What is a Transactional email

11 May What Is A Transactional Email, Act-ually?

When I search, “What is a transactional email?” on Google, I receive the following as my first result (after the paid ads that is):

transactional email definition

This is a good definition, but hearing the words, “user” and “automated” makes me feel like I’m living on the grid as a Tron character rather than learning about how to better understand transactional emails. So for the sake of pretending we aren’t in Tron (as much as I think that would be awesome), lets go the more human route and learn about these, “transactional emails.”


So what is a transactional email?


A transactional email can be best understood if you isolate the word, “action” sitting within.

Transactional emails aren’t always triggered upon actions (though most of the time they are), meaning they can also be triggered due to inaction. Yes, technically speaking transactional emails are triggered by “users,” but lets keep it real here and say that they’re triggered as a result of an action taken by a person for sake of making us all feel a little less robotic

Examples of common transactional emails…


If you’re reading this article then that means you have either a computer or smart-phone, which means at one point or another you’ve most likely received one of these nifty little “transactional” emails.

Transactional emails also go by the following terms, all of which (more or less) mean the same thing:

  • triggered
  • automatic
  • real-time
  • personalized

Here’s an example of a transactional email we here at Leadsius use to follow-up on a piece of content someone has downloaded. I set this email to come on behalf of myself and technically speaking it really does come from me:

Leadsius Transactional Email


I often get replies to this very email and then gladly pick up with a 1-to-1 conversation thereafter. The fact that I set a workflow in Leasius to accomplish this allows me to scale my follow-up efforts and ensure that I don’t exclude anyone; a win-win for all involved.

You can click here to test this workflow out for yourself; I’m always up for emails from complete strangers!

Some of the most common scenarios in which you may receive a transactional email are:

  • online purchase
  • password reset
  • newsletter subscription
  • credit card statement
  • travel reservation updates and reminders
  • receipts
  • thank you’s (for some action you took)
  • email address confirmation
  • …and a whole bunch more

As with anything you tell a piece of software to do for you, it’s up to you to determine how human it feels for the people interacting with it. These transactional emails are a great tool to add to your digital marketing toolset and the performance numbers behind them don’t lie.


According to the Q4 2014 Email Trends and Benchmarks Report, triggered emails continue to outperform with click rates 135.8% higher than business as usual (BAU) click rates.


In Q3 of 2014, 53% of all emails were opened on a mobile device, yet studies suggest that as high as 40% of marketers still do not have a mobile email strategy.


Now these stats are promising news if you’re jumping into the marketing automation realm, but the second set of stats clearly showcase the importance of making sure your emails are mobile responsive. Here at Leadsius any email you create using our new drag & drop editor is mobile responsive by default, so rest assured that your little works of art are rendering beautifully across devices of all different screen sizes.

Why use transactional emails?


We can read stats for days, but rather than simply quote some findings gathered by people we don’t know, lets really analyze the why factor.

Riddle me this: You wake up to two different emails sitting in your inbox.

One email you received because you recently took a test drive of a car you’ve had on your radar and they wanted to follow-up to see what your thoughts were on the experience. The other email is from a company you shopped with once, many many moons ago, telling you all about their awesome new product line.

Which one will be deemed worthy of your click-to-open?

Indeed, the transactional email is the one you’d open. Take this and factor in the stats we reviewed earlier for consideration and it’s clear to see why transactional email outperform promotional emails; they don’t interrupt, they’re relevant and they’re personal.

*Don’t ever send these emails from some noreply@yourbusiness email address. Use an actual email address that belongs to a human being within your company to boost your open rates. At the least, you can use an email address such as team@mycompany.com as the sender.


Some extra thoughts


Recently, researchers from Yahoo Labs and Cornell University analyzed 16 billion email messages sent by two million people over the course of several months.

What they were looking for here were patterns in behavior and they dove deep to analyze their findings by age, gender and the likes. I won’t go into length here, but a very interesting finding was that two minutes is the most common response time. What’s more, the researchers noted that this is similar to response times on Twitter!

If that’s the case, this makes the benefits of using transactional emails huge for small-to-medium businesses that want to keep up with the people engaging their brands in a timely fashion while still staying true to their flavor and keeping it human.

To see first-hand how you can begin utilizing transactional emails for your small-to-medium business, take a test drive of Leadsius by booking a demo today!

Click here to book a free demo of Leadsius!