Promotional & Transactional Conversational Messaging Guide
Kyle Kuczynski
Kyle Kuczynski
MessageDesk Co-Founder & CMO
Updated: Nov 30, 2021

Learn About Consent and Opt-in + Transactional and Promotional Message Examples

Knowing the difference between promotional and transactional messages is essential to your conversational messaging strategy.

You need to know:

  • The difference between implied consent, express consent, and express written consent
  • The definition of transactional messages vs. promotional messages
  • How existing business relationships apply to promotional and transactional messages
  • Why conversational messaging is a superior way to communicate with customers

It’s a lot to unpack.

So in this article, I show you:

  1. What promotional, transactional, and conversational messages are
  2. Opt-in requirements per TCPA guidelines
  3. Define implied, express, and express written consent
  4. Show you conversational transactional and promotional message examples

Read on for more.

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What Are Promotional Messages?

A promotional message is a marketing or sales message. Promotional messages directly promote, sell, up-sell, or advertise products and services or your business or organization. To send promotional messages, in most cases you need to obtain express written consent from your message recipients.

Promotional message examples:

  • Marketing messages
  • Sales alerts
  • Coupons, rebates, or discounts
  • Promotional advertisements
  • New product and service announcements
  • Holiday promotions
  • Flash sales

Here’s an example of a conversational promotional SMS text message exchange in MessageDesk:

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What Are Transactional Messages?

A transactional message is non-promotional. Transactional messages are informational, time-sensitive responses to customer interactions or requests. To send transactional messages you’ll need express consent from message recipients. You may have already established express consent through an existing business relationship.

Transactional message examples:

  • Shipping alerts
  • Delivery notifications
  • Order confirmations and statuses
  • Appointment reminders
  • Payment reminders
  • Existing customer service feedback
  • Account status information
  • Two-factor identity validation requests
  • Password recovery messages

Here are examples of conversational transactional text messages sent using MessageDesk:

ACCOUNTSTATUS
Hi {{ FirstName }}, your current account status is PAST DUE. Please follow this link to update your payment information and complete your transaction https://msgdsk.io/l/w/mw4EqHMo
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What Are Conversational Messages?

A conversational message is a one-on-one exchange between a business and a customer. Customers often prefer conversational messaging because it’s informal, more friendly, and highly personalized. Consumer messaging apps used to be the only way to create conversational messaging experiences. Now, many business text messaging services offer these capabilities.

Conversational messaging platforms:

  • MessageDesk
  • Email
  • Voice calls and VoIP services
  • WeChat
  • WhatsApp
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram
  • Messenger (formerly Facebook Messenger)

What Are The Differences Between Promotional, Transactional, and Conversational Messages?

The 4 differences between promotional messages, transactional and conversational messages are:

  1. Message purpose - (marketing and sales or information and updates)
  2. Message recipient - (existing customers or new leads)
  3. Required consent level - (implied, express, or express written)
  4. TCPA opt-in/opt-out requirements - (required per TCPA guidelines - yes or no)

Promotional vs. transactional vs. conversational messages

Message Purpose Message Recipient Required Consent Level TCPA Opt-in/out Required?
Promotional Messages Marketing & Sales Leads & Customers Express Written or Express Yes
Transactional Messages Information & Updates Customers Express or Implied No
Conversational Messages Any Any Express or Implied No

1. Message purpose

Promotional and transactional messages serve varied purposes. This means that each is subject to different regulations and restrictions.

Promotional messages directly promote a good, product, service, or brand. Transactional messages and informational, educational, or account-based.

Promotional messages typically extract information or entice a recipient to take the desired sales action. But transactional messages provide information built on an existing business relationship.

Promotions are often distributed in bulk to multiple recipients. Whereas transactional messages get sent to specific recipients one at a time.

Promotional and transactional messages can both be conversational.

