When to Use Content in Your Email


Commercial emails typically fall into a few different categories, with the most common three being promotional, transactional and newsletter emails. Sending an offer or a coupon? Well, that is promotional. Sending an order confirmation? Transactional. And, if you are sending content like articles, recipes, videos or blog posts, that is a newsletter.

While there is certainly logic to these types of email groupings, they also present a missed opportunity to blur the lines a bit. Assuming you have interesting content at your disposal, there are many ways to include content into all of your messages, not just in email newsletters. Here are a few examples:

Educational content in promotional emails
One of our clients sends a weekly sales flyer that definitely falls into the “promotional” bucket. Many retailers hesitate to add anything to promotional mailings that could possibly distract from the purchase path, but an interesting thing happened when the client started adding “recommended content” into their promotional email—more people clicked on the promotional offers. Including content that was related to the offer created more interest in the offers themselves.

Educational content in transactional emails
Transactional messages are triggered by a specific customer action. A customer puts an item in a cart and doesn’t buy it: cart abandonment email. A customer buys an item: order confirmation email. Conventional wisdom dictates that transactional emails should not include additional content or elements to distract from the desired conversion. But these emails are actually a perfect opportunity to incorporate branded content and add more substance to basic, transactional messages.

Let’s use retailers like REI, Columbia Sportswear and Williams Sonoma as examples. All three send transactional messages related to their eCommerce operations. These brands also have invested heavily in developing a variety of branded content: Williams Sonoma has thousands of recipes on its website, and Columbia and REI both have rich blogs with articles on hiking, camping, fishing and other activities that define their target market. Wouldn’t it be a perfect opportunity for these brands to use this content within their transactional emails to add more substance?

Here’s an example scenario. A user puts a waffle iron in her Williams Sonoma cart and then abandons it. Later she receives a triggered cart abandonment email with a reminder about the waffle iron in her cart in addition to a waffle recipe. That could encourage the user to pull the trigger and purchase the waffle iron. Our data shows that as a general rule, when people consume more content, they are more likely to convert; therefore, we would expect an action like this to significantly increase the likelihood of conversion.

Here’s another scenario: You purchase a waterproof jacket from Columbia’s online store and receive an order confirmation email that includes an article about backpacking or fishing. Columbia also happens to know from your online user behavior that it’s very likely you’re a fly fisherman. Using content personalization technology, your order confirmation email includes a link to an article on the best US fly fishing destinations. Would this highly personalized email experience increase your affinity for Columbia and long-term value to the brand? Um, yeah.

Fortunately for email marketers, there’s more technology available to help make content integration into promotional and transactional emails possible. With some of the tools available, the only thing stopping you from increasing the effectiveness of your promotional and transactional messages through the strategic inclusion of content is understanding all the possibilities.

For more examples of how you can improve your email marketing results with personalized content, get a demo of OneSpot’s content marketing platform.


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