Automated email is one of the most important touchpoints to inform a customer of their transactions — purchases, returns, account changes, contact requests, and other types of confirmation messages.
Good email usability can save money by reducing customer service costs. This report identifies how real people interact with email, starting with the inbox (where many messages are ruthlessly deleted) through their consumption of the email content.
This216-pagereport contains112 recommendationsfor improving the design of transactional messages that are generated automatically (the report doesn't cover human-authored customer service). Discussions and134 screenshot illustrationssupplement the findings.
- Get an inside look at how customers handle transactional email messages in their inbox
- How email affects your relationship with customers
- Common issues with transactional email
- Subject, sender, and message body
- Writing sender, subject line, and message body
- Recommended features for all transactional messages
- Message sequences (for example: order confirmation, shipping notification, and delivery notification)
- Conveying important information using only the subject line (where appropriate)
- Guidelines by message type
- Order placement and fulfillment
- Order and service confirmations
- Shipment, pickup, and delivery notifications
- Cancellation, return, refund, rebate, and bonus notices
- Failure notices
- Reservation confirmation and etickets
- Status notifications
- Product and service updates
- Abandoned cart reminders
- In-stock notifications
- Agreement change notices
- Accounts, registration, and billing
- Registration and account information
- Account-update notifications
- Billing and payment notices
- Customer service
- Automated customer service messages
- Information request responses
- Reviews and recommendations
- Information and posting notifications
- Email attributes
- Ease of use
Categories of Email Messages
- Order Placement and Fulfillment
- Order and Service Confirmations provide order or service details whenever a person buys something online.
- Shipment, Pickup, and Delivery Notifications alert customers when an item has been shipped, delivered, or is ready for pickup.
- Cancellation, Return, Refund, Rebate, and Bonus Notices explain details of money or rewards that the user receives from the company.
- Failure Notices alert a recipient about a failed transaction.
- Reservation Confirmations and Etickets confirm details for travel, hotel rooms, event tickets, and so on.
- Status Notifications indicate that a change or update has occurred.
- Product and Service Updates
- Abandoned Cart Reminders prompt users to complete an abandoned checkout process, sometimes providing a discount.
- In-Stock Notifications provide requested notification when some condition has been met, such as an item being back in stock.
- Agreement Change Notices indicate updates to privacy policies, credit card terms, membership details, and so on.
- Accounts, Registration, and Billing
- Registration and Account Information messages welcome new users who have registered with the website.
- Account-Update Notifications inform registered users of changes to personal information.
- Billing and Payment Notices provide information about a recent or scheduled payment.
- Customer Service
- Automated Customer Service Messages confirm receipt of a message or send a standard response to common inquiries.
- Information Request Responses are personalized messages from a specific individual or department in response to user queries or concerns.
- Reviews and Recommendations
- 确认信息和发布通知an individual’s message, opinion, or item has been successfully posted on the website.
- Recommendations from a Friend informs a friend, family member, or colleague about a recommended product or service by sending information through a website service.
The information in this report is based on a usability study and longitudinal diary study.
- Usability study— Representative users processed 92 transactional email messages from more than 80 organizations.
- Diary Study— 9 representative users reported on 169 transactional email messages.