What is the difference between Marketing emails, Transactional emails & Automation?

In Brevo, you will find 2 types of emails you can send:

At first, it can be hard to distinguish their purpose, we'll start by defining each type of email and explaining their differences.

2 types of emails: Marketing & Transactional

The key difference is that transactional emails are sent on a one-to-one basis and marketing emails are sent on a one-to-many basis.

Marketing Emails


Marketing emails are bulk emails sent from one sender (you) to multiple recipients (prospects or customers) for marketing purposes.

Examples of marketing email include:

  • Promotional and sales email campaigns
  • Newsletters

Transactional emails


Transactional Emails are automatically sent from one sender (you) to one recipient (a prospect or customer) for transactional purposes.

Most of the time, they are related to account activity or a commercial transaction. Transactional emails are also called Triggered emails because they are also triggered by an event/action.

They're basically the notifications you receive as a customer when you've created an account, or after purchasing an item online.

If you have an e-commerce website, you cannot not have Transactional emails, they're essential to the operation of your website. 

Examples of Transactional email include:

  • Order Confirmations
  • Password reset
  • Email receipts

What about Automation?

Automation is part of our Transactional platform (also called Brevo SMTP).

Our Automation tool allows you to create workflows to send an email or series of emails that are triggered by an event or action from your contacts. You will be able to create and customize your own workflows.

Our Automation tool allows you to automatically send transactional emails (1-to-1) for marketing purposes.

Examples of Automation include:

How to use them


What's the difference between Automation and Transactional tools?

It still can be confusing to see the difference between Automation and Transactional tools. Automation is a tool that is part of our Transactional platform (also called Brevo SMTP).

What really differentiate them is how they are triggered and what is their purpose:

➡️  Transactional emails have more of an informative purpose. They are triggered by an only action of your contact on your website (email for an account creation, order confirmation emails, recovery password emails). These emails are pretty much mandatory if you have an e-commerce website.

➡️  Automation has a marketing purpose. It has been built to help you create some custom worflows based on the behaviour of your contacts (series of welcome messages, birthday email). These emails are a good addition to your marketing strategy to increase revenue or build a bigger audience.

Then why Automation emails are sent via the Transactional platform?

That's a good question! It's true that Automation is sometimes called Marketing Automation, but it's more to describe the purpose of the emails than the way they are sent. When you create automated workflows in Automation, the emails have a marketing purpose: send a coupon to a client, have them purchase what they left in their cart, etc.

However, as both Automation and Transactional emails are sent automatically, we use our Transactional platform to send them. 

⏩ What's next?

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