Transactional and Triggered Emails – A Comparison

Transactional and Triggered Emails

Last updated - April 17, 2023

Email marketing myths are aplenty. The border between transactional and triggered emails is one of the simplest to clarify. They’re distinct, despite common confusion. This article compares them and discusses optimal practices. 

Transactional Email

Firstly, not all one-to-one emails are transactional. Transactional emails offer clients crucial information to complete transactions or maintain accounts. Transactional emails are sent right after a purchase or registration. 

Therefore, only transactional emails that are so important should be filtered. Luckily, mailbox providers (MBPs) are receptive to transactional message filtering problems. Receiving spammed receipts or purchase confirmations usually has a solution. 

Transactional vs. Triggered Emails 

Transactional and Triggered Emails - A Comparison

Transactional and triggered emails are both automatically created after a specified action or occurrence. However, they vary somewhat. Namely: 

  • Transactional emails are one-way communications that confirm a transaction or account update. 
  • Triggered emails are sent within marketing campaigns. They establish or maintain customer conversations based on automated triggers. They may drive participation with tailored information, special offers, or other incentives. 
  • Transactional emails need no unsubscribe link. These emails do not need subscription, unlike commercial emails. Nonetheless, most marketers believe it should be done because it’s right.

Why should you Distinguish? 

Transactional and Triggered Emails - A Comparison

Misclassifying a high number of emails as marketing might damage your sender reputation. It will limit your ability to provide receipts to consumers. 

Wait—abandoned cart emails aren’t transactional? Nope. Transactional emails are not used to persuade recipients to buy. Knowing the difference and being honest about it is a better strategy to manage your sender reputation and email delivery. 

Transactional Email Components 

Transactional communications should not be ignored. It’s hard to stand out and provide value through email. Creating the ideal transactional email requires best practices, whether creatively restrictive or not. 


MBPs consider “no-reply” sender email addresses spammy. Keep the “From” value simple and pleasant, like a name rather than a brand. Lastly, use various addresses for each notification (such as billing [at] firm [dot] com) to help recipients manage their inboxes and identify senders. 


Even non-marketing emails need effective subject lines! In transactional emails, use subject lines to state the purpose. Keep it brief (60 characters) and free of clickbait terms. 


Transactional emails need personalization. Addressing the recipient by name and giving pertinent information like their order number or account information will help build a relationship and enhance email engagement. 


Transactional emails should be clear, succinct, and understandable. Before sending emails, check for spelling and grammatical problems and avoid technical jargon. Eliminate redundancy and simplify dates and numbers. 


Transactional emails are ideal for promoting your business. To match your marketing efforts, use your logo, colors, and tone in emails. Nonetheless, this email is designed to convey or confirm facts, thus design should be simple, simplified, and appropriate for the context (especially if customers can expect multiple of these emails based on their account activity). 


In transactional emails, CTAs should be goal-oriented. Should they confirm receipt or inspect their account? If you want the recipient to add an event to their calendar, log into their account, or do anything else with one click, put it at the top of the email. 


Transactional emails need timing. Sending a delivery confirmation email quickly after an order is made may establish consumer confidence, while sending a password reset email within a few minutes can improve the customer experience. 

Optimize Mobile 

Transactional emails should be optimized for mobile since many are opened on phones. It requires a responsive design and basic, easy-to-read email. 

Tip: Monitor transactional email performance. Utilize open and click-through rates to evaluate your emails and make modifications. A/B test your transactional emails to see what works best. To see whether the subject line or CTA performs better, for instance. 

Kinds of transactional emails 

Transactional and Triggered Emails - A Comparison

Now that you know what constitutes a good transactional email, send! What data is essential? Most popular categories are below. 

Email order confirmations 

Order confirmation emails notify customers that their orders have been received and are being processed. It usually lists the things ordered, the total cost, and the delivery date. 

Email shipping confirmations 

Shipping confirmation emails notify customers that their orders have shipped. It usually contains the shipment method, tracking number, and delivery date.

Payment verification emails

A consumer receives a payment confirmation email once their payment is completed. It may comprise a receipt, payment method, amount, and transaction date.

Registration emails 

Customer account creation emails confirm account creation and offer login details. The customer’s login and password are usually included. 

Password reset emails 

Customers may reset their account passwords using password reset emails. It usually contains a password reset link and information about the email address’s account. 

Refund/return emails 

A refund or return confirmation email informs a consumer that their request is being handled. It usually lists the things being returned, the refund amount, and return instructions. 

Emails confirming cancellation 

A cancellation confirmation email informs customers that their purchase, subscription, or service cancellation request has been received and is being handled. It usually describes the canceled item(s) or service, the refund or credit status, and any return instructions. 

Transactional or Triggered?

Retailers and marketers must differentiate transactional and triggered emails since they demand distinct strategies and methods. Transactional emails provide clients with clear and simple information. Triggered emails, on the other hand, demand greater creativity and may contain incentives or unique offers to motivate clients. 

Transactional emails should include customer support contact information, shipment tracking numbers, and expected delivery times. Triggered emails should be used to re-engage consumers who showed interest in your goods or services but didn’t buy. These emails are intended to win back consumers, enhance revenue, and build loyalty. Understanding the aim and timing of these communications helps you design successful tactics.

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