The Difference Between Marketing Email and Transactional Email

Transactional email VS Marketing email
Denys Romanov Denys Romanov 31 december 2021, 14:05 610
For beginners

Let’s take a look at the difference between a marketing email and a transactional email. Our blog has all you need to know about each type of email, complete with examples.

Transactional Email Vs. Marketing Email: Definitions

For most people, the line between marketing and transactional emails is quite blurry.

A marketing email is a message with some commercial content and a target in it. With the help of such emails, companies advertise their products and services, notify recipients of updates or new collections for the season and so on. Marketing emails help to convert casual subscribers into recurring buyers, thus they are aimed at increasing sales and customer loyalty.

The recipients are the people who have agreed to receive newsletters from you through the registration form on your website.

A marketing email with dynamic content is, in fact, a static HTML email with simple tags for recipients. These emails are sent out in bulk using special services. The regularity and the recipients’ list is set up manually each time.

Transactional email marketing, however, is based on the recipient's behavior, i. e. when a client performs a certain action, they receive a corresponding message. These messages can contain requested information, delivery notifications or inform the client about changes in their order status. Unlike marketing emails, which can be sent in bulk, transactional emails are intended either for individual recipients or specific narrow segments of the wider mailing list.

These are emails that are automatically sent following a transaction on your website, regardless of whether the recipient is a newsletter subscriber or not.

Transactional emails are HTML documents created by combining a template and a specific user's data at the exact time when the triggering event on the website takes place. These emails usually require an SMTP server or API integration, when a developer sets up a system that will send messages to certain recipients based on a specific action. You can easily create your own transactional emails using subscription-based email services.

Which Type of Emails Is More Important?

Neither. Transactional emails are as important as commercial emails. It may seem like messages with a clear commercial intention are a better source of leads, but this is not usually the case. While transactional emails don’t serve a selling purpose directly, they still trigger people to buy.

According to Experian, transactional emails are opened 8 times more often than any other emails. Besides, they can bring in 6 times more revenue. It's just that transactional messages are more personalized and expected, which undoubtedly affects the Open Rate and CTR.

Transactional and Commercial Email Examples

Notification emails differ from promotional emails by their mechanics and content, since their main purpose is to convey different kinds of information. Nevertheless, these days they no longer contain dull words and digits — marketers have learned to implement transactional email best practices, embedding a signature style, tone of voice, and then coloring them in. To the naked eye, these two different emails can look fairly similar. Take a closer look.

The difference between a Marketing and a Transactional email

The difference between a Marketing and a Transactional email is not always easy to see.

The email on the left can be sent to any subscriber regardless of their previous actions, it’s just a seasonal offer. The one on the right is specifically sent to a person who has just signed up.

These are some typical formats that these emails can have:

Marketing mailing

Transactional mailing


Product launch

Abandoned cart notification


Creating an account

Announcements or invitations

Updates on order status

Special offers

Password Recovery

Invitation to a party from THINKFIC as an example of a marketing email

Invitation to a party from THINKFIC as an example of a marketing email

A transactional email in a form of an abandoned view notification

A transactional email in the form of an abandoned view notification

How to Set Up Both Marketing and Transactional Emails

The easiest thing to do would be to choose an email marketing service that operates both promotional and transactional emails. Trying to manage advertising and transactional emails separately can become a real pain in the neck, especially if you use different platforms for each of them. This reduces the cohesion and integrity of your mailings in general, especially if you use different designs and branding for different types of emails.

You can make your email marketing more uniform by acquiring email marketing software that allows you to set up and manage advertising and transactional email campaigns from one workspace.

There, with a set of convenient e-commerce email plugins that integrate with most e-commerce platforms, you can create a strategy that is easy to manage and better serves your customers.

To Wrap Up

  1. Marketing emails are all about the product, its advantages and the ways of using it. Companies send such emails to warm up the audience, motivate them to buy more or raise brand awareness.
  2. In transactional email marketing, the main focus is on the client and the actions that they have performed or that have affected them. The purpose of transactional emails is to notify the user that something has happened. A confirmation email after placing an order on the website is a typical example.
  3. Mass marketing mailings are sent to every subscriber at the same time.
  4. Transactional emails are sent immediately after certain actions that a particular user has performed (or events that are related to this user).
  5. Use special services to send both types of emails. This way you’ll have better control of your campaigns and your emails will look more consistent.

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