How not to annoy your recipients

Transactional email is about building relationships with your customers, right? Well, when you try to make new friends, it’s important not to be annoying right off the bat. I can’t say enough about being very thoughtful and strategic about each interaction you have with your customer. Don’t just throw a bunch of emails at them, make sure they are relevant and important. In my usual manner, here’s what NOT to do:

Making an online purchase #

I recently made a purchase from an online retailer. (As you get to know me, you’ll learn that I have a bit of a online shopping addiction, mostly as it relates to Amazon and my Amazon prime account. But, I digress.) Since I shop online a lot, I expect to receive a few of the usual emails after I make a purchase:

  • Confirmation that I made a purchase
  • Order has been shipped
  • Request to review the item (if applicable)

So when I received a total of five(!!) emails from this retailer, I was a bit annoyed. They sent me:

  • A summary of the order
  • A confirmation that I placed an order
  • An order shipped confirmation
  • Thank you for ordering from us
  • Please review this purchase

I think it’s obvious here that the first two and the last two emails should have been combined, making a total of 3 emails sent. I mean, really, do I need a confirmation that I placed an order after receiving a summary of what I just ordered (minutes apart, no less)? Even if they have this 5 step process internally, there is no need to innondate the customer with all of this repeated information. By the third email, I wasn’t interested in opening anything else from them.

Morale of the story #

When you build an application, an online store, a community, or whatever awesome thing you’re doing, please do some thinking and strategizing on how you will communicate with your users via email. Don’t just send what you are thinking. You want them to be your friend, so don’t nag. Perform a little exercise with your team. Write down all of the points in your process where you will send an email. Do yourself, and your recipients a favor, ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Am I being relevant? As in, will my new friends find this relevant?
  • Are there too many emails going out, especially close together?
  • Can I consolidate some so we send less emails?
  • Do any of these transactional emails coincide with some marketing/newsletter emails we’ll send out?

Note, this was not a purchase from Amazon