If you're like most email users, you're as likely to associate the word with spam as you are with exciting evenings.
And thanks to that same anti-spam reflex, pretty much any email you send these days flirts with the junk folder.
That can be a problem for "transactional" messages
like order confirmation emails, shipping emails and send-to-a-friend emails that need to penetrate people's inboxes.
In fact, a recent study on transactional email by usability guru Jackob Nielson found that, compared to five years ago, email usability is still "appallingly" low
With today's Viagra-bombarded recipients even more skeptical, your messages can't afford to be dysfunctional. So here's how you can optimize your email
and rise to any transactional occasion.Convey Your Brand Name and Purpose in the "From" Field
Do I know the sender?
That's the first question people typically ask when evaluating an email's spam potential.
Using your brand name lets recipients know that you're a reputable source—not just some hack blasting spam email from a basement office.
Your "from" field can also inform your customer of the email's purpose
. For example, "JetBlue Reservations" performed well in tests.
And here's a tip: keep your "from" line between 20 and 25 characters
because most email programs truncate the rest. (So if it reads, "Order confirmation from Your Company," people might never see your brand name while scanning.)Relate to Transactions in the "Subject" Line
Refer to a recent transaction to further convey that the message is legitimate and valuable.
For example, the subject line "TiVo Rewards Program Ends May 28" performed well with users.
In contrast, spam-like subject lines such as "Important Information" don't entice web-savvy recipients to open up.Keep the Body Brief and User-focused
Provide the information that matters most to users up top.
Examples of user-focused information include tracking numbers, order descriptions and information about how to deal with any problems.
Keep any overt marketing messages, if you must have them, to the end.Send Fewer Emails
For an online purchase, for example, one email confirming the purchase and another confirming shipping would be ideal.
The more emails you send regarding a transaction, the more confused you make your customers.
Do It Right (Again and Again)
And in case you're wondering, all this is worth the effort
Email is a highly personal medium that enables one of the most direct relationships you can have with customers.
So poorly optimized email content is a missed opportunity
to create happier customers, build stronger relationships and reduce support costs.
And for transactional emails that you send out regularly, that's an opportunity you're missing again and again.