Trigger Emails: A Guide to Increasing Email Revenue 

Trigger emails

Trigger emails are automated emails you send subscribers after they take a specific action. For example, a welcome email after a subscriber signs up for your newsletter.

Trigger emails are highly targeted and personalized, allowing you to send timely and relevant content to increase conversions. These emails help you enhance overall customer satisfaction and boost email retention rates.

To help you effectively use email triggers in campaigns, we will go over the types, benefits, best practices, differences between drip and trigger campaigns, and trigger email examples.



What is a Trigger Email?

Trigger-based emails are known as behavioral emails for a reason — they move your audience to the next stage of the email marketing funnel based on their behavior. These automated email messages allow you to reach your customers at the right time and increase email engagement. 

Since you send these emails after a recipient takes action, it reduces spam complaints and keeps your sender reputation in check. 


Different Types of Trigger Emails

You can use triggers for any type of email, but the most common ones are:

  • Welcome emails,
  • Onboarding emails,
  • Personal events,
  • Account emails, 
  • Cart abandonment emails, 
  • Order confirmation emails

Automated email campaigns usually have a success rate of 71%. Especially, when you include 2-3 links, your recipients are more likely to engage with your emails. 

Here are the types of trigger emails in detail to help you send concise and relevant messages to your audience.

Type of Trigger Email Email Campaign TypeUses
Welcome emailsOnboarding campaignsSent to new subscribers to welcome and provide information regarding products and services.
Abandoned cart email E-commerce campaignTriggered when a customer adds an item to the cart but does not checkout. Trigger emails encourage them to finish the purchase.
Birthday/anniversary email Relationship building campaign Reminds customers of the upcoming renewals and subscriptions, urging them to continue their subscription.
Upsell/cross-sell email Sales campaign Triggered based on a customer’s previous purchase history and suggests relevant products to increase the average order value.
Feedback/review requestCustomer feedback campaign Triggered during a special occasion and sent personal wishes to the customer.
Renewal reminder Subscription/renewal campaign Reminds customers of the upcoming renewals and subscriptions urging them to continue their subscription.
Event reminder Event marketing campaign Sent before an event to customers with event details and encouraging them to attend.
Types of triggered emails

Trigger emails allow you to re-engage with customers when their interactions with your brand decrease. You can also use them to get customer feedback and iterate your email marketing strategies.

Let’s see what other benefits email triggers have.


Benefits of Using Trigger Emails in Your Email Campaigns 

Trigger emails help you increase customer satisfaction and loyalty through product recommendations and cart reminders. You can even cross-sell your products to elevate customer interest. 

Here are seven more ways trigger emails receive larger response rates than traditional emails: 

  1. Improved customer engagement: When you identify the right time to send triggers, it increases the effectiveness of your email campaigns. It also increases the likelihood of your subscribers engaging and responding to your emails.
  2. Increased personalization: These emails enable you to know your customers’ past interactions and help you tailor email campaigns accordingly.
  3. Higher conversion rates: The timely nature of trigger emails encourages customers to take immediate action, leading to higher conversions. 
  4. Enhanced customer retention: Sending birthday or anniversary emails helps you build a relationship with customers. When they feel special, they are most likely to continue doing business with you.
  5. Automation and efficiency: Automating email campaigns helps you maintain consistency without having to intervene manually. 
  6. Cross-selling opportunities: The history of your customer behavior gives you opportunities to sell relevant products on top of the existing ones.
  7. Data-driven insights: The data and email campaign metrics from your trigger emails help you refine your email marketing strategy and enhance your customers’ journey.

According to the Email Marketing Industry Census 2018, 24% of email marketers use behavioral targeting based on web activity. This is particularly helpful if you include links in your emails that lead to your website.

There are many types of triggered emails you can use to interest and inform your subscribers across their buyer’s journey, and we have reviewed five of them below.


5 Types of Trigger Emails With Examples

While there are more than 10 types of triggers, we will go through 5 primary types now.


1. Welcome Emails

Welcome emails are a type of triggered email that sends messages upon a certain customer action such as after signing up for your mailing list or loyalty program or after their first purchase. Welcome emails are an opportunity to introduce your brand to your customers and thank them for being a part of the journey. 

Welcome emails are also a great way to build a relationship with your customers and tell them your brand goals and updates.

Patagonia Welcome Email
Patagonia Welcome Email. Source

2. Purchase Confirmation

This email is a type of transaction confirmation informing your subscribers about their purchase and delivery. It typically involves date, cost, items, and delivery timeline. These emails also have a contact information section in case customers need to reach the company for queries.

