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Adv. Triggered Email Examples + Best Practices ft. Amazon, Nike, Google

Triggered emails increased conversions, multiply sales, and push repeat purchases.  

This post explores how to create triggered email marketing campaigns. We include examples from Amazon, Nike, Google, Bank of America, and more.

If you are already familiar with triggered emails and want to skip straight to the best practices and examples, click here. Otherwise, read-on to get the basics first. 

What is triggered email marketing? And, what are triggered emails?

 A triggered email is an email sent in response to a pre-defined condition being met.

Triggered email marketing uses triggered emails, and other forms of messages, to engage with customers in a relevant, timely way. These email campaigns are a flexible tool. As we will see in the triggered email examples section, they can be used to generate repeat purchases, solicit user generated content, or enrich customer profiles.

eCommerce stores use many types of triggers in a developed triggered email marketing campaign.  Examples of email triggers include:

  • Customer behaviors - such as completing a purchase or entering a behavioral based eCommerce segment
  • Failed Actions - such as not completing a purchase
  • Time based conditions - such as an anniversary or upcoming expiration to a subscription
  • Demographic conditions - such as birthdays

Unlike typical marketing emails which are initiated by the brand, triggered emails are only sent when a customer satisfies a defined condition (trigger).

Because triggered emails are always based on customers meeting a condition, they are highly relevant. This is what drives the improved email marketing statistics, including open and click through rates

Free Cart Abandonment Audit: One of the most effective triggered email campaigns are cart abandonment sequences.

Request Here. 

Creating a Trigger Marketing Campaign

Trigger marketing is effective.

In our guide covering advanced lifecycle marketing, we covered the three main components of any trigger marketing campaign.

  • Triggers - Signals from your customer that determine when a message is sent.
  • Messages - What you actually send to your customer.
  • Channels - Where, and to some degree how, you send the message to your customer.

This guide is more focused. Instead of covering all available channels in trigger marketing, we are looking at just one - email.

Triggered Emails Best Practices

While there are a variety of triggered email types, all campaigns can benefit from triggered email best practices. Below, we've outlined what techniques work better than others. 

1. Implement multi-stage triggered emails

Email sequences out-perform single triggered emails.

In fact, in our last study on cart abandonment triggered email timing, we found that the third email sent had the second highest conversion rate.

When setting up multi-stage triggered email campaigns, make sure to enable logic to suppress emails from being sent if the customer converts on the previous step. 

Retention Strategy through Reactivation Campaign

2. Optimize send times

In the past, the best marketers could do was generalize when the best send time would be.

Now, you are able to see when visitors are active, and follow-up with them during their peak activity times.

One simple way to do this is to simply store what times they are active on your site and when they engage with your brand on other channels. With this information, you can trigger emails to send during these peak activity hours.

3. Use personalized content in your emails

While triggered emails themselves often guarantee relevant messaging, you can create a better customer experience with content personalization.

Common choices are personalized product recommendations, specific offers, and email subject lines to the customer. Personalization should be based on previous customer behavior. 

4. Use A/B testing to increase conversions

AB testing is the single best way to increase conversions. With it, you can reliably improve your messaging, offers, and timing of your triggered message campaigns.

Below is an AB test example of a customer using Barilliance. Here we can see that their cross device triggered campaign resulted in a fantastic 6.62%. Barilliance is able to automatically detect winning variations, and allocate traffic properly to optimize results while gathering enough data to definitely say which variation is truly best.

Email Automation: Trigger Email Examples

Below are a collection of trigger email examples. We feature examples across industries, including technology, consumer, and financial examples - as well as how top companies integrate trigger email marketing in their customer interactions.

1. Time Lapse Triggered Email Example: Kohl's

Email Trigger: When a customer hasn't taken a specific action in a set amount of time. 

Email Message: Customers are busy. Each day that passes it is less and less likely that they will convert. Time lapse triggered emails are designed to not only remind customers of their need, but also present a compelling reason to take the next step.

Here, we see Kohl's integrating their loyalty program  (Kohl's Cash) with a time lapse trigger. The trigger is not spending the reward, which is a proxy for a repeat purchase.  Kohl's increases conversions by placing a time limit for redemption, which manufactures urgency to shop now.

Time lapse triggers are a fundamental tool in customer lifecycle management and should be one of the first triggers you consider when building out your triggered marketing campaign.

2. Form Opt-In Triggered Emails Example: 

Email Trigger: When a customer opts into a form you have on your site. This could be for a loyalty program, welcome bonus, or blog subscribe.

Email Message: Typically, this email is tractional. It lets customers know that they have successfully enrolled and delivers any incentive they may have been offered to opt-in. 

However, sometimes brands see this as an opportunity to expand their relationship with customers. They do this in the form of surprise bonuses, direct upsells, or special offers.

3. Browse Abandonment Triggered Email Example: Sur La Table

Email Trigger: When a customer attempts to leave your site before opting into a form or purchasing a product.

Email Message: This message is designed to compel customers to make a purchase. Using products, categories, or even product attributes such as brands or price point, the message can be personalized to maximize conversions. 

