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4 Ways Triggered Emails Are a Superior Form of Marketing Communication

Maria Marchione

Sr. Product Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

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What if we were to tell you that with just a few clicks, you could ensure every single customer and prospect received the best possible marketing message from your brand at any given moment? No, this isn’t the stuff of marketing fiction or a promise from a marketer in the far-distant future.

Instead, it’s a very real reality with the right tools, which marry a nearly 50-year-old means of communication with the latest technology in email automation.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Triggering Outreach

Triggered emails are messages automatically sent to consumers based on certain events — or triggers. So instead of a mass promotional email to all potential customers on a wing and a prayer, brands send one-to-one emails that speak directly to each recipient and his or her needs. By being more selective about who receives what, the emails are at least theoretically more relevant, resulting in better outcomes. Everybody wins!

 Applicable situations for triggered emails include a range of moments like cart abandonment, order confirmations, recurring newsletters, welcome messages for email sign-ups, and birthday specials. They can also include re-engagement emails for subscribers who haven’t interacted in a while. Think of these messages as friendly reminders about the brand experience they’re missing out on. Pro tip: You’ll want to bring your A game for this final plea.

Triggering Outcomes

Don’t just take our word for it — research shows triggered emails have nearly 75% better open rates and 162% higher click-through rates (CTR) than mass emails, so it’s worth it to take your time to get this right.

One of the main advantages of triggered emails is twofold: personalization for consumers and convenience for brands.

Customers generally prefer brands that remember details like their birthdays. If you’re a mom-and-pop shop, you may know all your customers individually, along with important dates like when they were born. But at a certain point in your growth, it’s hard for businesses to keep track of these special events — not to mention all of your other interactions. That’s the beauty of triggered emails — they offer personalization via automation thanks to consumer data, which provides key insights into who a brand’s customers actually are and what they really want.

In exchange, brands have to actually meet customer needs — or risk a customer unsubscribing. And you don’t need us to tell you it’s hard to win them back after that. But, when brands do prove themselves in this capacity, trigger emails help ferry consumers down the purchase funnel to the ever-important moment of conversion. The emails are also a great way to keep customers informed about order progress, including shipping delays. In fact, customers have come to expect transactional emails like this from brands, so triggered emails about order progress are now a baseline requirement to help meet existing expectations. And your brand can do so much better than just the basics, right?

Plus, by serving customer needs in this fashion, brands foster loyalty — and keeping satisfied customers is far more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.

Triggering Additional Revenue

You’ve definitely heard the phrase, “The customer is always right?” And the idea of keeping customers happy is applicable here, too. That’s because happy customers are more likely to convert, which is one of the reasons you’re trying so hard to win them over in the first place. Per research firm Forrester, the happy customers who receive triggered emails generate four times more revenue — and 18x more profit — than those who get generic mass emails

Think about it: If you’re sending personalized emails based on consumer behavior, your brand is better positioned to argue its case to any given customer and give them precisely the right reason why now is the time to buy whenever that time comes. This can translate to a significant decline in cart abandonment and prevent lapsed subscriptions.

Research shows 77% of consumers are more likely to buy from an online retailer with personalized emails, and 82% say they’d be more likely to buy from a retailer with more relevant messaging. Those figures are hard to ignore.

 And so, yes, triggered emails benefit the bottom line, but this extends beyond simple reminders about a forgotten product or service, which compel customers to buy. Triggered emails also tell consumers your brand knows them and is paying attention, which fosters long-term loyalty — and repeat purchases.

Triggering Automation

The best part? Sending triggered emails does not have to be a heavy lift for brands. Instead, with the right partner, you can automate the process and practically let your customer data do the personalizing for them.

First, however, you’ll have to establish your triggers, which include the events mentioned above, such as orders, abandoned carts, email subscriptions, and birthdays. This is known as creating the automation flow. From there, you’ll typically choose your audience, create your messaging, and select timing.

To set up a trigger campaign with AdRoll, you’ll choose a customer trigger from the email goal selection within the automated emails dashboard and click on “create.” Depending on your goal — say, recovering an abandoned cart — you will then add your audience, input sender details, select email content by choosing from over 100 templates or creating your own, edit the subject line, create an email series and subsequent triggers, and launch the campaign. It’s that simple. 

Plus, while AdRoll does not provide transactional email services, it’s arguably even better than an email service provider because you can use AdRoll to create recurring newsletter campaigns, too. 

Triggering Intelligence

Once you’ve created your trigger emails, you’ll want to head over to your AdRoll email dashboard for intel on those emails to get a better sense of what’s working and what’s not — and how you should adjust. Tracked metrics include impressions, open rate, clicks, conversions, average order value, return on ad spend, and more. 

AdRoll’s email dashboard includes campaign charts for each email, but it also displays emails in a list format. And you can easily customize the data in your chart to meet your specific needs. 

Pulling the Trigger

In 1971, an individual email may have been enough to impress customers — if you were lucky enough to find those with access. Clearly, today the bar is much higher.

The average person reportedly receives more than 120 emails per day. And with popular email service providers like Gmail creating a separate tab for what they deem promotional messages, capturing consumer attention has only become that much harder.

Cookie-cutter messages simply won’t cut it anymore. Instead, if your brand wants to stand out from the crowd, you’ll have to speak directly to individual customers. Lucky for you, data — and triggered emails — can help make this task more manageable. When you’re looking to make the move into triggered emails, look no further — AdRoll is here to help.

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