of an email against other related emails.
  20. Do this… Not this… The subject and initial content are

    redundant because there’s no pre-header. Adding a barely noticeable pre-header to the email improves the usefulness of the preview content.
  21. Recipients & Replies 3

  22. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Use To

    for primary recipients and Cc for secondary recipients. 1. Providers users more filtering options when organizing their emails. 2. Helps people more quickly understand the context for the notification.
  23. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Avoid ‘no-reply’

    addresses. 1. If people can’t reply, it decreases engagement which can affect delivery. 2. Some data indicates that a ‘no-reply’ directly affects delivery speed and treatment. 3. People may reply without noticing and expect a response of some sort. 4. It’s simply not customer-friendly.
  24. Unless your industry or business has legal or security reasons

    for not allowing replies, noreply addresses should be avoided. Modern transactional email providers can parse and process replies back into your system so that replies won’t get lost in an inbox. Learn more about the ease of processing inbound emails and incorporating the replies into your system programatically.
  25. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Design emails

    to accept replies via a monitored reply-to address or inbound email parsing and receiving. 1. Accepting replies can increase engagement and, as a result, delivery rates and speeds. 2. Email notifications become a two-way interaction with recipients and act as an extension of your application. 3. It’s more customer-friendly than a no-reply address.
  26. Authentication & Domains 4

  27. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Send transactional

    or application emails from a different domain or subdomain than bulk promotional emails. 1. Domain reputation is an increasingly important trust signal for inbox providers. Bulk promotional emails tend to have lower engagement and higher incidents of spam complaints. By using a different domain or subdomain, you help ensure that your company’s bulk promotional sending doesn’t affect the reputation of your application emails. 2. Decoupling transactional and bulk sending makes it easier to use different providers that specialize in one or the other.
  28. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Authenticate with

    SPF 1. Helps inbox providers identify spoofed email.
  29. Glossary SPF Sender Policy Framework An open standard so that

    the owner of a domain can provide a public list of approved senders. Want to know more about SPF? We have a complete guide on what it is and how it works: SPF: Protect your domain from email spoofing
  30. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Authenticate with

    DKIM 1. Ensures emails aren’t altered in transit between sending and receiving mail servers.
  31. Glossary DKIM DomainKeys Identified Mail An email security standard designed

    to make sure messages weren’t altered in transit between the sending and recipient servers. Want to know more about DKIM? We have a complete guide on what it is and how it works: DKIM: Protect your domain from email forging
  32. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Authenticate with

    DMARC 1. Helps to fight phishing by enabling senders to explicitly tell receiving mail servers how to handle un-aligned email messages.
  33. Glossary DMARC Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance A standard

    that prevents spammers from using your domain to send email without your permission — also known as spoofing. Want to know more about DMARC? We have a complete guide on what it is and how it works: DMARC: Monitor & secure your email delivery
  34. Design & Formatting 5

  35. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Include plain-text

    equivalents with emails. 1. Some inbox providers use the presence of a similar plain text equivalent as a trust signal. 2. It increases accessibility and readability of emails. 3. Some recipients prefer plain text to minimize bandwidth.
  36. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Ensure that

    the plain-text versions are well-formatted and readable. 1. Separating long stretches of text into multiple paragraphs enhances readability. 2. Using dividers and headers can help add hierarchy to the email for increased readability. 3. Putting links on their own line can minimize the chances of the links being broken or not working.
  37. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Design for

    mobile. 1. 56% of email is opened on mobile devices now. 2. Different demographics may have different percentages, but it’s unlikely that it’s safe to ignore mobile. 3. Designing emails for mobile clients is becoming less of a hassle.
  38. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Adjust design

    of emails based on frequency and context of each email. 1. Frequent notifications should put content front-end-center and keep branding to a minimum or only include branding elements at the end. 2. System-based messages like password resets can be more focused on branding, but the activity the user needs to perform should always be the most important element.
  39. Do this… Not this… For a comment notification, branding is

    subtle and secondary so the content is treated with the most importance. With this approach, the content is secondary to the branding even through the branding provides no value to the recipient.
  40. Content & Purpose 6

  41. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Always clearly

    identify the reason a recipient is receiving the message. 1. The asynchronous nature of email 2. Relative dates can be used, but it’s helpful to include absolute dates for easy reference.
  42. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Use personalization

    where possible. Personalization isn’t just about mail-merging their name into the email. 1. Streamlining or otherwise improving emails based on user information or context can drastically improve their experience. 2. Information can be included in query strings to customize the subsequent landing pages after following links from an email.
  43. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Use absolute

    dates and times. 1. There’s no guarantee when someone will receive or open an email. Relative dates like “Yesterday” or “Next week” become ambiguous when the email is read at a different time. 2. Relative dates can be used, but it’s helpful to include absolute dates for easy reference. 3. Include dates and times sparingly when they’re redundant with the email’s timestamp.
  44. Subscription Management 7

  45. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Consider adding

    one-click unsubscribe or “send fewer emails” to all non- essential emails even if not required. 1. Managing emails can be tedious. The easier it is for a recipient to adjust their delivery preferences, the less likely it is that a message will be reported as spam.
  46. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Include a

    direct link to manage subscription and notification preferences for all application emails. 1. Managing emails can be tedious. The easier it is for a recipient to adjust their delivery preferences, the less likely it is that a message will be reported as spam. 2. Proactively anticipating needs and offering alternatives can reduce noise, decrease unopened emails, and increase engagement. All of these can help improve reputation and delivery rates and speeds.
  47. Monitoring & Adjusting 8

  48. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Pay attention

    to delivery and open rates for groups of email. 1. If you notice that some categories of application email aren’t being opened or have low engagement, you can revisit the email to make improvements.
  49. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Monitor open,

    click, bounce, and spam rates. 1. Even small changes in the content or design of an email can have unintended consequences. By staying on top of your statistics, you can proactively work to address problems before they become widespread.
  50. Best Practice Why does it matter? ☼ ❓ Use open

    rates to improve From names and address, subjects, and pre-headers. 1. Open rates are closely tied to the quality of your message meta data. By monitoring open rates, you can identify easy opportunities to improve your emails.
  51. https://postmarkapp.com/guides/transactional-email-best-practices Adapted from: