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I know how to create a triggered send and user initiated send in SFMC. I also know how to trigger them from API via documentation. Can someone help me in figuring out the differences and when to use what.

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The definition from SFMC itself is:

  1. Triggered Send Definition - A triggered email is a message that Marketing Cloud sends to an individual subscriber in response to a subscriber action. For example, sending a confirmation message after a customer makes a purchase is a triggered email.
  2. User Initiated Send - In Email Studio, create a user-initiated email message interaction to send to a user-initiated subscriber list or data extension in your program.

The official comparison from SFMC is:

A user-defined email message interaction occurs when you manually start the send, while a triggered message interaction occurs in response to an action or API call.

To put it in simpler words (TL/DR):

  1. Triggered Send Definition - hit by API/Smart Capture to instantly send a 1:1 message. Usually used for Transactional messages (receipt, shipping, etc) and inside of Journies.

  2. User Initiated Send - a 1:Many job that mimics a manual Guided Send, but is preset to allow a single click execution or to allow for repeatable scheduling inside of an Automation. (e.g. Monthly newsletter, daily update email, etc.)

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Triggered sends are any of your emails that are sent via an API trigger. Typically your Transactional emails.

A user initiated send is a send that is triggered from an automation activity. Typically an email that you would reuse on a scheduled basis, maybe to a different audience. These would be setup as an Automation Studio activity and scheduled in an Automation.

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Use a triggered send when you want to send an email as soon as an action is taken. For instance, take a scenario where a person has to choose few preferences out of a list of many preferences. As soon as he selects them and clicks on submit option, an email (thank you email for instance) is triggered via API call at the same moment. In this case, we will use Triggered send. And then every day/week/month (frequency as opted by that person), an email containing details about those preferences is sent to that person. This will be done using User Initiated sends via scheduled automation.

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