Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Best (and worst?) Transactional Email Campaigns

Time to give award ceremony attention to those great silent workhorses.
From my treasure trove of an email inbox, here are a few winners. I reviewed approximately 100 companies, the emails I’d received in 2 months, various interactions with all of the companies (past purchase, online registration, etc.) over the past two years. There are 3 categories: Web 2.0 (sites with more online features), traditional retail companies with web presence, and Booby Prizes.

Web 2.0 Transactional Emails

- Twitter notifications of “who is following you”
+ What’s involved? Create a once-a day or real-time database query that checks on when some users request to follow others, email in real time the notification with both user’s names, the one to follow and the one being followed. Requires dynamic input, but the email itself is text-only and relatively easy to create and send. Why is it great? Because we are all self-obsessed, and finding out who is watching/clicking/viewing you will always be interesting, and brings the customer back to the site, that being the goal for most Web2.0 companies.

- Yelp “so and so thinks you’re their friend”
+ Same as the Twitter notification, a simple notification email on a behavior, dynamically pulling in the two names and creating a custom link to the other’s profile and/or settings to add or remove the friend. Why is it great? Yelp could do a whole lot more – with these Web2.0 companies there’s so much personal and behavioral data, so focusing on the social aspect, “friendship,” is the best kind of message and email to send to improve the stickiness factor.

- Facebook/Likeness, challenges on movie data (or other quizzes you’ve filled out)
+ Facebook is getting some grief for letting these application providers contact the base so easily, based on friendship and not on optin preferences. Other than that, though, this is a great little transactional email notifying your friends/associates of your performance on a quiz (whether it’s good or bad- natch). The majority of users, I’ve noticed, have no idea they’re telling their base their scores, or that they’re doing quizzes at work! So this will fly in their face soon. Scrabulous defaults to optout, which may be the reason why they’re one of the more popular FaceBook apps. Still, it’s the social factor, and random trivia, and it drags people back to the site, which ultimately proves its success.

Traditional Retail Transactional Emails

- Amazon rating on purchases
+ Initially annoying, as its a survey and generally pointless to the consumer, who doesn’t get anything for it. But ingenious for Amazon in general, to allow merchants (third party sellers) to reach into the behavior data and access the customer base, for something justified like a review. Great for the third party, great for setting up trust between the merchants and customers. How is it done? You bought through this merchant, what did you think of the transaction? Probably a daily email sent three days after the estimated delivery, asking a few basic questions on the service, and dynamically providing the merchant’s name, with links back to the order information page, and the seller’s page.

- Incomplete Transaction/Project: KodakGallery
+ OK usually I don’t discuss my client’s programs, but I did receive a “you didn’t complete a calendar!” email when my sisters and I were building a holiday calendar of all of the niece and nephews. I got an incentive to complete the calendar, which I sent onto my sister (it was a joint account). That was one of the best retail/traditional transactional emails I’d received in a while.

- Amazon “based on your interest in [product category]”
+ A database call on past purchase in a specific product family, in my case jewelry, and notification of a special sale, etc. in that relevant category. Add “based on your interest in”- I think it’s important to call out targeting in this case.

Booby Prizes: Missed Opportunities

As I went through my inbox looking at winners, above, I noticed a lot of missed opportunities.

- Orbitz
+ They could really tailor their emails to me, based on my past flights and travels, and this is a situation where I would call out the targeting in the email message. “Anna, new flights to Baltimore, Minneapolis & Seattle!” (All usual destinations, i.e.)

- iTunes
+ Similar to Orbitz, if they are targeting, I can’t tell, and I’d be much more interested in the content, if they called it out in the subject line or inside the email message: instead I get generic “best of 2007″ and “new for 2008″ when they could say: “Latest R&B artists in 2008″ (based on my purchases of albums in that general product category- see Amazon above).

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Written on Wednesday, 23. January 2008 at 17:23 In the category campaigns, technology, transactional emails. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Share on FriendFeed

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