What Is Transactional Email?

Often neglected by companies, transactional emails are nevertheless essential to the proper functioning of a site that offers products or services. Unlike emailing campaigns, transactional emails are triggered directly by Internet users. It is therefore essential to take care of their content.

What are Transactional Emails?

Transactional emails are automatic email messages that provide the buyer with updates on the status of the product they've ordered. They come when the customer makes some kind of transaction, such as placing an order, registering a personal account, adding an item to the cart, or adding an item as a favorite. In marketing, a transaction is considered not only an action with a product but also any other target action: filling out a form, clicking a button, or a link. Transactional emails accompany the subscriber from the moment of registration on the site until the delivery of the order to the point of issue. In this article, we will understand how transactional emails work, what types of such emails exist and how to set them up.

How do Transactional Emails Work?

In the email service, a condition is configured - a trigger. This condition is set to send an email when a certain event occurs. The email is automatically sent when the trigger fires. The trigger is activated by the person using it. When a customer adds an item to the cart, the customer is signaling to the site that wants to buy that item. For transactional emails, triggers will be any action with a product or order or a target action that the marketer specifies. An email that comes under the action of triggers is called transactional emailing. Since it is unprofitable to send one email, it is more profitable to interact with the user all the time, several triggers are often set up, and the mailing is called triggered.

Features of Transactional Emails

  • Instant dispatch: Transactional emails are sent as soon as the user has made a transaction.
  • Personalization: Transactional emails are addressed to a specific user, not a group of subscribers.
  • No opt-in requirement: The email is sent after a certain action that the user has performed which makes the customer expect it. So, transactional emails fall within the scope of legitimate interests protected by privacy law. For example, if a user has placed and paid for an order, and probably waiting for a confirmation letter that the payment has been accepted.
  • Automatic sending: A marketer sets up a transactional email list once, and then it works by itself. Edits are made if the logic and structure of the site suddenly change

Transactional and Promotional Emails: What's the Difference?

The main purpose of promotional emails is to promote a particular marketing initiative or campaign. For example, a notification about the beginning of a seasonal sale or sending holiday discount coupons. They are designed to attract the attention of the maximum audience and stimulate the completion of a targeted action (purchase, going to the store, etc.).

Transactional emails are sent to the customers’ email after they perform some targeted action on the site, such as purchases. While transactional emails are designed to drive sales, they are also suitable for enhancing customer engagement with a brand. For example, many transactional emails are not intended to sell something, but to “turn on” previously inactive users.

Despite popular belief, transactional emails are not in demand exclusively by commercial companies. For many of them, the main goal is not necessarily to sell something. For example, a site may offer you to download an e-book in exchange for your email address.

Promotional and transactional emails are different in purpose and deserve independent consideration. Dynamic content in marketing emails can be a great way to keep your recipients engaged and informed. By using recipient tags to personalize your messages, you can keep your recipients interested and informed no matter what time of day or week it is. These letters are sent through a special service in bulk. Transactional emails are created when an event occurs and data about the sender and the recipient is automatically stored. This email is then sent to a specific user.

On average, transactional emails perform better than promotional emails (also known as bulk emails). Why? It's just that transactional messages are more personalized and expected, which undoubtedly affects the Open Rate of such letters and CTR (click-through rate).

Benefits of Transactional Emails in Marketing

Although technical in nature, transactional emails can be valuable marketing tools. They can help keep customers informed, engaged, and satisfied, which can lead to repeat business and increased revenue.

Reminding of the brand:

A transactional email not only informs the user of important information but also reminds them of the brand when the user sees an email from an online store, service, or online platform in their mail.

Increasing customer loyalty:

Transactional emails are sent to the action of a specific person, so marketers make them personal. For example, they address the subscriber by name, select products or services for him/her, and indicate links at the end of the email, congratulating him/her on birthdays and other holidays.

Increasing email marketing performance and email domain reputation:

Transactional emails are emails that users wait for because they initiate their sending. Therefore, emails have high rates of open, read, and conversion compared to other types of mailings. These indicators improve the reputation of the email domain.

Increasing probability of sale:

You can insert a selection of products or conditions of promotion into transactional emails. As a result, an email that was not intended as a promo can push the user to purchase.

Types of Transactional Emails

Of course, all companies are different, which means that each site has unique transactions. In theory, the list of types of transactional emails is endless. To give you some idea, here is a small list as an example. So, among the whole variety of transactional letters, we can distinguish:

  • delivery notifications
  • account upgrade notifications and other reporting
  • confirmation of order
  • account verification
  • warnings and notices
  • receipts
  • password recovery
  • return of goods or refusal of services
  • reminders

Welcome emails

This type of email is usually the start of a long chain of transactional emails. They come immediately after subscribing or purchasing. This is the first touch point, so it's critical that the email answered any questions about the product, contained links to sources of information, demonstrated the value of the service or product that the person had just purchased, and brought people closer to the core value of the product.

