Transactional Emails vs. Marketing Emails: What You Need To Know

TransactionalEmails vs. Marketing Emails

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A cohesive email marketing strategy consists of two types of emails: transactional and marketing. Both types serve different purposes but are each critical to enhancing the customer experience while developing brand authority, trust, and engagement.

In this article, we dive into each of these email strategies and go over the main differences.

What Are Transactional Emails?

Transactional emails are one-to-one messages that are sent to a customer and contain specific information, either related to a specific action they took or their account. The main purpose of these messages is to notify the recipient of information, such as an order shipment notification or a password reset request. 

What makes transactional emails different from marketing emails:

  • Transactional emails are sent in response to an action or request. 
  • Transactional messages are informational instead of promotional. 
  • Transactional emails may contain personal information, such as a statement or notification. These are 1:1 emails that are only meant for the recipient.

In addition to providing information, transactional emails build trust and reassurance. However, these messages also provide an opportunity for you to further develop a relationship with the customer as they generally have higher engagement, approximately 3-4 times higher open rates, compared to marketing emails compared to marketing emails which rely more on clever subject lines or exceptional content to be opened. 

Including additional content in a limited amount, such as product recommendations or a discount code, can help further drive sales. Just make sure your transactional emails don’t become too promotional so you can be within federal guidelines.

Common Examples of Transactional Emails

Types of transactional emails include:

  • Confirmation emails such as order confirmation 
  • Shipping notifications
  • Feedback request
  • Account creation
  • Purchase receipts
  • Email receipt
  • Password reset emails
  • Notification emails/ account notifications
  • Legal update
  • Double opt-in confirmation 
  • Invoice

What Are Marketing Emails?

Marketing emails are commercial messages meant to increase brand recognition and generate sales. These are promotional emails that require someone to subscribe to receiving them prior to them being able to be sent. 

Unlike transactional emails, marketing emails are sent to a larger audience. While the message is not as personal as a transactional email, list segmentation allows marketing emails to feel more tailored and relevant to the user’s experience.

Common Examples of Marketing Emails

  • Newsletters
  • New products
  • Special offers and sales
  • Event invitations
  • Low inventory
  • Holiday campaign
  • Welcome emails
  • Contests
  • Winback
  • Loyalty program 

Best Time To Send Marketing Emails

Timing is everything, especially when it comes to emails. While transactional emails are triggered by a customer’s action, marketing emails are sent whenever you decide is the right time to send them. Below are some best practices for sending out marketing emails. 

Early morning emails have high open rates

According to a study by Litmus, the most emails in the United States are opened in the morning, between 6am-10am. The research found that open rates peak at 10am and then slowly drop throughout the rest of the day. However, this does not mean you shouldn’t test out other times, as people check their email an average of ten times per day.

Focus on the middle of the week

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are generally when the most email campaigns are sent, with Tuesday and Thursday specifically being noted as the best days to send marketing emails

When deciding on a day to send your email campaign, consider if your email message is time sensitive. If you are promoting an event or a sale that happens on days outside of the middle of the week, be sure to send those messages at times that are most appropriate.

A/B test to see what works for your audience

The best way to know when to send emails is to A/B test them. Try out different times with your audience and see which time generates the best email KPIs including open rates and click through rates.

Be consistent when sending emails

Once you decide on a time to send your emails, stick to that time for all your email sending. Having a consistent schedule makes customers become used to receiving your emails and will even start to expect them. Having your customers expect your emails actually decreases unsubscribe rates.

Transactional Email vs. Marketing Email Comparison Table

ObjectiveTo notify, build trust and keep user informedPromote by building brand awareness, convert
Audience1:11: Many
Opt-InNot requiredRequired to send promotional content for CAN-SPAM compliance
TriggerTriggered by user actionTriggered by schedule set up by sender

Choosing The Right Messages For Your Email Marketing Strategy

Transactional emails and marketing emails are both important parts of the customer journey and your digital marketing strategy. For maximum effectiveness, both types of messages should be set up through automated workflows. For assistance with setting up automated workflows and your digital marketing strategy, request a free audit with Quantum Lifecycle Marketing.



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