A short guide to Transactional Email

When your message needs to get across

Transactional email is one of the few messages your customer awaits, making it crucial to organize this the best you can. This guide introduces you to transactional email, why it differs from email marketing, and why you should care about its delivery.

This guide tells you:

  1. What transactional email is
  2. Why excellent email delivery is necessary
  3. How transactional email differs from email marketing
  4. The scalability of transactional email
  5. Why transactional email deserves a reliable platform

The email that needs to be delivered

  • What are transactional emails?
  • Why should I invest in transactional emails?

Though there is no clear definition of 'transactional email', we all know them. Emails that are mostly triggered by its recipient. However, this is not always a direct trigger. Sure, an order confirmation is a result of an immediate trigger – the order itself -, but indirect triggers, like invoices or paychecks, are a result of the connection between a brand and the recipient. He or she doesn't have to ask for the email but receives it nevertheless.

Everyone encounters transactional emails. Frequently sent emails like order confirmations from a webshop, festival tickets, forgotten password-mails are sent by billions each month. Besides, invoices from accounting software, Track & Trace emails for delivery or notification emails are some examples of indirect transactional emails. Since we're sending most of these emails automatically, synonyms of transactional email are 'system emails' or 'service emails'.

The power of the email

Being triggered by the recipient, transactional email fundamentally differs from other messages sent by companies. For transactional email, open rates (OR) of 80% are pretty typical. This fact provides room for branding and results in extra attention for your (marketing) message. When done correctly, transactional email has massive potential for growth and improvement!

The importance of flawless email deliverability

  • What's the influence of email deliverability on your business?
  • How to prevent deliverability issues?
  • How to gain insight into your deliverability?

As mentioned before, transactional emails are a vital part of your communication. They're crucial for your customers to receive, but also have a significant impact on your business. Imagine flaws within your deliverability, resulting in 25% of your order confirmations to land in spam, or invoices not even arriving. These messages determine your customer's next step. When your message doesn't arrive in time or not at all, this next step will be complaining.

Overheated customer service

Transactional email isn't only crucial to your customer; it has an unmistakable impact on your business processes as well. A missing order results in negative customer experiences and probably a nasty online review as well. Customers that can't log in to your website or never receive their tickets, cause your support team a busy day on the phone. Digital invoices that land in spam cost you money, even more phone calls and plenty of time.

Though missing emails are not always caused by organizations themselves, following them up is still necessary. Whatever the cause, email deliverability should be a crucial topic to your organization as it is to your customers. Make sure you're safe. Is your email repeatedly sent to a non-existing email address? The chances are that your sending domains are neglected more and more, which means you're likely to end up on a blacklist. A blacklist makesstop sending emails to this address, which is nice but also makes it impossible to send emails to other recipients as well. Which… isn't that nice.

Domain reputation

To keep your email domains off blacklists, there are a few things you should know, and make sure they're correct. Take your SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records. With these records, Internet Service Providers (ISP) like Gmail, Outlook, and Hotmail decide where your email goes. Are you compliant? Delivery shouldn't be an issue. Is something within these records wrong or incomplete? A one-way ticket to a spam box it is.

Gain full control on your email status

Controlling your processes and email records is a vital part of great emailing. However, 'you're still lost if you 'can't tell what is happening to your emails as soon as 'you've sent them. Several statistics will help you get more grip on your emails. From the moment 'you've set your email flows, ready to go, there are a few possible scenarios. When your email gets triggered, the desired situation is your recipient opening the email, reading it and maybe even clicking through to your website.

If sadly enough, all of this 'doesn't happen, your email probably bounced. Due to terrible standardization, it is hard to get insight into what happened to your email. Even if it gets the status of delivered, there is still a chance it bounced. For obvious reasons, you want to know what happened to your email and what you need to do to prevent it in the future. Therefore, we set out two types of bounces.

Soft bounce

Soft bounces are like barking dogs. They never bite. Soft bounces are temporary or happen only once. The reasons your email got stuck or returned are (easily) fixable. Contents of your email could be marked as spam-ish, or the receiving mail server had a temporary black-out. Maybe your recipient's inbox reached its storage limits. Whatever the reason, your future emails are highly likely to be delivered again.

Hard bounce

With this kind of bounce, you should start to worry. Future emails are then unlikely ever to reach that specific inbox again. This event happens mostly to incorrect or non-existing addresses or even domains. This type of bounce typically gets the status of rejected. The rejected status prevents you from sending emails to this address or domain in the future since it reduces the chance of ending up on a blacklist.  

Marketing email versus transactional email

  • What are the vital differences?
  • Can both be combined?
  • What's with reliability?

The essential contrast

For many businesses, transactional and marketing email seems the same thing. Most of them are sending both of these messages as well. Sure, both are worth the attention and professional approach. However, there are some critical differences between the two:

1. Unsolicited communication

Since marketing email is often sent in bulk, they usually aim for high conversion rates. Most of the marketing email is unsolicited. Transactional email, on the other hand, is – as mentioned before – triggered by its recipient. It's a direct way of communicating with your customers. This results in tremendously higher open rates, click-through-rates, and other targets than marketing email will probably ever reach. It makes you communicate one-on-one with your customer, making every message equally important.