Purchase receipts

When customers shop online, their purchases may trigger an automated email. These emails usually contain a short thank you message, order number, purchase details, and a link to the company's website to view more details or continue shopping. This helps the customer keep the receipt and gives the company the opportunity to encourage additional purchases.

Create an account

Similar to a purchase receipt, a company can send automated messages as soon as a customer creates a new account. Sometimes these messages are simple confirmation emails. In other cases, the customer may need to click on a link to verify their email address. Encouraging people to create an account can be an effective way to ensure they return to your site and make more purchases.

Password reset

If a person forgets their website password, they often receive an email to verify their identity. This transactional email may contain a password reset link, a temporary password suggestion, or a referral to the next level of verification, such as a text message. Transactional emails can help companies communicate that they care about customer privacy.

Account notifications

Sometimes account activity can trigger transaction alerts. For example, a bank member may receive a transactional email regarding a large bank transfer. This email is useful because it can encourage them to log in to their account and verify their activity, which can help prevent fraud. Customers may appreciate these types of transactional emails because they can show that the company is interested in protecting their accounts.


Unlike other types of transactional emails, behavioral emails usually focus on marketing. For example, a company can send an automated behavior-based email to a shopper who is shopping online, adding items to the cart, and deleting them later. This can help the company validate the customer's decision and motivate them to reconsider a possible purchase. Similarly, if a customer is looking for a particular brand of bag, they may receive transactional emails recommending related products.


Email reminders can help customers remember to take a certain action or attend an event. Reminder emails often contain shipping information, order preparation information, or event dates. For example, if a person registers for a free webinar, they may receive a transactional email the day before the event to remind them what time the webinar is and what topics the host plans to discuss


Very often, companies need information about what the target audience thinks about their service, how they perceived the new product, and whether they have any constructive suggestions. You can collect this information using transactional emails. As you understand, it is not your client who benefits here, but you, so often such letters are destined to be thrown into the trash. But it is in your power to convince a person to fill out a questionnaire if you remind the recipient of the value of your service through text or image, indicate how long the survey or research will take, and describe as realistically as possible how the user will benefit from this survey.

How to Improve Transactional Emails?

Transactional emails are essential, especially for e-commerce sites. However, many businesses have yet to grasp the potential of these emails. However, they represent a good way to send messages to prospects and customers. There are different ways to take advantage of this means of communication.

Personalize your transactional emails as much as possible

Internet users like to feel privileged. Indeed, few people like to be drowned in the crowd. When a user takes an action on your website, whether it's an order, a reservation, or a subscription to your newsletter, they value your brand. To thank them, give them some attention in turn: catchphrase, titles, and/or nominative messages... Of course, these messages are sent automatically and are configured upstream. Some email marketing tools allow you to properly segment your contacts and add personalized attributes within emails in order to create tailor-made content.

Enhance your brand identity

Given their simplicity, transactional emails can quickly become boring. To remedy this, we recommend that you customize the template of your transactional emails so that it is in line with the graphic charter of your company. Also remember to adapt the tone of your emails so that they are consistent with your identity.

Create added value

Be creative to capture the attention of Internet users and generate interaction through transactional emails. Surprise your audience with additional and useful information depending on your field of activity and your products or services: tips and tricks, exclusive promotional code, possibility to leave a comment online, buttons to social networks, referral links, etc.

Opt for a cross-selling strategy

Finally, if you want to boost your sales, arouse the interest of Internet users for products that complement their purchases. You can also remind them of some referrals they've already viewed through remarketing. More and more email platforms allow you to add dynamic content to create personalized messages. If you do not have the ability to add dynamic content, you can also manually add pre-chosen references by adding titles, images and links to your product pages.


Just knowing that transactional emails have powerful marketing potential is not enough – action is needed. There is always a chance that the money spent on developing a transactional email campaign will not bring results, but by following the rules above, you can minimize them.

So, how to build a successful transactional email campaign;

  1. Make a list of all types of transactional emails you can use.
  2. Choose a provider that will not only allow you to send large volumes of emails at relatively attractive prices but also provide simple and clear tools for split testing.
  3. Optimize all your transactional messages. They must not only fulfill their intended purpose but also achieve a marketing goal. Your task is to find a balance.
  4. Conduct an email deliverability audit. Fix any problem areas.
  5. Don't stop experimenting. Only in this way will you be able to achieve higher efficiency.

Transactional emails are an important part of email marketing to increase sales and customer loyalty. They remind the brand to customers to keep them updated on important happenings. To be successful in sending transactional emails, there are a number of tools that can help. Mailsoftly is one of the best scalable email sending software that is affordable. Mailsoftly offers an easy-to-use interface that allows you to automate your emails and respond quickly to the triggers customers generate through their actions.