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Transactional vs Marketing Emails, Understanding Designations in HubSpot

Picture this: You're a marketer navigating the world of email communication in HubSpot. Your goal? To captivate your audience, nurture leads, and drive conversions. But wait, there's a catch! Not all emails are created equal. You have to designate your sends as either marketing or transactional. 


Not sure how to do that? No problem.


In this blog, we break down the key differences between these two types of emails, and provide examples of each. 


Let’s get started.


Image of a person learning the difference between transactional and marketing emails in Hubspot

Marketing Emails


This is any email that contains a commercial message or any content intended for a commercial purpose (i.e. nurturing leads through your funnel or driving a sale). 


A marketing email is generally sent on a one-to-many basis to groups of contacts that are prospects or current customers. (Hubspot) It’s important to recognize when you’re sending a marketing email because they must follow local and international laws. Like those outlined in the CAN-SPAM Act, for example. 


Examples of marketing emails:

  • Newsletters

  • Ebook promotions

  • Product updates

  • Event invitations


Transactional Emails 


These are one-to-one emails that aren’t asking the recipient to do anything. They’re non-promotional, often triggered automatically by something the recipient did. Usually they represent a transaction that has been completed, or was requested by the email recipient. 


A common example is in ecommerce: After a customer purchases an item, the business sends an email receipt that has information about the item, price, and shipment. That email is transactional. 


Another example: A prospect fills out a form on a corporate site requesting a copy of an ebook. The email that delivers it is considered transactional. 


Examples of transactional emails:

  • Delivery of a requested item

  • Confirmation of RSVP receipt

  • Password reset confirmation

  • Account activation notice

  • Order summary


Essentially: Marketing emails engage and nurture leads through the sales funnel, while transactional emails provide essential information to complete a specific user action or process. 


Understanding the distinction between these two types of emails is crucial for effective email marketing strategy implementation. By recognizing the differences and leveraging each type appropriately, you can enhance customer engagement, satisfaction, and ultimately, achieve your marketing goals more effectively. Oh, and stay out of trouble with the Federal Trade Commission. 


Do you have more specific questions? We’d be happy to answer them.



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