Transactional Email

A transactional email is an automated email. When someone signs up for your mailing list, subscribes to an offer, or downloads a white paper – they are consenting to receive promotional emails from you. Those emails are transactional in nature and should be managed via a platform that can handle them correctly.

Transactional emails are not promotional in nature – it’s still an email list.

It is sent to someone who has explicitly opted-in to receive messages from you. Such emails are the opposite of broadcast messages, which are indiscriminate and often spammy.

These emails should be more targeted at specific segments or types of users on your mailing list – transactional email is for a mailing list only.

Transactional email vs bulk email: What’s the difference?

A bulk email is an indiscriminate or unsolicited message that has no personal or transactional value. It’s sent to users who haven’t asked for it and usually contains advertising, promotions, coupons – any messages not specifically targeted at a given user.

Bulk emails are often considered spam because they’re unsolicited! They should not be confused with promotional messages which can be sent to anyone who subscribes to your mailing list.

The reason you send bulk email is to get recipients’ attention — but it can also backfire.

Bulk email could trigger spam-filters on the receiving end, tricking your message into being blocked before the recipient even sees it! If you use pre-made templates (like most newsletter software), your message is also likely to be flagged as spam by Gmail.

Good Examples of Transactional Emails

A good example of a transactional email would be a welcome message or a notification after a purchase was made. They are part of the normal user experience and should not feel spammy or intrusive – customers expect them – they buy from companies who consistently send relevant communication that’s useful to them.

Next, a transactional email is a one-to-one message sent to a customer in response to a specific action or event. The best examples of this are purchase confirmations and receipts, shipping notices, password reset emails, and user account activation emails.

Best Practices Around Transactional Emails

  1. Transactional messages should be aimed at users who have already opted-in to receive them.
  2. Transactional emails should always address users by their first name. It’s more personal than “Dear Customer.”
  3. Regularly scheduled transactional messages are not good because they may bother your customers. You don’t want to spam your users! You need consent for each message you send, so scheduling them all at once is bad practice.
  4. Transactional messages should come from a company subscriber list, not an external source.
  5. Companies that send transactional messages should use a platform designed for transactional email – it’s what they’re there for! If you just send a few promo emails every once in a while, host them yourself with one of the tools listed below or with your own SMTP server. 
  6. Transactional emails are welcome and expected by customers – they’re part of the user experience, not spam! They shouldn’t be scheduled all at once because it could become intrusive.

Transactional messages are welcomed and expected by your customers – they are part of the user experience.