Transactional Email VS Marketing Email 101

Transactional Email VS Marketing Email 101

What's the difference between transactional and marketing emails? What is a transactional email? What are the different types of transactional emails? Why are transactional emails essential to retaining new and existing customers?

You may not know what transactional emails are just yet, but are you aware that you're probably sending transactional email to your clients already?

If your business has a website or a mobile app, then it's more than likely you've been sending transactional emails to your customers all along. 

Likewise, if you've sent out any of the following, you've been sending transactional emails: 

  • welcome emails

  • invoice email

  • verification email

  • monthly statements

  • shipping notifications and shipping confirmation emails

  • security alerts

  • expected delivery dates

  • delivery confirmation email

  • password reset email

  • commercial messages to potential customers who sign up for your email list.

What's more, these are just a few examples of transaction emails—there are more!

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Transactional email sending is an essential component of CRM, and while transaction email messages aren't the same as marketing emails or promotional emails, they may as well be considered a part of both—because they build your business's reputation and they send an important commercial message.

Transactional emails are sent as proof whenever a digital or financial transaction takes place. Orders, signups, receipts, feedback requests, settings changes, and more. All of these qualify as transactions warranting confirmation via transactional email. 

Marketing and transactional email are similar in that both enhance the customer experience and have the potential to advance the customer journey. 

Yet, if you had to choose between transactional and marketing email, transactional email wins because, from order confirmations to password resets, transactional emails are customer retention's best friend.

What is transactional email?

Okay, we've told you that in the matter of transactional vs marketing email, transactional email examples are more important for customer retention—but what exactly is a transactional email? 

Transactional emails are sometimes known as triggered emails or notification emails, which is a type of automated real-time email message.

An email service, marketing automation software, app, or website will send transactional emails to a particular recipient to confirm, record, or notify them about a transaction (or action) that has been made.

Transactional messages are sent following a specific action the recipient has performed within that website or application, or following an action that concerns them in some way.

In the matter of transaction vs marketing email, essentially, transactional emails confirm/notify transactions, while marketing emails notify about products and promotions.

Explore our latest posts to discover transactional email best practices and learn more about different types of email.

What is the difference between transactional and marketing emails?

We all know that one-too-many automated emails and promotional emails can become annoying. In the matter of transactional email vs marketing email, however, there's no clear winner, as these email types serve completely different functions.

Transactional email vs marketing email messages are different because the former is a more personalized means of communication that includes information directly pertaining to a transaction made by the recipient.

In other words, the difference between transactional and marketing emails is that transactional emails aren't sent out en masse to "whoever will listen", except in cases where some event simultaneously affects multiple recipients.

Since the recipient expects to receive those transactional emails, the sender is not required to obtain the recipient's consent or add an unsubscribe/opt-out link that allows users to stop receiving the transactional email. 

Unlike promotional and marketing emails, transactional emails are useful for recipient and sender account management, recordkeeping, tax records, and all situations where proof of an online transaction might be useful.

Types of transactional emails

There are various categories of transactional emails but, essentially, they all confirm transactions of one kind or another.

Types of transactional emails include:

1. Receipts and order confirmations

The most widely used types of transactional emails are the order confirmation and the payment receipt.

As far as transactional emails go, both examples take the lead in terms of financial implications. That's why order confirmations and payment receipts top the transactional email list.

Have you ever experienced that feeling of uncertainty following an online purchase or payment?

Waiting for an order confirmation that assures you that your transaction was successful and your money has reached its destination can be nerve-wracking. Well, the order confirmation and payment receipt are two kinds of transactional email that are designed to take care of all that.

These are arguably the most welcome types of transactional emails you can get. They are the kind of notification emails we all wait for with bated breath.

waiting for an order confirmation

2. Opt-ins, sign-ups, and RSVP confirmations

The examples below are technically non-traditional order confirmation emails. Whether you are ordering a service, a product, or a newsletter, an order confirmation serves as proof that a transaction has taken place—so it belongs on the transactional emails list!

Non-traditional order confirmation emails include transactional emails for new account sign-ups, newsletter sign-ups, subscription confirmation emails, filled form confirmations, event RSVPs, and double opt-in for subscribers to confirm their email addresses.

opt in email

3. Account notifications

This type of transactional email contains information that is essential to users, notifying them when certain actions have taken place within their accounts.

For example, transactional messages are sent to notify/confirm billing issues such as failed payment attempts, changes to passwords or email addresses, log-in attempt notifications, trial expiration notices, and a number of other account issues.

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4. Feedback requests

While they may not provide any information relevant to recipients, feedback request emails can be a great way to help in creating a positive customer experience, which is why they are so essential in terms of marketing emails.

However, obtaining feedback from customers can be unrealistic when leaving it up to the customers to go out of their way to share their thoughts.

That is why sending feedback forms via email, following a purchase, or after signing up for an account, is a frequently used type of transactional email with beneficial outcomes.

feedback request email

5. Referral emails

Happy customers can serve as great advocates for your business.

Referral emails are transactional marketing emails that offer users a variety of incentives to spread the word about your services and are an effective way to expand your audience by reaching out to prospective customers.

6. Password reset emails and verification code

In addition to regular password updates, people tend to forget or lose their passwords often, making password reset emails one of the most common types of email.

When a user requests to reset their password, they expect to get prompt, customized, and clear instructions to guide them through the process.

password reset email

The importance of transactional emails

Proven to have considerably higher open rates than marketing emails, transactional emails are a great opportunity to gain brand credibility and increase customer loyalty.

When it comes to changes regarding their accounts, users like to be notified, preferably at the speed of light, or at the very least in a matter of seconds. Transactional email can do this faster than regular emails can.

Sending your customers a well-timed welcome email, confirmation of a transaction made by your customer, or a speedy notification regarding an action associated with their account, will help build your relationship with them and improve your brand's credibility.

That's why transactional email is perfect for customer satisfaction and service management in general, but it can serve a promotional email function as well.

To ensure that your transactional emails reach recipient inboxes as intended, and to stop your emails going to spam, explore our latest posts.

happy transactional emailer

Does Mailer To Go support transactional email?

The short answer is Yes, Mailer To Go supports transactional email!

Mailer To Go was built to simplify the process of sending transactional emails directly from your site or app to your customers with just a few easy steps.

Mailer To Go also helps you track customer transactional email events to ensure that all transactional emails you send (and the marketing emails you send too) reach their destination.

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Mailer To Go lets you send game-changing, money-making, transactional, marketing, and regular emails from inside your apps.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between a transactional email and a marketing email?

The key difference between transactional emails and marketing emails lies in their purpose and content. A transactional email contains information about an action the recipient has already taken, such as a purchase confirmation or a password reset.

On the other hand, a marketing email intends to drive the recipient toward an action you want them to take, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.

How do transactional emails differ from marketing emails in terms of recipients?

Transactional emails are personalized and sent only to one recipient, usually in response to a specific action they've taken. Marketing emails, however, are sent on a one-to-many basis, often to a list of subscribers or potential customers, and are not necessarily triggered by a specific action.

Can both transactional and marketing emails contain automations?

Yes, both transactional and marketing emails can contain automations. For example, both can trigger a welcome email when a user signs up. However, the content and triggers for these automations may differ based on whether the email is transactional or marketing.

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