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Elevate Your Marketing Game With Transactional Emails

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By Susan Baumbach |July 17, 2020
MarketingMarketing Automation

Managing email communication with your association’s members includes more than the marketing emails that are sent to advertise events or share information. A key part of email communication is transactional emails (also called Operational Emails), which many organizations leverage to provide members key information.

These emails update members with essential information relevant to their association membership. fusionSpan believes that all email communication, marketing or transactional, should offer a consistent experience across the board for every user.

What is a Transactional Email?

On the Federal Trade Commission website about CAN-SPAM, transactional content “facilitates an already agreed-upon transaction or updates a customer about an ongoing transaction.” In addition, transactional emails give “information about a change in terms of features or account balance information regarding a membership, subscription, account, loan or other ongoing commercial relationship.” Many non-profits and associations can leverage these emails either in their Salesforce platform, or housed in their internal marketing tool.

Transactional emails that I typically see organizations send are related to new membership subscriptions, membership renewals, receipts, invoices, sales orders, or confirmation of events/webinars. These emails are important for all associations because they have a higher delivery rate than marketing emails, which can be opted out from. Since members are more likely to receive and open these emails, having them designed intentionally is important.

Transactional Emails in Salesforce

Transactional Emails in Salesforce All associations need to think about types of transactional emails that are sent out and what tool is sending them. With my clients using Fonteva, transactional emails are already set up for membership reminders, receipts, invoices, event registrations, and other notifications of that nature. By default, these transactional emails are basic text emails that, for example, include the contact’s name, a simple sentence describing the reason for the email, and a link to the receipt. It makes sense that these default emails are not branded for each client because it allows each association to customize them as needed.

If your association has decided to keep transactional emails within Salesforce, the first step would be to modify the email content to provide additional information from the association. For example, the membership renewal reminder email may provide information about the benefits of membership. An event registration confirmation email could list additional information about that specific event by adding merge fields to the template.

Once the content of the email has been updated, fusionSpan recommends styling your email to one that mimics the header and footer used in your marketing emails. There are multiple technical ways for styling to be added to Salesforce email templates and fusionSpan helps clients determine the best method for your association’s use case (fill out this Contact Us form for more information)! Below is an example of a base Fonteva transactional receipt email.


The sample below is a basic template that fusionSpan has created that can be customized based on your associations logo and brand colors. Additional customization can be used to create a button instead of providing the long URL link. Please reach out to our Digital Strategy team to learn more.


Transactional Emails in a Marketing Tool

Another option for managing transactional emails is through your marketing tool, which typically removes the requirement of having an unsubscribe option in the footer of your email.

When setting these up in your marketing platform, you must evaluate your use case and decide:

  • Firstly, can all the information required for the email (date, link, and product information) be brought over to the marketing tool? Depending on the tool, the sync of information is different, so you will need to figure out how to bring the transactional information into the marketing system.
  • Secondly, can the marketing system trigger transactional emails automatically? In Pardot, for example, a transactional email can only be sent as a one-time list email, and you are not able to send automated transactional emails through an engagement program. As a result, Pardot may work for one-time membership renewal reminders, but would likely not work for receipts that are on-demand at the time of purchase.

Journey Builder is a Salesforce Marketing Cloud tool used to create automated campaigns. It uses the contact’s behavior to tailor either transactional or marketing content.

Marketing Cloud is coming out with a release shortly that will allow transactional emails in Journey Builder, which is an exciting development!

Leverage Transactional Emails Today!

Overall, no matter where your organization decides to send transactional emails from, fusionSpan believes that all emails should have styles that align with one another. This helps the recipients quickly understand which organization is contacting them and they receive a unified voice and experience.

Thinking through which system is best suited for transactional emails is a consultative process during fusionSpan implementations. By elevating transactional emails, your association can see great returns quickly!

Susan Baumbach
Elevate Your Marketing Game With Transactional Emails

Susan has five years of experience working in associations and nonprofits, gaining critical experience in data analysis and how data is managed in Salesforce. As a certified Pardot Consultant and Marketing Cloud Email Specialist, she guides the implementation process from discovery through go-live and support. She is committed to creating the best marketing automation solution possible for users and stakeholders alike.

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