What is a transactional email? Why should my business use them?

You might find ‘triggered email’ an easier way to remember what a transactional email is all about. This is because an automated email is sent to someone when they have interacted with your company or something has happened, or they have shown a particular preference for a service. Now they have shown their hand you can then follow up by sending a transactional email.

Mert Talay

Mert Talay


When a user’s actions occur that’s a golden opportunity to capitalise

This means acting on the signals customers are sending. The great thing about these actions is that they are active. People are not passively receiving some marketing from your business; they are acting or themselves. For example, I was looking at some gardening supplies on eBay. I did not buy so they sent me an email asking if my search was still relevant to my needs. This might prompt me to look again or see an offer or follow through with a purchase as I had been distracted the first time, I visited the seller.

Transactional emails are not all about e-commerce sites

Transactional emails can be triggered by a download of a document or anything else a user might do on your website. Don’t think people will be upset if you send a transactional email; these days they almost anticipate their arrival and in some cases are actually waiting for them. However, and there is a caveat here. This is not bulk messaging and should not be treated as such. These messages need to be personalised. After all they will be sent out individually as a user interacts with your website.

Georgia de Lotz

Georgia de Lotz

What can you use trigger emails for?

It goes without saying but we will have all received an email thanking us for our purchase. These fit into the receipts and confirmations category. A user sets up a transaction to buy the gardening equipment and you reply with a transactional email. You might be just expressing thanks or maybe adding login details, transactional keys, downloads, vouchers or many other options. This is the next stage in your relationship with the customer or interested party. Do not mess up the relationship now. Think about it this way, your web content and design has provided a great experienced that has convinced people you are worth buying from. This is the first opportunity to demonstrate that you follow through. Therefore, a transactional email might be considered boring but actually see it as an opportunity to surprise, please, delight or satisfy someone. Even a sign up or catalogue request is a triumph so do not waste the opportunity.

Your window or action with a transactional email is small

A transactional email should be sent immediately after a transaction has occurred. People want to know that something has happened. I sent money for a manuscript reading service and didn’t hear back immediately. I must confess I had a tiny panic. What the supplier hadn’t made explicit is they waited or the funds to clear before thanking me for my purchase. This is not a great way to instil confidence.

If you receive an explicit request or a password update, verification etc. deal with that immediately! Think about your own experiences and think about how you would feel if you were on the receiving in of poor communication.

The way you treat customers through transactional emails will affect relationships

By emailing your clients, potential clients or users you are developing a relationship that might well go no or years.  For example, I have been an amazon customer for years, when it was still a bit niche and they used to send out loyalty discounts! Now I am just one of millions and have to simply accept the level of service I personally have received is extremely good. However, we are not all Amazonian, so customer loyalty is very important and maybe it’s worth setting up loyalty schemes or milestones or even an element of gamification if it’s appropriate. Certainly, an onboarding or welcome email is your opportunity to show them what a great experience they are going to have with your company.

As eBay demonstrated, they know what I have and have not been doing.

You can rescue an abandoned cart by sending a transactional email. Yes, some consumers have become savvy about discount codes and will wait to receive them but if that’s part of your approach and is factored in cost wise let them feel good about their win!

Photo Debby Hudson

Photo Debby Hudson

There are other types of transactional emails

For example: explicit request, reactivation, account-related alerts, event driven notifications, referrals and feedback requests. So, rethink your transactional email templates and see whether they might need an overhaul and an improvement. Remember the customer is at the heart of everything you do.

If you are looking for a writer to update and develop your transactional email templates contact us here.

Photo Matt Jones

Photo Matt Jones

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