What is the most efficient way to personalize your emails? The answer lies in the email automation process. Automated or triggered emails help you send tailored messages to the right person, at the right time.

Using automated emails to enjoy the benefits of personalization might sound a paradox. These emails are sent when a particular event on your website triggers them. The relevance of these triggered messages gives the illusion of personal touch.

What are the triggered emails?

Triggered emails are fired by specific actions taken by website visitors. This automated process is also called behavioral marketing automation. It allows marketers to send automated messages based on the user's behavior. These emails are successful because they are timely and highly relevant to the recipient. Essentially, trigger marketing is based on a series of events.

Trigger-based emails must be part of your email marketing strategy. Thanks to sophisticated targeting, you can build trust with customers and make sure you don't leave any money on the table.

Another benefit is that automated emails help you with the operational tasks, so there is no need to send invoices or confirmation emails one by one, for instance. You can be more efficient and use your resources more wisely as well.

What is the difference between triggered and marketing emails?

Marketing emails aim to promote products, whereas triggered emails reassure the recipients that a certain process has been started or finished.

Although you can use triggered emails for upselling as well, the ultimate goal isn't selling, but rather providing information to the recipients.

Triggered email statistics shows that you can achieve massive success by using email marketing automation.

Study shows that triggered emails received 70.5% more opens than other types of emails. This number is pretty convincing.

trigger-email-statistics

Source: Webpagefx

The data above also shows that marketing automation can increase the revenue by 34%. That's a good reason to implement behavioral best practices when you draft your email campaigns. At the end of the day, improving your business and making a higher profit is your goal.

Why triggered emails are so efficient?

The reason why these emails are successful is that the recipients expect these emails. When they hit the "Subscribe", "Buy", or "Download the E-book" buttons, the users assumed that you would send an email to reassure them about the process.

For example, the lack of a welcome email could imply that the subscription process wasn't successful. The customer would also be concerned if they didn't receive the order confirmation email after they purchased your product. They would wonder what happened and might get in touch to see if their order went through.

Now, this is an utterly lousy experience for the customer and adds unnecessary pressure to the customer service team as well. You can use your time and money more efficiently.

What other benefits do trigger emails have?

  • Delight your customers
    Sending triggered emails ensures the customers that you care about informing them promptly.

  • Nurture the leads
    The recipients might not be ready to buy now but nurturing them every now and then could help them become customers later on.

  • Increase customer retention
    It's five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than keeping the existing one. Re-engagement emails help you reactivate the inactive users.

  • Operation
    As I mentioned above, an automated emailing process helps you reduce the number of operational tasks. It's especially useful if you have a small team.

  • Trust
    Living up to the customer's expectation builds trust. Period.

Why do you need time to turn leads into customers?

Most people visiting your website are just not ready to purchase anything. They might just browse your site because they are bored or actually want to buy something but got distracted and left your website without checking out.

It's also possible that the visitors are still comparing your product with a competitor's product. You still have a chance to convert them though.

You need to think about your nurturing strategy to move these prospects into the funnel. Optimize your shopping cart recovery email or educate the recipients about your product. The latter is a tactic that is entirely not "salesy", but valuable. Once the recipient needs your service, they'll remember you, as you'll be on the top of their mind as the industry leader for instance.

What actions can fire a behavioral email?

Different businesses envision different email sending scenarios.

Define the "If this then sends this email" rule according to your website content and business model.

Identify the events that trigger the automated emails.

  • Webform
  • Welcome email
  • Abandoned shopping cart
  • Purchase
  • Confirmation email
  • Reactivation
  • Occassion
  • Event reminder

Visit specific site

When the website visitor checks out a certain site, you can assume that they are interested in what you have out there. You can customize a deal or remind the customer to pick up where they left off.

Subscription

This is a classic one. Welcome the new subscriber and include the information such as account name, gender, or age in the email. You also should inform the recipient about what they can expect from you and how often you'll get in touch.

Purchase

You should send out several emails after the customer has purchased your product. Start with the payment success and the order confirmation emails. You can attempt to upsell to the existing customer by including further items on their invoice. Finish this sequence by sending out the shipping confirmation.

Download E-book

This classic lead magnet method is to collect leads and provide value to the readers at once. Send the E-book by email and say a few nice words to the recipient.

Since you know what this E-book contained, you can assume that the recipient is interested in receiving similar content. It's a great way of sending target messages.

What tool to use to automate the email workflow?

You can choose from several excellent email marketing automation tools. Depending on your business, you could also use your mailing software or e-commerce system.

Mailchimp triggered emails

Mailchimp has great features supporting your automated email campaigns. For example, you can set up a welcome email workflow. You can use the built-in triggers or customize them as well.

