Standardizing Transactional Emails


Create a modular framework for transactional emails that facilitates scalability for the business and a consistent, empathetic experience for customers


  • Conceptualizing and pitching the project to director-level stakeholders to get buy-in for the initiative
  • Developing a project plan, laying out a timeline, and then being able to quickly pivot when necessary
  • Facilitating cross-functional workshops to deconstruct and categorize email content
  • Partnering across the organization (and across geographies!) to develop a comprehensive content guide
  • Conducting research and user tests to develop and iterate on content wireframes
  • Working with design and engineering to turn wireframes into full-fledged component proposals
  • a grayscale email wireframe labeled with components and organized according to colored priority levels
  • spreadsheet with columns listing the guideline being evaluated, the rating from -1 to 1, and the priority as defined by effort and impact
  • screenshot of a powerpoint slide listing potential projects
  • spreadsheet listing the key message to be conveyed and the associated emotions, thoughts, and actions
  • Board covered in colored sticky notes that are categorized based on topic
  • An email telling customers their order was delivered



Based on the number of customer contacts made shortly after an email was sent (follow-on contact rate), product management identified about 60 of Wayfair’s worst-performing email types and proposed we rewrite them. After looking at the emails, I proposed that we not only do a copy refresh, but that we undertake a larger initiative to build out reusable components. These components would help us to standardize our messaging and allow for a faster, more streamlined update process in the future.

Role: Content Strategist & Project Manager

Skills & Deliverables

  • Heuristic Evaluation
  • Service Blueprint
  • Stakeholder Management
  • Content Wireframes
  • Workshop Facilitation
  • Empathy Maps
  • Research Findings & Recommendations


I began this project by evaluating a sampling of existing triggered emails against best practices defined by the Nielson Norman Group. From that, I identified four initiatives that would have the most impact for our customers and on our business metrics. To get buy-in for the project, I presented my findings and proposed plan to a group of product and design leaders.

My next big task was to organize several content-focused workshops where we did assumption busting and card sorting exercises that gave us a more granular look at how pieces of information fit together. I was then able to pull out trends and build a better picture of the customer’s ideal information hierarchy, which informed the content wireframes I shared with my design partner. Together we collaborated on many design iterations, working through all of the possible scenarios to make sure they were accounted for.

Along with the component work, I was also revising copy in individual emails, many of which focused on backorders and other “bad news.” I used mini empathy maps and a top-down journalistic writing pattern to prioritize the most important information and assure customers that Wayfair would get them their item as soon as possible. Pulling together everything I learned from this exercise and from the best practice research I’d done early on, I developed a Transactional Email Content Guide and worked alongside our copyediting team and our international teams to make it a resource that could serve everyone.


The email engineering team is currently transitioning onto a new email platform, so the implementation and testing of our components was delayed. A re-org then shifted our priorities, so my design partner and I are currently working with the new team that will be handling transactional emails to get them up to speed. New versions of the order confirmation email should begin testing this year.

The rewritten copy was unaffected by the platform delays and is currently being sent to customers. We’ve seen decreases in follow-on contact rates for six email types and hope to use the Transactional Email Content Guide to inform further updates.