In recent years, e-mail marketing has been in constant development and right now event-driven news get a lot of attention. The reason is simple: Transactions or triggermails are an innovative form of dialogue marketing that focus on the receiver of the message.

In other words, the addressee receives at the right time, information that is of high relevance for him.

Trigger-mails can be described by the following four points: Always relating to an occasion, delivering specific and individual information, always personalized and the timing of the dispatch depends directly on a past or future event.

Trigger-mails are "masters of relevance", as the communicated messages are only transmitted in case of a particular event or a series of incidents, and thus the e-mail content always establishes a reference to the current user status.

The relevance of the communicated message decides on the success or failure in email marketing of the future. Irrelevant messages are perceived as uninteresting and even as harassing. Messages instead that deliver at the right time the right information, are classified as extremely helpful. Trigger-based messages can create a truly relevant email campaign to customers that yield a greater ROI, because it is a customer- facilitated exchange that triggers the campaign. Marketers see a more significant return on investment when they do very personalized trigger marketing, as online shoppers are receiving a one-to-one marketing campaign rather than a mass campaign.

There are a lot of email-marketing service and software suppliers that are providing online-registration, database maintenance, and automated emails. Even web hosts and contact management software such as Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird offer this function. For trigger marketers however, the ideal solution taps directly into shopping cart and web analytic software to trigger automated contacts for events ranging from cart abandonment to shopping club renewals. Only a few dozen email service providers tie into both analytics and cart systems, for example, ExactTarget, StrongMail and Bronto.

Categories of triggers

The objective of any trigger-mail campaign is to establish an as relevant dialogue as possible to the email recipient. The precise planning of the personalization chain is the core of a multi-trigger-mail campaign. The finer the degree of individualisation is extracted, the more unerring and useful the message is received and perceived.

Trigger marketing can be separated into three categories: transactional triggers such as purchases and downloads, recurring triggers such as renewals and birthdays, and threshold triggers such as V.I.P. purchase levels or credit card declines. Whether messages are triggered by analytics, rules, customization, purchases, views, downloads or the plethora of other initiated actions, trigger marketing is based on an action having been taken, whether on your part or that of your customer. E-merchants talk to their customers exactly when they should do so and that is what trigger marketing is all about. No matter what the ecommerce niche or industry, we all need to get more relevant when we touch base with consumers. Implementation of a trigger-based email program

To be successful with a triggerbased automated email program, consider the following:

  • Define Business Rules. A well defined trigger-based program can create a significant return. Be certain to recognize where it’s appropriate to create triggerbased campaigns and where there may be little benefit. Creating a business rule that sends a transactional message that includes an up-sell opportunity only makes sense if the product that is promoted matches the customer’s interest.
  • Set Frequency Limits. Don’t send too often. After you have established your business rules, review your plan and determine instances where a customer may be sent too high a frequency. If your email service provider enables a frequency limit, take advantage. You don’t want to send three trigger-based campaigns to a customer in one day or one week.
  • Remember not to under-send. When was the last time the customer or prospect received something from you? If you are able, create business rules around when your prospect or customer was last sent a message.
  • Think customer first. What frequency of trigger-based campaigns will not bombard your customer or leave them fatigued from over-sending? What promotional opportunities make sense: cross-sell, up-sell, discounts, free shipping? The possibilities are limitless for how you will use trigger- based email campaigns, but always be cognizant of the impact on the customer. You want it to be a positive experience that reinforces trust.
  • Keep it simple. Your automated plan should mirror your brand. Once you’ve done the tricky part of configuring your trigger-based message, you’ll be able to learn and test on the fly, so pepper in new business rules and continue to polish messages.

Promising Trigger E-Mail Content

While traditional automated emails follow newsletter sign-ups and orders, trigger marketing sends emails for other events such as particular search patterns, customer birthdays, holidays, or related products. Event-based trigger email messages or triggers are very different from regular email and that's exactly what makes them more powerful. They are especially timely and provide a sense of urgency and are newsworthy and contain important information and emotions.

