Despite a push toward paperless offices during the past 15 years, the average employee uses over 10,000 sheets of paper annually, which costs $80-100, and the typical company spends $2.5-3.5 million per year trying to find information and recreating lost documents. In addition, Forbes notes, more than 400 million metric tons of paper were used in 2017, and that amount is expected to surge in the coming years.

It’s not enough to turn paper-based internal systems into electronic ones to cut back on paper use, though. Triggered and transactional emails are a great way to replace notices that used to be sent via snail mail.

  • Triggered emails alert customers to events, such as suspicious log-in attempts, upcoming due dates for bills and other payments, and monthly reports.
  • Transactional emails are sent in response to customers’ actions, such as bill payments, deposits, new account creation, and password resets.

In honor of Earth Day 2019, here are 5 ways you can use triggered and transactional emails to help lessen the strain on the planet and save money on printing, handling, and mailing costs.

1. Acknowledge an investment

Wefunder, which calls itself “Kickstarter for investing,” lets average folks put money into early-stage start-ups, thanks to the Regulation Crowdfunding law that went into effect in 2016. Before then, you had to be an accredited investor to get in on the ground floor of a new company.

They also handle everything electronically. In addition to the expected updates from companies a user follows and suggestions for new investments, Wefunder delivers financial information via transactional email too. For example, the message below confirms a user’s pledge in a start-up called Legion M, which says it’s “the world’s first fan-owned entertainment company.”

The email leads with key details before flowing into an investment summary headlined by a prominent checkmark that confirms funds are in escrow. The summary uses information blocks to lead the recipient through key details, including the required legal disclosures. A block at the end contains important information about canceling an investment, which is likely to be on the mind of a few users who might be nervous about their decision.

An attached PDF contains the electronically-signed contract for the pledge. Nothing was sent via postal mail for the transaction.


Later that year, Legion M used Carta to issue the stock certificate for the investment. Again, not a single sheet of paper was delivered via a fossil-fuel-burning, 30-year-old truck – the user signed the certificate on the Carta website and an electronic copy of it was stored in their online account.

2. Issue event tickets

Ticketing has felled entire forests in decades past, but today, it can be completely handled electronically, as this Eventbrite email demonstrates. The attendee can manage their registration in the Eventbrite mobile app or save the ticket attached to the email as a PDF file. The ticket has a QR code, so it can be scanned off a mobile device.

The email’s information blocks highlight text from the event organizer, the order summary, and an “About this event” section that has key links for mapping the location and adding the event to a calendar.

Two promotional blocks close out the email. They’re saved for last because users don’t want that kind of messaging interfering with important information, especially if they’ve arrived at the event and are scanning through the email to find what they need.

3. Provide important tax information

Tax time has likely been responsible for more trees being cut down than event ticketing. In 2018, 90% of individual taxpayers filed electronic returns, an all-time high, so it makes sense to provide the supporting documents they need in a digital format too.

The email below from Great Lakes alerts a student loan borrower that the amount of interest paid on their loans will be available soon. They helpfully note that the amount could be deductible on their taxes, and they clarify the exact time span, down to the hour on Dec. 31, for interest on payments received to qualify.

They make the relevant tax form available electronically, and they point out that the customer just needs the interest amount for their tax return, not the form itself, which will save them the cost of printing it.

4. Send a monthly bill

Triggered email is perfect for sending the kind of information that used to show up in an envelope with a clear plastic window. The email below from Dish Network lays out the basic information about the recipient’s monthly charges, along with handy links that go straight to the main tasks that people typically perform on the company’s website.

5. Process an insurance claim

Insurance claims have typically consumed a lot of paper, between physical photos of damage and reams of forms that need to be filled out. Allstate, however, has figured out how to make the process as paper-free as possible, as shown by the email below.

Insurance claims can be stressful, especially when the customer sees phrases like “Date of loss” (luckily, this one was a fender-bender), but Allstate makes it clear they’re ready to help with a triggered email that includes plenty of personalization. It even includes a link to a personalized video that explains the process.

Personalization is key in these kinds of emails because it makes the customer feel like the company is paying attention to their individual situation, rather than sending them a one-size-fits-all message. That includes not just the customer’s name but also relevant information like a claim number and the name and phone number of the claim representative.

After giving the customer the information they need, along with a nice big “Check Claim Status” button, Allstate includes links to learn more about their mobile apps and the customer’s claim payment options. Allstate’s mobile app offers a seamless, paper-free way to handle a claim, including taking and uploading photos of damage, viewing documents, one-tap agent access, and electronic payments.

Allstate’s mobile app even features digital proof of insurance cards, so a driver doesn’t have to fumble around in their glove compartment when pulled over.

From these examples, it’s not hard to see the positive impacts of triggered and transactional email on our environment. Happy Earth Day!

~ Craig