Taylor Stitch Purchase Confirmation
Taylor Stitch Purchase Confirmation. Source

3. Cart Abandonment

When your customers add an item to the cart and forget to checkout, you can set triggers to send reminder emails. When buyers leave the checkout page before purchasing a product, triggers activate and send out cart abandonment emails.

You have complete control over when and how you want to send these emails. As a general rule, send triggered emails after a few hours to avoid frustrating the user.

It’s possible that your customers need time to make a purchase, and bombarding them with constant reminders can have a reverse effect. It’s best to send reminders in intervals and include only the relevant information in emails: a persuasive subject line, a strong CTA, and incentives where applicable.

Cart Abandonment
Cart Abandonment. Source

4. Holiday Greetings

Holiday emails include seasonal messages updating customers about limited-edition holiday gifts. You can use triggers and tailor holiday messages to fit your customer needs and increase your sales. For example, you can welcome new subscribers with seasonal offers as they sign up for your brand.

You can also send customers coupons, discounts, and loyalty rewards after their first holiday purchase on your site. You may also include event notifications to inform customers about your holiday operating hours or emergencies.

Craighill Holiday Email
Craighill Holiday Email. Source

5. Customer Milestone

Milestone emails send personalized information such as customer anniversaries (the timeframe someone interacted with your business). They are a way to appreciate and thank your customers for being loyal. You can set triggers for important dates and add unique value to your customers.

Withings Customer Appreciation
Withings Customer Appreciation. Source

Overall, trigger emails have more positive results than traditional emails due to their targeted nature. Triggered emails are also a wonderful chance to upsell and cross-sell your products to maximize revenue. We will learn how to set up trigger email campaigns, but first, let’s understand their meaning.


What are Triggered Email Campaigns?

Unlike traditional email campaigns you send to the entire subscriber list, triggered campaigns are automated emails you send based on customer behavior entirely. It means you have to set pre-defined characteristics for each customer action.

Note that trigger email campaigns are a broad term for any email campaigns that use triggers. For example, reactivation emails. You might also find that trigger emails resemble drip campaigns, but they are not the same.


Trigger Emails vs. Drip Campaigns: The Difference

Trigger and drip emails share similarities but serve different purposes in email marketing. Understanding the differences will help you strategize your email campaigns accordingly.

FeatureTrigger EmailsDrip Campaigns
UsecaseInitiated by specific user action or behavior.Part of larger email nurture campaigns — initiated by predefined schedules or intervals
Timing Immediate or near-immediate response.Emails sent at scheduled intervals.
Targeting Highly personalized and targeted to each customer.Personalized but less specific to customer actions and behavior.
PurposeFulfill specific actions or events. Useful for nurturing leads over time.
Examples Welcome emails, post-purchase follow-ups, transactional confirmations.Lead nurturing series, educational campaigns, and email courses.
Trigger emails vs. Drip campaigns

Both email campaign types are automated and can increase marketing efficiency when done right. They also follow similar structures and frameworks, just like any event-based campaign would. However, there’s also another email campaign type similar to triggered emails — transactional email. 


How do Transactional Emails Differ From Trigger Emails?

Transactional emails are a form of triggered emails, sent after a customer initiates a transaction — a purchase, a subscription, or similar. Although it’s a triggered email in essence, and it’s initiated by customer behavior, a transactional email has a highly specific set of rules to follow.

Transactional emails provide critical information about an update or a transaction and are often one-way communication unless demanding a second action from the recipient. For example, these emails are sent right after purchase (order confirmation) or sign-up (account information).

Triggered emails cover a lot more ground as a part of various email marketing campaigns and typically start or continue brand communication based on automated triggers. Trigger emails are generally promotional and may contain deals and discounts. 

In short, transactional emails are straightforward, while most of the other triggered email campaigns are more creative and contain different product promotions. 

To help you send valuable triggered emails, we will discuss the major steps to implement your trigger campaigns.


How to Send Triggered Emails

Trigger emails enable you to know your customers well and help your customers acknowledge and match their preferences. 

Follow these steps to create a positive impact with your trigger email campaigns:

  1. Find an email automation software: Whether you are a developer or otherwise, automation software equips you with the necessary tools for a seamless email campaign experience. If your primary goal is to send quick broadcasts with easy audience selection and tagging, Campaign Refinery is ideal. With a simple editor, you can set up smart goal triggers and use the evergreen flash sale for the urgency and scarcity effect.
  2. Choose an email trigger: Select an event or action to send your trigger emails. For example, you can set ”after customer purchase” as a trigger to send an email right after the action. Prioritize triggers such as sign-ups, purchases, cart abandonment, and milestones and align them with your company goals. 
  3. Craft the content: Write effective body copy with your audiences’ needs in mind, and have a takeaway message for every email you send. 
  4. Test and optimize: Rapidly test your trigger campaigns to see what works for your subscribers. You must understand the broader scenario of email metrics such as open rates, click rates, and conversions to refine your future campaigns.

