Vol. 12: Transactional Email and Confirmation Messages

3rd Edition

Report PDF cover image

Part of the E-Commerce User Experience Series

Confirmation email is one of the most important touchpoints to inform a customer of their transaction. Good email usability can save money by reducing telephone calls to your call center. This report identifies how real people interact with email, starting with the inbox (where many messages are ruthlessly deleted) through their consumption of the email content.

This 312-page report contains 144 recommendations for improving the design of transactional messages that are generated automatically by a computer (the report doesn't cover human-authored customer service). Discussions and 182 screenshot illustrations supplement the findings.


  • Get an inside look at how customers handle transactional email messages in their inbox
    • How email affects trust
    • Common issues with transactional email
  • Subject, sender, and message body
    • Writing From, Subject, and message body information
    • Recommended features for all transactional messages
    • Message sequences
    • Distinguishing your messages from phishing messages
  • Guidelines by message type
    • Agreement change notices
    • Available-now notices
    • Automated customer service messages
    • Information request responses
    • Status notifications
    • Registration and account information
    • Profile-update notifications
    • Information posting notifications
    • Recommendations from a friend
    • Social network notifications
    • Government responses
    • Meeting or event confirmations
    • Billing and payment notices
    • Reservation confirmations and e-tickets
    • Order and service confirmations
    • Shipment and pickup notifications
    • Cancellation, return, refund, rebate, and bonus notices
    • Failure notices
  • Email attributes
    • Trust
    • Completeness
    • Value
    • Ease of use
    • Writing
    • Design

Research Method

The information in this report is based on our usability study with representative users, processing 92 transactional email messages from more than 80 organizations.


Research Reports


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Customers who choose an individual license are not authorized to share the report or video with anyone else, or post it to any internal or external file server, website, or intranet. Individual License Terms


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Customers who choose a group license are authorized to post the report or video on internal file servers or intranets and make it available to others within the organization. The group license does not grant permission to make the report/video available to people not employed by your organization, the general public, or to post it to a publicly accessible website or file server. Group License Terms


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