I'm not sure about this one... I'd think they wouldn't be operational. I think of operational as confirmation emails, reminder emails. Is there anything in the distributors' contracts about communications?
Anything promoting your product (announcements) or a email including other links prob wouldn't be operational.
In this case if they DO need the price list, I'd prob have someone in your company (ex: SE, or head of sales) send them the list from their own email address, just to be on the safe side.
Distributors work to sell a company's products, in this case, our products. Without such communication on new products or our current pricing, they can't do their job. I don't know if communication is in their contracts, but I cannot imagine having a contractual relationship with a distributor/reseller that would exclude communication on the very reason we have the contractual relationship.
Technically "Operational Emails" are "Transactional Emails". They are the result of a form fill for example. Your questions is more about if you are allowed to email them at all, if they are unsubscribed. Laws differ per country. The US has CAN SPAM. Which means you can spam them as much as you want until they unsubscribe. This is meanly implemented for protecting people that don't know your company from receiving junk email. However you can always email your customers (at least in the EU). If your customer unsubscibed via Marketo, your account manager still sends him emails via Outlook right? So setting these pricing emails to "Operational" does make sense when you look at your company vs. your customer. But it maybe doesn't solve your relation with Marketo and their guidelines. I would contact Marketo first if they approve the situation, and next talk to a legal expert in the states.
Thank you, Diederik. We do communicate with these Distributors via regular email and by phone, so I agree with you. This is a transactional email. These people unsubscribed before we started using Marketo, which we've only been using for a couple months now.