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The playbook to turning transactional email & SMS into a CLV growth lever

Illustration of a person holding a smartphone while petting their dog. Next to them is a close up of their hand showing a message that their pet store order is out for delivery.

Here is an eight-word sentence we bet you’ve never heard before on an e-commerce blog.

“Transactional email and SMS are CLV growth levers.” 

You know those shipping-related emails and texts that say, “Hey, your order has shipped!” or “Your order has been delivered”? 

What if we were to tell you those are the most engaging email and SMS messages that you’ll ever send? What if we told you that they’re one of the last truly untapped areas of growth for customer retention?

It’s true!

We’re going to spend the next few minutes unpacking why this 8-word sentence is true… and then give you the exact playbook that leading DTC brands are using to turn their transactional email and SMS channels into CLV growth levers. 

The best part? You can implement this entire playbook in less than one day to keep customers coming back to buy again and again. 

Why do transactional messages matter?

So let’s set the stage by defining why transactional email and SMS are some of the best areas for customer engagement and also high-margin growth. 

Transactional messages like email & SMS can be up to 10x more effective at driving visitors back to your site post-purchase than marketing messages.

This means that when we get this right, we have a huge opportunity to capture our customers’ attention post-purchase, provide value, and ultimately increase engagement.

The average consumer checks a tracking page 4.6 times per order. This makes the order tracking pages quite possibly one of the most trafficked pages in all of e-commerce.

Where has all of that traffic historically gone? To a shipping carrier’s website like UPS, USPS, FedEx, as you can see below.

Screenshots of package tracking screen on carrier websites.

This is what we call “the old way”. 

Why the ‘old way’ is harmful to maximizing CLV

This disconnect creates what is referred to as a “dead-end journey” — meaning there’s no forward motion because they’re not going back to your website.

As a result, you lose 4-5 opportunities per purchase to educate a customer, provide helpful resources on the products they just purchased, upsell them, or even to just invite them back to the site to browse around.

But thankfully, there is an incredibly easy way for us to own this traffic, monetize it, and take control back of the transactional experience. We’re going to talk about what that playbook looks like today.

When set up properly, your transactional setup should:

  • Drive a significant amount of traffic back to your site, increasing revenue & repeat business.
  • Reduce customer service inquiries & buyer’s remorse.
  • Increase customer engagement & pre-arrival excitement.
  • Improve retention & CLV.

The “3 pillars” of the transactional channel

Now that we understand why this matters, how are leading Shopify brands putting this into motion?

It comes together with 3 core pillars… 

  • Transactional Email
  • Transactional SMS 
  • Branded order tracking page (which is the glue that brings together this whole experience) 

Let’s now dive deeper into each and unpack how we can take control of this experience. 

The transactional email 

It all starts with transactional email. These are the emails that get sent out after a customer makes a purchase and are directly related to their order. 

You might be sending a few of these through a platform like Shopify today. This includes moments like order confirmation, when a package is shipped, when it’s delivered, etc.

If you want to find a place where customers are likely to see something — it’s your transactional emails. 

On average, transactional emails have an average open rate between 60-80% and Click-through-rates (CTRs) between 10-20%. This means up to 10x more engagement when compared to marketing messages! 

This is YOUR real estate to educate, inform, and add value. These are all behaviors that can increase CLV. 

Merchants are taking notice of these engagement stats and beginning to optimize the experience to make transactional messages the focus of their post-purchase pre-arrival experience.

Each click generated by transactional email costs just fractions of a penny too, making them a wildly effective post-purchase retargeting tool. This solves one of the biggest challenges merchants face post-purchase in driving clicks back to their site.

It’s not just about revenue… but engagement too!

Transactional emails aren’t just great for driving engagement, but also revenue.

Table of open, click, and order rates for cosmetics and beauty brand notifications.

Above is data from a Wonderment customer who’s leveraging Wonderment data to power their transactional email experience. 

Not only are these emails driving strong engagement… they’re also driving monthly 5-figure revenue! That’s right… emails sent right after someone purchases are driving more revenue by selling without selling! 

So, how do we optimize these emails?

Given that 8 out of 10 customers who make a purchase are seeing your transactional emails, it begs the question of whether a standard vanilla transactional email is really the look and feel you want your customers to experience. 

With Shopify’s out-of-the-box templates, you’re unable to easily customize the branding, measure performance, a/b test, easily segment and personalize, and a whole lot more.

This is why countless merchants prefer to build them inside of Klaviyo by leveraging Wonderment’s data and tracking pages to power the experience.

Which experience do you prefer? Vanilla Shopify emails or Wonderment branded transactional emails.

On the left is what a standard vanilla Shopify email looks like – and on the right is what you can do by leveraging Klaviyo + Wonderment.  

The above Aura Bora example illustrates the immense difference and how powerful these emails are when we brand them.

Which experience would you want your customers to have? We’ll take bets on the Aura Bora example!

The “Core 6” Transactional Emails

Here are what we consider the “core 6” must-have transactional emails to increase CLV.

Chart of the core 6 transactional email journey.

In order, they are:

  • Order confirmed
  • Shipment created
  • Shipment picked-up
  • Shipment stalled (if there is a delay)
  • Out for delivery
  • Shipment delivered 

So now we know about the opportunity to own this email experience, but how exactly do these emails drive repeat purchases? 

We do this by sending your transactional email traffic to a branded order tracking page.

The secret sauce: The order tracking page

Remember earlier that we mentioned that the average consumer checks a merchant’s order tracking page anywhere between 4-5 times pre-delivery?

