When a brand sends a text message to their customers, it’s likely for one of two main reasons. Promotional messages are used primarily to drive awareness and sales around specific products and events. Transactional messages, on the other hand, are used to automate interactions with customers. As you may expect, there are varying best practices for these two message types, and the laws surrounding how customers interact with brands via SMS also depend on the type of message you’re sending.

Examples of Promotional and Transactional Messages

Marketing to Your Customers with Promotional Messages

Promotional or marketing messages typically refer to any message sent for promoting, up-selling, or advertising a business. This could be regarding a flash-sale on a new product, or an incentive to come in and try a new flavor of ice cream, and these types of messages are typically only sent from 9am to 9pm. Outside of adhering to the required opt-in procedure, these messages are typically not solicited by the recipient, and are meant to attempt selling something to that specific customer.

Brands who want to send out promotional messages to their consumers must first obtain permission from those recipients, and typically aren’t able to simply purchase and upload a list. Permission can be obtained through a variety of formats – including an SMS opt-in text message, a web-based signup page, or even a physical signature. When advertising your text club with the goal of increasing opt-ins, potential subscribers must be made aware of recurring message programs through a disclosure of “periodic messages per month,” or a specific message frequency such as saying that you’ll send a “max of 10 messages per month.” Recipients should also be made aware of how to unsubscribe from these types of text programs, such as including language that states they should “Reply STOP to opt-out.”

Automating Interactions with Transactional Messages

Transactional messages are sent to consumers with the goal of passing on information about a product or service that they are already using. Because these messages do not contain any kind of marketing or promotional content, and are typically requested or queried by the consumer at the time they are sent, they can be sent at most times throughout the day. Disclosure of message frequency does not apply to transactional messages as these are dependent on the recipients’ interaction with a business, although consumers should still be made aware of how to unsubscribe from these types of text programs, should they choose to opt-out in the future.

It is essential to understand the difference between both types of messages as heavy fines can be incurred if a transactional message service starts sending out promotional content and recipients have not provided consent to receive these types of messages.

Loyda Drew

Author Loyda Drew

Vice President, Product Operations

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Vicky Irvin says:

    Hi, if a Blood Bank sends a message to a past donor to ask him to donate blood again, is this considered a promotional or transactional message?

    • Loyda Drew says:

      Hi Vicky! Thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately, this question is a little difficult to answer without knowing the terms and conditions, and message frequency included in those terms, for communication with the blood bank that users may or may not have agreed to. Transactional messages are typically a 1:1 ratio, or for a one-time event. They are not part of recurring programs unless the user has opted in to receive this type of communication and the messages are not frequent. Dentist alerts are examples where users can opt in to receive alerts for upcoming appointments or the need to schedule an appointment, but these are not frequent as they may only be sent to the user every 5 months or so as typically you should see the dentist every 6 months. If the blood bank sends out recurring messages or reminder messages about donating blood again, they are promotional not transactional. We hope this helps!

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