Increasing engagement with Event Triggered emails

Type email marketing into your chosen search engine and you’re very likely to see references to triggered messaging within the first couple of pages. Don’t do it now, read on first!

Since the aim of email marketing is engagement it’s pretty clear why event triggered messaging is such a hot topic. Behavioural or event triggered emails are highly contextual and are therefore dripping with relevance.

This relevancy drives engagement, making the behavioural email a front runner in the race to increase conversions and win the hearts and minds of your customers. Triggered emails also have the benefit of efficiency. Once they are set up they run, automatically, as events dictate, increasing your email reach without the need for more resource. This combination of high returns and increased production efficiency should be enough to make any business want to jump in, feet first, to the behavioral email pool. Despite this, it is still an underused technique. But for any business that takes the time to consider adding automated emails into their marketing mix the rewards are high, and they will be gaining a competitive edge on those that don’t (yet) deploy contextual emails.

Okay, so what is an event triggered email?

As the (many) name(s) suggest the event (or behavioural) email is a message sent when a user performs an action or their profile changes. This can be a subscription, a page visit, an interaction with a broadcast email, or even a birthday. Essentially when a user interacts with your business it is very likely that you can send them a message that is relevant to their action.

The key to streamlined contextual messaging is to define business rules and deploy relevant content. The event triggers should compliment your existing broadcast emails. It is important to resist the temptation to trigger a message at every opportunity, otherwise you risk bombarding your engaged customers. Permission is key, as it is always, to these emails. For example don’t piggy back a marketing message on the back of a transactional email.

The business rules can be defined across the two broad types of triggered email:

  1. Event Based – abandoned cart, welcome, follow up, etc.
  2. User Profile based – re-order, birthdays, cross sell, etc.

Event based are more complex and have a higher level of effort, but they pay far higher dividends due to their reactive nature. Typically the user will have just performed an action on your website, so will be very responsive. Profile derived messaging bolsters the relationship with your customers, furthering the ‘email as a conversation’.

Okay, I’m sold on this idea, give me some examples:

  • The Welcome series
  • Abandoned basket emails
  • Replenishment reminders
  • Birthday / Anniversary
  • Order / shipping confirmation
  • Post-purchase cross-sells
  • Re-engagement emails for lapsed users

The technology is widely available and becoming easier to adopt. Event triggered emails are contextual and therefore have a very high relevancy factor. The customer is already engaged to a high degree in the offer being promoted, so response rates will be significantly improved. There may be a relatively high level of effort involved in defining and setting up the business rules for your event triggered messages, but once they are live they are very low maintenance and provide exceptional return on investment, reaping high rewards.

Additonal benefits lay in the increased engagement, due to the high relevancy factor. This increases brand awareness and advocacy, improving engagement across your other email strands.

How to create a great welcome email

Okay, so you understand that you must welcome each of your new customers into your email programme, but how do you make sure that you are making the most of this opportunity?

Here are some pointers, each of which takes advantage of the increased engagement rates of welcome emails to increase your future inbox placement rates.

Always send the Welcome Email in real time.

Speak to your Email Service Provider about their API suite, or use forms to trigger automated emails. And remember, it’s all about brand awareness. Don’t send plain text auto-responders, instead bring the Welcome Email into the brand family. Exploit this first point of contact for future brand recognition.

  • Thank them for signing up for your newsletters and remind them why they received this message.
  • Show them how to add you to their safe list.
  • Make it easy for them to manage their subscriptions with a preference centre.
  • Showcase what your email programme has in store for them – use real examples of earlier newsletters. They’ll recognise the next one when it lands, boosting your chances of engaging them.
  • Give them the opportunity to share your email with friends/colleagues via your social bar, include a recommend a friend option too
  • Do you have a soft sell you can include in your welcome email? A first order discount or free shipping will go along way to building the relationship.

And finally, keep it short. You need to strike the balance between smoothing the path for the future and overwhelming your new members.

And now?

Well, leave them alone for bit, let the wonders of the new world sink in. But not too long, the new customers should now be at stage one of your welcome series.

A week after they’ve signed up, stage two will be triggered. Their interaction with this message will determine the next phase.

Once they have journeyed through the welcome series they will be pumped and primed, ready for the full offering.

That’s where the real fun starts…

Why you must roll out the welcome mat to your new customers.

Each and every customer that you convert is the result of a hard fought battle. But you shouldn’t rest on your laurels, it’s far from over.

They bought from you because they trust your business. During the purchasing process you’ve given them a great customer experience, of course they want to hear more about what you’ve got to offer, so where do they sign up for your newsletters?

Assuming the purchase lives up to expectations, then what happens next is a defining moment in your relationship with your customer. Manage this initial conversation and the opportunities open to your business will be hugely increased.

It’s no overstatement to say that the Welcome Email may be the single most important email that you send to your customers.

Recent reports reveal that Welcome Emails can generate 4 times the open rates of standard bulk promotions.

They are received whilst your customer still has you, and the great purchasing experience, fresh in their mind. Use this openness to set your stall out and keep the smooth user experience flowing.

Welcome Emails have very high open and engagement rates, providing the perfect opportunity to urge your customers to do some of your work for you. Show them how to add you to their safe-list, so they won’t miss out on any future special offers.

Of course they need to know what they’re letting themselves in for, so use the Welcome Email as a showcase for your coming attractions, tell them what to expect from you and how often to expect it. Show samples of your newsletters to reinforce brand identity and make them easy to spot when they do begin to land in their inboxes.

Counter intuitive as it may seem, now is the time to ask them if they really do want to receive your emails, allow them to set their email preferences.

The Welcome Email presents a wealth of opportunity to re-iterate your brand proposition to your new customer, take advantage of the higher engagement rates to include a soft cross sell, for example free shipping or a discount on their next order (time limited, of course!).

By adopting a few very simple techniques you can turn your Welcome Email from a bland, text based, recognition of your customer’s existence and into stage one of a small series of messages that brings them into the family, and eases them into the next phase of your highly targeted, personalised email programme.

Now, let the conversation begin…