Crafting Transactional Emails With Marketing Messages in Banking

Imagine… An accountholder at your financial institution — we’ll call her Emily — has just received her monthly email notice telling her that her new statement is available. Emily waits until her lunch hour to open it, figuring she’ll use the link in the e-mail to log into online banking, but what she sees in the email gives her reason to pause.

Along with the predictable information such emails usually contain, Emily finds details about a special, limited-time auto loan rate your financial institution is offering. Emily thinks to herself, “Wasn’t I just discussing a new car with my boyfriend the other day? What perfect timing!” So Emily hops onto your website website and submits a request for an appointment to discuss a new auto loan with one of your lending specialists.

The email Emily received in this example was doing double duty — blending both transactional and marketing messages. But before going further, let’s take a step back and define precisely what transactional emails are.

Transactional Emails: What Are They and Why Do They Matter?

Transactional emails are messages sent to customers after they’ve completed a specific task (e.g., a confirmation for submitting an application), or messages that are automatically generated on a recurring schedule (e.g., monthly receipts from accounts set up with auto-pay). Emails notifying people of potentially fraudulent activity on their accounts, and notifications of changed passwords are other common examples. Typically, most people welcome transactional messages; they are expected and appreciated. But these are transactional emails serving their primary function — conveying basic information.

Because transactional emails contain messages that people want or need, they tend to have dramatically higher open rates and higher click-through rates than other types of emails — often 2-3 times as high.

The superior performance of these types of messages give you a phenomenal cross-selling opportunity. By adding strategically deliberate and helpful content to your transactional emails, you can not only impart the information people need/expect, but also entice them with marketing messages that help build your brand and your bottom line.

5 Ideas for Double-Duty Transactional Emails

The most successful double-duty emails are customer-focused, timely, and relevant. Here are five ideas for how you can leverage typical transactional messages to engage consumers like Emily.

1.) Welcome/Success Messages. Many financial institutions send people a message after they’ve activated their online banking account. These emails can include instructions for the online banking system, or a link to step-by-step, how-to guides. Provide the recipient a way to receive help online, over the phone, or via email. But you can also incorporate a branding message from your institution. In the example below, a credit union can embed a graphic telling new members how their membership will be making a difference in their community.


2.) Account Notifications. Financial institutions often send email notifications after online or phone transactions have been completed, or warnings when suspicious activity is flagged. These account alerts can be used to notify people about other security features and services available.

3.) Confirmations & Receipts. Confirmation messages can be used as a way to showcase other relevant banking products or services. For instance, an ATM receipt emailed to someone could be used to remind them that your institution offers mobile remote deposit.


4.) Reminders. Financial institutions frequently send messages to members who forgot their login credentials and those who want bill-pay prompts. These reminder messages provide another great opportunity for cross-selling. For example, at the bottom of a bill-pay reminder for a rent payment, you could include a relevant call-to-action about home loans. Even emails related to password resets can have something short and simple tacked on at the end: “Did you know Your Bank is open Saturdays? Click here for hours and a location near you.”

5.) Monthly Statements. You can do more than just provide a link to the online banking login page. These emails should always contain snippets of information beyond the basics — promote new services and different types of accounts. For instance, an email telling someone that their statement is ready might say, “Do you have enough money in your account to cover an emergency or unexpected expenses? Now is a great time to create a rainy day fund. Click here to get started.”

Key Takeaways

Considering the high levels of engagement with transactional emails — and the infrequency with which financial institutions use them — adding this extra little touchpoint to your marketing mix can help you increase products per household.

Just remember, when creating transactional emails, always make sure the transactional portion is at the top of the message, and place marketing messages at the bottom. You can also provide links to give recipients the opportunity to sign up for other email communications.

By making your transaction emails do double duty, you can provide people with relevant information in unexpected ways. So next time your IT and accounting teams are preparing a batch of transactional emails, why not ask, “What marketing message might we include that Emily would find interesting?”

Cameron Madill is CEO of PixelSpoke, a digital marketing agency focused on community banks and credit unions. He is a digital marketing expert who has won numerous awards, including recognition as one of “Portland’s 40 Under 40″ business people. You can connect with Cameron on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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