What is the difference between automations, campaigns, transactional emails, & 1:1 emails?


Automations are useful when you want a sequence of events to be followed. This could involve pre-sale nurturing of a contact, post-sale up-sell emails, touchpoints, etc. 

Learn more about automations.


Email campaigns are one-off messages sent to a list of opted-in contacts from the Campaigns Overview page. Common use cases include:

  • Sending out product updates
  • Newsletters
  • One-time promotions

Learn how to create a campaign.

Transactional emails

Transactional emails are one-to-one unique messages that the recipient is expecting to receive. They are usually triggered by the user and do not require an unsubscribe link.

While transactional emails can help fulfill marketing needs by recovering abandoned carts or re-activating inactive users, these emails are primarily functional and provide an anticipated response to an action or a request made by the recipient.

Unlike promotional emails which are bulk distributions of the same content to many recipients simultaneously, transactional emails are personalized and typically sent to individuals one at a time.

Common use cases include:

  • Process password resets
  • Send account notifications
  • Confirm customer orders

Thanks to our integration with Postmark, you can add transactional emails to any ActiveCampaign automation.

Learn how to send transactional emails.

1:1 emails

1:1 emails are personal emails sent to a single contact from an account user. Based on your plan, these emails can be sent from the Contacts Overview page, the Contact record, a Deal record, an Account record, or an Automation.

There are two ways to send 1:1 emails in ActiveCampaign:

  1. From your ActiveCampaign account
    (Available on all plans)

    This option does not require any setup and is available in your account anytime. These 1:1 emails will be sent from ActiveCampaign ‘s servers.

    This sending option allows you to:

    • View the sent email on the contact's activity stream
    • View the sent email on the "Emails" tab on the contact record
    • View the sent email on the "Emails" tab on the deal record

  2. From an email account connected to ActiveCampaign
    (Available on Sales Plus, Professional, and Enterprise)

    This option will use your email account to send the email and not ActiveCampaign’s servers. In order to use this option, you must connect your email to ActiveCampaign.

    In addition to the benefits listed above for sending from ActiveCampaign, sending 1:1 emails from your connected email account also allows you to:

    • Use a Cc or a Bcc
    • Track opens, link click, and reply activity
    • Trigger automations based on engagement activity (opens, clicks, replies)
    • View the sent email on the contact's activity stream
    • View the sent email on the "Emails" tab on the contact record
    • View the sent email on the "Emails" tab on the deal record
    • View email engagement activity on the contact's activity stream
    • View your sent emails in the Sent folder of your email inbox
    • Sync follow-up email correspondence to your ActiveCampaign account

  You cannot send 1:1 emails with both sending options at the same time. Once you connect your email account to ActiveCampaign in Deals > Connected Emails, you cannot send 1:1 emails from the ActiveCampaign servers. You would need to disconnect the connected email to use the ActiveCampaign servers.

You may want to use this feature in order to send a single, direct email to a contact without using an automation or a campaign. Doing so will create and store your communications in one place.  

Other common use cases include:

  • Send a follow-up email to a lead on a Deal
  • Send a 1:1 email from an Automation. Learn more about how to do this by visiting Send a direct 1:1 email from a deal record.
  • Reach out directly to your most engaged contacts with coupon codes or other special offers

Learn how to create and send a one-to-one email

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