The Missed Opportunity of Dead-End Emails


Modern web applications rely on transactional email for user engagement and retention – so much in fact, that they use a service like SendGrid to ensure optimal deliverability.

Many of these high-value transactional emails lack a call-to-action (CTA), and are what we at sendwithus call “dead-end” emails. They’re viewed as purely informational and are often overlooked by marketers. However, these emails could be generating social traffic, referrals, and user engagement.

The Email Stone Age

When I first started building web applications, sending a “welcome” email required setting up Postfix and writing raw SMTP calls. We crossed our fingers and hoped that an ISP didn’t blacklist us. Thankfully, great companies like SendGrid now exist and provide solutions for many of the deliverability issues surrounding transactional email.

This means that current web applications use email with more reliably. Most importantly, these applications can effectively engage customers with more informed analytics and strategy. It’s common for the companies I currently work with to have highly optimized “welcome” emails and drip campaigns.

Because the onboarding and related “welcome” emails are identified as being valuable, the marketers at those companies ensure the subject lines tie directly to a clear, relevant CTA. But what about all the other transactional email these applications send?

A Missed Opportunity

Transactional email, especially the type with no clear CTA, is a missed opportunity for customer engagement. We at sendwithus refer to these missed opportunities as dead-end emails. It varies by business, but most online companies send some kind of receipt or invoice transactional email.

Despite being a highly personalized email that sees significant open rates (30-40% on average), most companies are satisfied with a plain text email that says, “You spent $X on Y”. In fact, when SuperRewards, a leader in mobile and social offerwalls, first came to sendwithus, they had email receipts exactly like that. Their payment receipts included two lines of text without any recognizable branding.

Working with our A/B testing tool, the marketing team was able to transform their dead-end email into a valuable touchpoint generating upwards of 20% click throughs to social networks. Opportunities for engagement should not be ignored. Smart marketing teams will use receipts with cross or up-sell features to encourage higher click and transaction rates.

What about CAN-SPAM?

When talking about email, it’s always important to keep the CAN-SPAM Act in mind. Also, marketing teams should always be cognizant of the relationship they have with their customers. It’s important not to abuse that relationship by being unconcerned of the regulations in place.

It’s important to keep the transactional messaging as the focus in your emails. In fact, we believe it’s the prioritization of transactional content that drives the high levels of user engagement associated with these emails.

With Great Deliverability Comes Great Opportunity

Growth-focused marketers should take inventory of the transactional email their company sends. Companies that experience consistent growth know the value of tapping into customer engagement opportunities, and transactional emails are a crucial point of contact. Scrutinize all the touch-points you have with your customer, and you may find one of these missed opportunities as a “dead-end” email.