Here we see Sur La Table trigger a browse abandonment email after I ended a session looking at instant pots.

They use this session data to personalize the email subject line as well as the type of offer they include inside the email. The rest of the message is rounded out with a variety of related offers and product recommendations.

4. Post Purhase Trigger Email Example: OfficeMax

Email Trigger: When a customer completes a purchase. 

Email Message: Typically, post-purchase emails are meant to give confirmation that the sale went through. Best practices include dynamically inserting the cart contents, providing shipping tracking information, and delivering any other information needed to receive the order. 

Some brands also take the opportunity to provide complimentary products or unlocked reward status and tiers. Here OfficeMax gives a simple post-purchase email with a quick link to track the order and basic information about the purchase. 

5. Using post-purchase triggered emails to multiply sales: Amazon example

Here Amazon uses a post-purchase trigger as a signal to send specific recommendations. 

6. Out of Stock Trigger Email Capture: Sage

Email Trigger: When a customer comes to a product page that is out of stock.

Email Message: Simply presenting an opportunity to join a waiting list gives Sage an opportunity to followup with direct, personal offers of both the item when it is back in stock as well as related items in the future. 

7. Subscription Cancellation Trigger Email Example: Shipt

Email Trigger: When a customer cancels a subscription service. 

Email Message: Retaining customers is crucial for subscription services. With many eCommerce businesses adopting a subscription arm to their core services, it is important to define a strategy to minimize churn. 

The message here is two-fold. First, it is to confirm that the subscription has been canceled. Second, brands should remove all barriers to continuing service. 

Here, Shipt does an incredible job compelling a customer to stay on. First, they confirm the service was canceled. Second, they give a strong offer to keep the customer - two entire free months, contract and risk free. Lastly, they sign off with a real support contact. 

8. No Engagement/Activation Trigger Email Example: Chase Bank

Email Trigger: When a customer fails to engage or activate with a product or service.

Email Message: This triggered email is part of a larger retention marketing strategy. Before a customer churns, they typically quit engaging - or worse, don't engage at all. 

Here, Chase triggers an email when a customer hasn't used their card. They include a roadmap toward the bonus a customer receives after they pass a usage threshold. 

9: Promote feature adoption based on customer behavior ft. Citi Bank

Email Trigger: When a customer takes an action (behavior based email trigger).

Email Message: Customers need to be educated about new features and opportunities your store provides. To maximize feature adoption, trigger emails when your customer has just taken a related action. Below, Citi Bank provides an excellent example of a personalized triggered email designed for feature adoption. 

In this case, the customer was looking up their account details. This action can be more easily accomplished on the Citi Mobile App. The email below highlights this as a primary benefit, leading with the subject line "Next time you need to access your account detail - try the Citi Mobile App". This ensures the message is relevant, timely, and maximizes feature adoption.

Note that while the subject line tailored to the specific customer action, the other primary benefits of using the app are also included in the email body.

10: Welcome triggered emails featuring Nike

Email Trigger: When a customer opts into a loyalty program, newsletter, or other program your company has.

Email Message: Typically, welcome email campaigns and series offer some sort of incentive for opting in. The triggered email should first and foremost deliver on the incentive, and second, reinforce the key value they can expect by joining the list.

Below, Nike gives a great example by listing out the various benefits you can expect by joining their program. 

11: Product activation and onboarding featuring Google

Email Trigger: After a customer has purchased a product that merits a product activation/product onboarding triggered email campaign.

Email Message: The purpose of this email campaign is to detail the benefits investing in the product and giving a simple, easy to follow introduction on how to use the product. 

Below, Google offers a fantastic example. They lead with their value proposition "Great sound starts here", and break out four distinct benefits (listed below) followed by a curated list of explainer posts for various features.

  • Google Assistant built in 
  • Finding the right fit with multiple sized ear tips
  • Wireless charging case
  • Universal pairing across platforms and devices

12: Creating contextual offers ft. Bank of America 

Timing is one of the most significant variables in effective offers.

Below, Bank of America does an excellent job using first party data to determine the appropriate time to make an offer. This offer is triggered when a customer's bank account falls below a certain threshold.

The value proposition is clear, centered on the possibility of an unexpected expense that caused the account balance to dip.

Next Steps...

To create your own trigger based marketing strategy, you need to build a few specific capabilities. 

  • Create a Complete Customer View- First, you need to connect all customer data into one place. Customers engage with your brand across channels. Having an omnichannel strategy in place to connect this data is the first step toward using advanced triggers. 
  • Determine Which Triggers Matter for Your Business - Second, want to determine which triggers are important to your business. While certain triggers are applicable to all businesses (like shopping cart abandonment), others are dependent on your business model. 
  • Select a Capable Personalization Partner - Finally, you want a personalization partner who is capable of incorporating customer data and triggers to create personal, relevant messages. We've written a comprehensive guide on how to select a personalization vendor here

If you would like to see how Barilliance can help, request a demo here

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