At Sendwithus, one of our favorite customers is SuperRewards. They are a great company that helps game developers monetize more users in their games and apps. When we started working with their Director of Marketing, Derek Shanahan (@dshan), we could tell he was excited to get visibility and control over the transactional emails they were sending to their customers’ end-users. They were already providing a great email experience by using our partner, SendGrid, but we noticed one transactional email that stuck out like a sore thumb: the payment receipt.
Because SuperRewards interacts directly with customers’ end users, the experience for those users is incredibly important and any communication needs to return them to the app quickly. Having a great user experience is crucial to building a relationship that will span multiple sessions, and it’s important that branding is consistent and recognizable.
Let’s pause and think about this. You send a payment receipt email when a customer is most engaged with your product (they made a purchase). Wouldn’t it make sense that this communication to a highly engaged user must be a good experience? Absolutely. Unfortunately, though, many people fall into a trap of thinking this is just a receipt. Let’s dig into a coupld of examples.
Compare the two emails below, and ask yourself, which provides a better user experience?
A developer probably implemented this in the early days of the product – very sparse and just plain text. It’s important to note that these are both payment receipts from well-established online businesses. Above is a plain-text receipt, confirming an order, with zero call-to-action (CTA). In fact, if we focus in on the “line items” of the receipt, you’ll see the table is actually broken and it’s very difficult to understand what’s going on.
If I received this, I wouldn’t know how much I owed or how much I paid, if I paid at all. It’s difficult to make sense of the information, and there’s no opportunity for further engagement. It’s a classic dead-end email.
Let’s compare this to airbnb.com’s payment receipt:
At the very top of their payment receipt are the three most likely actions I want to take when viewing this email – email the receipt, print it, or view my itinerary. The rest of the email is full of well-formatted information relevant to my booking and my payment. I would challenge Airbnb to take this email to the next level by including a CTA further down the email, perhaps with a Google Maps link, or A/B test the top-level actions to increase engagement.
All Emails Matter
Back to SuperRewards. We took a look at the analytics for their receipt email and saw that it had a 20% open rate. We did a little digging and found that some end-users were actually receiving the email multiple times per day. We realized we had a classic dead-end email. With no call to action and almost zero branding, the email was acting as a (somewhat) boring transaction receipt. There was little context for the user regarding what app the email was from and there was no way for recipients to re-engage with SuperRewards.
Derek told us that he wanted to try something more with this email, so we had our email design team work with him on a new HTML template that captured the SuperRewards branding. As part of the redesign, we were aiming to test if end users wanted to interact directly with SuperRewards on Facebook. SuperRewards could then announce new platform customers’ apps to end users there.
We had concerns about how an HTML template would affect engagement and spam reports or if it would impact deliverability, so we decided to set up an A/B test. Half of the recipients would receive the original plain-text receipt, while the other half would receive the new template with a Facebook call to action. Through the Sendwithus dashboard, Derek could monitor the receipt template in real-time and immediately respond to any spam reports or delivery issues that might arise.
After publishing the A/B test, we monitored the email alongside Derek and were satisfied that there were no immediate deliverability issues. The following Monday morning, Derek received his first A/B testing report and he describes what happens next best:
“The first variant made it obvious that a call to action was a good idea. I immediately added a few variants to test subject lines, call-to-action placements, and messaging, and had our engagement rates improving week over week.”
The receipt email that ‘didn’t matter’ was now seeing a 48% open rate and almost 10% click-through rate to Facebook, providing thousands of extra engagements every day. Derek was then able to A/B test other calls-to-action, including other social network links and special promotions that end users now see on a regular basis.
This test really proved how engaged the SuperRewards end users are, and it emphasized how important consistent branding is to creating a consistent customer experience. Personally, one of the key takeaways is how this receipt email is actually core to the customer experience. It deserved the attention of someone customer-focused. I hope more companies are willing to test something new with their transactional email, even if it’s ‘just a receipt.’