Chapter 7: Transactional Marketing

Posted on October 28, 2019 | Updated on October 31, 2022

As marketers and business owners, we often learn to focus on relationships and building communication between company and customer. While that is still solid advice, there is a place for transactional marketing, or focusing on one sale at a time rather than the bigger picture. Transactional marketing doesn’t exist in a bubble, though. You shouldn’t focus only on one item and not worry about the future or any other marketing elements. Everything about your company comes together into a big marketing picture that defines your brand to the outside world.

Transactional emails have an 82% engagement rate and 72% conversion rate. The high numbers are likely a result of the targeted nature of transactional marketing. This typically ties to campaign launching after a specific user action. For example, the user visits your site and signs up for a class on how to cook a steak. Then you send them an offer for an e-book on best at-home steak recipes. There are many methods where marketers use transactional promotions. However, the ability to focus on one offer at a time allows you to perfect the proposal and engage customers on a personal level.

What Is Transactional Marketing?

The emphasis in transactional marketing is on individual sales instead of a long-term relationship with the buyer. That doesn’t mean transactional marketing methods ignore the importance of ongoing efforts such as excellent customer service and communication. The planning stages look at the immediate impact of a specific campaign element or triggered response. Some examples of transactional marketing include:

  • An email sent after a purchase offering an add-on product or special on a similar item
  • Pop-up offers on a landing page
  • Social media ad with a specified target audience
  • Single-item landing pages highlighting the benefits of one product or service

Use the Four Ps

Harvard Business School professor and author Neil Borden first mentioned the “four Ps”  product, price, place and promotion — in the 1950s. Most experts talk about the four Ps concerning transactional marketing as a traditional model which works. These are the four steps to an effective promotional campaign, and pair perfectly with one-time offers. Sometimes called the “marketing mix,” the four P’s have both internal and external forces at work.

  • Product: The good or service your company produces. Make sure this item solves a problem for consumers and fills a need so the customer believes they must have your product to make their lives better.
  • Price: Figure out both the real and perceived values of your product. How much are customers willing to pay for the item, and what is the competition like? If competitors offer the same or better products at a lower rate, your business will suffer if you don’t match their offer. On the other hand, you can create a luxury feel for a unique product and demand more money for it. Figure out if a discount is the best approach or you should focus on the exclusivity of your product.
  • Place: Place is where you choose to sell your product. If the online market has become entirely saturated, would you do better going to trade shows, demonstrating why your product is superior and selling directly to consumers in person? On the other hand, if none of your competitors are online, how can you tap into that market? Think about the different places where you might gain attention for your product.
  • Promotion: Promotion is your marketing strategy, which includes advertising and various campaigns. For the transactional model, the focus is on one product or one transaction at a time rather than an overarching brand campaign.

Following the four Ps ensures you aren’t wasting your efforts and will help you consider factors such as what competitors offer and where to reach new customers.

How Transactional Marketing and Relationship Marketing Differ

Relationship marketing puts the focus on building a long-lasting relationship between the company and the customer. Transactional marketing should never push customers away from your brand. The focus is more on making an immediate sale and less about worrying over developing a lifelong customer. The idea is that if you can gain the sale and show them the superiority of your product or service, you might later develop a relationship. The two forms of marketing work hand-in-hand rather than in a vacuum.

How to Incorporate It Into Your Next Campaign

So, how would you incorporate point-of-sale advertising into your overall marketing campaign? As you look at your quarterly marketing calendar, you likely see broad-based campaigns meant to bring in a specific customer base or provide a specific type of content which attracts your target audience. For transactional marketing, dig deeper down to the core of the particular offer behind the campaign. Let’s look at an example so you can see how this works. ABC Company sells personalized lunch bags, and their quarterly marketing goal is to reach working women between the ages of 18 and 32, as this has been an untapped market for them but one their internal data shows would respond well to their products. They know which platforms they plan to advertise on and which events they are attending.

For the transactional portion of their marketing plan, they should choose a specific product that aligns with the buyer persona they’ve created of Katelynn Smith, a 26-year-old bank manager who is recently married and works about 50 hours a week. Katelynn enjoys going to the gym after work and is often on the road. She’s sick of eating fast food and wants to start taking her lunch and snacks with her. Knowing their buyer intimately allows ABC Company to home in on a lunch bag they sell with portioned meal containers and enough room for two water bottles in the outside mesh holders. The front has a pocket where Katelynn could keep a post-workout energy bar. They now have a specific item to promote, so they should come up with a concrete ad to email or to place on social media to target the audience segment which matches Katelynn’s buyer persona. 

Why You Need Transactional Marketing

Transactional marketing is less expensive than relationship marketing and maximizes sales efficiency for lone products. Move overstocked inventory items or push a new product with the specific ads you send out. Focusing on individual items also allows you to increase sales one customer at a time, which is particularly vital for startups and revenue growth.


CHAPTER 6: Scarcity Marketing      CHAPTER 8: FOMO Marketing


The Small Business Marketing Guide: Introduction

Chapter 1: Successful Viral Marketing Campaigns
Chapter 2: Influencer Marketing
Chapter 3: Conversational Marketing
Chapter 4: CMS Marketing
Chapter 5: Brand Marketing
Chapter 6: Scarcity Marketing
Chapter 7: Transactional Marketing
Chapter 8: FOMO Marketing
Chapter 9: Neuromarketing
Chapter 10: Close Range Marketing
Chapter 11: Guerrilla Marketing
Chapter 12: Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Chapter 13: Target Marketing
Chapter 14: Diversity Marketing
Chapter 15: Undercover Marketing
Chapter 16: Cause Marketing

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About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at