How to Use Triggers in E-mail Marketing

Relevance is the key to a strong marketing program, but traditional e-mail blasts are the exact opposite of that.

Think of your own reactions as a consumer. Let’s say you purchase men’s shoes from Zappos. Do you really need to receive e-mails touting the latest red patent leather pump?

Any firm that does that is likely to lose you as a customer.

And yet, triggered event-based e-mail is a powerful marketing tool. It can drive higher clickthrough and conversion rates.

In short, it puts the direction of the contact strategy design and content in the hands of the consumer. This may sound scary at first, but it is actually quite simple and very easy to execute.

There are several types of trigger-based e-mail contacts that you can start with and many already may be happening. These include the following:

· Thank you for your order.
· Shipping confirmation.
· Catalog request confirmation.
· Birthday special offers.

But here are couple of others you can try.

Welcome e-mail to registered visitors or first time customers.

This is the time when a consumer is most interested, and acutely aware, of your brand. If they were visiting the site and viewed product, or better yet, purchased product, this is when they are most likely to purchase again. With response rates decreasing in 2008, a welcome e-mail with a special offer can be one of the most cost effective marketing programs to drive incremental sales.

Reactivation. If a consumer has not purchased or clicked through an e-mail in more than six months, their likelihood of their purchasing again is much less. By 12 months, this is really a dead e-mail consumer. Take the opportunity and ask them to try you again. A reactivation e-mail can promote new, albeit targeted, categories or a general discount across the site to get that consumer to purchase from you again.

Trigger-based e-mails can be simple to design and easy to establish the rules for execution. Keep the message short and clearly state why there are receiving this e-mail. It should be obvious that it is designed and sent specifically for them, not as part of the normal blast e-mail program. No more than two e-mails should be sent per week; therefore, if two triggers were sent this week, the normal blast e-mail should be suppressed for these consumers.

Trigger-based e-mails should always be sent over a generic e-mail. Take the time to develop your trigger e-mail marketing program and start enjoying higher return on the program today.

Michelle Farabaugh is a partner with San Rafael, CA-based catalog consultancy Lenser.

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