Triggered Email Campaigns – Automate, Engage and Grow


We've all received those emails in our inbox that we delete immediately or open up to find that either the content is irrelevant to us or the generic nature of the campaigns force us to unsubscribe. Email marketing is often, and rightly so, used to connect and engage with prospective and existing customers to establish or increase customer loyalty and drive sales. However, we know that the effectiveness of normal email campaigns is limited. This is mainly because customers’ inboxes are already overflowing with these one-size-fits-all messages that are mostly ignored. The problem comes down to something we all struggle with…finding the time; and with large subscriber lists of audiences at different stages in the sales cycle, with different requirements and different interests, time doesn't allow for us to engage in personalised one-to-one communication with everyone, all the time.

That’s where email automation comes in:

To meet these challenges, many marketers are leveraging the cost-effective power of automated email campaigns based on pre-set triggers. Triggered emails are different from your average mass marketing email campaigns, as they are generated based on a customer or prospect’s own behaviour and are therefore more relevant, timely and personalised. Depending on your business needs, where you’d like this data to be kept, and how complex your data assembly needs to be, there are two main ways to set up email marketing automation or triggered mail: transactional email and auto-responders. Essentially they are the same thing - although the set up is a little different. However both get sent out when a specific rule is in place - anything from a particular action, a timely event or even lack of action - is triggered. Your options are endless. Data from a Harris Interactive study of U.S. digital shoppers suggested that these personalised campaigns are more effective and generate more sales than ordinary campaigns. The study found that:

  • 81% of survey respondents said they were at least somewhat likely to purchase additional items at a store or online as result of receiving personalised emails.
  • 82% of survey respondents said they were at least somewhat willing to get more promotional emails from retailers if they were personalized and took into account past shopping habits.
  • Nearly 70% of survey respondents said they would be willing to share personal preferences with retailers if it would improve the relevancy of the email messages.

So to create an effective trigger campaign you’ll want to think about your customer needs, first and foremost. By collecting and analysing as much relevant information as possible about your contacts’preferences and behaviour, you will be able to customize your content accordingly, using this data.

Consider these eight examples of prime conversion opportunities:

  1. Welcome emails: usually the first opportunity your brand has to interact with people and tell them about the benefits they can expect as subscribers or customers.
  2. Out-of-stock offers: offer customers alternatives based on what they've viewed on the site.
  3. Shopping cart abandonment reminders: if a customer adds items to their shopping cart in your online store but leaves the site before concluding the sale, you can trigger an alert as a reminder of their forgotten purchase.
  4. Event/ webinar messages: use trigger emails to confirm registrations, send regular reminders in advance and on the day of events to reduce the number of drop outs, and retain customers post event, with exclusive offers etc.
  5. Customer reactivation campaigns: sending reminders to customers that haven’t purchased from you in the last few weeks or months and provide an incentive based on profile interests.
  6. Upcoming purchase reminders: for a customer that has already made a purchase, a trigger can be set up to send a reminder to purchase again if for instance, the product that was purchased has/ is going to expire or run out or even when that specific purchased product is relevant to a timely event such as spring or back-to-school stationery at the end of the holidays.
  7. Messages to prove you are human: Send beautifully crafted and personalised messages on special occasions such as subscription anniversaries, wedding anniversaries and birthdays. Observe your contacts’special events such as Easter, Christmas, New Year, Yom Kippur and Ramadan or even share information about their interests in topics like rugby, tennis, fine dining or the theatre.
  8. Up selling and cross selling: Once an order has been dispatched to a customer, it is the perfect time to up-sell or cross-sell to them by advertising a related product, such as extra accessories or a services like a user course. Did you know that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%, compared to a 5-20% probability of selling to a new prospect –according to Marketing Metrics.

What will you gain from triggered email campaigns?

Converting prospects into customers usually requires multiple interactions with them, but time doesn't often allow us to connect with each and every prospect frequently enough to achieve this. Automated trigger emails are an invaluable business tool to help achieve this and more.

For example, you will:

  1. Generate more revenue: it’s possible to anticipate customers’wishes at every stage in the sales lifecycle and hence to design emails that meet their exact needs. It will allow you to move prospects forward in the sales cycle and win new customers, as well as nurture existing customers to increase your profit per customer.
  2. Build customer loyalty: when someone entrusts you with their email address and permission to receive information from you, you have the chance to demonstrate your value proposition by providing them with relevant, useful information and suggestions based on their preferences and online behaviour.
  3. Improve the relevance of your messages to drive sales: one-size hardly ever fits all. Use an event or a change in a customer or subscriber’s behaviour to trigger a highly targeted, relevant email message based on their interests when they are most responsive and likely to purchase.
  4. Enhance business efficiency: automated trigger email campaigns require some time to set up, but once they are running, you will have the freedom to focus on your business. Your additional investment will only include monitoring and improving campaign performance.

Something to note is that although trigger emails are automatic, they need to be set up in a way that ensures they are always relevant and engaging, providing value for your subscribers. At some point even repetitive messaging, no matter the relevance, can become annoying, which means a potential risk of losing a subscriber.

As with any email campaign, frequency is a factor that needs to be considered and this rings true for triggered email campaigns as well. While some may associate the concept of automating business communication with smooth-talking IT consultants and corporate-sized budgets, the reality is that setting up triggered email campaigns is easy and provides a powerful, efficient and cost-effective method for staying in touch throughout the relationship lifecycle and converting prospects to clients.

More importantly, once set up, the campaigns run when you work, sleep or spend time with loved-ones and leave you with more satisfied customers and increased sales.