If you have an online store, you may want to send your contacts transactional emails with information about their purchases and account activity. Transactional emails are sent to one person at a time, and are limited in the type of content they can include. Mailchimp offers a few different ways to send transactional email.
In this article, you'll learn about transactional emails and how you can use Mailchimp to send them.
Email sent from one sender to multiple recipients, usually for marketing purposes.
Email sent from one sender to one recipient, usually related to account activity or a commercial transaction. Examples include password reminder emails and purchase confirmations.
Mailchimp Transactional Email
A delivery API that can send transactional emails from websites and applications. Mailchimp Transactional is available as an add-on for Standard or higher monthly Marketing plans.
A tool that allows you to create an email or series of emails that are triggered by an event.
Automated transactional emails that are triggered by purchase activity in your connected store.
Abandoned cart email
Automated emails that are triggered when someone adds products to their online shopping cart, but doesn't complete their purchase.
What is a transactional email?
A transactional email is an email that is sent to an individual recipient following a commercial transaction or specific action performed by that person, such as a purchase in your connected store or a password reset request.
What qualifies as a transactional email?
A transactional email is one that facilitates a commercial transaction or relationship or provides an update about an ongoing commercial transaction. Common examples include:
Notification emails (for example, shipping confirmation and updates, or order refunds)
Transactional email vs bulk email: What’s the difference?
Transactional emails facilitate a commercial transaction or relationship or provide an individual customer with the information necessary for a transaction or relationship. Bulk emails, which are sent from one sender to multiple recipients, are for marketing purposes.
The main difference between transactional emails and bulk emails is that transactional emails are sent after being triggered by a commercial transaction or event. Transactional emails contain information specific to the commercial transaction that just took place.
Bulk emails, on the other hand, allow you to send a promotional message to a list of contacts. In Mailchimp, we call these regular email campaigns.
Jurisdictions around the world have different requirements for what may be considered a transactional email or a marketing email. In some jurisdictions, an email that contains any promotional content will be considered a marketing email that can only be sent to contacts who have opted in to receiving marketing messages and requires an unsubscribe mechanism. Be careful to consider applicable law before including any promotional content in a transactional email.
Are abandoned cart emails transactional?
It depends. In some jurisdictions, emails sent after a customer abandons items in their cart on an e-commerce site are not considered transactional under applicable law. In those jurisdictions, while these emails are specific to one individual customer, they are considered marketing emails. With Mailchimp, you can choose which types of contacts can receive abandoned cart emails. It’s important to take applicable law into consideration when making that decision.
Email subscription requirements
Unlike transactional emails, marketing emails (including bulk emails and abandoned cart emails) can only be sent to subscribed contacts. If you want to send a marketing email to someone, that person needs to have opted in to receive marketing or promotional emails from you.
If they’re not subscribed to your email marketing, then you do not have permission to contact them for marketing purposes. Doing so could bring you out of compliance with applicable data protection and email marketing laws like the GDPR and the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act.
All marketing emails need to have an unsubscribe link allowing subscribers to opt out at any time.
Do transactional emails need an unsubscribe link?
No, because transactional emails do not require the recipient to be subscribed to your email marketing in the first place.
As these emails relate to a specific commercial transaction, the recipient can expect that they will not continue to receive emails from you in the future that are not related to this transaction (or at least until their next purchase).
You can offer customers the option to sign up for your email marketing at checkout. However, if they did not opt in to marketing emails, merely the fact that a customer gave you their email address as part of the transaction does not necessarily mean you can send them marketing emails without their consent.
How transactional email works
Transactional emails allow you to provide information that is uniquely relevant to the recipient. These emails can provide requested information or let them know about order status changes such as shipping notifications.
Transactional email generally uses an API or SMTP integration to send emails. This usually requires a developer to set up a system that will send coded templates to specific recipients based on a specific action. In Mailchimp, however, you can quickly create transactional emails like you would any email campaign. You can send these emails to most types of contacts in your audience.
For many companies and organizations, it makes sense to use both bulk and transactional email. This chart provides examples for when you might use one or the other.
• Product promotions
• Event invitation or announcement
• Welcome series
• Educational series
• Abandoned cart messages*
• Account creation
• Order notifications
• Password reminders
• Product or service feedback
*While you can use Mailchimp’s transactional email features and services to send abandoned cart emails, they may not be considered transactional emails under certain email marketing laws. Take applicable law into consideration when deciding who can receive these emails.
Transactional email in Mailchimp
Mailchimp offers a couple of ways to send transactional emails: our built-in automation feature and Mailchimp Transactional Email, formerly known as Mandrill. The one you use depends on your business goals and access to developers.
Mailchimp Marketing vs. Mailchimp Transactional
Mailchimp Marketing’s built-in automation feature includes some transactional emails, like order notifications. Use our drag-and-drop editor to customize these emails to fit the look and feel of your brand. You can also use Mailchimp Marketing’s built-in automation feature to create and send abandoned cart messages to your contacts.
If you're a developer, you may want to add our powerful delivery API, Mailchimp Transactional. You can use Mailchimp Transactional for personalized, one-to-one e-commerce emails, as well as automated emails like password resets, order confirmations, and welcome messages.
Here’s a comparison of Mailchimp Marketing and Mailchimp Transactional, to help you decide which works best for you.
What it's for
Mailchimp Marketing is an all-in-one marketing platform that specializes in bulk email. Bulk email is sent to multiple recipients at once, usually for marketing purposes. You can also create certain types of transactional messages in Mailchimp Marketing, like order notifications.
Mailchimp Transactional is Mailchimp’s dedicated transactional email service. Mailchimp Transactional sends email(s) to one recipient, triggered by the recipient's action or inaction.
Mailchimp Marketing has several plan options with different sets of features to best fit your needs. Single-step automations, including a limited number of transactional emails, are available to all users.
Mailchimp Transactional is a paid add-on to a Standard or Premium monthly Marketing plan. You'll buy blocks of Mailchimp Transactional credits at a recurring monthly rate. To learn more about available Mailchimp Transactional plans, check out Mailchimp Transactional Email Pricing.
Audience vs. recipients
Mailchimp Transactional is a recipient-based system. Contact lists and other recipient information can't be stored in Mailchimp Transactional. Instead, this data is managed in your own database or application, and passed to Mailchimp Transactional in your API request or SMTP message when the transactional email is triggered.
Level of skill
Mailchimp Marketing offers beginner-friendly tools to help you design and send emails. You don’t need any prior knowledge of HTML or APIs. And when your email looks how you want, you can schedule or send it from the Mailchimp Marketing application.
Mailchimp Transactional requires HTML and API knowledge to design and send email. Although Mailchimp Transactional is accessed through your Mailchimp account, it doesn't offer the same design tools as Mailchimp. And when you're ready to send, you'll use the Transactional API or an SMTP integration.
Ready to begin sending transactional emails with Mailchimp? Here are some resources to help you get started.