Triggered emails are a powerful marketing tactic that generates millions of dollars of revenue for eCommerce brands every year. Since its initial capabilities of Abandoned Cart, the technology has progressed to become a sophisticated and automated system that brings shoppers into the purchase funnel and retains valuable customers.
The key to a successful triggered email marketing program, however, is to deploy different triggers that will guide prospects down the purchase funnel at different stages. Think about your typical purchase funnel and how intent changes as a shopper moves closer to purchase. In order to engage your shopper with the appropriate message in the moment, you need to use a variety of triggered emails to make the path to purchase as seamless and helpful as possible.
What Are Trigger Emails?
Trigger emails are automated emails, prompted when a subscriber takes a particular action or engages in a specific behavioral pattern or when certain changes take place within the product catalog. Triggered emails accomplish a few key marketing goals: They foster trust, inform consumers, help to meet customer expectations and positively influence retention by consistently providing nurturing messages. Since trigger emails are automated, they also always arrive at unique moments of need for individual shoppers without any additional input from your marketing team required.
There are five primary types of triggered emails – abandonment, product catalog, recommendation, post-purchase and reminder emails. Let’s take a closer look at how these triggered emails work and how to use them at different stages throughout the purchase funnel.
1. Abandonment Emails
Abandonment triggered emails are sent to shoppers who have demonstrated behavior that suggests they will jump ship before completing a purchase with your brand. These behaviors can be as late-stage as abandoning a shopping cart filled with products or as early-stage as abandoning after browsing a category.
- At-Risk: At-risk triggered emails are sent to shoppers who used to purchase regularly from your site but haven’t for a defined period of time. Thus, these shoppers have essentially signaled that they are ready to abandon your brand. At-risk triggered emails let these shoppers know you miss them (and their business) and invite them back to your site.
- Abandoned Category: Abandoned Category triggered emails are sent to shoppers who have viewed a category overview page or several items within a specific category. Categories can be types of clothing, such as t-shirts or dresses, an age group, such as infant or toddler, or even a pattern or trend, such as floral or summer.
- Abandoned Search: A shopper who searches for a specific category, or better yet a specific product, is showing serious interest with high intent to purchase. Abandoned search triggered emails are sent to shoppers who have searched for a specific product or generic term on your site.
- Abandoned Product: The more research a shopper does on a given product, the more interested they become. Hours after shoppers leave your eCommerce site, a triggered abandoned product email (sometimes referred to as “window shopping”) can bring them back by showing the exact products that were researched, with an opportunity to present similar products, new arrivals and best sellers that are directly related.
- Abandoned Cart: The abandoned cart email is probably the most common triggered email in all of eCommerce (and one many of us have likely received before). This triggered email is sent to shoppers who added products to their carts but didn’t complete the purchase.
2. Product Catalog Emails
Product catalog triggered emails are sent based on changes to your brand’s catalog data, primarily at the price and inventory level. Since abandonment triggered emails only take shopper behavior into consideration, there is a one-way stream of data from the shopper to the brand. Product catalog triggered emails open a second, critical stream of data: from the catalog back to the shopper. As a result, these triggered emails offer a two-way communication that keeps shoppers aware of catalog changes for products they’re most likely to buy from your brand. Because of this, these triggers are generally used at the middle stage of the purchase funnel.
- New Arrivals: Who doesn’t love getting first dibs on new merchandise? A new arrivals triggered email is sent to shoppers who have previously purchased or otherwise shown an affinity to certain items in a certain category, letting them know new, related merchandise is now available.
- Price Decrease: Because product catalogs are complex and always changing, eCommerce brands usually drop prices on old merchandise when new merchandise is added to the site. Price decrease triggered emails are sent to shoppers who have previously abandoned a purchase for the full-price product that is now discounted.
- Price Increase: No one likes to miss out on a sale. Before your discounted merchandise jumps back to full-price, give your shoppers a heads up. A price increase triggered email is sent to shoppers who have previously completed abandonment actions for items that currently have a lower price but will be going back to full price soon. Think of this triggered email as a last call for discounted merchandise.
