Transactional vs Marketing Emails: What’s the Difference?

Transactional vs Marketing Emails

Email is one of the most popular ways for businesses to interact with their customers and drive sales. The two main types of emails that companies send are transactional and marketing emails. People tend to mix up the two, however they differ in many aspects. 

Driving customer interactions via email can be challenging, and you must understand the difference between marketing and transactional messages if you want to do it well. In a nutshell, the former is meant to entice the recipient to take a suggested action, while the latter contains details about an action that the user has already taken.

What Is a Transactional Email?

A transactional email is a type of message that facilitates a commercial transaction between the recipient and the sender. It contains information about a transaction the user has already initiated with the sender. The information in this type of email is an automated response to a specific action and is unique to the person that receives it.

Examples of this type of message include order notifications, password reset emails, abandoned cart reminders, account creation notifications, and the like. You can send an automated message to a person who orders an item from your online store to confirm that they’ve initiated a transaction with you, or send reminders to customers to complete the purchase for items they’ve abandoned in their online shopping cart. 

What Is a Marketing Email?

This is a type of email you send to entice the recipient to initiate a commercial transaction with you. It’s usually sent to a group of prospects with the aim of converting some of them into customers. The senders use eye-catching graphics and creative messaging to appeal to the receiver and draw their attention. They also use freebies such as discount codes to compel the user to take a suggested action. 

Examples of this type of email include an invitation to attend an event, an alert about new products available in an online store, a holiday sales promo, etc. 

Differences between Transactional and Marketing Emails

The main differences between the two types of emails are outlined below.

  • You need explicit consent to send a marketing email, but not for a transactional one. This is because, for the latter, the recipient has already initiated a commercial transaction with you and is awaiting your response, while the former is a solicitation to initiate a transaction, which the person may not want to receive. Sending marketing campaigns without consent constitutes spam, which the sender will be punished for.
  • Transactional emails are automated and unique messages triggered by a user’s specific action, while marketing emails are carefully crafted messages sent to a group of subscribers. 
  • As a rule, transactional emails are short and precise, while the other can be long and employ creative messaging to amuse the recipient.
  • Transactional emails are time-sensitive, often sent immediately after the recipient initiates a transaction, while marketing emails can come at random moments.


Now that you know the difference between transactional and marketing messages, it should be easy to determine when to use one or the other. The former is critical to ensure your customers keep track of commercial activities. The latter is necessary to make people aware of the commercial services you provide and help convert some of them into customers. 

You can use UniOne to send both marketing and transactional emails for your business, and interact with customers as swiftly as possible for an affordable price. 


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