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17_TypesofTriggeredEmails

Who doesn’t want to automate some of their work, or to use software to deliver a better customer experience? Triggered emails are one of the best ways to do this.

These automated messages are just what they sound like – they’re triggered by peoples’ behavior. Whenever a prospect does something (or doesn’t do something), you can set up rules to send them a specific email message.

Designing a messaging stream based on a user’s behavior goes way beyond the old “batch and blast” mentality of earlier years. It also means that, in a sense, triggered emails are personalized from the start – because they’re based on how each user behaves. Add in some database magic to personalize the message even further based on what you know about them, and you’ve got yourself a potent marketing tool.

Online retailers have some particularly nice opportunities to use triggered emails. That’s why they’re used so widely. But don’t let the standard practices hem you in. We’re actually only limited by our imaginations here – once you’ve seen a bunch of examples of how triggered emails can work, maybe you can dream up a completely new use for them.

To get your creative gears turning, we’ve compiled this list of different types of triggered emails currently in use. You’re probably already sending a couple of these. But maybe there’s some you aren’t using. And maybe there’s a few you’ve haven’t even noticed before.

The best news with triggered emails is they’re fairly simple to set up (providing you’ve got the right tool). And, of course, they work. Triggered emails get much higher opens, clicks and revenue than regular promotional emails. The email agency Adestra reports that they’ve seen clients get six to seven times more opens and clicks with strategic use of triggered emails and personalization.

Here’s the current playbook of triggered emails:

1) Order confirmation.

Let’s start with familiar territory. Really familiar territory. Order confirmations are the most widely-recognized type of triggered emails. But they hold a secret.

Transactional emails – and order confirmations are one type of transactional email – get higher open and click-through rates than any other type of email message. Hands down, bar none, no exceptions. It’s not uncommon for retailers to get open rates on transactional emails that are over 100%. How can that be? Because people open the emails more than once.

If you had a message you knew was going to be seen more than any other, what would you put in it? ‘Cause there are way more opportunities here than just listing the order.

For example… how about recommending a related item or two? Or recommending a piece of content you’ve written that’s related to their purchase? Or including a couple of the best reviews people have written for the product, as a way to re-assure the customer they’ve made a good decision?

AmazonTuffBall

2) Shipping confirmation.

Here’s another email I know you’re all too familiar with. But shipping confirmations are triggered emails, and they are transactional emails, too. Which means you’ve got an email message that’s almost certainly going to be opened. And because it is almost certainly going to be opened, doesn’t it deserve a little more than just the tracking number?

In this shipping confirmation, Amazon is recommending products that people who bought this coffee maker also bought. Note the difference in logic here – does your recommendation system offer items you suggest, or items based on related purchases?
In this shipping confirmation, Amazon is recommending products that people who bought this coffee maker also bought. Note the difference in logic here – does your recommendation system offer items you suggest, or items based on related purchases?

 

3) Cart abandonment.

I bet you know all about cart abandonment emails – you may be sending some now yourself. If you are, you know how well they work.

But have you tested them with a personalized subject line? Related products? Excerpts from reviews other customers have left?

Drs. Foster and Smith may not win any design awards with their confirmation emails, but they do list their services and other resources in every cart abandonment email. This email actually goes on with promotions and resources for almost another page – I cut it for space.
Drs. Foster and Smith may not win any design awards with their confirmation emails, but they do list their services and other resources in every cart abandonment email. This email actually goes on with promotions and resources for almost another page – I cut it for space.

 

4) Product viewed.

Some marketers call these “product abandonment emails”. They’re sent when someone has viewed a particular product, but then left the page and hasn’t come back.

The question here is which product to feature in the email if your customer has looked at more than one thing. Depending on your vendor and the setup, you might be able to feature several items someone looked at. Or you could suggest related items.

5) Abandoned search.

These are similar to cart and product abandonment emails, but in this case a message is sent after a customer has searched for something, clicked around, then left. A few years ago, we would have had to leave it at that. Now we can send a follow-up email.

