The Differences Between (and Benefits of) Transactional and Event-Triggered Email

Kyle McCarthy Kyle McCarthy
Email Marketing

Email marketing has been an integral part of successful marketing strategies for over 20 years, and it continues to gain in popularity and effectiveness. In fact, 87% of email marketers leverage email to nurture their prospects and customers, and email marketing has been shown to generate a 3,800% return on investment.

Transactional and Event-Triggered Email

So whenever I hear marketers try to downplay the importance of email marketing or talk about how it’s a one-dimensional tactic, I tend to groan and roll my eyes. The truth is that email marketing is incredibly rich and diverse, allowing for myriad iterations and applications.

That’s why, in this blog, we’re going to talk about the differences between transactional and event-triggered email — as well as how both of these approaches can improve the customer experience, help you deliver on customer expectations, and establish trust to cement and accelerate customer relationships.

What Is Transactional Email?

The primary purpose of transactional emails is to bring awareness of critical brand and product occurrences to customers for a more positive and informed experience. By their very nature, transactional emails are non-promotional. They do, however, relay critical information to customers that allows them to gain more insight into and control of their customer journey. Transactional emails are rules-based, regulated, and monitored — and are not restricted by opt-out preferences or blocked by anti-spam filters.

Common examples of transactional emails include:

  • Purchase acknowledgment/receipt
  • Password update
  • Account change or update
  • Service delays
  • Suspicious or fraudulent activity reports

As we’re about to learn, all transactional emails are triggered by some sort of event, but not all event-triggered emails are transactional.

What Is Event-Triggered Email?

Similar to transactional emails, event-triggered emails (ETEs) are sent based on an action. The difference being that event-triggered emails are automatically sent based on some sort of user behavior, visit, or action — that is, an event triggered by an individual. Since these communications are based on user intent, they are inherently promotional in nature. 

Done correctly, event-triggered emails are part of an automated workflow, which means they are highly personalized and relevant based on the user’s interaction with a brand. And since they are both anticipated and relevant, these emails usually have much higher engagement rates than standard marketing emails.

Common examples of event-triggered emails include:

  • Welcome and onboarding emails
  • Re-engagement and cart abandonment emails
  • Download or subscription confirmation emails
  • Registration confirmation emails
  • Celebratory emails (promotions for birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones)

The Amazingly Effective Email Marketing Automation Guide

How Transactional and Event-Triggered Email Streamline and Improve the Customer Experience

Transactional and event-triggered emails produce several key benefits for consumers and marketers alike.

The Benefits of Transactional Emails

  • Improved Customer Loyalty: Your customers have come to expect certain communications from the brands they do business with. By delivering timely, relevant, and critical messages, you can prove your value to your customers and deliver on their expectations — increasing brand affinity and advocacy. 
  • Increased Convenience: Misplacing a password is a pain. Carrying around a physical receipt is a pain. Dealing with unexpected changes to an account is pain. Transactional emails are delivered on time and help add convenience and clarity to your customers’ lives.
  • Create Communication Pathways: Great customer marketing is based on consistent brand and messaging experiences. Transactional emails empower you to streamline these experiences for better communications and long-lasting customer connections — a key element of effective growth marketing. 

The Benefits of Event-Triggered Emails

  • Improved Engagement: Since automated trigger emails are sent based on user behaviors and activities, you can eliminate the guesswork and send content, messaging, and offers based on your prospects and customers’ actual needs. Relevancy improves engagement; engagement improves opportunities; and opportunities improve return on investment. 
  • Increased Personalization: Using marketing automation to create and execute event-triggered emails allows you to personalize the experience by inserting conditional logic based on user engagement, meaning you can provide alternate journeys to best suit consumer needs. In addition, you can add dynamic content that will adapt to each unique recipient. 
  • Scaleable Automation: The great and realized promise of marketing automation is that it allows businesses of all shapes and sizes to scale their marketing and sales efforts easily and effectively. By creating reusable event-triggered workflows, marketers can drastically increase their efficiency — allowing them to focus on more creative efforts.

Explore Act-On’s Re-Engineered Transactional and Event-Triggered Email Features

We recently launched significant enhancements to our transactional emailing functionality, transitioning to a comprehensive event-based email marketing feature set that includes intuitive workflow capabilities for promotional and non-promotional email triggers. Integrating this functionality allows our customers to centralize their email marketing efforts in one location, saving operational costs, minimizing confusion, and eliminating headaches.

With transactional event-triggered emailing from Act-On, your critical and time-sensitive messages are delivered on time, every time. Our growth marketing platform empowers you to optimize all of your email marketing initiatives (ensuring consistent brand, messaging, and engagement) while also strengthening your email reputation and deliverability. 

To learn more about all the ways you can use Act-On to deliver amazing outbound marketing campaigns and communications, please click here to schedule a 20-minute live demonstration

Not ready to speak with anyone just yet? Please click here to experience our interactive product tour.

The Amazingly Effective Email Marketing Automation Guide