Pulling the Trigger: 3 Steps for Automated Email Success

Go ahead, pull the trigger! And by that we mean stop sending standard email newsletters and start providing your audience with more contextual and relevant emails based on their behaviors. You’ve got the data and insight on your customers already; now it’s time to put them to good use with triggered emails.

A recent ExpertSender study found that the open rate of triggered emails is far higher than newsletters — four times higher,. We know true engagement and conversion aren’t all about open rates, but why not stack the odds in your favor at the onset?

Benefits and Challenges of Behavioral Email Marketing

The benefits of behavioral email marketing are pretty powerful and straightforward: With a triggered email campaign, up to 55% of users open the email, as opposed to the average 10% of generic newsletters. Plus, automatic follow-up based on behavior not only helps increase conversion to sale, it does so at a much lower cost than most other digital marketing tactics.

What are the challenges? The biggest hurdle is acquiring the right technology platform, of course. But assuming the technology is in place, the next hurdle is the time it takes on the front-end to set up the sequences, particularly if it’s a new approach for your company. It’s a shift away from a more contained campaign approach — but the investment up front will be worth it in the long run.

How to Execute Event-Triggered Emails

The key to success is personalization. With a plethora of data at your disposal — like location, purchase history, and an understanding of customer preferences based on page visits, form fills or downloads — there are countless ways to make the next email you send to a client or prospect matter more to them and, therefore, bring you more clicks, engagement and conversion.

Here are three important steps to planning your triggered email program:

  1. Decide what message to send, when to send it, and the action you want customers to take afterward. Are you sending a welcome message that encourages users to sign up for a topical newsletter or membership? Or are you sending a conversion message that puts a harder sell on a previously viewed product? Asking yourself these questions will help you develop a contact strategy for each stage of the customer lifecycle: welcome, engagement, cross-selling and conversion.To get you started, the most popular email triggers, according to the Econsultancy Email Marketing Census 2013 include:
    • Automated response to website visit / sign-up (35%)
    • Subscription or sign-up to website (33%)
    • Timed content program across sales cycle (29%)
    • Lapsed customers (25%)
    • Selling complementary products; subscription due for renewal; abandoned basket (20%)

    The sequences can be as basic or sophisticated as you want them to be. For example, you can develop different communication tracks based on whether an email was opened, which links were clicked, or whether you know the user is a high-value customer. Or, you could send everyone down the same path once the initial trigger is released. It all depends on what you hope to achieve.

  2. Next decide what medium(s) you will use to deliver your message. Email is a given. But you may want to supplement or integrate your email communications with other strategic touch points. For example, a welcome message should be delivered via email, but a post-transaction page or “thank you” state is also highly effective. Other mediums to consider at various stages of the lifecycle include on-page promos, SMS, and good, old-fashioned phone calls, especially to those high-value customers.
  3. Finally, focus on user experience, copy and creative execution. Simplicity and clarity are key. You need to hit a few critical components, but other than that, resist the urge to add extra information and links. Know the action and path you want your customer to take, and give them clear guideposts for taking it. Email at different stages of the lifecycle will require different priority and message tailoring, but in general, each email should:
    • Provide reinforcement (let your customers know why they are being contacted) in the subject line and header — and make it compelling
    • Present the brand and value proposition early
    • Greet your users personally, using a first and/or last name whenever possible
    • Provide only the information the user needs to encourage or entice them to take the next step
    • Have a clear, bold and persuasive call to action
    • And absolutely, positively be responsive to mobile devices

For more information and a quick quiz on how your email strategy stacks up, check out: “Email is Still King. Let’s Show Some Respect.”