There is no disputing the fact that email communication has come to stay. According to the most recent statistics from Statista, it is evident that the volume of emails sent and received per day will go on to increase from 269 billion as of 2017 to 333 billion by 2022. This is great news for every business owner because we can continue to use marketing emails to lure and attract our target customers and prospects.

However, there exists another equally important form of an email that a number of people aren’t optimizing, and that’s a transactional email.

In this blog post, we shall explain the key difference between a marketing email and a transactional email, as well as how both types of email can be used throughout your funnel to help grow your business.

What Are Marketing Emails?

Marketing emails are also known as commercial emails due to the fact that they contain promotional and marketing content. Their purpose is to get a prospect to act; for example, download information, make a purchase, etc. They’re strategically delivered at a particular pre-configured time to a list of customers or prospects who have signed up to receive additional information.

What Are Transactional Emails?

Transactional emails, on the other hand, contain information that has been uniquely tailored according to each recipient. In most cases, they are often triggered by a user action on an app or a website, and they prompt prospects to finish a process or transaction, such as password resets. However, transactional emails can as well be purely informational; as in monthly statements. Their goal is to extend the relationship with an existing customer.

The Key Difference Between Transactional Emails and Marketing Emails

The most outstanding difference is that transactional emails are distributed based on a one-to-one format and, consequently, they have proven to deliver higher open rates compared to marketing emails, which are distributed on a one-to-many basis.

Both marketing and transactional emails make use of automation in delivering emails based on a pre-established event or trigger.

Time-based automation allows you to send emails according to a pre-programmed time and date. For instance, you could send an automated renewal email to your recipients to remind them that their subscription is expiring soon.

There is also behavior-based automation which is much smarter and enables the sender to personalize or customize the content and timing of emails to be delivered. For instance, if you run an e-commerce site, you can pre-program an automated abandoned shopping cart email whenever a visitor adds a product to their cart but exits without completing the purchase.

Examples of Automated Marketing and Transactional Emails

Let’s see some examples of marketing and transactional emails.

  • Marketing email examples

    The main aim of marketing emails is to boost brand awareness, enhance user engagement, drive special offers, educate, and convert prospects into customers.

    Some common examples of marketing emails are newsletters, retention emails, promotional emails with special offers, and nurture emails (cross-sell and upsell).

  • Transactional email examples

    The main goal of transactional emails is to make sure existing customers are informed. Some common examples of transactional emails are welcome emails, social media updates, password resets, account notifications, online shipping confirmations, receipts, and invoices.

Marketing Email Service Providers

The following are some service providers that focus strictly on sending only marketing emails:

  • ConvertKit

    ConvertKit offers marketing emails targeted at content creators and bloggers. Their platform provides a straightforward method of delivering lead magnets, creating forms and landing pages, setting up visual automation, and utilizing more than 80 integrations with several tools.

  • Mailerlite

    This is another widely-used option to send marketing emails. Although they don’t offer the simple method of delivering lead magnets, they, however, provide creation of form/landing page, visual automation, and offer a free-lifetime plan for up to 1,000 subscribers.

Transactional email service providers

  • Postmark

    This is a transactional email service provider for web applications such as FreeAgent, 1Password, and Adana whose focus is to deliver emails on time, all the time.

  • Mandrill by MailChimp

    This is a transactional email API for Mailchimp users. It is an ideal, reliable, and powerful solution for sending data-driven emails, including personalized one-to-one and targeted e-commerce messages.

Marketing and Transactional Email Service Providers

There are some providers that provide both marketing and transactional email services:

  • Sendinblue

    This is a well-known email service provider that offers transactional emails, as well as marketing emails – together in one platform. It features vast email automation functionality.

  • SendGrid

    This email service provider offers both marketing and transactional emails for famous brands some of which include Yelp, Airbnb, and Spotify.

  • Mailgun

    Mailgun provides both marketing and transactional email solutions. Software developers at Reddit, Slack, and Shopify make use of their transactional API.

In conclusion

Marketing emails are the more traditional option which has been in use for a long time now. They’re things we’re familiar when, whether as a sender or a recipient. As it evolves, email service providers are providing easier ways of sending targeted emails to segments or groups of contacts according to their behaviors. Although the content remains far from unique.

On the other hand, transactional emails which are personalized one-to-one combinations appear to be useful only to the recipient, usually sent via marketing automation.

Hence, it is necessary that you ensure that you’re sending the right email type at the right time. The burning question you should ask yourself is: do I want to reassure my loyal existing customers, or I want to drive prospects further down the funnel?