When most marketers think of triggers, they think of lifestyle-related ones such as getting married, having a baby, or moving. There are so many more triggers to be mined. Depending on your business, you may be able to tie email to news events.

News-related triggers fall into several categories: news, weather, sports, and entertainment.

Trigger email is targeted and responsibly packaged in the context of an important announcement, news, event, or other important message. Messages are short and clearly state why people are receiving it and what the call to action is.

There are literally hundreds of other triggers you can use. Here's a sample:

  • Personal: birthdays, anniversaries, spouse's and children's birthdays
  • Holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Mother's Day, Independence Day
  • Buying history: product/service, frequency, purchase size
  • Interests: golf, crafts, reading, dining out
  • Tasks: fertilizing lawn, taking vehicle for oil change, changing heating filters
  • Charitable: an avalanche in Chile, a tsunami in Southeast Asia, poaching in Africa
  • Web site: new content posted, new section added
  • Ethnicity: Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and Deepavali
  • Work-related: National Secretary's Day, business milestones (e.g., 10th anniversary)

The number of application spectrums is huge: From birthday-mails to cross-selling-mails culminating in profile guided reactivation mails, everything is possible. The potential becomes apparent when you use trigger-mails in case of "purchasing drop-outs”.

Operators of online shops know the problem: Interested parties have the intention to buy a product, place the goods into the shopping cart but in the end don’t buy. Due to this situation many start a couponing campaign. The purchase drop-out gets e.g. a 5 dollar voucher that can be redeemed in the yesterday selected product category.

If this action has led to success and the shopping was carried out downstream, it is important that such information is provided. However, a regularly repeated use isn’t advisable as a learning effect occurs that can result in an increase of buying terminations. This example also shows that it is essential to consider in the planning phase of the campaign all possible impacts.

Opening and click rates of triggermails

Due to the perfectly selected one-toone marketing approach, consistently above average conversion rates can be achieved. If a message is already considered as relevant if received, it is desirable and will thus get a higher attention.

E-commerce can easily integrate and have a successful return with a trigger-based email program, as for instance in:

  • Welcome Programs. Incorporate trigger-based email messages into your welcome messages. Create a welcome message when one of the following actions is completed: download, purchase, sales inquiry, or registration.
  • Cross-Sell/Up-Sell Programs. You can create effective cross-selling and up-selling email campaigns using trigger-based actions based on your customers purchase profiles.
  • Abandonment Programs. When a customer abandons their shopping cart, trigger a message regarding their abandoned items and offer an incentive to complete the purchase.
  • Win-Back Programs. If you haven’t had a customer return to your site or make a purchase in six months or more, integrate a winback email that entices the customer to return. Rules of thumb that should be taken into consideration.
  • Permission recommended: By obtaining the proper permission for e-mail marketing the automated e-mails sending is also covered. An important point here is to emphasize that as in conventional newsletter marketing, in every trigger-mail an unsubscribe option has to be provided.
  • Technically advanced: Sophisticated dispatch solutions almost always offer the opportunity to implement more complex trigger campaigns in a technically correct way.
  • Use HTML: Enhance your messages with html. Incorporating your brand, as well as look and feel of your other marketing touches, can add to your transactional messages.
  • Customization appreciated: Relevancy means customizing your messages to the individual recipient. To create an ongoing dialog with customers, consider dynamic content in your campaigns. Your customers are far more likely to respond to messages that include information that relates to their preferences, behavior, or past purchases.
  • Measurement is advisable: Just like any other email marketing campaign, don’t leave it on its own. Test and review and find ways to optimize your triggerbased email program to increase your ROI.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if most received emails would be triggerbased? Those event-driven, individual and personal messages are true “masters of relevance”! So what are you waiting for? Pull the trigger!

Excracted from a whitepaper
by Silverpop