Tired of your system emails getting caught in the spam folder or never arriving at all?
Examples of transactional emails:
- New user welcome email
- Login/password reset email
- Order confirmation
- Comment or forum replies
- Or any WordPress system notification, really
If you’ve ever had problems with them getting delivered (and even if you don’t), you probably need a transactional email service!
The problem with emails
Many people with WordPress sites don’t set up any email plugins or use a transactional email service. They simply use the built-in phpmailer function with WordPress. Others may even use an email/SMTP plugin and connect their regular email account to it.
And it works!
BUT…not all the time. Or maybe it works perfectly for 2-3 years and then stops getting through.
And the worst part of all is not when it fails. It’s that it fails silently…it doesn’t tell you that it failed. Your emails just don’t arrive. No error messages or nothing. Just you, your coworkers, and clients all playing “where’s the email?”. Where did it go? Did it send? Did it get rejected? Nobody knows!
- But it worked for years!
- But it sends to my other account just fine!
- But I didn’t change anything!
Yeaup, all valid responses. The problem is this. Email servers are constantly evolving their security practices. And they keep making it that much harder to get emails through. Their spam filter tags all kinds of things. Anything with images, links, promotional messages, or coming from IP with bad reputation or no reputation.
Sure, maybe your emails got through just fine for years. But then one week, you have 2 people mark your emails as spam (instead of properly clicking “unsubscribe”) and that’s enough for the server to blacklist your domain, IP, or both. Sometimes the blacklist is only temporary, and they let you through after a short period. Other times, it’s permanent and you can’t get through unless you file an appeal through their email abuse department.
So what are transactional emails?
Transactional emails are defined as typically (automated) system emails between business and clients. Usually relating to a service or product and triggered by some by some event or use interaction. Or another way to look at it…transactional emails are those automated emails, UNLIKE marketing or promotional emails or personal emails.
And what are transactional email services?
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of them before:
- Mandrill (by Mailchimp)
They’re an email service that specialize in sending transactional emails. Mainly…important automated system that MUST reach users. Like when they make an order. Or when they do a password reset.
can’t (shouldn’t) you use your regular email service for sending transactional emails?
- REASON #1 – transactional emails often trigger spam filters and get caught in spam. Which might also cause all your regular personal/marketing emails to go into the spambox as well.
- REASON #2 (less important) – reducing server load or storage used by system emails.
Why shouldn’t use use your MARKETING email service (Mailchimp) for sending transactional emails?
- REASON #1 – these services aren’t built for that. The service usually sends through their websites. They’re focused more on helping you build nice templates and forms, segmenting your audiences. Fancy reports to see how many people opened/clicked your emails. Transactional email services typically have an API or SMTP settings for you to integrate through your websites and applications. Also they focus more on how many emails were sent, and whether or not they went through.
- REASON #2 – marketing emails are usually sent by list. Whereas transactional emails are sent by the system. So you really just can’t.
- REASON #3 – just for the basis of you separating your emails…personal, marketing, transactional. For not only organizational but also functional needs.
How to use a transactional email service
Go sign up for one! I like Mailgun. It’s free up to a certain amount (most people won’t surpass it). And even if you do, it probably means you’re making more than enough money to pay for it!
Usual setup process for transactional emails:
- Sign up for free account at Mailgun (or any other provider you like)
- Add your domain to your account (you may have more than one)
- Add the required records to your DNS settings in your webhosting settings, or DNS service (like Cloudflare). You’ll also have to click [VERIFY] to make sure they work; can take a couple hours for DNS records to update.
- Install email plugin on your WordPress site like WP Mail SMTP and set it up to integrate with your transactional email service provider.
Thanks for your article, it mean i need two separate email provider for transaction & marketing email respectively?
Like i need to choose one of the ESP below for marketing email, and one of the second group email provider for transaction email to integrate in my e commence website?
ConvertKit, SendinBlue, Mailchimp, Mailerlite, GetResponse
Mailgun, SendGrid, Armazon SES, Postmark, Pepipost
If the email service provider like Sendiblue or Mailerlite provider transaction & marketing email service , can i use one of it for two function (transaction & marketing) rather i use two different ESP?
You can do whatever you want. Personally, I recommend separate services. But sure, if you find one company can do both…why not? SIB focuses more on transactional, ML focuses more on marketing.
I think the hard part is that they charge on different models. Also the UX is different. Transactional email services are built around managing deliverability, and charged by emails sent out. Marketing email services are built around newsletter design/management, and charged by number of subscribers.
I have some problems to understand the architecture right, maybe you got a short answer:
If I got a business domain, let’s say “mybusiness.com”, and I want to use a single e-mail address for transactional mailing (confirmations etc.), e.g. [email protected], and I follow your advice to use e.g. SendGrid for that, I have to change DNS settings for my domain at Cloudflare. Does that mean I have to handle all my other 20 e-mail addresses based on my business domain via SendGrid too, or can I use for these other 20 addresses a e-mail host like zoho in parallel for them?
Your existing email DNS stays the same. You are simply adding extra DNS records to allow SendGrid to send emails on your domain’s behalf. Again….nothing is being switched, you are simply ADDING (allowing another server to send email for your domain).