Triggered Text Messages: Definition, Types, & Examples

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Posted in
SMS Marketing
Published on
May 20, 2022
Written by
Brett Dworski
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Learn how brands are using triggered text messages to engage their mobile audience throughout the customer lifecycle to drive revenue.

Consumers are spending—on average—three hours and 43 minutes on their mobile devices every day. They turn to their phones for everything from searching for directions, to looking up products, and talking to friends.

Knowing your company’s audience is always on their phones, how can you ensure they’re receiving—and engaging with—highly relevant messages?

Personalized text messaging offers businesses a real-time, two-way communications channel to send subscribers helpful messages they want to receive. One type of text messaging that’s especially powerful for engaging subscribers is the triggered text message.

What are triggered text messages?

Triggered text messages are sent after specific subscriber actions, such as joining a text message channel, abandoning a shopping cart, visiting your website, or responding with a keyword. Once these promotional messages are set up to respond to said actions, they’ll send on their own—meaning no extra work for you. 

These messages don’t just let you turn browsers into buyers; they empower you to tailor your messaging across the entire customer lifecycle based on the actions subscribers take. This, in turn, can help you drive incremental revenue at critical points in the customer journey.

Now that you know what triggered text messages are and why they’re valuable, here are some real-life examples of how they can be used.

1. Welcome message

The welcome message—which is sent after a subscriber opts in to your text messaging program—is the first interaction new subscribers will have with your company. Welcome them with a friendly hello, and share helpful information about your channel in your own brand voice to establish a relationship.

If your company offers discounts, consider using your welcome message to reward these high-intent shoppers with a mobile-exclusive offer. Because a new subscriber is highly engaged at this point in the customer lifecycle, they’re very likely to convert—driving more revenue for your brand.

DIFF Eyewear, a socially conscious eyeglasses and sunglasses retailer, includes a limited-time offer in their welcome message. New subscribers have 24 hours to redeem their offer and get $25 off their first pair of DIFF sunglasses. The time-sensitive nature of the message creates a sense of urgency, encouraging shoppers to take advantage of the exclusive offer.

DIFF eyewear welcome message

2. Abandoned cart reminder

Seventy-five percent of online shopping carts are abandoned by shoppers prior to purchasing. Remind subscribers of items they’ve left in their digital shopping cart by sending a triggered abandoned cart text message. This type of reminder helps recover otherwise lost revenue that impacts your bottom line.

Include the name of your product or an eye-catching image of the item that’s waiting for the subscriber in their abandoned shopping cart. End with a link that goes directly back to their cart so they can easily complete their purchase.

Modern home decor brand CB2 sends triggered abandoned cart reminders to text messaging subscribers. The message is written in the brand’s signature voice and includes the name of an item waiting in the subscriber's online cart. CB2 ends the message by inviting the subscriber to envision the item in their home.

CB2 abandoned cart reminder

3. Browse abandonment reminder

Triggered browse abandonment messages are sent to shoppers who’ve looked at a product detail page but haven’t added the item to their online shopping cart. Right behind welcome messages and abandoned cart reminders, these are brands’ highest converting triggered messages.

Ideally, it’s best to send your browse abandonment reminders 30 to 60 minutes after shoppers have left your site. Then, encourage them to take a second look, and link directly back to the item they were browsing to make it as easy as possible for them to add it to their online cart. Browse abandonment reminders work best when paired with discounts or other offers.

Women’s footwear brand Dolce Vita uses browse abandonment reminders to drive customer retention and recover potentially lost revenue. With each message, they include an image of the product viewed by the subscriber and a direct link back to the product page.

4. Post-purchase message

A subscriber is most engaged with your business immediately following a purchase. Send subscribers a post-purchase message to keep them interested in your brand and make sure you stay top-of-mind even after they complete their purchase.

These types of triggered text messages can be used in a variety of situations, including:

  • Asking subscribers to leave a review
  • Requesting they share their purchase on social media
  • Inviting shoppers to join your loyalty program
  • Offering an incentive (like free shipping) to encourage repeat purchases

Lingerie retailer LIVELY sends a triggered text message 30 days after a subscriber makes a purchase, inviting them to join their customer loyalty rewards program. The brand includes a direct link to the “Perks” page so the subscriber can immediately learn more and sign up for the program.

5. Winback

For subscribers who’ve purchased from you before but have since gone quiet, a triggered winback text message might just reel them back in. These messages usually include special offers or deals to engage subscribers who may be about to churn, with the goal of getting them to purchase from you again.

If the subscriber doesn’t respond to your initial winback message within 15 days, you can send a follow-up winback message. You'll get the best results if you pair each message with an offer that escalates in value.

The algorithm that powers this feature reviews how many purchases subscribers have made, when they made them, and how much each transaction was worth. Then, it estimates future subscriber engagement—like how many purchases they'll make, when their next purchase will be, and how much their next purchase will be worth. The least engaged subscribers—those who’ve made the fewest, most infrequent, and lowest value transactions—are marked as at risk of churning.

6. Joined a segment

Attentive’s segmentation capabilities let you send targeted, personalized messages to a group of subscribers who meet specific conditions. When a subscriber joins one of your segments, they’ll receive a customizable message. This begins their triggered, joined-a-segment text messages—also known as Magical Journeys.

These types of messages can be used in a variety of situations, including:

  • Rewarding VIP subscribers after multiple purchases
  • Celebrating subscriber anniversaries with incentives
  • Promoting product knowledge to improve purchase experiences
  • Cross-selling products that are typically purchased together

Beauty brand Mented Cosmetics sends triggered Magical Journeys to celebrate their VIP subscribers, giving early access to new products and providing bonus offers—like free shipping—with their orders.

Mented VIP segment

7. Custom 

While prebuilt triggered messages are an easy and efficient way to create great customer experiences, triggered custom messages let you build the right type of journey for your exact use case.

Using Attentive’s Custom Events API, you can create triggered custom messages based on customer event data and how they interact with your brand. After you build an event with a triggered custom message (and your Attentive program ingests that data), customers enter the journey. 

These types of messages can be used for nearly any situation, such as order status, appointment reminders, loyalty updates, and much more.

Setting up triggered text messages is an easy way to deliver highly personalized, relevant content to subscribers. And since you only have to set them up once, they’ll automatically drive more revenue for your brand.

For those looking to adopt a more engaging conversational strategy, there's no need to reinvent the wheel. Conversational tactics—like using specific responses based on keywords or numbers—can easily be added to your workflows. The more conversational and personal your messages are, the more engaged your subscribers will be.

Learn more about getting started with SMS and how conversational text messaging can strengthen your customer relationships. And check out our SMS gallery, Texts We Love, for more text messaging inspiration.

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