MailChimp also supports your webshop by offering an e-commerce solution for sending behavioral emails to the customers.

Mailchimp-triggered-email-platform

Use your e-commerce system

You might be able to send triggered emails to your customers without using a third party tool. This solution might seem affordable, yet you need to remember that these tools weren't built to increase your ROI by sending email, but rather for managing the purchase process. This software collects less data. Therefore, your personalization efforts can be sabotaged.

HubSpot automated workflow

HubSpot is a fantastic tool to track user activities and send automated emails based on behavior.

Hubspot-automated-email-workflow-

How to start personalization with triggered emails?

Before you start designing the email flow based on assumptions, stop for a moment. Think through the customer journey and the scenarios you need to cover.

Ask the relevant questions when signing up new people to your email list.

For example, you can ask about their job role or age. This information is priceless when it comes to segmentation.

Use personalization tokens

Use the recipient's first name to make your email more personal. Use the data available to tailor your message to them. Make sure your email is relevant to the recipients concerning life cycle stage and product as well.

Stalk the website visitor

If the reader stayed on a particular landing page quite long, it's a good indicator that they are interested in a specific topic or item. Customize a deal for this person and send a special offer to them.

How to set up your automated behavior email campaign?

Build an effective triggered email framework.

Setting the conditions for the triggered email might seem easy, but it can quickly become confusing if you don't plan ahead.

To start with, you need to build the right trigger email strategy. The fact that your email is sent out when a trigger is fired doesn't guarantee success. The content of your email is key.

How to plan a triggered email campaign?

The best way to design your triggered campaign is to use flowcharts to visualize the process. It's easier to digest the information and understand how different scenarios can fire different messages.

This email workflow visualization below is an exceptional example of a triggered email flow chart. This great chart breaks down the campaigns into 4 weeks. You can quickly scan it and see what actions trigger specific emails.

Triggered-Email-flow-chart

Depending on how the recipient has engaged or not engaged with your email, you can schedule your next emails.

The recipients who opened the first email, clicked, and subscribed would receive a loyalty email on the fourth week.

Those people who opened the email and clicked but didn't subscribe or abandoned the subscription process would receive a second email with an extra incentive on the second week.

You can consider resending the email to recipients who didn't open your email. Apparently, you shouldn't send emails to those who decided to unsubscribe from your email list.

You can set up a similar flow to this one. Think through what you want the recipient to do and how you could encourage them to take action.

Triggered email best practice

Make the guesswork

Identify different touch points and think through how the prospects might interact with your website. Once the visitors took action, you need to define what would be the desirable action next. Write your next message that encourages the recipient to take that particular step.

This isn't an easy task since the digital buyer´s journey isn't linear. Visitors jump across your content, they subscribe, download your content, read your article, and so on. The amount of information can be overwhelming. That's when automation becomes handy.

Trigger based email examples

Let's see what kind of emails could be fired by different events.

Events on the website

The website visitor clicks a particular button or navigates to a certain page. It's important to have this visitor's email address. Without that, you can't identify who did what.

Download E-Book

Gated content is a fantastic tool to gather email addresses and start building relationships with the prospects.

Hubspot-e-book-triggered-email

This friendy triggered email by HubSpot is straight to the point. The photo of Christine from HubSpot made the communication very human. It feels like Christine sent the E-book herself (which we know isn't the case).

Say thank you for downloading the book, and include the title of the E-book and the link to it.

It's also a good idea to include similar content in your next email.

If the recipient engages with the email, let the sales rep know.

Welcome email

Greet the new subscribers or customers by following the welcome email best practice.

These emails generate 320% more revenue per email than any other type of email. Additionally, they're a fabulous opportunity to make a great first impression.

Welcome-triggered-email-by-Citrus

This welcome email by Citrus is an excellent example of leveraging a welcome email sequence. They could segment the recipients based on activity: people who used the coupon and people who did not.

Encouraging the recipient to follow you on social media is also recommended as it allows you to communicate with them on a daily basis. They also offered rewards for sharing the content of Citrus.

The recipient can update their profile and learn about the CSR program of Citrus.

Account creation

Asana-account-created-triggered-email

Asana's welcome email includes onboarding information and encourages downloading their applications.

You can include the email address belonging to the new account and the steps to take next.

Encourage them to start their Trial

Checked out Trial but didn't start - Send information about the product or just ask what was wrong.

Onboarding emails

onboarding-flow-tinder-triggered-email

This onboarding triggered email sample by Tinder is visually divided by the images of the product features. They also included a step-by-step guide to set the account.

