Marketing your business can be quite a challenge. In the never-ending quest to attract new customers and keep the existing ones coming back, you are probably constantly looking for new and effective ways of getting your messages out there. One method that many people overlook is transactional messaging. This is simply the process of using routine business communications with customers to communicate a marketing message.

Before we dive into transactional messaging though let’s first take a quick look at marketing in general. When it comes to reaching out to your marketplace, there are a lot of options available and you are probably aware of most of them. Email marketing is extremely popular, mainly because it has a relatively low cost and—if properly executed—a relatively high rate of return. Your online platform, consisting of your website and social media pages is also another powerful tool, particularly if your platform utilizes a responsive design that is optimized for a wide range of mobile devices.

Traditional marketing tactics such as print or media advertising still work; so does direct mail. In fact, many marketers are blending new web technologies with a thoughtful mix of proven tactics and then using this integrated model to reach their audience.

Of course, the ultimate success or failure of any marketing initiative is the quality of the messaging and how it is presented. It is a good investment of time to create a message model that outlines what your key messages are and the audiences they are intended to touch and motivate. Once the message model has been created, it’s also a good idea to continuously revisit it and refresh it when necessary. Test and retest your messages in order to find out what resonates with the audience and then refine those messages even more.

Once you have a well-defined message model in place—in other words, once you have a crystal clear idea of what you want to say—you are ready to begin using transactional messaging as a delivery mechanism to augment your overall marketing model.

As we said, transactional messages are compelling snippets of important information that are included with normal business communications. Invoices and account statements are two good examples of how transactional messages can be deployed. Notifications about account status are another. Some companies even enclose marketing messages with payments that they make to their own vendors. In fact, virtually any form of operational business-to-business communication can be used to deliver a piggy-back marketing message.

The key is to make transactional messaging unobtrusive and to the point. When you’re sending out an invoice, it probably doesn’t make sense to include a full product brochure or a sell sheet. But it makes perfect sense to include a few lines about your newest product or service, or a special promotion that you will be offering. When you do this, you should also make sure that the reader knows where to go for more information once you hook them, grab their attention and pique their interest.

You can even do this with check payments to your vendors. The cost of including a simple 1-panel flyer that explains what you do and how you provide value might be all it takes to convert a vendor to a customer.

Finally, routine email is also a good vehicle for transactional messaging. Virtually every email system allows you to add a customized signature block automatically at the end of each email your company sends. Many companies use this feature but fail to maximize the value of it because they never change it.

Consider updating your signature block weekly with current and compelling messages. It is actually a quite effective marketing tactic with the added benefit of being totally without cost.

Studies show that it typically takes anywhere from 8 to 12 marketing touches to influence a sale.

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By implementing a transactional messaging program, you can leverage your standard business communications to generate more of those all-important touches, without any increase to your costs.