What are Transactional emails?

Transactional emails are one-to-one unique messages the recipient is expecting to receive. They are usually triggered by the user and do not require an unsubscribe link. Here are a few examples of transactional emails:

  • Password resets
  • Welcome emails
  • Cancellation emails
  • Invoices
  • Purchase receipts
  • Individual alert emails the user has opted-in to receiving
  • Account notifications
  • Payment failure notices (dunning emails)
  • Personal digest — if this is personalized for the individual based on some actions. For example, if your customers want a weekly summary of comments they’ve made or actions they performed.

These are a few of the common transactional email types. There are other messages that can qualify as transactional but it all depends on your business or application type. Instead of focusing on all the possible types of transactional email, there are a few clear indicators that a message is not transactional:

  • If your email has multiple recipients receiving the same content and it's not triggered by an event, then it's not transactional. This would be considered bulk (or marketing, or promotional) email. We explain the difference between the two in the blog post "Transactional vs. marketing emails".
  • If your email consists of an announcement or update about your product or website.
  • If your email is any form of promotional email marketing, then it’s not transactional.

Let us know if you’re still unsure whether your emails qualify as transactional. Send us a sample at support@postmarkapp.com and we’d be happy to take a look.

Note: Transactional Message Streams within a Postmark server should only be used to send transactional emails that match the requirements above. Bulk messaging should not be sent through Transactional Message Streams, and instead should be sent through a Broadcast Message Stream.

Last updated June 6th, 2022

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