Some Good Thinking

It’s Time to Pull the Trigger on Automated Emails

Automated Emails

Triggered messages are no-brainers for email marketers because they get better opens, clicks and ROI than traditional promotional emails — all at a lower cost. We’re not suggesting ditching your regular messaging cadence, but you can increase the relevancy — and the bottom-line impact — of your email program by including triggered emails in your mix.

What is a triggered message?

The short answer is, it’s any email that’s automatically delivered to a subscriber based on the individual subscriber’s behavior or current status.

Some examples of triggered emails include automated welcome emails, browse and cart abandon emails, activation emails, re-engagement campaigns, product review requests and birthday offers. Triggered messages are driven by customer behavior or status in some capacity — when the customer joined the email list, their birthday or anniversary, when the customer last purchased, or when they last browsed your site, for example. Typically, they are sent immediately upon a subscriber meeting pre-set criteria, so they tend to have immediate relevance to the reader.

Can you really get more for less? Yup.

When properly configured, triggered messages deliver customized content to your customers at critical points in their buying cycle or their relationship with your organization. And they do so at a far lower cost and a much higher return than standard marketing emails. Triggered messages require an upfront time investment to map out the sending strategy, create the email and set up the automation, but that investment is minimal compared to the daily grind of planning, writing, editing, coding, testing and sending traditional promotional marketing emails. While triggered messages are not completely “set it and forget it” (we do recommend regularly reviewing and refreshing the creative), they’re much more hands-off than most traditional marketing emails. Once implemented, they work for you around the clock, generating awareness, engagement and revenue every time a subscriber’s behavior or status triggers a message.

Let’s look at one e-commerce company’s data to compare key metrics of standard marketing emails with two types of triggered messages. The following numbers represent averages for the prior fiscal year.

Email TypeOpen RateClick RateRevenue per Email
Promotional Emails10.8 %1.23 %$0.04
Browse Abandon39.56 %9.61 %$0.71
Cart Abandon35.73 %9.57 %$1.71

The engagement rates and revenue per email for the triggered messages are huge compared to the standard promotional email cadence. For open rates, that’s a 266% lift for browse abandon and a 230% lift for cart abandon over promotional emails. For revenue per email, the browse abandon is almost 18 times higher and the cart abandon almost 42 times higher compared to promotional. Why? Because triggered messages meet the customer where they are in their relationship with your brand, not where the brand is in its marketing calendar.

And this client is not alone in seeing dramatic lift rates for subscriber engagement and revenue per email for triggered messages compared to standard promotional messages. A quick Google search will result in multiple studies and white papers detailing the value of triggered messages, including this Marketing Sherpa study of an online clothing retailer that experienced a 220% lift in opens and a 525% lift in clicks for triggered messages compared to business as usual. Regardless of what study or benchmark report you read, the bottom line is clear; triggered messages have higher opens, clicks and revenue than standard promotional messages – way higher.

Ready to pull the trigger? Here are a few ideas.

We don’t recommend abandoning your standard marketing email strategy, but we do recommend that email marketers look for opportunities to trigger emails to increase their overall ROI. While browse abandon and cart abandon messages have a clear increase in ROI as seen above, there are also options for automating triggered messages outside of e-commerce settings. Here are some of the most common triggered message types:

  • Welcome program. A welcome program is one of the most popular marketing emails. Welcome emails confirm a new subscription and introduce the subscriber to your brand. The best welcome series include an introduction email sent immediately upon subscription. A follow-up welcome email or series of emails may be sent later at designated intervals to educate subscribers about your product or organization.
  • Activation campaign. The goal of an activation campaign is to convert an email subscriber into a purchaser. Often, an activation email or series of emails is sent if a new subscriber has not made a purchase after a predetermined amount of time after joining the email program. Activation campaigns often include a special offer to encourage the first purchase.
  • Post-purchase message. A post-purchase message is triggered by an online or in-store purchase. This message is typically sent a few days after the product is received or likely used. It includes a thank you, and it might also include the opportunity to rate and review the purchased product, and suggestions for future purchases. This message should not be confused with a receipt or shipping confirmation.
  • Customer lifecycle campaign. Customer lifecycle refers to the length and nature of a customer’s relationship with your brand or company. Customers experience different phases, including inquiry, consideration, selection and purchasing, usage and support, and replenishment or additional purchases. Lifecycle messages are targeted to the unique phase a customer is experiencing and are often targeted to products previously purchased.
  • Birthday or anniversary messages. These messages typically include a special offer for the customer’s birthday or anniversary — whether that’s a wedding anniversary or an anniversary of their engagement with your brand.
  • Cart abandonment. When a customer leaves an item in his or her online shopping cart, this is not necessarily a lost conversion. Savvy marketers use a cart-abandonment email or email series to remind customers of the item they’ve taken interest in but have left unpurchased.
  • Browse abandonment. A browse abandonment email or email series is triggered after an email subscriber spends a set amount of time browsing your website but leaves without placing an item in his or her cart. This email provides a way for marketers to follow up on the common reasons why subscribers abandon a website while educating the subscriber on the product, brand, or shipping and return policies of the company.
  • Re-engagement emails. Re-engagement campaigns are sometimes called win-back campaigns because the goal is to win back the attention of non-engaged, chronically passive subscribers. Non-engaged subscribers are those who have not opened your messages or clicked an email link over a designated period of time. To capture the attention of previously inactive subscribers, these emails often include “We’ve missed you” messaging coupled with an aggressive special offer.

Looking to do more with less? We would love to discuss how triggered messages can take your email marketing to the next level. Call us today at 314-918-8088, ext. 106, or email .