Respondr lets you automatically send follow-up emails to your customers if they place a search on your site and then leave.
Respondr lets you automatically send follow-up emails to your customers if they place a search on your site and then leave.

 

6) New product.

Any time you’ve got a new product, you can send an email out to anyone who’s ever bought any related items. You could even stretch and send an automated email out to people who put related items in their shopping carts. Test it – you’ll find out if that’s a step too far.

7) Price drop.

This one’s a twist on the abandoned product email. With the right triggered email setup, whenever a product drops in price, you could be sending emails out to every customer who’s ever looked at that product page.

8) Review request.

Once the order is placed and delivered doesn’t mean the customer’s experience is over. And as we’ve written in other posts, more reviews means more sales. Just one review can increase sales for a product by 40%.

So go get those reviews. Send a personalized email to anyone who’s had their order delivered (the more recently, the better). Ask them to leave a review.

Use triggered emails to get more product reviews
Product review emails usually include an incentive.

 

9) New location.

This won’t work for you single-store locations, but if you’re a chain, you know how much you want to get people into a new location. So use your email list to do it. Anyone within even 40-50 miles of a new store should get a notification email.

Extra credit if you can show it to them on a map, and give directions from their last shipping address to the new location.

10) Welcome emails.

Yup – these are triggered too. And they’re one of the most effective emails you can send. See our recent post about welcome emails for the skinny on everything you can do with them.

This triggered welcome email from TravelZoo covers the basics, but its missing any personalization, or any reference to the deals I looked at before I signed up.
This welcome email from TravelZoo covers the basics, but its missing any personalization, or any reference to the deals I looked at before I signed up.

 

11) Confirmation emails – for double opt-in.

This is the email you get that asks you to click a link to confirm your email subscription. It’s nothing fancy, but it is a customer touchpoint (so you’re making an impression)… and it is a triggered email.

I’d actually recommend not adding any products or promotions or anything else to this particular message. You don’t want to distract people from clicking the link to confirm their email message. But do take the time to make this email look nice, and write some good copy that’s in your brand voice. Way too many companies ignore this message entirely.

12) Preference change email updates.

Again – not a riveting email, but a necessary one. These messages just confirm that people have changed their preferences. This might be a nice opportunity for some humor, if that fits with your company.

Take note: These are different than unsubscribe confirmation emails… though those are also triggered emails.

13) Remarketing emails.

Okay – back to the more exciting email messages. As I’m sure you know, remarketing emails can be sent at almost any time. If someone’s been on your site? Boom – you can send one. If someone’s viewed an advertisement? You can send one. Been on your Facebook page? Clear to send again.

14) Re-sent emails

It’s not talked about widely, but some email marketers have gotten handsome results by resending their emails to their list. Yes – sending the same email twice.

Now, these marketers don’t just click the send button twice, of course. At the very least, they’ll change the subject line a bit, and usually only mail to “non-openers”.

It might be worth a test to see how many extra clicks you could get if you re-mailed to non-openers. If it works, and works over the course of several emails, you could set up a rule to automatically re-mail your weekly promotions to non-openers.

15) Signed up, took no action.One of Trunk Club's triggered emails

These emails are similar to a welcome email, but a little different. They’re specifically for someone who signed up or who took an action that indicated they were interested, then… did nothing.

Here’s an example of this from Trunk Club, a clothing service I signed up for but haven’t moved forward with yet. Notice the personalization in the greeting, and the personalization in the footer. They’ve assigned me a specific contact at the company.

16) Confirmation emails for webinars, whitepapers, quizzes, assessments – you name it.

We get these so often we might not even notice them, but confirmation emails for any piece of information or any task – they’re triggered too. And while you should keep these emails simple, there’s still room to add a call to action. Maybe it’s to offer another piece of content, or to mention your newest bestseller… or something else.

17) The triggered email you’ve just thought of.

Once you blend the ability to mail based on different actions, different times, and different changes to your products, there’s an almost unlimited number of triggered emails you could create. Add in some personalization – plus the special circumstances of your company and the products you offer – and I’m sure there’s at least one other triggered email you can think of.

So why aren’t you sending it? We’d be happy to help with setup.

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