This makes it one of the most trafficked pages on any store’s entire site. 

Traditionally, merchants have been losing out on maximizing CLV by using the “old way” method, which is linking customers from their transactional messages to a carrier’s website, like UPS, FedEx, or DHL.

The old vs the new way

We’ve solved this problem at Wonderment by giving you back control of the order tracking page so that it natively lives on your site and is linked to your transactional messages. 
The native tracking page has been the major missing ingredient. These pages are the ‘glue’ that brings together the transactional experience and can be created quickly, yet look and feel on-brand to help you own the post-click experience.

Annotated images of two email layouts.

As you can see from the above examples with Duradry and Kinder Beauty, the difference is night and day.

These tracking pages display important information like order info and FAQs and also give you the opportunity to add cross-sell blocks which are highly effective at introducing new products and influencing repeat sales.

30-day Wonderment tracking page stats from a durable goods brand.

These are actual 30-day stats for a Wonderment customer in the durable goods space, driving over $17k in profitable revenue from their order tracking page. It’s a fantastic way to soft sell without being spammy.

We know transactional emails are the highest engaged emails. So, it only makes sense to send customers to a branded page like this and NOT to the carrier to really maximize their effectiveness on CLV.

Maximize your CLV even further by leveling up your tracking page

The other superpower of branded tracking pages is that they increase awareness of other parts of your business.

Image collage of upsells, faqs, subscriptions, and sms opt-in widgets.

You can display ways to reorder, educate or onboard customers on your brand, get them to opt-in to SMS, promote a loyalty program, introduce a referral program, draw visibility to your subscription program – the list goes on.

Our personal favorite is this quiz from Popov Leather on the upper left. They draw a lot of traffic to their quiz which gives them more chances to learn even more about their customers for future remarketing. 

The final pillar: Transactional SMS

This is where we supercharge engagement, revenue, and ultimately CLV! Why? Consumers LOVE transactional messages delivered via SMS. 

According to an Attentive survey, 97% of consumers want to receive order updates via SMS, making this a large opportunity to invest in.

The best part about transactional texts is that they can be set up in less than an hour by leveraging Wonderment data and an SMS provider like Klaviyo, Attentive, or Postscript.

As you can see, the engagement rates speak for themselves…

Set up transactional SMS. SMS notifications are a seamless way to elevate customer experience and drive post purchase revenue.

Even the best SMS campaigns see maybe 5-10% CTRs meaning you are increasing potential engagement back to the site by up to 15x!

The proof is in the stats

Here is a CPG brand that over the last 30 days has driven nearly $50k in repeat sales through transactional SMS – and this is not an isolated case! E-commerce merchants are doing this every month by leveraging Wonderment and their SMS vendor.

Transactional SMS drives significant revenue. Table of notifications and rates.

This demonstrates how great transactional SMS can be when you have that branded tracking page set up. 

So, what do you need to set up?

Here are the “core 4” transactional messages that you should have implemented:

Four mobile screens, one of each core 4 transactional messages.
  • Shipment Created
  • Carrier Picked-Up
  • Out for Delivery
  • Order Delivered

While we don’t have time to walk through each… you can find an entire in-depth walkthrough of each in our “playbook to transactional email & SMS”.

Mobile screen with a timely SMS update and an arrow pointing to the Calpak site.

This is Wonderment customer, Calpak. The customer gets a timely text that their order has shipped and they’re brought back to Calpak’s tracking page where they can browse around. This timely text starts the customer’s engagement journey back to the site!

Mobile screen with a timely SMS update and an arrow pointing to the Igloo site.

Here’s another example from Wonderment customer, Igloo, who is letting their customer know their order is arriving today with a timely text!

Transactional SMS: The gateway engagement text?

The beauty of high engagement of transactional texts is not just high engagement, but also that we’re reaching out to a customer with a lot of value, meaning we can also view these texts as conversation starters too.  

A recent Attentive study found over 70% of consumers want to receive customer service via SMS. This is a great way to drop bread crumbs that customers have an easy and convenient way to get in touch with you over SMS. 

Wrapping up transactional SMS

The key takeaway of why transactional SMS works are that you are combining a channel that has high engagement affinity with messages that are highly anticipated and directing all of that traffic back to your branded tracking page where they can take action.

When you combine text into your transactional strategy it really supercharges the revenue AND customer experience component. 

Streamline your entire transactional experience with Wonderment and Ryder E-commerce by Whiplash

Investing in the transactional channel is no longer a nice-to-have but a need-to-have for e-commerce brands looking to maximize their CLV. Today’s leading e-commerce brands are built on exceptional customer experience – and that shouldn’t stop after they purchase. 

Investing in owning your transactional channel is the great unlock to maximizing LTV, but there wouldn’t be a transactional channel without a great e-commerce shipping strategy in place to get your products out the door. If you can’t get orders to customers quickly or cost-effectively, you’re looking not only at lower rates of customer satisfaction, but spiraling operational costs.

This is why in addition to creating a memorable post-purchase communication experience with a partner like Wonderment, you also need a reliable shipping and e-commerce fulfillment partner like Ryder E-commerce by Whiplash to ensure you’re set up for success.

Ryder E-commerce by Whiplash positions brands for success from the moment an order is placed, working with brands to create the perfect shipping strategy that optimizes both speed and cost. Then Wonderment steps in, helping to delight customers and deliver more revenue through tailored transactional messaging. 

Together, Wonderment + Ryder E-commerce by Whiplash creates a powerful customer delight machine to maximize your customer’s lifetime value. Find out more about the partnership today.

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