Where Transactional Email and Marketing Email Collide


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MergeToday, there are two main types of email—transactional and marketing email (for definitions on both, check out our recent posts on a) transactional email b) marketing email). Each has their unique place in the email ecosphere that can meet key goals set by your organization.

Marketing email is primarily focused on customer acquisition and retention, while transactional email is focused on facilitating ongoing engagement with existing customers. However, both can work in tandem to create a powerful email program that will help you build solid relationships with your users. In order to determine how to best design a program that takes optimal advantage of both email types, it’s important to look at their use cases to understand their significance and design goals.

Given its viability, our study revealed that today:

  • 79% of web applications rank transactional email as an important tool to acquire new customers.
  • 90% rely on it for their customer retention efforts
  • 71.5% believe it’s important to their overall marketing strategy.

This represents a marked difference in how senders are thinking about email as an integrated program, no matter the use case.

Including Relevant Marketing Messaging in Your Transactional Email

The high engagement level of transactional email presents a prime opportunity for smart senders to incorporate relevant marketing messages into their transactional messages to deepen the relationship with their customers. These messages are not just opened at a higher rate, but also opened several times, as is often the case with shipping notifications. Therefore, tailoring content to a recent transaction can have a positive effect in driving the customer to take additional actions either now or in the near future.

However, despite your ability to add marketing messages to transactional mail, you must remain focused
 on the primary purpose of the email. The general rule of thumb is that marketing messages take up no more than one-third of the transactional email. So, if you are sending a shipping notification, make sure you focus on the delivery details. If you are sending an order confirmation or confirming a transaction, keep the main information above the fold and make sure it dominates the email message. Not doing so will confuse the recipient and transform the email into a commercial email that is subject to the more stringent rules outlined in the CAN-SPAM Act.

To ensure your transactional emails follow the right guidelines, involve your marketing department to develop a winning template that is highly personalized and appropriately branded. And refer to our free guide: Transactional and Marketing Email: How to Build a Powerful Integrated Email Program for more tips, tricks, and relevant email examples.


Carly Brantz is a veteran in the email deliverability space working to make email simple and easy for developers by regularly writing whitepapers, research briefs and blog posts about email, technology and industry trends.

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