Trigger mails are sent automatically in response to events in the customer life cycle. Due to the direct reference to an event you have a particularly high relevance for your customers. We present five types of trigger mails that you can implement with little effort and with which you can quickly achieve initial results. In email marketing, measures that are easy to implement often have a greater leverage effect than complex measures such as 1-to-1 individualisation.

There are different definitions of trigger mails. However, they all have in common that trigger mails are automatically sent to customers in response to a customer-specific event (trigger). For example, an email that is automatically sent to a customer on their birthday is a trigger mail. In contrast to this, a newsletter that is sent to all customers at Christmas is not a trigger mail, because Christmas is not a customer-specific event. There are basically three different types of triggers:

  • Action-related triggers: These are triggered by a customer’s action, such as a purchase, logging onto a website or entering a store.
  • Time-related triggers: These are triggered when a specific time is reached. This can either be a fixed point in time, such as a customer’s birthday, or a relative point in time, such as a week after a purchase. In this case, however, we can also speak of an action-related trigger, since the time refers to an action. However, this article will not deal with definitional details without practical relevance.
  • External triggers: These are triggered by events over which the customer has no influence. Such events are, for example, a back-in-stock reminder for a product that was previously sold out or a warning message when a certain price development of a stock in the customer’s portfolio occurs.

Transactional mails with a purely service character are strictly speaking also trigger mails, but are usually treated as a separate category. The term marketing automation is also relevant in the context of trigger mails. Basically, marketing automation refers to the automation of processes in (email) marketing (automatically check if an event occurs, if so, send the appropriate trigger mail). The therefore used technologies, such as artegic’s ELAINE, are usually also called marketing automation. 

In the following we present five easy to implement types of trigger mails.

1. Welcome mails

Welcome mails are sent at the beginning of a customer relationship and welcome your new customer. Reasons for welcome mails are e.g. newsletter registrations, online shop registrations, subscriptions, or first purchases. Use welcome emails, for example, to present your offers to new customers, to send them an incentive (e.g. a voucher), to draw their attention to additional services, to ask for more information about them or simply to thank them for the trust they have placed in you. Welcome mails are an effective instrument to strengthen customer loyalty and start a dialogue right at the beginning of the customer relationship. Start with a single welcome email and gradually build up multi-stage welcome campaigns.

2. Birthday mails

Birthday mails are a classic in email marketing. Automatically send your customer on his birthday a trigger mail with a birthday greeting and a gift, e.g. a coupon. The problem with birthday mails: Everybody does it. Our tip: Send your birthday mail before the birthday. Give the customer e.g. one week before his birthday a voucher for your online shop with delivery guarantee until the actual birthday. Another tip to stand out: Enrich the birthday mail with information about the date. Which celebrities have a birthday on the same day? Which important world events took place on the same day? And one last tip: Not only customers can have a birthday. Why not send a trigger mail for a product birthday. BMW, for example, sends its customers a so-called Car Handover Anniversary Mail one year after buying a car, with individual offers for the ConnectedDrive store. You can download the case study at the end of this article.

BMW CS Screenshot Car Anniversary Mail
BMW CS Screenshot Car Anniversary Mail

3. Purchase follow-up

Only very few companies use after sales for further communication with their customers on specific occasions. The dialogue often ends with the purchase confirmation. These companies waste a lot of potential. Instead, ask the customer for a certain time after a purchase (perhaps on the product birthday, see above) whether he is still satisfied with the product. Or offer to discuss any questions with a customer advisor. Present him with suitable cross- and upsells. Remind him of related service appointments (e.g. a visit to the workshop after a car purchase or the maintenance of a machine in B2B). If the customer has purchased a consumer good (for example, razor blades or diapers), remind him to replenish his stock. Depending on the product purchased, there are a number of touchpoints in after sales. Do not waste this potential. Don’t let the dialogue with your customer break off.

4. Reactivation

Does the customer not make any more purchases? Does he no longer read your newsletter? Has he not logged into your online portal for weeks? Then send him an automatic trigger mail for reactivation. How you do this, you can read in this blog post.

5. Reminder

Have you ever experienced that your customers did not show up for appointments? In the best case, this is primarily annoying for the customer, e.g. if he does not show up for a booked trip on holiday but has already paid. In the worst case, you incur unnecessary opportunity costs, because you have spent a lot of time preparing for a personal consultation appointment. The reasons for such non-attendance can be different. Often customers simply forget appointments. Sometimes it is also too much effort for them to cancel or to postpone the appointments. Whether your customer makes a personal appointment with one of your employees, books a concert ticket, or registers for a webinar: Send them automated reminders, e.g. a week or a day before the event. This way you, can significantly reduce the no-show rate. If it makes sense, you can offer the customer in these reminder emails to cancel the appointment (e.g. a personal sales talk if the customer has already bought from a competitor), rebook (e.g. a workshop appointment that the customer will have to attend sooner or later) or even hand it over to someone else (e.g. a season ticket for a football match).