Keys to trigger-based e-mail marketing

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Michael Thompson
Michael Thompson

Imagine having the power to send your customers a message at the precise moment they are most likely to act on it. Imagine never again having to play the guessing game of throwing an offer out there and hoping it will stick. Instead, imagine having information regarding your customers' life-changing events, such as the purchase of a home or opening of a checking account, at your fingertips, and the dexterity to send out the right offer at precisely the right time.

Well, there's no need to imagine.

Trigger-based marketing programs are enabling e-mail marketers to communicate insightful offers in a timely fashion to both customers and prospects, yielding as much as a 400 percent improvement in response rates without costing millions of dollars.

Triggers 101
Triggers generally fall into four categories: external (something happening in the mortgage or housing industry, for example); customer life (marriage, retirement); behavioral (customer purchase or dropped service) and communication (inquiry about a product upgrade or service). Each represents a specific moment when the customer is both interested and engaged.

Today's most successful campaigns use triggers to automatically initiate e-mail when customers take certain actions. This is done by establishing a set of business rules that act on pre-assigned criteria.

Trigger-based e-mail programs enable marketers to turn existing customer data into business rules that systematically drive a program through execution at greatly reduced campaign cycle times.

Two key factors: timing and relevancy
Timing and relevancy are the foundation on which successful marketing programs are built.

Missing on either front can often spell disaster for a campaign.

Much as a dancer needs both rhythm and knowledge of the right steps to dance, marketers must hit both “right message” and “right time” to move the customer to action. By aligning the content and timing of e-mail messages with customer needs, you're increasing the relevance, response and, ultimately, revenue from your direct marketing programs.

Assisted by new robust e-mail platforms and on-demand technologies that enable triggered communications using dynamic content, companies can deliver individualized, relevant communication to each customer. What's more, e-mails can be used as part of a multi-touch communications strategy allowing marketers to deliver messages over a variety of channels based on customer preference and at varying intervals, enabling marketers to send out thousands or just a few at the appropriate time. These programs tell the customer, “Hey, we know you and here's how we can help you specifically.”

Keep it simple
When implementing trigger-based programs, keep it simple. Don't reconfigure your current systems or dramatically change internal processes. Your trigger-based solution should conform to your brand and culture. And take advantage of e-mail's measurability. You'll be able to learn and test on the fly, so layer in new business rules and continue to hone messages.

For any marketing program, timing and relevancy are the keys to driving customer interest. Creating triggered-based e-mail programs activated by customer actions augments their relevancy, ultimately increasing your results.

Michael Thompson is vice president of eServices at Click Tactics. He can be reached at

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