Email marketers invest a significant amount of time and energy into promotional emails: Here’s our newest product! Here’s our biggest sale! Here’s our upcoming event! But some of the most-read and most highly valued emails among readers are transactional, not promotional. According to Litmus, 64% of consumers consider transaction confirmations the most valuable messages in their inbox. One of the most exciting transaction confirmation messages for readers are shipping confirmation emails. Consumers are glad to see their order is on its way, and the positive association means these emails are likely to be opened and read… which makes them a great opportunity for building brand loyalty. Follow these design tips to create a shipping confirmation email that communicates well, reflects your brand, and looks fantastic.
Tip #1: Make tracking easy
It’s a shipping confirmation email, after all. Above all else, readers want to know where there order is and when they can expect it to arrive. Just like a subscription confirmation email has a singular focus—tap this button to confirm your subscription—shipping confirmation emails are all about tracking the order. This email from Parabo, the printing app, is a great example of a simple, focused confirmation email that makes it easy for readers to track their package:
The black and white color scheme makes the orange link immediately stand out. The link is long and on its own line, so it’s easy for readers to tap. This effective, no-frills email accomplishes a lot in a few lines, and is simply well-designed:
- It’s all plain text (aside from the header) so it will always show up
- Headers are used effectively to create hierarchy
- It confirms what the order was and tells the reader when it’s expected to arrive
- And it’s written in Parabo’s light and fun brand voice, infusing a sense of joy into the message (shipping confirmation emails are a great place to join readers in their cheer by showing some enthusiasm!)
Zulily, the e-commerce site, bookends its shopping confirmation email with two easy-to-spot links to track an order:
The header image is on-brand, festive, and cheerful—and its focus is to point readers directly to the tracking link, first thing. If you scroll down to review your items, there’s another way to track your order by clicking on a large, easy-to-tap, bulletproof button. Each section has the same color scheme, so the reader associates the purple background with an opportunity to take an action (i.e., click a link). While there’s secondary content that follows (links to shop and icons for social media, etc.), it doesn’t clutter the key focus of the message.
Unlike Parabo, Zulily showcases photos of the ordered items. Displaying images of what the customer purchased is a best practice that most brands put into action. It improves scannability, letting the reader quickly see and confirm purchases.
Design Takeaway: Use color to call readers’ attention to the tracking link. Make it obvious and clear—the central component of your message—in order to establish trust and get customers excited for the delivery.
Tip #2: Optimize for mobile with a single column design
It’s tempting to showcase purchased products in a grid or use multiple columns or sidebars in a shipping confirmation email. But a single-column design is usually the most effective, especially for mobile. Take this shipping email sample from Madewell:
The single column establishes a clear content hierarchy, so it’s easy for the reader to follow. The first key takeaway? The order has shipped! Scroll down and there’s a bulletproof button to track it. The all black-and-white color scheme lends to the clarity and simplicity of the message and reinforces the Madewell brand. The high contrast also means it’s optimal for mobile screens. And the email isn’t afraid to take up space. The ample white space between sections makes the email feel uncluttered and improves readability. We also see Madewell taking a playful tone with readers (Keep an eye on the mailbox… Insert applause emoji here).
Design Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to keep it simple. Improve mobile readability with a single-column format with a B&W color scheme and plenty of white space.
Tip #3: Prioritize transactional content over upsell content
According to the CAN-SPAM act, the content of transactional emails must be “primarily transactional.” In other words, these emails need to focus on the main message (order shipment, in this case) and shouldn’t be used for marketing additional goods or services. However, these well-read emails offer a tantalizing opportunity to appeal to customers who you know (1) recently shopped with you and (2) are probably in good spirits (my order shipped!). Nonetheless, it wouldn’t serve your brand to overstuff your shipping confirmation email with extraneous calls to action. If you choose to include upsell items, deprioritize them and only include relevant or even customized items.
Pottery Barn Kids offers a preview of four best-sellers, but only at the close of the email, even after the signature, almost like an afterthought.
The carefully curated selection (compared to an ad, for example) makes the inclusion feel thoughtful and less intrusive. You could also try “Items frequently bought together” or “Picks for you” based on the customer’s purchase, like in this email from Dakine:
Making a curated selection to upsell doesn’t infringe on your relationship with your reader—actually, it might be viewed as helpful. Just be sure to include additional items only after the key shipping message, and they should only make up a small portion of your email.
Design Takeaway: Allow shipping confirmation details to take up at least 75% of your email. Marketing material can be included, but position it at the bottom and make it relevant.
Tip #4: Use color to organize content
If your email will have multiple columns, color is a powerful tool to help organize content. This email from Everlane, the clothing company, employs a monochromatic color scheme but leverages orange headers to create order, as well as a light gray HTML background to distinguish a side panel:
While there’s a lot of information in the email, it feels orderly and clear. Likewise, this shipping confirmation email from Thrive, the online marketplace, uses background colors to distinguish between the shipping confirmation details at the top and the ordered items listed below:
Design Takeaway: Use subtle interjections of color in headers and/or in the background to separate, organize, and improve readability of content.
Tip #5: Get creative with on-brand graphics
You may think there’s not much to visualize with graphic design in shipping confirmation emails, but check out this neat map visualization from Etsy:
Not only is the illustration bright, on-brand, and cheerful, but it serves a purpose: we can see exactly where the order will originate and where it will be delivered. Following the map, the email is simple and laid out cleanly with plenty of white space. The “View Receipt” button is easy to spot; it’s also a great way to let customers tap for more information instead of cluttering the email with extraneous details.
Design Takeaway: Consider how on-brand illustration can contribute to how you communicate shipping details. Graphics can provide a nice touch and make your email stand out.
Take a second look at your shipping confirmation emails. Are they living up to what you want to communicate about your brand? Try these design tips to make customers happy and build loyalty:
- Emphasize order tracking. It’s what customers will be looking for, so make it easy to find by distinguishing the tracking link or button with a bold color and giving it a paramount position in your email.
- Show customers what they ordered. Use photos to make purchases clear and scannable.
- Design for mobile. Use a single-column layout, simple high-contrast color scheme, and plenty of white space.
- Marketing content should be secondary. List upsell items after shipping info, out of the way, and make sure it’s relevant to the individual customer.
- Use HTML background colors to divide content. Or try a standout header color to improve organization.
- Look for opportunities to get creative. Try incorporating graphics that serve a purpose. Shipping confirmation emails should be cheerful and upbeat. Have fun!
Want a boost in designing your own shipping confirmation email? Check out BEE’s order confirmation template, track-your-order email template, business services templates, and dozens of other email templates that are easy to customize in minutes!
And we even have our own shipping confirmation email template:
Have you seen any great shipping confirmation emails lately? Tell us about it in the comments!