How to use flows to send transactional emails

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You will learn

Learn how to set up important transactional emails inside Klaviyo that are triggered when your subscribers purchase or interact with your brand. Additionally, customers expect these emails and will search for them in their inbox. For this reason, transactional emails are sent to almost all customers and should not contain any marketing content.

For free accounts

As discussed further in this article, you must contact Klaviyo's customer support team to request transactional status for flow emails. If you are using Klaviyo's free plan, you have 60 days of dedicated email support after account creation during which you can submit a transactional request. After the 60 day period, you must upgrade your account to submit further requests.

Find out more in our article on the differences between free and paid plans.

Suppressed profiles still receive transactional emails

Note that customers that are suppressed still receive transactional emails. There are 3 exceptions to this if the suppression reason was due to the following:
  • email bounced too many times
  • email address was invalid
  • the customer previously marked a message as spam

The types of transactional emails you configure in Klaviyo will depend in large part on your integrations. Different integrations bring over different events (or metrics), which can, in turn, be used to trigger different types of flows. For many pre-built integrations, Order and Shipping Confirmation emails are the transactional emails that you can configure out-of-the-box. We recommend reviewing the data for your specific integrations to see which types of transactional emails you can leverage out-of-the-box. To configure other types of transactional emails, you can leverage Klaviyo's open API.

In Klaviyo, transactional emails are delivered through flows, as they must be sent in response to an action the customer took. Additionally, transactional emails are marked on a per-email basis, not a per-flow basis. This means that you may have one email within a flow that is considered a transactional email, while the other emails in the series are considered marketing content. For example, you may have a post-purchase flow in which the first email is a transactional order confirmation, while the subsequent marketing emails are aimed at generating product reviews and cross-selling related products. There is no customer-facing indication that a message is considered transactional.

You cannot have an entire flow that is deemed transactional, though it is possible to create a flow in which all the emails are transactional. 

The difference between transactional and marketing emails

While both transactional and marketing emails can be sent in response to an action a customer took, it is important to differentiate between the two. As a rule of thumb, a trigger-based email that is geared at relaying essential information to the customer rather than generating sales can be considered a transactional email. Common transactional emails include:

  • Order confirmation
  • Shipping confirmation
  • Account created confirmation

Triggered emails that are not considered transactional emails include:

  • Welcome series
  • Abandoned cart
  • Product review/cross-sell
  • Browse abandonment
  • Surveys or quizzes
  • Reviews of products 
  • Replenish or order renewal reminders
  • Back in stock notifications
  • Tell a friend or share sales/promotions
  • Birthday or anniversary notifications

Another key distinction between marketing and transactional emails is the fact that transactional emails are not tied to whether or not someone has subscribed or otherwise opted in to receive emails from you. Even if a customer has unsubscribed from marketing emails, they would still expect to receive transactional messages around orders or administrative account activity. Because of this, emails marked as transactional in Klaviyo will still send to suppressed recipients. 

Delivering marketing content to unsubscribed recipients via transactional emails may violate the CAN-SPAM Act, and Klaviyo's policy prohibiting marketing content in transactional emails is designed to protect customers from any legal ramifications. 

Request to send transactional emails with Klaviyo

It is possible to send transactional emails with Klaviyo, but you must first contact our Customer Support team. Transactional email requests are manually reviewed and monitored closely to ensure that no marketing content is sent out.

Because your ecommerce platform uses different dynamic tags than Klaviyo, you will not be able to import your transactional emails from your ecommerce platform into Klaviyo. If you are using Shopify, you can either send the messages from Klaviyo, as with other integrations, or leverage Klaviyo's pre-built Shopify transactional email templates within your Shopify account. (The latter approach works by sending the emails from Shopify and not Klaviyo.)

Support for transactional emails may vary by ecommerce integration. In all cases, you will want to turn off the corresponding transactional email in your ecommerce platform before beginning to send with Klaviyo. Otherwise, you may be double-emailing people.

Create a transactional email

Create the flow

When building out these emails, if the flow is triggered by an event that's synced through your ecommerce integration, like Placed Order, then you can use a post-purchase flow as a starting point in terms of the information that you will pull into the template (e.g., a link to the item, an image of the item, the name of the item).

If you want to use a metric to trigger the flow that isn't synced through your ecommerce integration, you will need to create a new custom metric. Klaviyo has an open API that you can leverage to set this up. For example, a password reset email would need a corresponding "Password Reset" event, which would need to be configured as a custom metric. 

Once you know the event(s) you'll use in your flow:

1. Navigate to the Flows tab in Klaviyo. 

2. Click Create Flow in the upper right, then click Create From Scratch

3. Design your flow in the builder, and personalize your flow emails. You can leverage our guide to personalizing flows with dynamic data to learn how to pull event data into your email templates. 

4. Click Save & Exit. Do not set your flow live yet. 

Contact Klaviyo support

5. Once you have configured all the content in your flow, you must first contact our Customer Support team and use the subject line "Transactional Email Request" so that the email(s) reach the appropriate team for review. In your message, include:

  • URL link(s) to the flow(s)
  • Flow name(s)
  • Subject line of the email(s) that are transactional

The internal review process for transactional emails is stringent. Because a transactional email will still send to unsubscribed recipients, it is important that only essential, non-marketing emails have this status enabled.

6. Once support verifies that your email is transactional, you will see a green badge on the email card. You will also see the transactional status enabled for a given email under the email’s settings.

A flow builder in Klaviyo depicting an email action verified as a transactional email with a green checkbox on left

7. Be sure to turn Smart Sending off for transactional flow emails. This ensures that your customers will receive the transactional message, regardless of any other marketing or transactional messages they have received within your Smart Sending window.

8. Additionally, you can turn Smart Sending off for all transactional emails at the account level. Navigate to Account > Settings > Email Settings and find the Smart Sending Period section

9. Check the Ignore transactional messages box.

View of the Email Settings page in the Klaviyo software focused on the Smart Send Period section

10. Once all the transactional emails in your flow have been approved, you can go ahead and set your flow live. 

Now, you've enabled transactional flow email(s) in your account, along with Smart Sending. 

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