How to use transactional emails
Transactional emails are a type of automated email, but unlike many other automated emails, transactional emails are relevant only to the intended individual recipient and not a group of people. And, they’re based on the relationship the recipient has with the sender.
An example of a purely automated email would be a bulk message about a promotion to all your subscribers, followed by another email to everyone who didn’t open the first message. These could also be tied to activities in other channels, such as a sales event at a retail store. Basic automated emails are scheduled to send something a person subscribed to or registered for, like daily newsletters.
Transactional emails, on the other hand, are sometimes called “triggered emails,” because they’re set off by a need or behavior that’s more specific and timely. There are many situations in which transactional emails are expected.
- People expect confirmations when they make a purchase, update user account information, or sign up for something online.
- Activity in an app, such as a purchase or an update on user activity, requires immediate account notifications.
- Reminders—like shipping notifications, upcoming event dates, or new comments on a post someone is following—are always appreciated.
Even though transactional emails are very different from marketing emails that typically go to an audience of many people, you can include a limited number of marketing elements in these triggered communications.
Just remember that there are legal restrictions on how much marketing content you can put in a transactional email. As the FTC details, a transactional email confirms or facilitates a transaction the consumer has already agreed to, or gives information about an ongoing commercial relationship. The majority of the transactional (or relationship-based) information in the email needs to be at the beginning of the message to be legally considered a transactional email.
“If you book an airplane ticket, the confirmation email could have messaging about other related activities,” Chris explains. “This could include things like renting a car or buying travel insurance.”
Transactional emails often share 3 elements:
- They’re typically sent in response to an action or user request. Transactional emails are directly related to the way the recipient does business with you, and they’re often waiting for the information, like an account verification, password reset, an update that their food delivery has arrived, or a confirmation of a ticket purchase.
- They may have an element of security or privacy, and the information is only for the eyes of the intended recipient, such as a bank statement or a notification from their accountant.
- They are hyper-personalized to the recipient and their business with the sender, such as an alert that a checking account balance has slipped below a required level, or a notice that the size 8 high-tops the customer coveted are now in stock.