Triggered e-mail: Extending the life cycle of multichannel campaigns

By Yael K. Penn

Event-based and behavioral (triggered) e-mail marketing is a great way to continually communicate with prospects and customers and to extend the life cycle of any campaign, whether it is traditional or interactive. As long as the messaging gets respondents to visit your Web site, and you are able to get them to opt in with a free offer or other premium, you’re in business.
Behavioral or event-based triggered e-mail campaigns center on one or a series of messages that focus on special events or actions taken by a customer or prospect that automatically “trigger” the sending of a message. Personal information provided to your company—such as birthdays, anniversaries or vacation plans acquired via a sales contact—can be the basis for a triggered e-mail communications. User actions, meanwhile, such as white paper downloads, also can be set up to send an action-specific e-mail urging a stronger relationship with the Web site visitor.

It’s important to understand that the information you have in your database (and how it’s organized) will largely determine the success of a triggered e-mail campaign. When planning a lead generation effort with an event-based or behavioral trigger component, be sure to take the time to think about the following:

  • The information you want to capture (online or by your sales team), so that later relevant, timely and personal e-mail communications can be sent automatically, based on that information;
  • How your prospects and customers already are interacting with your company and Web site;
  • The way a recipient might respond to each triggered e-mail;
  • The number of times you communicate with a prospect without causing an opt-out;
  • The actions that will signal the time to stop triggers altogether.

A next step is to develop a communication strategy for the different segments of your database, including existing customers, existing prospects, past or inactive customers, new leads, etc. Though the end goal for all of your campaigns may be to generate sales, the strategy, messaging, offers and frequency of the triggered e-mails could be quite different depending on whom you are talking to.

Once your communication strategy is in place, it’s time to create the targeted e-mail messages themselves for your campaigns. These can be based on the answers to the questions in a lead capture form, as well as which campaign is being responded to, and the actual interaction with your product or service.

Let’s say you’re offering a free 30-day trial to test drive project management software. Once a prospect opts in to try out the product, you might create a series of benefit-driven e-mail messages to encourage upgrading to the paid version. You might schedule these to go out once a week.

To take it a step further, consider the recipient’s industry, with triggered e-mail illustrating the benefits specific to that industry. This obviously helps make the e-mails even more relevant.

As you plan such a campaign—again using our example of a software test drive as a special offer preliminary to gaining a paying customer—you want to consider what to do with those who don’t choose to participate. Here, you might schedule a different set of triggered e-mails offering assistance in getting started. Once a recipient starts using a trial account, the industry-specific e-mails can kick in. Finally, you’ll want to set up a rule to stop these triggered e-mail completely when a prospect converts into a paid customer.

The beauty of event-based triggered messaging is that you can make it extremely relevant to the person receiving the e-mail. It also enables you to automate a large portion of your marketing campaign while coordinating efforts with a sales team.

If there’s a danger in any of this, it’s in never looking back once you’ve implemented such a strategy. It’s extremely important to continuously monitor every campaign, to do things better next time.

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