What are transactional journeys?

This article is about transactional journeys with text messages. For more information about transactional journeys that include email messages, see Send transactional emails with Attentive.

Before you get started with transactional journeys, it might be helpful to start with the basics: What are journeys?

Transactional journeys let you send subscribers messages about the status of their order or subscription. For example, you can send a message when a subscriber completes an order or their order has shipped, or to let them know that their subscription started.

You should know

  • When you create a transactional journey, it automatically includes Attentive's template message copy. You can customize the copy to better suit your business needs, but any edited copy must be submitted to and reviewed by Attentive before you can send it to your subscribers.
  • If you have access to developer resources, then you can also build custom journey triggers, greatly expanding the types of transactional journeys you can build and the messages you can send.
  • If you're looking for guidance on how to write transactional message copy, be sure to check out Transactional message copy best practices.
  • Best practice is to have separate opt-ins for promotional messages and transactional messages. You can collect promotional opt-ins with Attentive sign-up units, or with a separate checkbox during checkout (Shopify Plus only).
  • Transactional messages follow standard Quiet Hours rules when quiet hours are toggled on.
  • Transactional messages will still send during Smart Sending.
  • If a subscriber who's subscribed to both promotional and transactional messages opts out of transactional messages, they are automatically opted out of both types of messages. Note that the opt-out rate for transactional messages is very low (.33%).
  • Transactional messages are sent through your normal dedicated shortcode.
  • You can send multiple transactional messages in a single journey, but keep in mind that each message within a journey uses the same trigger. If you want to let subscribers know both when their order ships and when it’s delivered, you’ll need to create two separate journeys.

Transactional vs. promotional text messages

There are different legal and carrier requirements for promotional messages and transactional/informational messages. Transactional messages, unlike promotional messages, have less stringent opt-in requirements and don't require double opt-in like promotional messages sent through Attentive.

However, transactional messages have strict requirements for what they can and can't include. Transactional messages:

  • Must include content about the customer’s specific order, like their order number or a confirmation that a product shipped.
  • Must not include promotional content of any kind. This includes discount codes, upselling, references to other products you offer, or any other kind of promotional content.


You can send transactional messages with these integrations:

Shopify and Shopify Plus transactional messages

Shopify triggers let you message subscribers when they interact with your Shopify store. Use the order shipped trigger to message subscribers when their order ships, the out for delivery trigger to message them when their order is about to be delivered, and so on. By default, Shopify journey triggers are transactional, which means you can’t use them for promotional messages.

Currently available Shopify triggers:

  • Order Confirmed: Sent when a subscriber completes a purchase.
  • Order Shipped: Sent when a subscriber’s order has shipped.
  • Order Canceled: Sent when either you or a subscriber cancels their order.
  • Order Delivered: Sent when an order is delivered to a subscriber.
  • Order Out for Delivery: Sent when an order is out for delivery to a subscriber.
  • Order Refunded: Sent when a subscriber is refunded for an order.
  • Refund Failed: Sent when a refund fails.
  • Shipment Canceled: Sent when either you or a subscriber cancels a shipment.

Before you can get started with Shopify and Shopify Plus transactional messages, first check out Set up transactional messages for Shopify and Shopify Plus integration.

ReCharge transactional messages

If you’re using ReCharge to handle subscriptions, you can build journeys based on the following triggers:

  • Subscription Started: Sent when a subscription has started..
  • Subscription Skipped: Sent when a subscriber skips a subscription period.
  • Payment Failed: Sent when a payment fails.

AfterShip transactional messages

If you're using Aftership for shipment tracking, you can build journeys based on the following triggers:

  • AfterShip - Available for Pickup: Sent when a shipment has arrived at a pickup point and is ready for pickup.
  • AfterShip - Delivered: Sent when a shipment has been delivered successfully.
  • AfterShip - Delivery Attempt Failure: Sent when a carrier failed to deliver a shipment.
  • AfterShip - Exception: Sent when a shipment is held at customs, returned to sender, or any other shipping exceptions.
  • AfterShip - Expired: Sent when a shipment has had no tracking information for 30 days since it was added.
  • AfterShip - In Transit: Sent when a carrier has picked up a shipment from a shipper.
  • AfterShip - Info Received: Sent when a carrier has received shipment information and is on their way for pickup.
  • AfterShip - Out for Delivery: Sent when a carrier is delivering a shipment.

Shopify and AfterShip

AfterShip behaves differently depending on whether you use Shopify. Specifically, this affects your customers’ opt-in process for receiving transactional text messages.

  • If you’re using Shopify, the opt-in message is handled by Shopify. 
  • If you’re not using Shopify, the opt-in message process is event-based. Your customers are automatically opted in if their phone number is on AfterShip.

How to send promotional content in a transactional journey

While transactional text messages have strict rules for what can and cannot be included, you can add promotional messages to a transactional journey using a Subscription Type branch step.


The subscription type branch lets you send promotional messages to subscribers who opted in to promotional content, and transactional messages to subscribers who didn't opt in to promotional content. The subscription type branch step works similarly to the other branch steps.

This Order Shipped journey has four steps:

  1. The journey is triggered when an order is shipped to the customer.
  2. An order shipped text message is sent to the customer.
  3. The journey branches:
    1. Customers who've opted into both promotional and transactional texts are sent the “Be sure to check out our new …” text message.
    2. Customers who've opted into only transactional messages don't receive any further messages in this journey.
  4. The journey ends.

You can use the subscription type journey step to build journeys that send different messages to subscribers opted in to marketing and/or transactional messages.

Create a journey using an AfterShip template

Follow these instructions to send a transactional message using one of the AfterShip templates described here

  1. Select Journeys from the left navigation panel. The Journeys page appears.
  2. Click + Create journey to view the Create journeys builder page. 
  3. Use one of the following methods to select a journey template:
  • Use the filter to select a specific template.


  • Select a template from the panels. For this example, we’ll use the AfterShip - Delivered journey template.


4. Click Get started. The Journey building page appears. 


5. From here, you can click Turn on to activate the journey with pre-reviewed message content, or you can click Edit and make changes to the journey.


  • Review the You should know and Transactional vs. promotional sections before you make changes to the pre-approved message copy. 
  • If you make changes, Attentive’s Client Strategy team must review them before you can turn the journey on.


6. Click Submit for review when you’ve completed your edits. You’ll be notified when the changes are approved and you can turn the journey on.

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