- Low Inventory: Even though you may be able to see your inventory is running low on popular products, your shoppers are left in the dark. Low inventory triggered emails keep them knowledgeable by notifying shoppers who have previously completed an abandoned action for items that those products are now low in stock.
- Back in Stock: Despite receiving a low inventory triggered email, some shoppers wait too long to purchase and the item they’ve been considering sells out. Back in stock triggered emails are sent to those shoppers who have previously completed an abandoned action for items that were sold out but are now back in stock.
3. Recommendation Emails
Recommendation triggered emails are intended to inspire shoppers and surface products they haven’t yet discovered or considered purchasing. The dynamic content of these emails can be informed using an individual’s previous browse or add-to-cart behavior, past purchases or site-wide trends and best sellers. Recommendations are generally used at a late stage of the purchase funnel.
- Wishlist: Enabling both wishlist and cart “save” features on eCommerce sites help retailers better identify which stage of the purchase funnel a buyer fits into best. Abandoned wishlist triggered emails are similar to abandoned cart triggered emails but they are sent to shoppers who have added items to their wishlist, but not their cart, without completing the purchase.
- Cross-Sell: Do your shoppers ever wonder, “What shoes would I wear with this dress?” or “What helmet would I buy with this bike?” Cross-sell triggered emails suggest complementary products that are typically bought with a specific product the shopper is looking to purchase.
4. Post-Purchase Emails
The experience a shopper has on an eCommerce site doesn’t stop once they click “purchase.” Post-purchase triggered emails solicit feedback on the shopper’s experience with your brand, recommend accessories related to a purchase and/or plant the seed for their next purchase. As the name suggests, these campaigns are best used by email marketers at the post-purchase or retention stage of the purchase funnel.
- Purchase Confirmation: Making a purchase on an eCommerce site gives shoppers delayed gratification. They’re excited about the product they have coming their way and are anticipating its arrival. The purchase confirmation triggered email thanks your eCommerce customers for shopping with your brand and confirms what they have purchased.
- Customer Service Survey: Email marketing engagement metrics, such as open rates, click through rates and conversion rates give you a general idea of how recipients like your emails. But what about their overall experience with your brand? What if you just simply asked? Customer service triggered emails sends surveys to customers who have interacted with your brand and requests feedback to measure satisfaction.
- Product Review: In addition to providing amazing customer service, eCommerce brands also need to offer products shoppers love. Product review triggered emails are sent to customers who have recently purchased and received a product and ask them to submit a review.
- Social Share: A brand’s social media presence and following is more important now than ever. Social share triggered emails are sent to customers who have recently made a purchase from your brand and ask them to take and share a photo of them using or wearing your product on their personal social media account.
- Next-Sell: Next-sell triggered emails are sent to customers who have recently made a purchase with your brand and recommend another product that is frequently purchased next or complements the item they just bought. This takes into consideration more data than just a customer’s recent transaction, as it also looks at your entire audience’s overall purchasing patterns.
5. Reminder Emails
Reminder triggered emails are exactly what they sound like. These are triggered based on a calendar date that marks a birthday, anniversary or time to replenish products. These are excellent campaigns to use for customer retention.
- Birthday/Anniversary: Never miss an opportunity to celebrate! Birthday or anniversary triggered emails are sent to customers on their actual birthday or anniversary or an anniversary they have with your brand, such as their first purchase.
- Replenishment: A replenishment triggered email is sent to customers who commonly order certain products on a regular basis. This can be for basic necessities like prescriptions and toiletries or for products that will always wear out over time, such as running shoes.
Triggered emails keep customers engaged by giving them positive feedback for specific behaviors, making these emails an important part of the nurturing experience. While a comprehensive trigger email marketing strategy requires plenty of planning and experimenting, a triggered email sequence will save your marketing team time and money while creating happy, engaged customers.
An intelligent retail marketing solution with advanced automation capabilities will not only turn prospects into customers, it will keep customers in the funnel and encourage them to continuously convert. This will let retail marketers maximize the ROI from their email marketing efforts.
You’ve got the strategy, now get the looks: Check out our Triggered Email Template Design Lookbook for inspiration.