2. Message recipient

Promotional and transactional messages have different purposes, but both are often intended for customers. The only difference is that promotional messages may target message recipients that don’t already have a business relationship with you.
Transactional emails and SMS are account-based. They’re often initiated by a customer, so the standard for consent to send is much lower.

For example: if a customer texts you first, you can reasonably assume they've permitted you to text them. So long as the SMS remains relevant to their original message.
Making both transactional and promotional message exchanges conversational often leads to improved customer satisfaction.

Conversational SMS and emails provide an opportunity to build solid relationships with customers. Sending personalized messages to targeted customers, makes them feel valued.

For the best messaging results:

  • Email and text as if you were conversing face-to-face with the customer
  • Be empathetic and human but professional
  • Prioritize customer needs
  • Make the message feel friendly and warm
  • Personalize the message whenever possible

3. Required consent level

To send promotional messages, your business or organization must obtain written opt-in consent from leads and customers.

Don’t risk getting fined by the FCC. Fines are up to $500 for every promotional marketing text sent to people who haven’t opted in and consented.

So consent is essential to know if you’ve got the permission to send a text or email.

1. Implied consent

Implied consent is the lowest level of consent. It establishes a "reasonable belief" that you've got permission to message someone. You can think of it as a more casual or inferred permission that applies to most conversational transactional messages.

Example: imagine a new lead reaching out and texting your business because you’ve advertised click-to-text from your website. Because they reached out to you, it's reasonable to believe that they’ve given you implied consent to text them back. But this only applies to the context of their original message.

Similarly, consider when someone emails your business and their email signature contains their business number. You can reasonably believe you have implied consent to text or call them because they’re advertising their contact information.

The same goes for receiving someone's business card with their contact details.

Note: if you have an existing business relationship with a customer, then you’re safe to assume you have implied consent. But just having implied consent does not permit you to send marketing messages regarding your services, goods, or products.

2. Express consent

Per TCPA guidelines, express consent is an oral or written agreement that indicates permission to receive texts or phone calls. Express consent applies directly to transactional messages.

Leads and customers still opt-in to receive messages. But the standard for gaining consent and receiving messages is lower than express written consent. This is often due to an existing business relationship.

If a shopper purchases your product or service and opts in to receive shipment updates, your business can contact them based on express consent. Customers can grant you express consent through:

  • Website contact forms, intake form, or checkout form
  • Texting opt-in keywords
  • Verbal or written expression
  • Oral recording
  • Email
  • Appointment scheduling
  • A prior or established business relationship
  • Texting your business first

Note: if you have an established business relationship with a specific individual, then you're likely to have prior express consent.

3. Express written consent

Express written consent is written or recorded permission either on paper or electronically. It's a must-have before you send marketing messages or anything promotional.

Example: your business advertises “text DEAL to (phone number)” on your website and print media. When a lead or customer texts that number they see a message that explains consent guidelines.

Express written consent can take the form of:

  • Digital agreements
  • Accepting terms and conditions
  • Written or verbal agreements
  • Advertising “text-to” opt-in keywords like “subscribe”
  • Completing website contact forms

Note: express written content can not be assumed or implied. Contacts that opt-out of messaging should be placed in a do-not-contact list.

4. TCPA Opt-in and Opt-out Requirements

You should only contact customers for promotions when they opt-in to receive your texts or emails. Hence the need for the "right" opt-in procedures to:

  • Reduce the chances of customers receiving unwanted messages
  • Prevent your messages from being sent to different or non-consented phone numbers

Fortunately, MessageDesk and other business messaging provide the opt-in tools needed for TCPA compliance.

Here’s an example of what automatic opt-in and opt-out messages look like in MessageDesk:

messagedesk-opt-out-message.png

Examples of TCPA compliant opt-ins:

  • Signups at a point-of-sale
  • Entering the mobile number and agreeing to your terms and conditions
  • Sending or responding to text keywords
  • Subscribing an email to a mailing list

Suggested article: Complete TCPA Guide and Checklist

TCPA exemptions:

  • Established business relationships (where a customer has transacted with your business in the past 1.5 years)
  • Health care as defined by HIPAA Compliance Privacy Rules
  • Emergency texts
  • Non-commercial or tax-exempt nonprofits

6 Promotional Message Examples

Looking to send bulk SMS promotional messages? Mass texting can get up to 98% open rates compared to email at 20%.

