Pulling the Trigger on Automated E-mail Campaigns

Oct 20, 2008 9:33 PM  By

As an e-mail marketer, your ability to immediately respond to a customer’s behavior or consistently acknowledge static elements of significance to that customer can be the difference between relationship-building, revenue generation and missed opportunities. Triggered e-mail campaigns are an easy and highly effective vehicle for creating relevance and capitalizing on the many valuable touch points throughout a customer’s lifecycle.

Set it and forget it
Beyond the obvious benefits of automation, triggers provide you with a virtually effortless, yet personalized way to: build and strengthen customer relationships; evoke positive feelings about your company’s brand; and, drive prospects and customers to act.

With fully automated, triggered e-mail campaigns, you essentially, “set it and forget it” and allow pre-determined business rules of varying complexity to help you engage customers at critical moments in time. Triggered messages or a sequence of messages can be automatically set to address static data elements and respond to certain customer behaviors and events.

Pulling the trigger
The best way to demonstrate the value of triggers is to examine some of the types of triggered campaigns that can have a positive impact on e-mail marketing efforts.

Welcome Triggers
These triggers provide a great opportunity to make a good impression on customers right out of the gate. Everyone likes acknowledgement, especially a thank you, when they’ve made a purchase or newly engaged in other ways with your company. Through welcome triggers you can easily communicate your appreciation for a customer’s business, educate him about your company, product and services, and offer incentives that will drive him to make a first purchase (if he hasn’t already). Welcome messages also enable you to gather customer data that can be utilized for future personalization efforts.

First-purchase Triggers
As with all triggered campaigns, a first purchase program enables you to deliver a targeted message to a customer at the most relevant time—immediately following the purchase. Don’t miss your chance to thank her for buying your product, and entice her with offers for future purchases. Triggered messages can play an important role in driving a customer to make a second purchase, especially within that critical period of 30 days after her initial transaction.

Dormant Triggers
Dormant customer campaigns are an efficient way to try to re-engage inactive customers. Through triggered messages, you can easily “check-in” with a customer, acknowledge that you haven’t heard from him in a while (six months, one year, etc.) and inquire what your company can do to be of service. This may remind him that he purchased products that he liked from your company in the past and encourage him to consider what you’re now offering. These campaigns can also assist in cleaning your database; if the customer remains unresponsive, you know to remove him from your list.

Abandoned Shopping Cart Triggers
These campaigns are an easy way to “entice a customer back” and drive incremental revenue. If a customer thought enough about something to place it in her shopping cart, but didn’t make the purchase, she may have been distracted or is still contemplating the purchase. By sending a reminder after a defined period of time (i.e. when the cart has been abandoned for three days, etc.), you may spur her into action. Free shipping offers and discounts to purchase within seven days are also effective triggers, but should be used intermittently, so as not to “train” a consumer to wait for the discount.

Goodwill Triggers
Through these campaigns, you can strengthen relationships and demonstrate goodwill in providing unsolicited, yet helpful information or advice that enhances the customer experience. There is a spectrum of goodwill messages that can be triggered, such as product surveys sent 10 or 30 days following a purchase, and point balance notifications. You can also automatically send reminders to a customer about resources available to him. Additionally, triggered goodwill campaigns create an opportunity to interact with a customer by acknowledging events specific to his customer lifecycle. For example, you could thank him for his business on the year anniversary of his first purchase or the date he became a member of your loyalty program.

Milestone Triggers
Milestone campaigns are another distinct type of personalized campaign that can be triggered to achieve higher impact e-mail programs. Milestones, such as when a customer reaches a certain threshold, give you a great excuse to approach them with relevant information. For example, you can alert a customer when she attains platinum level spending status or congratulate her on her 25th purchase, and explain what new benefits she’ll receive. Milestones create touch points to maintain timely and meaningful triggered communication with customers, and in some cases, further capitalize on these relationships by making special offers that will entice them to spend more money!

Okay, don’t completely forget it
Triggers are among the most critical factors in achieving e-mail relevance because they can enable you to immediately, consistently and successfully interact with customers, providing them with the right information at the right time. However, in order to ensure the ongoing, positive impact of triggered e-mail campaigns, check back every six months to confirm that the content of your triggers is still relevant to not only customers, but your company’s branding, messaging and current product offerings.

Ben Ardito is vice president of professional services for e-Dialog.