SaaS companies know gaining new users isn't enough. They need to make sure the user actually uses the software and pays for it. The beginning of the relationship must start with the onboarding flow that helps the user navigate and learn about the usability of your product.

If you have a more complex SaaS product, you can schedule an onboarding email sequence which includes more emails to make sure everyone is set.

E-commerce event-triggered emails

Transactional emails are the heart of your e-commerce email marketing strategy. These emails include everything from the order confirmation to the shipping information.

Order confirmation

Order-confirmation-triggered-email

This order confirmation email is a good example of an informative, well-designed and catchy triggered email template.

REI thanked the order first then informed Jennifer about the order number and what will happen next. The shipping method and address are also critical to include. If the information is wrong, the customer still can get in touch and correct the mistake. REI also invited the recipient to join their membership program by giving a little pitch.

Order confirmation gives a peace of mind to the customer by reassuring that the order has been placed and the product will be on the way shortly.

What else to include in the order confirmation email?

  • Name of the product
  • Product size and color
  • Quantity
  • Shipping price
  • Payment method

Shipping confirmation

Tradesy-Shipping-Confirmation-triggered-email

The excitement of receiving the goodies is real. After the customers placed the order, they can't wait for it to be shipped.

Updating the customer about the shipping process will delight them, I promise you.

Tradesy also included a real-life tracking option in their shopping confirmation message. The customer can check their order once again or invite their friends to get some extra cash. The email also encourages the customer to download their app.

Abandonded shopping cart sequence

cart-recovery-triggered-email

Using humor in your cart recovery emails is a good idea as it helps you seem friendly rather than sales-centered. Bonobos offered 20% to the prospect as they were new customers.

Now, you don't necessarily need to offer a 50% voucher, but you can come up with a smart abandoned cart recovery email strategy.

  1. Remind the prospects they left something in their basket, and it might be gone soon.

  2. Ask the recipient what's wrong. Sometimes a reason for abandoning is simple. It can be the website speed, some technical issue, the shipping cost and so on. Try to find out why people leave your website without shopping.

  3. If the previous two emails didn't work, then you need to use your magic weapon: discounts. Experiment with A/B testing to figure out whether people would be happy with a 5% discount or more.

Just browsed - viewed product

browsing-on-website-triggered-email

This triggered email example by Debenhams explains they noticed that the website visitor checked out a few items. They tried to create FOMO by emphasizing that the products might be gone if they don't add them to their shopping cart and buy them.

Debenhams also highlighted the free delivery on orders over £30. People don't like paying shipping fees because they associate with the fact that getting the same item in the shop would be free. This method would remove this somewhat relevant reasoning and encourage the customer to spend at least £30.

Time triggered email

Nike-birthday-time-triggered-email

This trigger email template by Nike is a nice delighter. Nike wanted to give a little present to the customer, so they offered a special discount to them.

A special occasion is always a good excuse to reach out to your customers. It's a great opportunity to treat them and show love. You can use this tactic when an anniversary is coming up as well.

Event triggered email

event-reminder-triggered-email

This event reminder email includes the name, date, time and location of the event as well.

It's very common that people RSVP to an event but forget about it by the time. That's why you need to remind them. A well-designed event reminder email campaign increases the number of attendees.

Re-engagement email

re-engagement-triggered-email

This reactivation email by BRIT+CO used a GIF and humor to express how much they missed the customer. They also offered $10 off to encourage purchasing.

You want to send emails to the recipients who haven't engaged your emails or website for a while.

Reactivate user

Inactive-user-triggered-email

Empire.Kred made the hard decision to let the user go if they stay inactive. The very first sentences are about the warning of the account inactivity. It's

Remind the user what they miss if they don't start using your product. Provide a quick button so the user can easily get back on track.

Unsubscribe email

unsubscribe-triggered-email

Losing your leads is painful. However, if the recipient wants to leave, it's better for the both of you. Having inactive people on your email list costs you money and hurts your reputation. You don't want to be perceived as a spammer.

This unsubscription email from Beta List is a friendly goodbye letter. They still offer the weekly subscription option in case the problem was the too frequently received emails.

Beta List kindly asked for feedback they could use to improve their service. They also offered the opportunity to re-subscribe in case there was a mistake.

Take away

It's time-consuming to identify and set up a triggered email flow, but it's absolutely worth it. You can save time and money and convert more prospects into customers.

Technology allows you to send tailored messages to people on different lifecycle stages. Behavioral marketing helps you build trust with your audience an increase the ROI by moving them in the funnel.

Author
Roland Pokornyik

Roland Pokornyik

CEO / Co-founder @ Chamaileon.io & EDMdesigner.com