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Leveraging Transactional and Automated Emails for Success

Do you know the difference between a transactional and automated email? Learn how to use these emails for greater conversion success.


Person holding two green apples deciding which one to buy

Defining automated & transactional emails

We begin this exploration by looking at the difference between these two emails. First off, you get transactional emails. Transactional emails are typically triggered by specific actions or events users take within a system or application. These emails are one-to-one communication and are sent in real-time or near real-time. They are mostly personalised and contain information directly related to the user's interaction with such systems. What about automated emails? Automated emails, on the other hand, are not necessarily triggered by user actions but are scheduled to be sent at specific times or intervals. Most commonly, these are a series of emails that kick off when you set certain starting conditions. These often include emails, delays and certain conditions. Sounds complex but any time you get a welcome email or series of emails enticing you to buy something, you're receiving automated emails. I want to avoid getting hung up on specific terminology. Many platforms and resources refer to automated emails as drip campaigns, journeys or even automation, but the premise remains: They're automated, not scheduled. Now that we're pretty familiar with the distinction between the two, let's look at a few opportunities you have in your email environment to get the most out of both types of emails.


Shot of a person's hand paying for something using a smart watch

Transactional emails: The lowdown 💸

If we had to sum up what all Transactional emails have in common it would be the fact that they contain information that is uniquely relevant to an individual recipient.

While transactional emails can help fulfil marketing needs (think recovering abandoned carts or re-activating inactive users) these emails are primarily functional and provide an anticipated response to an action or a request made by the recipient.

One thing many marketers also don't consider about marketing within transactional emails is email regulations. It is generally accepted practice that transactional emails are sent in the process of a purchase or transaction, so your traditional marketing consent or marketing email considerations (more on this here) aren't necessary.

That said, certain regulations such as the USA's CAN-SPAM Act prohibit senders from using transactional emails for marketing purposes.

A fine line to tread, because these emails generally garner fantastic open and engagement rates. Now that you know what these actually are, let's look at a few transactional email opportunities you can begin using.


5 Transactional emails you can use today


Depending on the type of business, website or content offering you run, here are 5 transactional email examples you can implement:

  1. Order Confirmations: After a customer places an order on your e-commerce site or store, send them an order confirmation email with detailed information about their purchase, reassuring them that their transaction is successful.

  2. Password Reset Emails: When a user requests to reset their password, promptly deliver a password reset email to create a secure way to facilitate a password reset.

  3. Purchase Receipts: Upon a successful transaction, send a purchase receipt to your customers, summarising the order details and thanking them for buying. These are great places to add future purchase discount codes or incentives (without aggressive marketing needed).

  4. Account Notifications: Keep subscribers informed about any changes in their account status or activities with these emails. This keeps subscribers in the know and allows them to take action if any is needed.

  5. Delivery updates: If you sell products, letting buyers know how far their packages are and providing updates on the delivery process creates a great experience and builds trust.

There are a ton more opportunities we'll explore in later editions, but begin with these, where applicable.


Infographic containing email automation statistics

Automated emails: The lowdown 🤖

Unlike transactional emails, automated emails are emails set up to run based on certain database criteria.

These often involve sequences of emails that relate to certain points of a subscriber's journey or engagement with your business.

You've likely received a plethora of these in various forms. I'd be willing to wager a bet that you've received a welcome email, birthday email or even an email saying you're no longer reading emails with an incentive to engage (if you follow a few smart email senders 😉)

These are predominantly marketing-oriented, which means you'd need the right consent in place to send these. Generally, marketing email consent or signing up for a product or newsletter covers this.

These are likely the most underutilized and potentially powerful emails you can send. One study showed that marketers rated email automation as one of the most effective email marketing strategies.

That's massive!

You probably already use a welcome email, so we're going to skip this below, but let's dive into 5 opportunities for email automation that almost any email sender can use.

5 Email Automations you can use today


Again, depending on the type of email strategy you have in place, here are 5 automated email examples you can implement:

  1. Birthday or anniversary emails: Everyone loves their birthday (well, I know I love the gifts, not the family drama 🙄). But seriously, these are awesome and show your subscribers you care about their special day or event with your emails (like a 1-year thanks for being an audience member).

  2. Product information sequences: No one reads the instruction manual, do they? Why not teach users something like a course of emails over a few days or a series of emails teaching buyers how to use their newly purchased products?

  3. Re-engagement emails: No one likes getting ghosted (we discussed this here). Why not set up automated emails to subscribers who stop engaging with your emails? Simple yet super effective for your email strategy.

  4. Pre and post-event emails: If you run an event, webinar, podcast or anything really, you can build hype, share information or just let folks know what they're in for through automated emails! Once the event is complete, you can automate the sharing of resources or notes. Really helpful emails.

  5. Product reminder emails: If you have an item or service that's out of stock or unavailable, potential buyers can sign up for reminders to let them know when back in stock or available. Use these to help fulfil the replenishment of your products too!

The possibilities are endless. We encourage you to simply set up a few automated emails and watch how easy scaling your email program becomes.


Leveraging Transactional and Automated Emails for Success

Now that you have some knowledge of leveraging transactional & automated emails for success, you'll be the coolest cat around the water cooler with this nugget of knowledge. You're welcome 😎


Before you go!


Learn the fastest ways to grow your email list today by using the tried and tested Email Database Growth Playbook. Click here or on the image caption below to get your FREE copy👇


Preview of the Ultimate Database Growth Playbook by Email Expert Africa

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