What is a Transactional Email? Tell Me Please!

November 30, 2022

Basically, it is an email based on a transaction such as a password reset, order confirmation emails, or account information. As such, transactional emails have extremely high open rates as the subscriber expects the email and is looking for it. It is a critical point in your customer’s journey.

Since it was requested, you do not have to have an unsubscribe link in the email, however if you wished it would not hurt to show the subscriber some benefit of doubt and ability to manage their communication with you.

Types of transactional emails (and examples):

  • Order confirmation emails
  • Shipping notification emails
  • Delivery confirmation emails
  • Double opt-in emails
  • Password reset emails
  • Legal update email
  • Invoice emails

Transactional emails are messages that businesses need to send in order to facilitate a transaction or provide a product or service, as requested by the customer.

Read More about our Transactional SMTP and API email solutions.

Let’s separate these out into financial and important communication buckets. We won’t go into details too much here as the segment titles speak for themselves.

Financial Transactional Emails

Cart abandonment emails
Notices come to the account email to remind them of items that are in the cart but not checked out. This is to convert carts to sales and is very effective at reminding and converting as many leave the carts full but are not able or willing at the time to check out.

Order confirmation emails
A peace of mind and for records of purchases.

Shipping notification emails
A peace of mind and for records of purchases being shipped and for tracking.

Delivery confirmation emails
Did those purchases arrive in shipping/receiving or on the front porch at home? If so and you don’t see them this is the customer recourse to find out if they go missing after delivery.

Invoice emails
This could be the invoice email, an attached PDF invoice or a notice to pick up the invoice on your website for download.

Important Communication Emails

Transactional Email Example
One example of a transactional email is when sites will send a secondary authentication to you in an email.

Double opt-in emails
A double opt-in email is an additional step to the email subscription opt-in process, requiring a user to verify their email address and confirm interest.
This also could be a case where a code is sent when the user logs into a site and a code is then required to proceed. This is becoming more and more important with security – especially in the case of where personal and financial information is being accessed.

Password reset emails
We have all had this one. A link for you to reset your password when you have too many to remember or don’t have a digital vault to help you.

Legal update email
Required where there is an update to contracts, website or other services and changes to privacy polices. One of the most important emails for business to do due diligence to.

Customer feedback emails
This could be about a recent dentist appointment, online service or other post experience situation where they are automated to garner information as to how to improve or monitor customer engagement.

Some final thoughts from Shopify
Shopify has recently published some interesting data on transactional email metrics.

“Transactional emails that are automatically sent to customers when they take a certain action are crucial to building customer relationships and maintaining your brand image at scale. Ninety-eight percent of consumers receive transactional messages every day and spend between 15 to 20 seconds reading them. For 64%, they are the most important type of email.

With incredibly high open rates hovering between 40% and 50%, and click-through rates upward of 10%, transactional emails provide the perfect opportunity to make more sales and improve customer happiness.“


Transactional emails may be a fancy term, but yes, they all have to do with a transaction, be they spurred from a financial or communication origin. These are important emails that are not sales or marketing related and as such do not require an unsubscribe in the legal sense, though if your market is international, you should take care to check that item in your regions outside of Canada, United States, UK, and the EU.

Until next time, keep those emails rolling!

– Jim

Jim Gibbs

Jim Gibbs, Senior Account Executive at Critical Impact

Jim Gibbs is Critical Impact’s Growth Channel team lead and has been selling and closing for a long time. Jim is known to be able to sell bottled water to fish.