Transactional emails are one-to-one unique messages that your recipient is expecting to receive. They are usually triggered by the user and do not require an unsubscribe link. Examples include password resets, order confirmations, delivery updates, or requesting bank statements. These are all powerful touchpoints between you and your customers, who are expecting to not only receive the information based on actions they took, but to also receive the messages nearly instantly. Transactional email is responsible for providing the information your customers need and ask for.
To help paint the picture a bit more, we’ve visually teased out the differences across a brand’s three core messaging types: Transactional, Marketing, and Sales.
Transactional emails vs. marketing emails
So how are transactional emails different from bulk/marketing emails? Bulk, or marketing emails, are sent to an entire audience, and while (we hope) those messages are personalized and incorporate an audience member’s name, location, interests, preferences, etc., the emails aren’t truly unique. They’re what’s called “one-to-many” messages. Transactional, on the other hand, are “one-to-one” messages where each is entirely specific and unique to that individual. For instance, it will be their bank statement, new password, or order confirmation.
Historically, emphasis has always been placed on sales and marketing emails in shaping the customer journey, with transactional rarely (if ever) being a part of that conversation. The result? Branded messages from marketing or sales with proper voice, tone, and strategy behind timing and content, while transactional messages lack all this, creating a disjointed customer experience that can even call into question the legitimacy of the message.
Think back on the last time you received an unbranded password reset or purchase notification that felt entirely different from the brand you’re accustomed to. Was it unsettling? Was there a bit of egg on the brand’s face? Or how about the not-so-helpful “do not respond” instruction at the tail-end of that transactional email? Those certainly don’t make you feel like you’re having a conversation with a brand. The point here is this: when communicating with customers, you want to make every communication feel like it’s part of a larger and unified conversation.
Why are transactional emails important?
Let’s take a moment to examine why transactional emails are so important. While we’ve covered the content within transactional emails, what does it look like if the customer has to wait to receive it, or worse, doesn’t receive it all? Will it really be so bad? The short answer is a resounding YES!
Have you ever made a purchase and didn’t receive the order confirmation? You probably immediately rechecked your email or logged into your bank account to see if the purchase was reflected. Already, you’ve lost confidence in the brand and the relationship has been damaged. Let’s say the confirmation arrived 10 minutes after the purchase. Welp… The damage has already been done.
Customers expect and deserve to have peace of mind when interacting with a brand. This brings up the notion of speed and deliverability — the cornerstones of successful transactional emails. Time is of the essence and it’s imperative that messages go straight to a customer’s inbox, rather than routed to a SPAM folder or be delayed. Good transactional messaging is both dependable and immediate.
Past reliance on developers
One important aspect of transactional emails is that, to date, they are fueled by APIs and require developers to build and send them. Because of this, transactional messaging has traditionally sat outside sales and marketing functions. This disconnect is the leading cause of disjointed messages that lack the same brand, tone, voice, and design across both transactional and promotional emails.
This has been a major challenge for marketers and sales teams as they often operate separately from the developers that build and create transactional emails. Even more common is that the developers themselves own the transactional messaging in their entirety, with little to no collaboration with marketing or sales teams.
However, with ActiveCampaign’s acquisition of Postmark — and the integration of the two platforms that will ensue — marketers, sales teams, project managers, and anyone else that would benefit from the power of transactional messaging will be able to send these messages via an automation as a step within the visual automation builder. Those that are comfortable with code will still be able to code, while those without API or coding experience can build transactional messages into flows without needing a developer.
This is a huge step forward in the transactional market and will help brands build better and more consistent experiences for their customers. Oh, and remember those dreaded “do not respond emails”? With inbound processing, a coveted feature of Postmark’s transactional mail, brands can receive replies from customers, allowing them to turn transactional email into real customer conversations.
The way forward
Growing businesses don’t have the same resources as enterprises. And guess what? Current and future customers don’t care. Customers demand the same level of polish, service, and delightful experience when dealing with a small brand as they do with a big brand, which is why it’s imperative to provide small and mid-size businesses with enterprise-grade tools.
With ActiveCampaign harnessing the power of transactional emails for non-technical users and teams — and not requiring developer resources to do so — brands can create unified conversations across all digital messages, ensuring a consistent and reliable experience for each and every customer across the entire customer lifecycle.