The New Conversion Tool: Triggered E-Mails

Jan 14, 2008 11:33 PM  By

It’s one thing to get people to sign up for your e-mail. It’s another to turn them into customers. But you can do it by sending triggered messages.

These automated e-mails can engage prospects with your brand, entice them with offers and address the risks they face when placing an order.

Yes, a certain percentage will become customers even without all that. But why leave it to chance?

Here’s how to start a triggered conversion series.

The first challenge is to get the person to opt in. Initially, it may pay to ask only for their e-mail address and first name.

Typically, your first triggered response will thank the prospect for signing up, and emphasize your guarantees and great customer service. You may even include a testimonial or two to show customer satisfaction.

The next challenge is to make your series relevant. Fortunately, you are in a perfect position to ask for information that will help you do that.

Ask the recipient to specify the product areas that most appeal to them. Depending on your brand, you may also ask how urgent their purchase need is, and their age or occupation.

It’s now time for the second triggered message. Send your prospective customer an e-mail loaded with relevant content and offers. If the prospect has indicated an interest in apparel for special occasions, send an e-mail with your best sellers in this category, tips for selecting items, and a first-time buyer offer: free shipping, $$ off, or a free bonus gift.

But make it clear these offers are solely for this first time buyer. This is critical for two reasons:

1. It adds the element of exclusivity, a key emotional driver of sales.

2. It ensures that the offer is truly seen as special. You shouldn’t condition the new customer to expect deals every time they place an order.

Now let’s move on to the third message in the series. This one should repeat much of what was in the second e-mail, but add a deadline to encourage action. Also, remind the prospect of your guarantees and the ease of returns to allay fears about the risks of doing business with you.

How many steps should you have in your conversion series? It varies with each brand, but the standard is a minimum of three and a maximum of seven. Test to find the ideal number.

How far apart should each message be? I’ve seen them spaced anywhere from one to four days apart. If you send them less frequently, you may lose the connection.

Our next article will discuss how to drive additional sales with triggered e-mails

Shari Altman is president of Altman Dedicated Direct, a direct marketing consultancy specializing in customer acquisition, catalog, continuity, DRTV, and loyalty marketing.