Trigger emails also require you to coordinate with the other departments to ensure no similar campaigns are scheduled shortly. To achieve operational efficiency, your emails must be automatically executed in real-time. That’s why we insist on knowing the best practices.


Best Practices to Make the Most of Triggered Emails

71% of consumers believe personalization impacts their decision-making to interact with your emails.

Alongside personalization tactics, use these best practices to create effective email trigger campaigns.

  1. Understand your audience: Split your subscribers based on prior purchase history, behavior, preferences, and demographics. This ensures you send relevant content to each audience segment.
  2. Write a compelling subject line: Mention the value and purpose of your trigger email in the subject line. You can use action verbs to make it more specific. For example: ”Welcome aboard, unlock exclusive perks inside”.
  3. Create a seamless user experience: Your email message, design, and tone must align with your other marketing channels and brand identity.
  4. Provide a clear CTA: Tell your subscribers exactly what you want them to do. For example, ”complete your purchase and use a coupon worth $25.”. Direct them to a clean button or a link and lead them through the process.
  5. Stay relevant over time: Regularly review your trigger email campaigns and adapt strategies according to customer behavior.
  6. Optimize for mobiles: Ensure your trigger emails are mobile-responsive to maximize user experience and engagement.
  7. Utilize A/B testing: Systematically test your triggered email campaigns for subject lines, timing, and CTA.
  8. Set up drip campaigns: You can use drip emails alongside trigger campaigns to warm your subscribers and guide them through the sales funnel.
  9. Be mindful of the frequency: Prioritize your email triggers even though it’s based on user actions. Too many emails can lead to email fatigue and frustrate the customers.
  10. Test across email clients: Test your emails in popular email clients such as Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook to understand the compatibility.
  11. Follow regulatory compliance: Get consent from your subscribers before sending emails, and include an unsubscribe button.

Sometimes, email challenges can take over these best practices. To help you prepare for the best, we outline the common challenges below.


Overcoming Common Challenges With Trigger Emails

Whether you are recommending products or thanking customers, technical errors and mistakes such as deliverability issues can cause distrust in your brand. 

Let’s take a look at the most common challenges related to trigger emails:

  • Deliverability issues: Even triggered emails have a high chance of landing in spam or never being delivered at all. Monitor your sender reputation, use authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, and regularly clean your email lists.
  • Email fatigue: When you overload customers with emails, it can lead to fatigue. Set specific caps on triggers for a particular timeframe. Additionally, segmenting your audience will help you reach the right customers at the right time.
  • Complex process: Setting up and managing trigger campaigns can be a challenge, especially if you are new to email marketing. We recommend you use a powerful marketing platform such as Campaign Refinery that has pre-built templates and automation. 
  • Data quality and integration: Inaccurate or insufficient customer data can make it difficult to personalize emails. Regularly segment your audiences and invest in a data integration tool to create a smooth integration flow. 
  • Lower engagement: Inadequate personalization can ruin the chances of customers opening and interacting with your emails. Use customer data and fine-tune emails with dynamic content like product recommendations based on customer preferences.
  • Automation glitches: Although rare, technical errors can disrupt your trigger email delivery. Test your trigger email workflows and stay on par with your automation software updates.
  • Limited testing and optimization: When you only test emails once in a while, you may miss opportunities to convert subscribers. Implement A/B testing on different elements and optimize your emails regularly.
  • Privacy concerns: Whilst customers consent to receive your emails, you may have limited scope to use their personal data in emails. Include highly relevant and transparent communication to keep the trust in your brand intact.

Many brands successfully use trigger emails to retain and convert customers. How? With the help of automated software!


Use Campaign Refinery For Your Next Trigger Email Campaign

Trigger emails are highly beneficial when you set them correctly — they help you increase engagement, boost retention rates, and elevate the customer experience. 

If you are starting, use a beginner-friendly email marketing platform that enables you to create and maintain trigger campaigns with ease.

With Campaign Refinery, you can even set up smart triggers to stop sending emails to customers who converted! 

Our platform gives you access to our clever growth tools like automatic list cleaning and gamification to enhance customer satisfaction. The list cleaning tool automatically discards unsafe and spammy email addresses even before you send the emails. And with the gamification feature, you can reward customers for opening your emails.

You can also use the campaign library with predefined triggers to help you deliver the right message to your audience. If your business needs more triggers on top of the existing ones, we can help you create them, too. 

Trigger campaigns are all about automation, and you need a platform that lets you do it for unlimited contacts; pay only for what you use. 

Apply to become a Campaign Refinery client and set up effortless, triggered email campaigns that bring elite results.

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