Every company has a slightly different marketing strategy, but they will always have some standard components. One of those is the need to communicate with customers. There are numerous types of messages that you can use to reach customers, from traditional options like phone calls to modern alternatives like push notifications.

An effective strategy will combine various messages in communication to appeal to your different customer bases and the differing needs for each type of interaction. Learn more about the multiple types of messages, including how each works and how you should use them. 

What do we mean by messages?

Messages simply refer to any method you use to communicate with your customers. There are two main categories: transactional messages and marketing messages.

Marketing messages refer to messages you send for promotional purposes, such as announcing a product or sale. These are also called promotional or commercial messages. Notably, the recipients need to opt in to receive this type of message.

Transactional messages do not always require opt-ins, and they are triggered by an action that the recipient takes. Common transactional messages are order confirmations, shipping notifications, identity validation, and account alerts. 

Types of traditional messages

This guide will mainly focus on types of mobile messages, but you also need to be aware of traditional kinds of messages. After all, there will still be some use cases for these, and the way marketers historically used them influences how we use the various types of text messages. 

person sending out email from laptop on desk


Of the types of traditional messages, email is the one that you are most likely to still use in your marketing efforts, and to the greatest extent.

Email marketing allows for plenty of automation, saving you time on your marketing efforts. You can use templates and fill in fields from your database, like with SMS marketing.

Some of the common uses of email include:

  • Newsletters
  • Promotional offers
  • New products
  • Business announcements, such as changes to your hours
  • Order confirmations
  • Reservation confirmations
  • Shipping and tracking information
  • Delivery confirmations
  • Account alerts
  • Shopping cart abandonment
  • Communication with employees

Emails have the benefit of allowing you to fit a large amount of text or multimedia. As we’ll see, there are limitations to this with the various types of text messages. However, there is a good chance that your email will end up in the recipients’ spam folder or will never be opened.

Emails also give you a great deal of relevant data and analytics to influence your future strategies for sending messages. 


When talking about the different messages, phone messages refer to calling customers to speak with them or leave a voicemail. It can involve actually dialing and talking directly to the customers one-on-one. Maybe a member of your team does this, or perhaps you outsource it to a call center. It can also include robocalls that dial numbers automatically and then play pre-recorded messages, with or without interactions.

Today’s issue with phone calls is that most people will not answer calls from unknown numbers. This means that you get a very low answer and conversation rate.

That being said, phone calls add a personal touch, and if someone is expecting the call, they can be great for business. Phone calls also tend to be more efficient for certain things, such as rescheduling appointments, as there is less back-and-forth.

While phone calls for marketing are decreasing, they still have an important place, just on a smaller scale.

The following are some examples of how you may use voice call marketing or transactional messaging:

  • Accepting or rescheduling appointments and reservations
  • Providing customer service (especially when the customer reaches out to you)
  • Answering specific customer questions

It is also important to note that they may still feel more comfortable receiving phone messages over mobile messages depending on your target audience.

As a bonus, you can use call tracking to get valuable data about your phone marketing and voice calls.  

Direct mail

Direct mail refers to when a company physically sends customers something in the mail. The most common examples are catalogs and flyers. While direct mail has declined significantly in recent years, some customers still prefer it, and it still has a purpose. That being said, many brands have almost no direct mail messaging and instead rely on other methods.

Some of the potential use cases for direct mail marketing include:

  • Catalogs
  • Flyers
  • Coupons
  • Menus for restaurants that offer carryout or delivery
  • Postcards
  • Holiday cards

Direct mail is helpful because it gives customers a physical reminder of your brand. It is harder to ignore mail than emails, as the recipient has to pick it up if only to throw it out. However, many people are used to not getting mail, so they assume anything they get is a bill or junk mail. As such, your flyer may just end up in the garbage.

As mentioned, it’s important to note that direct mail offers the benefit of reaching everyone. There is no need for customers to have an email address or even a cellphone. 

man looking at sms message on mobile phone outside

Types of mobile messages

While some of those traditional types of messages are still in use, mobile messaging is much more common for marketing. All of these can be automated, letting you send a text message to many users at once. You can also set them up to gather data and provide analytics. Remember that all of the following methods rely on a mobile device like a mobile phone. These all work well for short messages. You can get more information in our mobile marketing guide

Keep in mind that the only caveat of these mobile messages is that they require your clients to have a mobile device. All but the SMS messages specifically require a smartphone. This is fine for most companies, but research your audience if they aren’t as comfortable with technology. For example, companies with an older audience may want to focus on traditional methods and slowly integrate the mobile message service options. 

MMS & SMS messages

MMS (multimedia messaging service) and SMS (short message service) messaging refer to the messages you send to customers using their mobile device’s native texting app. Both SMS and MMS are also commonly just called texting.

If you aren’t sure about the main difference between SMS vs. MMS, it comes down to what they allow.

SMS messages can only contain 160 characters and can’t include multimedia. By contrast, MMS messages can be longer and can include media like images, gifs, videos, audio, and more. Most text marketing solutions use MMS messaging, even if they refer to it as SMS.

You can use SMS marketing for nearly every type of promotional and transactional message. Just a few uses include:

  • Announcing promotions
  • Announcing new products
  • Accepting reservations
  • Reservation reminders
  • Order confirmations
  • Order tracking information
  • Announcing changes to your hours

This is still the most common type of message sent to mobile devices as part of marketing. 


RCS (rich communication services) is the newest among the various types of messages. RCS is an example of messaging as a platform, with its goal being built-in. You can think of it as similar to using WhatsApp marketing or Facebook Messenger without having to download them to your phone. Think of it as delivering an app-like experience without an app.

It is very common to use RCS messages to add media or provide a branded experience. After all, like MMS messages, RCS messages make it easy to send multimedia messages to mobile users. 

Some possible uses include:

  • Coupons to scan
  • Flight tickets
  • Menus 

In-app messages

In-app messages are similar to push notifications in that they appear on your lock screen. However, the most crucial distinguishing feature of in-app messages is that users can only receive them inside the application. This is important, as they only appear within the app.

For example, in-app messages frequently appear as pop-ups or near the top of the application, requiring users to scroll past them to get to the content. So, an app for a retailer may have an in-app message about a discount at the top of the screen.

Some popular use cases include:

  • Announcing promotions
  • Advertising specific products
  • Onboarding and introduction to the app
  • Reporting new features of the app 

Push notifications

Push notifications are those messages that appear at the top of your phone’s screen and on its lock screen. These are the messages you get from a mobile application. Applications and businesses can “push” them out at any time. Notably, users can opt out, and you must obtain permission to use them.

Importantly, push notifications come from apps but appear outside of them.

Some typical business uses of push notifications include:

  • Announcing promotions
  • Announcing new products
  • Updates on orders or deliveries
  • Loyalty membership updates 

Send your first message in minutes

No matter the type of text message you want to send, you can get started in minutes. Podium Starter lets you start sending texts in a matter of minutes, so you can easily begin your SMS marketing campaign. Podium offers a quick and easy way of communicating with many clients and offering support. 

Isaiah Rendorio
Isaiah Rendorio Product Marketing Manager, Campaigns

Isaiah Rendorio is the Product Marketing Manager for Podium Campaigns—helping local businesses tap into the power of SMS marketing to strengthen customer relationships, increase customer lifetime value, and drive more revenue.

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