Design and Workflow Blog

Notification email essentials

Before SMS and phone notifications, there were emails, and they are still the most effective way for your customers to get important, timely, notices.

Different examples of notification emails.

Different examples of branded notification emails.

Notification emails, like confirmation emails, are all transactional. They are a response to a user’s previous actions. Even though they are all transactional, you’ll want to make sure to include unsubscribe settings for some of these as your customers may not all agree with how important you think it is for them to receive them.

Activity updates

Message illustration

Usually for apps and Saas products, these standard notification types are related to a customer’s interaction with your product or service.

  • Comment or message - someone posts a new comment response or sends a direct message to an account
  • New posts - an update is made to content that the customer chose to receive email notices for
  • Usage-specific - core activities made with your product, like taking photos, or writing articles
  • Login attempt - in cases where usage of an account seems abnormal, it helps to notify the customer

If there’s the potential for many notifications on a regular basis, consider grouping them with a summary email of messages or posts made within a given period, like a day, or a week. Grouping notifications are a good way to keep the customer subscribed without overwhelming them with too many emails. It also serves as a reminder for the customer to engage with your product or website.


Booking details illustration

These are usually related to subscriptions and payments, but can also be reminders and any service changes your customers should be made aware of, like updated terms or privacy policy changes.

Service updates can fall into this category as well. The focus should be on whether it greatly affects your customer’s current use of the product. New product features can be included, but should be kept to things your users would want to know about, not every single push you make. Giving them the option of what kinds of updates they get emails for can be helpful.


Product illustration

Similar to content updates, these are product-specific based on a user’s interaction with your online store, either for physical or digital goods.

  • Save for later reminder - reminds customer of items they’ve chosen to “save for later” or added to a wishlist
  • Availability - let’s the customer know that an item that they pre-ordered has been released
  • Back in stock - for products your customers showed interest in but was not available
  • Sale alert - tells customer an item they purchase regularly is on sale to encourage a purchase

Sales emails are generally considered promotional, not transactional, but if the product/service sold is relevant to actions the user has taken in the past, then it can count as transactional. You can additionally include an opt-in option for receiving sales and promo emails when your customer signs up for their account.

Ready to put together your notification email? Download our free notification email template to use for designing and building your emails. And check out other email types and components you can use for your email design.

Photo of Ovi Demetrian Jr Ovi Demetrian Jr