2. Automatic sending

Email marketing requires a considerable amount of labor. (Re)designing every aspect of an email, thorough A/B-testing and endless campaigns make marketing email a costly and most of all tiring job. We're not saying transactional email doesn't require attention, but when you've set up your email flows, you're ready to go.

Frequently checking your email status, of course, remains crucial. Automatically sending sure is efficient, but there are tons of reasons your email still might not be delivered the way you wanted to. One out of ten newsletters you've sent didn't arrive, and you're doing completely fine. However, if we replace 'newsletters' with 'invoices', alarm bells start ringing.

Enriching your transactional email with marketing

Even though the two types of email fundamentally differ, it doesn't mean both can't be combined. A transactional email can contain some marketing messages. As there is no golden rule for what marketing messages work – the proof of the pudding is in the eating – there is a rule you should take into account:


A proven quota for the number of marketing messages one transactional email can contain and still be successful is the 80/20 rule. The further you cross the 20% marketing-line, the likelier you are to be marked as too commercial.  

Credibility and reputation

Marketing tools are designed to send multiple emails to a large number of recipients. Reliability plays just a minor role. Because when the tool is temporarily unavailable, there is no problem trying again later, right? There is no such luxury for transactional email. Delay is not an option, as the consequences can be nasty. For your customers and yourself. At Flowmailer, we guarantee the highest reliability possible. To us, there is nothing more important than the quality of your deliverability. We support that with 24/7 availability of our platform and promise never to lose a message.

The scalability of transactional email

  • What types of transactional emails can I send?
  • Can I personalize transactional emails?
  • How does transactional email fit my business’s needs?

Size (of email) doesn’t matter

By now, you should be able to tell there are multiple types of transactional emails, like order confirmations, invoice emails, and forgotten password emails. However, within these types of emails, a variety of options exist. You can send an order confirmation email by merely saying “Your order #123456 has been received and is ready for shipment” and it will do the job.

If you’re going all-in on customer experience, though, transactional email offers tons of possibilities to enrich that email. You know your customer. You can tell him what blogs he should read next, or what product is complementary to the one he just bought. Following up on the delivery, you can ask your customer for a rating of the product itself and your company’s service. This way, you’re getting to know your customer, which provides room for improvement and innovation.

"Merci pour votre reservation."

Generally, sending emails happens in one specific language. That language often is the one spoken by the company or a deliberately chosen language to fit a broad audience better. The reason for using only one tongue is because of the effort one has to put in translating every template and rebuilding it to fit again.

Within the Flowmailer platform, it is relatively easy to switch between these languages and different templates. Our templates communicate with each other, providing you an easy way to make multiple templates in different languages.

One-person shows and marketing departments

The best part about the expandability of transactional email is that everyone can start sending now. Just started your webshop? You will need transactional emails to make sure your customers get what they want. Are you part of a multinational’s support team? You don’t want people to call you over a forgotten password. Transactional email happens everywhere, and you want to have a grip on it.

That’s why Flowmailer offers you the possibility to start small. All features included, but not the hassle of deliverability issues. With Flowmailer Go! you’ll be sending transactional emails in minutes!

Ready for the next step in transactional email? Flowmailer’s Pro Platform is ideal for your growing business. Exceed your customer’s expectation with top-notch delivery, powerful templates and features, and profit from 24/7 expert support.

Why you need a reliable and professional platform for transactional email

  • Optimizing and maintaining your reputation
  • Securing your data and your customers’ data
  • If your business grows, the platform grows with you
  • Make sure your emails hit the inbox!

Transactional emails are sent more often than most companies realise. For every marketing email that needs thorough A/B testing you will send ten transactional emails. Fully automatic, no human involved. In the end, no one really has a grip on what actually happens there. But transactional email has so much more to offer:

Email reputation

Now you’re about to get started with transactional email, why not use existing marketing software? What’s so wrong with using an all-in-one platform? Well, there’s a simple answer to that: They’re not built for transactional email. Email reputation, for example, is something these tools neglect most of the time.

However, this score shapes the way ISPs see your domain and its emails. Are you a legitimate sender or just a spammer? Because of this, email marketing tools are often used by spammers, resulting in corrupt domains or IP addresses. With Flowmailer’s high email reputation, you’re sure you're correctly sending emails.

Bounce handling in Flowmailer

When your emails stop arriving, you need to know. Flowmailer provides insight into bounces and the demanded follow-up. With this, you’re able to resend messages, making sure your customers get what they asked for.

Safest data storage possible

With GDPR’s arrival, many companies have got issues securing their data, your data included. At Flowmailer, we guarantee the safety of your data. Working with two redundant data centers not a single email gets lost, and we promise GDPR proof data storage.

Powerful templates

When you need to process more data than just customer details and their orders, you need templates that can handle this. Flowmailer uses advanced and responsive templates, including many helpful features. These templates communicate with each other, so you never have to rebuild a template.

Flowmailer’s flexibility

Flowmailer’s Email Delivery Platform easily integrates into your already existing systems. Are you sending separate transactional emails from an invoice system and password emails from your CRM? Connect them with Flowmailer, gain control on all your email flows, and make sure every email will hit the inbox from now on. Furthermore, we offer 24/7 support to our Pro customers, meaning you will never have to worry about transactional emails anymore.