What is a transactional email?

Transactional emails are a crucial part of any online business or website, as they play an important role in communicating with users and maintaining a positive user experienceThese emails are triggered by the recipient and contain information they want or need.

What is a transactional email?

A transactional email is an automated email message that is triggered by a specific action or event that a user takes on a website or application. These emails are usually sent in real-time to provide users with important information about their account or transaction, such as a purchase confirmation, password reset link, or account activation email.

Transactional emails are designed to be straightforward, informational, and highly targeted, making them an indispensable tool for any business looking to build and maintain strong relationships with its users. They are also generally exempt from anti-spam laws, as they are considered necessary for the user's experience and not promotional in nature.

Here are some examples of transactional emails:

  • Account creation and activation emails.
  • Welcome and onboarding messages.
  • User invitations and shares.
  • Security and account alerts.
  • Purchase receipts and shipping notifications.
  • Password resets and two-factor authentication.
  • Legal notices.

What is included in transactional emails?

The content of transactional emails typically includes information related to the specific action or event that triggered the email, such as:

🛍️ Order details

Transactional emails related to e-commerce purchases typically include information about the order, such as the items purchased, quantity, price, and shipping information.

📄 Account information

Transactional emails related to account registration or password reset typically include information about the user's account, such as the username, password, and login instructions.

🚀 Shipping information

Transactional emails related to shipping typically include information about the shipment, such as the tracking number, delivery date, and carrier information.

💳 Payment information

Transactional emails related to payment typically include information about the payment, such as the amount paid, payment method, and billing information.

Confirmation and receipts

Transactional emails usually include a confirmation that the action has been successfully completed and a receipt, invoice, or order summary.

🖱️ Calls-to-action

Transactional emails can also include a call-to-action, such as upsell suggestions, product recommendations, or feedback requests.

What is the difference between a marketing email and a transactional email?

Unlike marketing emails, typically used to promote products or services to a large audience, transactional emails are personalized and targeted to individual users based on their specific actions or needs.

  Marketing email Transactional email
Function Promote and inform Support business operations by communicating to the customer at each step
Sending process Pre-planned and sent at a time of your choosing Triggered by a transaction or a specific action
Recipients Sent to multiple recipients at once Sent to one specific recipient
Consent requirements Contacts have to give explicit consent to receive marketing emails Contacts do not have to give explicit consent to receive transactional emails
Unsubscribe link in the content of the email An unsubscribe link in the content of the email is mandatory and added by default by Brevo

An unsubscribe link in the content of the email is not mandatory

List-unsubscribe or list-help header  A list-unsubscribe header is mandatory and added by default by Brevo

A list-unsubscribe header is mandatory and added by default by Brevo

💡 Good to know
In some cases, you can replace the list-unsubscribe header by a list-help header.
Emailing software Email marketing software Email API or CMS integration (via SMTP relay, plugin, or webhook)

Do transactional emails require an unsubscribe link?

You do not need to add an unsubscribe link in the content of transactional emails, as they are related to specific business transactions and are triggered by the recipient. However, Brevo includes a mandatory list-unsubcribe header in all emails, which may result in an Unsubscribe link being displayed by some email providers.

➡️ To learn more, check our dedicated article FAQs - About list-unsubscribe and list-help headers in emails.

⏩ What's next?

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