SMS marketing is on the rise and there are plenty of other good reasons why text message marketing works.

So here are a few marketing and promotional SMS templates and messages you can use to increase engagement.

But before you craft an SMS promotional campaign, know that many promotional SMS service providers may flag certain buzzwords. These include "free" and capitalizing complete words (SALE, TODAY, SIGN UP, etc.). Such tactics are considered spammy and may result in carrier restrictions.

As a best practice, send SMS text promotions and emails that you'd want to receive.

That means:

  • Make the message conversational
  • Focus on one topic
  • Be topical or timely
  • Deliver added value or information
  • Provide a clear call to action

1. New merchandise alert

Given their high open and engagement rates, promotional texts are a great marketing tool for alerting customers of products or services.
Sending new merchandise alerts can boost sales – especially from engaged customers, excited to see what new products are in store.

Promotional SMS sample from 310 Nutrition:

{{ FirstName }}, want to try more shake flavors? We've got a NEW variety shake box that includes six different flavors for you to try! You can try Vanilla, Chocolate, Chocolate Mint, Strawberry, Salted Caramel, and Mocha. Easily add it to your upcoming shipment as a one-time purchase by replying below. Reply YES to buy or ADDRESS to confirm the address.

This text is great for several reasons:

  • It shares the news about new products (shake flavors)
  • It details the specific flavors available
  • And adds an easy way for shoppers to buy immediately (making for an excellent customer experience)

Example promotional SMS template:

Hi {{ FirstName }}, [Product] is here, finally! Hurry before we run out of stock. Buy now: (link). Text STOP to opt-out.

2. Discount code

Promotional text messages are a great way to share special coupons and discount codes. They get high engagement and redemption rates.

Example from Super Coffee:

Sup {{ FirstName }}. I hope you had an awesome weekend and got in some mom appreciation, even if it was over FaceTime. We were thinking about how our moms are such a source of positive energy and that they deserve more than just one day. We'll be celebrating moms all week. Join us and take 20% off with code SUPERMOM (link)

Discount code SMS templates:

Hi {{ FirstName }} Save with 25% off our [product] line until [Time, Date]. Buy in-store or online: [link]. Text STOP to opt-out.
Our gift collections are 15% online and 25% in-store. Check them out: [link].

3. Sales alert

Sales and clearance events are another great time to send promotional SMS and emails.

For best results, ensure your sales alerts include:

  • Items discounted
  • For how long, and
  • Price changes (to draw the most intrigue)

Example from Patagonia:

Hello {{ FirstName }}, Patagonia's annual sale is only two days away! Set your alarms for noon EST for special early access for our text club members!

Sales alert SMS template:

Our [EVENT] sale starts in X days' time. Are you ready? Browse the [product] line collections now [link]. Text STOP to opt-out.

4. Holiday promotion

Shoppers spend billions on online holiday shopping. And sharing your promotional messages via text message can help you cut through the holiday noise.
For best results, include holiday-themed photos, emoji, and other imagery.

Example:

On Christmas Eve, my love gave me a 15% off cashmere! Shop [BRAND] today and gift your SO something luxurious. [URL]

Holiday promotion SMS templates:

Get your gifts with ease this Christmas! We've deals on [Product], and 75% off [Line]. But the deal won't last, so hurry and order now: [URL]. Text STOP to opt-out.

Christmas is just around the corner! Here are some new [GIFTS] to gift your loved ones: [URL].

5. Flash sale

Flash sales run for short periods and often feature a limited quantity of products.

