How To Do Transactional Email Right 2

Transactional email.  These are two of the most powerful words that an email marketer can wield.  This is the good stuff.  Transactional messages done right are almost never reported as SPAM.  Recipients wait for these messages.  Recipients breathe a sigh of relief when they see this message come into the Inbox.  On the flip side, when recipients don’t receive one of these messages, they start to worry.  Did my order go through?  Was my trip booked?  Did I get the tickets?  When customers don’t get these messages, you may see them using other more expensive options such as  calls to customer service.

I am always on the lookout for companies who do transactional email the right way.  Redbox is one of those companies that understands the point of a transactional email.  If you aren’t familiar with Redbox, here is the elevator pitch for you:  Redbox is a vending machine that vends DVD movies for $1.00 per day.  You rent a movie and have it back by 9:00 PM the next day.  If you keep it another day, they charge you an additional dollar.  The company has grown by leaps and bounds, and the machines are popping up everywhere.  You can rent a movie from one kiosk, and return it to another.  A very nice feature is the ability to reserve a movie via the Web and pick it up later.  As you can tell, I love the concept, and it works flawlessly.

Below is a transactional email that I received from Redbox.  This is my receipt for my rental with the time and additional details.  I am given the essential information that I need.  The great thing about this receipt, besides not wasting paper, is that it is in my inbox before I can make the 10 steps to the car.  They use the marketing opportunity to give me a link back to the site, a space for any company news, and links to the Help and FAQ pages.  The email isn’t aggressive in marketing other products.  I am also subscribed to their marketing email as well, and honestly, the quality of their transactional messaging gives me confidence in those communications as well.

I see too many companies who want to test the boundaries of transactional email by pushing other products, and pushing them hard.  It is often hard to find the transaction in the transactional email.  The moral of the story is to build confidence in your program.  Give consumers what they want, and they will come.  It doesn’t matter if it is a corn field in Iowa or a Redbox email in Septmeber, they will come.

One small bone to pick.  Memo to the Redbox boys:  it is time to start signing your email with DKIM!!

Redbox Receipt

Redbox Receipt

Redbo Receipt

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2 thoughts on “How To Do Transactional Email Right

  1. Reply Andrew Kordek Sep 21,2009 9:38 am


    Great example, but curious as to why the transactional email appears to be text only. Agree on the sales push within transactional email, but I have long had the belief in the 80/20 rule in terms of transactional/marketing within the email. I think there is a subtle way to do it (like Apple) that makes the experience pretty cool.


  2. Reply Kevin Senne Sep 21,2009 11:05 am


    Thanks so much for the comment. I am pro-HTML email in almost all cases. I do like this one however for time and place. Redbox doesn’t really sell anything on the website, so it is all about information. They have good HTML email for promoting upcoming movies, promotions, etc…

    This one just works for me all the way around.

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