10 Ways to Drive Revenue with Transactional Emails

Transactional emails are emails that are triggered by your system when users perform specific actions. They're your welcome emails, shipping confirmations, and friend requests; we receive and interact with them daily.

They're amazing emails: research shows they can get up to 8x opens and clicks as promotional emails. It seems unbelievable, but it actually makes a lot of sense.

Think of the last time you got a booked a trip or bought something online and got an email. You probably opened the email several times, and maybe even forwarded to friends, then kept it for reference and opened it again later. They're the highest engaged emails that businesses can send.

If you're only seeing them as notifications for receipts, confirmations, actions, you're missing a big opportunity. Transactional emails offer fantastic secondary real estate for relevant upsells around the primary call-to-action.

That's right. With open rates on some transactional emails ABOVE 100% (customers open them repeatedly), coupled with the fact that they're also saved for future reference, you can drive revenue (or any other KPI) with your transactional emails if you offer contextual, relevant upsells. And best of all, you'll actually improve the user experience if you do this right.

Here are 10 examples of transactional emails from top performing apps that do this right and reap the rewards:

1. Airbnb

Airbnb sends a notification when your reservation is confirmed. Notice the highly contextual copy on the upsell: "Fund your next trip by hosting on AirBnb." Not only that, they also get users to imagine their next trip on AirBnb - basically upselling BOTH sides of the market.

2. Uber

Uber's "Give $20, Get $20" is more subtle. This is a great example of what you should to when starting to upsell in transactional emails - start small then work your way up to ensure your promotions aren't damaging the user experience.

3. Postmates

Postmates bundles a clean and clear share link right below their delivery receipt. It's below the fold, but far more noticeable than Uber's share link.

4. Hellobar

Hellobar's sends a weekly performance digest and upsells their Pro account if you're a free user. This is a great example of upselling within the right context. Who doesn't want to get more clicks?! If you're an active free user, this is the sort of upsell you'd actually appreciate.

5. Freelancer

Freelancer offers you updates whenever people apply to a job you posted. Right below that, they offer recruitment service to find you the most qualified freelancers. This is a great upsell because, 1.) Unless you hire often, you're probably not sure who's really qualified. 2.) And if you do, you might be too busy to review everyone.

6. Polyvore

If you haven't installed their mobile app, Polyvore will promote it the footer of all their emails. It's great because if you're getting value from their website, you'd actually WANT to get the mobile app (and users with the mobile app probably engage much more).

(See how you can send emails like this with Knowtify by applying conditional rules to the body of your email. e.g., Show this link only if they haven't installed the mobile app)

7. Dropbox

Dropbox sends a confirmation email whenever you add link a new computer to your account. Knowing you're an active user, it also suggests some apps you can connect to Dropbox. It's succinct, to-the-point, and friendly.

8. Kickstarter

Kickstarter sends a notification whenever someone follows you. Like Airbnb, their upsell actually sits ABOVE the primary content - it's a risky move because users don't expect to see an uspell as soon as they open an email. Notice only Airbnb and Kickstarter does this. It works for them, but I wouldn't suggest this unless you're an established brand.

9. Warby Parker

While most receipts emails uses their secondary real-estate for growth by asking the user to share, Warby Parker focuses on improving user experience, asking the user to fill out a survey instead. This is a great alternative depend on the goals of your business.

10. Tradesy

Tradesy puts a colorful and bold image right below your shipping confirmation. I love how simple it is. In fact, I believe it actually overshadows "View Order" as the primary CTA, but since the item being shipped is already mentioned in the body of the email, I suspect many people will skip the primary CTA anyways and go directly to invite friends.


We interact with transactional every day and there's a huge opportunity to drive extra revenue with them. But remember: Your marketing messages should be both relevant and secondary.

Your users are trusting you with their email addresses, and if you do this right, you are ADDING value and you'll reap the rewards.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

(email images by Reallygoodemails)

And of course, here's our obligatory upsell:

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