January 19, 2018

Automated emails, triggered by a customer’s online actions, can significantly enhance the relevance of your email communications and help generate sales.

There is, say the experts, a clear moment of truth when a consumer decides whether or not he or she will enter into a relationship with your brand. In the world of email, delivering those moments of truths that sway a consumer your way is often about timing. Automated – or triggered – emails sent to consumers in response to some type of action or event are one way to improve your timing with potential purchasers. The recent trend toward triggered emails has come at an opportune time, with consumers – in this case, email subscribers – becoming increasingly demanding. Today’s consumers expect to receive more personalized content that is relevant and timely for them, making triggered emails more commonplace. "If I have just added an item to my cart, but for whatever reason didn’t go on to complete the purchase, a marketer can be pretty sure that I am currently interested in that item," says Shenea Edison, who has more than eight years of experience in email marketing, including demand generation, marketing strategy and execution. "Reminding me to purchase that item or incentivizing me with a special offer will obviously generate a much higher response rate than if the same offer comes several months from now. It has also become easier to execute these types of communications due to email service providers having this function as a standard offering."

Several instances might warrant a triggered email, including:

1. The email sign-up

When consumers sign up to receive email communications from a brand, you can safely assume that they are interested in forging a relationship or want further information. That’s as good a time as any to communicate with a welcome email to cement the relationship. "This helps set the expectation of what type of emails the consumer will receive, educate them on the website/brand, encourage subscribing to other channels like social or mobile, and to confirm that their subscription was successful," says Edison.

2. Abandoned online purchases

When a consumer abandons the purchase process, it’s common practice to remind them that the purchase has not been completed. The email might offer assistance in completing the purchase, like providing a customer service number or an incentive such as free shipping or a discount on the order.

3. Post-purchase opportunity

During the post-purchase period is the perfect time to send a triggered email that confirms the order and shipping information, allowing the consumer to track the order. Not only is this good customer service, it’s also an opportunity to recommend additional products that are similar to what has been purchased. "Some additional post purchase emails include a request for a review, which helps with future purchase conversions, or a guide (or manual) for getting started with the product you bought," Edison explains. When a customer has been inactive on your website, you may want to trigger an email reminding them to pay you a visit. "If they haven’t responded to your emails for a period of time," Edison says, "you may also want to make sure your email list is up-to-date and clean." In advance of a major life event such as a birthday or anniversary is a time period when consumers might be ready to purchase for a spouse or have someone buy them a gift.