What Is a Transactional Email?

What Is Transactional Mailing and How It Works?
Valeriia Dziubenko Valeriia Dziubenko 07 december 2021, 13:58 376
For beginners

What is a transactional email? You already know the answer. Your inbox probably has plenty of these! Transactional emails are the ones that are used to verify your accounts or confirm your orders. Everyone receives them from time to time. In this article, we will tell you how such messages work and how they are created.

Example of a transactional email message

A Bit of Terminology

The term ‘transactional emails’ is used to denote notification letters sent automatically when a certain event (usually called ‘trigger’) takes place:

  • newsletter subscription;
  • activation of an account;
  • purchase on a website, etc.

Just think of typical e-commerce transactions accompanied by the corresponding newsletters, such as abandoned cart reminders.

Transactional messages have certain differential characteristics:

  1. They are timely. Usually recipients are waiting for these messages. They know that the letter is about to come and refresh their inbox until it arrives.
  2. They contain valuable information. It may be the user’s login, shipping information, or order details – in any case, the information relates to the recipient’s recent activity and is therefore essential for him.
  3. They are created dynamically and sent through an automated workflow procedure.
Notification letter sent automatically after newsletter subscription

Discussing the definition of transactional emails, we should keep in mind the following: the core difference between these messages and promotional ones is that the former are triggered by certain events or interactions, while the latter are integrated into the company’s marketing strategy. Promotional letters do not require any particular trigger to be sent.

Besides, people do not have to opt-in to transactional messages. They receive them as soon as they have performed certain actions – placed an order, added items to the shopping cart, etc. For marketing campaigns, businesses must obtain the user’s permission for sending their newsletters. And once they have this, they should give subscribers the opportunity to opt out if they do not want to receive promotional emails anymore.

What Is Transactional Email Used for?

People use transactional email service for the following purposes:

  1. Receipts and confirmations
  2. The letters of this kind are sent after a transaction has taken place. The recipient receives a message containing information about the purchase he has just made online, an order confirmation and a payment receipt. Also, confirmation messages may relate to user sign-up or registration.

    Confirmation email message
  3. Requests
  4. When a website visitor or app user submits a support request, he receives a transactional email with the corresponding information. As a rule, these messages are urgent and contain only the answer to the recipient’s question. A good example of an explicit request is lost password recovery. The user cannot access his account without his password; therefore, the letter must come immediately after the request has been submitted.

    Password recovery email
  5. Account-related notifications
  6. They are triggered by changes in users’ accounts, such as long overdue bills or unsuccessful payment attempts. Dunning emails are a type of account-related notification, too. They keep customers informed of everything happening with their accounts, payments, orders, and more. Without these sort of transactional emails, people may not be aware of certain problems with their accounts.

    Dunning emails
  7. Behavioral alerts
  8. Messages of this kind are sent when a user has interacted with a particular element of the company’s site or app. Being more marketing-focused than other types of transactional emails, they are aimed at increasing customer loyalty. Onboarding letters, abandoned cart messages, and reactivations are examples of behavioral emails. Their purpose is to remind subscribers of the company and engage them in further interaction.

    Behavioral alerts
  9. Referrals and invitation letters
  10. Many companies offer their clients the chance to invite their friends and acquaintances by sending referrals and invitations. As a rule, messages of this kind offer certain bonuses for the recipients: if they send an invitation to another user, they may receive, for example, a discount on their next purchase. Referral transactional messages can also offer gift cards, small presents added to an order, or free services.

    Referral transactional messages
  11. Event-driven notifications
  12. Just what it sounds like – these messages relate to certain events. They are similar to mobile phone push notifications that inform subscribers about changes in their accounts, payments, orders, and more. Event-driven notifications can remind customers of a package shipment or forthcoming meetings. Unlike behavioral emails, they are connected with the company’s service or other people’s activity, but not with the recipient’s actions.

    Event-driven notifications
  13. Digests
  14. Summaries and digests inform subscribers of a wide range of events that have taken place during a given time period. They may include a list of comments, new articles on the website, or goods offered by the company. Digests are sent at fixed intervals – daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the company’s intentions. Newsletters of this kind are useful for those who want to keep track of events without having to constantly check their inbox.

    Summaries and digests
  15. Feedback requests

The definition of transactional emails of this type is obvious: they allow businesses to receive customer feedback. If a client submits a request but does not get a receipt report, he may be confused. The sooner he gets the letter confirming that his request is being processed, the better. Like onboarding emails, feedback messages can be sent when a client has made a purchase or signed up for an account – they ask users to leave their feedback on certain products, businesses, or services.

Feedback requests

How to Create Transactional Messages

If you see that your business requires these kinds of newsletters, follow the plan below:

  • Set a transactional email marketing strategy

First, you need to identify the content of your messages. Their major purpose is to increase engagement with your audience; therefore, the newsletters should be relevant, useful, and helpful for subscribers.

Then, select the most suitable email templates according to your customers’ interests and needs. Typically, transactional messages are sent via API or SMTP. Ask your developers to set up a system that sends such messages to certain recipients after a given number of actions.

  • Learn transactional email logistics

To succeed in your campaign, you will require some testing: try sending different messages and find out which of them are most efficient. Here are some nuances that can make your communications more engaging:

  1. Be well-timed. Send your emails as soon as possible. Most probably, the recipient is waiting for your message, as he has performed certain actions – left a request, placed an order, or whatever.
  2. Be brief. The purpose of transactional means is to provide important data at the user’s request. Thus, you should be brief and stick to the point. Do not take up a lot of your reader’s time. Have a clear call to action, if necessary, but avoid imagery and unnecessary details.

Test your messages.

Try using different subject lines – they are ideal for A/B testing. Send two groups of newsletters and check which one works better. The content of the emails should be the same, so as not to affect the results of the test. After that, you can test other elements of your emails in the same way.If your transactional email marketing is too pushy, it may annoy your subscribers and even violate existing anti-spam laws. Therefore, you should try your best to make your messages timely and helpful, yet not too frequent. Besides, you must remember the following rules:

Testing transactional email
  • Stay compliant

If your transactional email marketing is too pushy, it may annoy your subscribers and even violate existing anti-spam laws. Therefore, you should try your best to make your messages timely and helpful, yet not too frequent. Besides, you must remember the following rules:

  1. Do not use misleading headers. Specify your company name, domain, and email address in the most accurate way.
  2. Do not use dissembling subject lines. State the topic of the letter without any misleading phrases.Specify your company’s postal address in the email. The recipients have the right to know where you are located.
  3. Specify your company’s postal address in the email. The recipients have the right to know where you are located.
  4. Let your subscribers opt out of receiving future emails. Make sure the corresponding button or link is clear and identifiable.

That is all you need to know about transactional email marketing, how it works and how to create it. Use this information to deepen your relationship with your customers and subscribers by providing rapid, targeted, and useful responses to their requests.

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