Transactional Email: Not Just for Developers

Wade Foster
Wade Foster / Published December 4, 2012

Sending email is hard. Just take a look at the success of transactional email services like Mandrill, Sendgrid, and Mailgun.

Every web application under the sun has to send email too so there’s a huge demand for services who can help developers send email more efficiently.

The thing is, if sending email is hard for developers, guess how hard it is for marketers, support teams and sales guys? If you take a look at the home pages of Mandrill, Sendgrid, and Mailgun you can tell they target developers likely because it would be too hard for a non-developer to use their services. After all a developer has to help them set up whatever email they want to send right?

At Zapier we disagree. Sending transactional or automated email should be just as easy for non-technical people as it is for developers and while that may not be the core target of Mandrill, Mailgun or Sendgrid they seem to think so too (all three have added their services via the Zapier developer platform).

Mandrill recently wrote this excellent post about sending custom automated follow up emails for PayPal purchases so that consumers can have some assurances that their purchase order was indeed recieved by the vendor. This is a way better feedback loop for customers than the standard PayPal purchase email that is sent.

If you look down the list of Zap templates you’ll find hundreds of different use cases for sending high value emails just like the PayPal example above.

What Good is Sending Email?

Patio11 says you should probably send more email if you want to make more money. Email is the gold standard for social and productivity. Everyone hates sending email. Automating sending email is great for web services. It should be great for other non-technical services too.

Sidenote: could be argued this adds to the clutter. Read on for more about this.

Many services have email dropboxes ala Posterous or Basecamp. Entire apps can be built without writing a single line of code by patch working email together with other pre-exisitng apps.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Sending email isn’t childs play. In the hands of a trained professional email expert is worth it’s weight in gold. Email in the hands of an amatuer will annoy email recipients, kill sender reputation scores, and cause ungodly migraines for those cleaning up the mess.

If you have never sent large amounts of email before I’d encourage, nay I’d insist, you read up on permission. Make sure whoever the recipient is, is happy the email you send reaches them. And don’t just assume they want your email. Explicitily know they want your email.

Remember tools are just that: tools. It’s how you use them that matters. So make sure you use email for good and not evil.

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