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Trigger based email marketing: everything you need to know about email automation

  • On 21/05/2019

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase “email marketing automation”? It’s probably a detailed diagram that illustrates the sequence of emails sent to different customers with a final goal to turn your leads into customers. While this is the norm in today’s business world, trigger-based email marketing is also a tactic that can oftentimes backfire and prove to be ineffective when done wrong.

Why email marketing automation is oftentimes ineffective?

Because this tactic starts with marketer’s timeline rather than the prospect’s and these two things oftentimes differ. It’s the marketer that defines what information will be sent to the prospect next and which action will follow subsequently. However, most prospects wouldn’t agree with this path because all of them have different interests and motivations to take the actions that they take.

For example, a marketer might define the funnel stages in three different categories: Opportunity to Customer, Lead to Marketing Qualified Lead, Sales Qualified Lead. A lead enters the first category when downloading an e-book or watching a webinar, the second when starting a free trial, and the third when a salesperson establishes communication with that lead. Finally, the lead becomes a customer when making the final purchase.

trigger-based email marketing

But, what happens if a lead starts using a free trial and watches your webinar afterward? Or if they go from watching your webinar straight into buying your product? In reality, you can never control what path your prospect takes. However, one thing you can control is the reaction to your prospects’ behavior. This is where you can turn email marketing automation into one of your most powerful weapons.

Trigger-based email marketing (A.K.A automatic marketing messages) are most powerful when they are relevant and timely. To put it simply, Effective email marketing automation = timeliness + relevance + provided value. The first two components come by itself when you’re using triggered emails and it’s the third variable where the marketer can have the most impact by aligning a valuable offer.

If you want to learn how to do that, keep reading. This article will cover everything you need to know before starting your own trigger-based email marketing.

The difference between marketing and trigger-based emails

The goal of marketing emails is to promote, while the goal of triggered emails is to assure the user that a certain process has started or finished. In some instances, triggered email can be used for promotion too but that’s not their basic purpose.

Why trigger-based email marketing is more efficient?

Official reports show that triggered emails get 70% more opens than any other types of emails. The report also shows that email marketing automation if done right, can in average increase revenues by 34%.  If this isn’t a reason enough to implement the best behavioral practices when you draft your automated emails, I don’t know what is.

trigger-based email marketing

Source: Webpagefx

The main reason why triggered emails are so successful is simple. The user expects to receive them. When someone clicks Subscribe, download or buy, they expect to receive a confirmation email. With that being said, let’s see…

What other benefits do trigger emails bring you?

It shows your customers you care

Sending the right triggered emails can make your customers feel like you care about them by providing all relevant information to them in a timely manner.

It helps with lead nurturing

When a prospect performs a certain action on your website that doesn’t mean they are ready to buy. However, triggered emails are a good foundation for lead nurturing and paving the path to turn these prospects into customers.

It helps increase customer retention

Keeping your existing customers is five times cheaper than acquiring new ones. What makes triggered emails so good is the fact that they can help you reactivate inactive users very easily.

It saves time

Last but not least, automated emails can help you reduce the number of operational tasks. This is especially useful if you have a small team.

It makes you more relevant

Today, when the average inbox is more crowded than ever, standing out isn’t enough. Your emails must be relevant and triggered emails give you the ability to send highly targeted and relevant campaigns that are based on your prospects’ interests.

It gives you a competitive advantage

Recent research shows that nearly 60% of companies don’t use trigger-based emails and only 35% of e-commerce stores send abandoned shopping cart emails.

However, never forget that triggered emails are most powerful when

You think about a process from the customer’s point of view

email marketing

The large majority of people visiting your website aren’t ready to make a purchase. A small percent of them might want to buy something, but there will be a lot of users who just browse around because they have nothing better to do or because they came across something interesting. Another possibility is that the user might be comparing your offer with the one of your competitors.

However, you can still win over all of the above-mentioned categories of customers. Just create different scenarios and try to add triggers in different parts of your website. Optimizing your shopping cart and adding a trigger is a great start but there are also other events you can set on your website that will make the prospect trigger an automated email sequence.

What actions can trigger an automated email?

Needless to say, this can vary for different companies in different sectors but a good start is to define the x event that triggers a y email and integrate it into your website and business model alike. Some of the most common events that trigger automated emails are:

Subscription and all kind of other web forms

This is the most basic trigger that can be used by any company on any website. Use these forms to collect your leads and use the trigger-based emails to nurture your leads and eventually turn them into customers.

Abandoned shopping carts

Roughly 70% of web visitors who initiate an order don’t complete it for various reasons. A lot of people think twice before clicking the Pay now button. Most of the time, the main reason is the price and timing. Knowing this, you can use your abandoned shopping cart as a trigger that will give your prospect a discount and another reassurance that the order is refundable in efforts to convert them into a customer.

A purchase

Obviously, you need to send your customers a confirmation for their order. However, you can also create a sequence that will have a goal to find out whether your customer is satisfied with the purchase. This will make your customer feel appreciated and this will make your attempt to upsell to the existing customer a lot easier.

A reactivation

Some of your new subscribers might turn into cold leads as time goes by. They can go months without completing a purchase. Something is clearly wrong and you want to find out the reason. Consider sending a reactivation email to remind them that they have an account and underline some of the main benefits they would get by using your products/services.

Event triggers

You can use different kinds of lead magnets like e-books or webinars to collect information about new prospects. And since you know the content of your ebook or webinar, you know one thing your potential customer is interested in and you can use this to create a new sequence aimed at turning these leads into new customers.

Some other trigger-based emails you can consider using

marketing strategy

Start off by analyzing the check-out process. Analyze every step individually and try to identify drop-offs. Once you do that, you will know where you can add a trigger-based email. If you run an e-commerce site, analyze everything from the home page through the catalog and the payment pages. If you’re a SaaS company, review your sign-up process and see how can you improve the rate of turning free users into paying customers. Once you find your trigger, you can start your trigger-based email marketing campaign and create more different sequences for different scenarios. Here are some common situations in which you can use trigger-based emails.

The ‘Win back’ email

Customers unsubscribe or become inactive for different reasons. It would be hard to create an email for every different scenario, and even harder to match that scenario with the right user, but you can send a sequence (for example after 45 days) that will:

*Show the inactive subscribers you care about them;

*Provide them with free useful information based on the information you have about them;

*Offer them a nice discount.

The “Surprise” email

As you are probably aware, loyal customers are the foundation of every successful business. Luckily, you can turn your one-time buyers into loyal customers very easily with a trigger-based email marketing campaign. One way to do this is by upgrading customers to your gold/x pricing package or just send them an email with a free gift card, a free consultation or anything else they might be interested in. It might not seem like much, but customers will appreciate it.

The Customer satisfaction email

Using customer satisfaction emails is a great way to follow up with your customers, see if they have any problems or questions, and make them feel appreciated. You can use different variations of this email and probably combine it with a satisfaction survey. As mentioned above, a lot of customers will leave your brand simply because they feel you don’t care about them.




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