They are:

  • Great for offloading old items that are out of season
  • An exciting way to drive more traffic to your website
  • And texts are a great way to send flash sale alerts given their high open rates

Example:

Brunch hour flash sale at Midi Records! All 1990's records are BOGO. Get yourself the records you've been eyeing.

Flash sale SMS template:

Flash sale: Get X% discount site-wide for the next 30 minutes. Don't miss out: [URL]. Text STOP to opt-out.

6. Loyalty rewards

48% of U.S. consumers would rather receive loyalty-specific communication via text than over other forms of communication.

Plus, using texts in your business's reward program allows you to combine two customer engagement and retention efforts. Customers keep coming back - receiving points keeps them motivated.

Loyalty rewards SMS template:

Thank you for being a loyal customer for [X] years. Get 65% off your next purchase by using the coupon code [code]. Lots of love. The [Company] team.

7 Transactional Message Examples

The major difference between promotional and transactional SMS is needing to include opt-in and opt-out instructions. For almost every transactional message, there’s no need to display this message.

But as a best transactional SMS practice, message recipients should always be able to opt out of messages. This is where a messaging platform with granular permission levels can help.

Here are some examples of transactional SMS messages.

1. Appointment or consultation confirmation

Do customers or clients book meetings with you or your staff through a meeting scheduler or meeting scheduling software? When they do, this is a great time to text them an appointment or consultation confirmation.

Appointment confirmation SMS template:

Hi {{ FirstName }}, this is {{ OrganizationName }} confirming your appointment with our office on [date] at [time]. If you have any questions, please reply via text or email. We’ll see you then!

2. Appointment reminder

Are customers not showing up for their appointments? Consider setting up automated appointment reminders.

Appointment reminder SMS template:

Thank you for scheduling an appointment with {{ FirstName }} at {{ OrganizationName }}. You are confirmed on 3/25 at 3 pm. If you have any questions, please reply via text or email. We’ll see you then!

3. Recurring billing

You can update your customer about their recurring bills, reminding them of an upcoming payment. Doing so helps keep your customers organized with their monthly bills.

Recurring billing reminder SMS template:

You'll be charged $X for your purchase on October 22, 2021. See your remaining balance online or in the app [URL].

The same goes for welcome texts, receipts, appointment reminders, etc.

4. Invoice reminder

Small businesses often struggle with invoicing and reminding customers to pay. Sending invoice reminders and text-to-pay messages can help you run a cashless business and reduce monthly accounts receivable.

Invoice reminder SMS template:

Hi {{ FirstName }}. Thanks again for your business. Here is a link to your open invoice that is due on [DATE]: [LINK].

5. Service update

Service updates are a great way to provide conversational customer service. If you provide on-site service or have logistical considerations like drive time etc., then texting service updates are often useful.

Service update SMS template:

Hi {{ FirstName }} this is {{OrganizationName }}, just letting you know that Jim, your service technician is on his way and should be at your residence by 9:30 am.

6. Order status

Order status gets sent to shoppers who opt-in for shipping updates. They typically convey that the order is:

  • Being processed
  • On hold
  • Preparing for shipment
  • Shipped, etc.

Order status SMS template:

Your order [URL] is being processed and will be shipped by [date]. Reply STOP to opt-out of order status alerts from [company].

7. Delivery notification

A delivery notification helps relay information when a package is delivered or out of delivery. They are the second step after shipping updates.
You can leverage delivery alerts to:

  • Ask for customer feedback (about your communication, shipping, or products)
  • Send appreciative messages to better customer relationships
  • Ask for reviews to help build credibility

Delivery notification SMS template:

Your [product] box was delivered. We hope you enjoy it. For questions or more information [URL].
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Need a better way to message customers and keep compliant?

Text and email are essential parts of your messaging strategy. However, you must ensure compliance with the set law and regulations or risk hefty fines.

MessageDesk supports the mass texting and opt-in mechanisms necessary to stay TCPA compliant. All while ensuring your SMS campaign is scalable.

Try MessageDesk for free or meet with a messaging expert for answers to questions.

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