The majority of promotional emails can be broken down into two different types: transactional emails and non-transactional emails. A non-transactional email is any nonpersonalized email that revolves around commercialization, which is sent to as many people as possible. For a non-digital analogue, think of the retail fliers you receive in your mailbox every week. The goal of non-transactional email is to spread generalized awareness of what is happening at a business, whether that’s a sale or special event or the introduction of new merchandise. In contrast, a transactional email is an individualized email that contains specific information and is often used to complete a transaction (hence its name).
However, just like any other email, the content of transactional emails varies based on the laws of any given country. For example, in the United States it is legal to use a communication to suggest related items to a customer, granted that the email’s primary purpose is of a transactional nature, as defined by the American CAN-SPAM legislature.
Under CASL in Canada, similarly appending related items is against the law. The suggesting of products to customers who have already purchased does not fall within the traditional definition of what a transactional communication should include. While transactional emails may be considered more innocuous than generalized mass emails due to their specific and personal nature, they still need to abide by a given country’s legislations and as such, you should ensure that you are legally allowed to send out content before doing so.
The uses of transactional emails Transactional Emails
Even if you can’t use them to directly market products to interested consumers, transactional emails can still play a vital role in your marketing efforts. Communicating with customers after the fact demonstrates that the relationship between business and customer does not end with a single purchase. You can strengthen your relationships by subtly influencing customers to take benign actions, such as following you on social media. Rather than boldly encouraging people to interact with your brand, this kind of zero-sell technique leaves it completely up to the consumer to engage, which will create a stronger relationship as they are actively seeking you out instead of vice-versa.
By now, you understand the mechanics and power of transactional emails. While it may seem that this type of communication has been around for a while, very few brands are actually leveraging them for their intended purpose. Transactional emails have been shoehorned into specific use cases and thus are not usually thought of as the powerful marketing tools that they can be. Think of it this way: any mass-market email that you send out, no matter what it revolves around, can easily become a personalized transactional email provided that a contact does something in order to trigger it and so long as it is sent to them specifically.