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What is a transactional email?

kokou adzo



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Transactional emails are a critical type of email every business owner should know about. They help communicate with customers and maintain a productive business relationship. This article will explain transactional emails and what they’re used for.

It is a type of email that businesses send to facilitate a commercial transaction. You send it to expedite a transaction the recipient has already initiated with you. Companies don’t need to obtain explicit consent to send this email because the recipient already approved it by initiating the transaction.

Transactional messages are often automated and triggered by specific customer actions. For example, if someone requests to change their password on your website, they receive an automated message with a link redirecting to the page to do that.

Transactional vs. marketing emails

Transactional messages differ from marketing emails by their purpose and characteristics. The former is sent to facilitate a transaction in progress, while the latter is sent to ultimately entice the recipient to initiate a new transaction. 

Transactional messages don’t require explicit consent, but marketing emails require such consent. Sending marketing emails without prior consent constitutes spam, which can have serious legal consequences.

Types of transactional emails

There are dozens of types of transactional messages. Let’s look at some common examples below.

Welcome message

You can send a welcome message to every person who creates an account on your website or signs up for your newsletter. This message formally thanks the person for joining you and lets them know what to expect. You can also use this opportunity to promote your brand to the recipient.

Order confirmation email

If you run an online store, you’ll need to send a confirmation message immediately after someone orders an item from you. This message confirms to the recipient that you’ve received their order, which will be delivered in due time.

The order confirmation message should include relevant information about the order: the list and number of items, price, any taxes, expected delivery date, etc. Order confirmation emails have one of the highest open rates because people always expect it after purchasing an item online.

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Source: Really Good Emails

Shipping notifications

We’ve discussed an order confirmation message acknowledging that the recipient purchased an item from you. It’s also important to send another notification when you ship out their item. The shipping notification gives recipients more confidence in your business, as they’re assured their item is on the way. It should include relevant shipping information and, if possible, a link for the customer to track their order.

Double opt-in

When someone signs up for your email newsletter, you want to be sure that it’s the email address’s owner who signed up and not a random person inputting the email address. You can do that by sending a verification link to the address; the recipient must click on it to confirm their subscription.

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Source: Really Good Emails

Double opt-in helps you avoid having dud, unresponsive addresses on your email list and helps boost your sending reputation.

Legal update email

If you run a website with user accounts, it’s necessary to notify users of any changes to your legal terms and conditions. For instance, an e-commerce company must notify customers if they change their refund policy. Legal updates keep customers up-to-date with your business and prevent disputes that may occur when a customer isn’t familiar with your revised terms.

Tips for sending transactional messages

The tips to adhere to when sending a transactional email include:

  • Send it as swiftly as possible after the recipient initiates the transaction.

  • The message should have a responsive, visually appealing design.

  • Include a sender name or brand that the recipient can easily recognize.

  • Use a separate address different from what you use to send marketing materials.

  • Keep the subject line brief and concise.

Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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