Triggered emails multiply sales and retain customers. This guide breaks down how to create a triggered marketing campaign, complete with screenshots and examples from Amazon, Shipt, Sur La Table, 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 are Triggered Emails
A triggered email is a type of automated email that is sent when a pre-defined condition is met. Conditions can be customer actions such as completing a purchase, lack of customer actions such as not completing a purchase, or non-behavioral conditions such as an anniversary. The condition is called a trigger, and thus the name “triggered emails”.
Unlike typical marketing emails which are initiated by the brand, triggered emails are only sent when a customer satisfies a defined condition (trigger).
This characteristic make triggered emails highly relevant. Typically triggered emails have high open rates, click through rates, and conversion rates than non-triggered emails.
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.
This guide is more focused. Instead of covering all available channels in trigger marketing, we are looking at just one - email.
The first component is triggers.
Email Automation Trigger Examples
Part of what makes trigger marketing successful and challenging is how you can apply creativity to the process. Anything can be a trigger.
I want to take some time to highlight the best practices used in a variety of industries.
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.
They also manufacture urgency by setting expiration dates on the reward.
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.
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.
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.
Using Post-Purchase Triggered Emails to Multiply Sales: Amazon Example
Here Amazon uses a post-purchase trigger as a signal to send specific recommendations.
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.
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.
To create your own trigger based marketing strategy, you need to build a few specific capabilities.
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