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Ken Magill

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Ask an Expert: Best, Easiest Triggers

6/21/11

Let’s face it: The drive toward getting email marketers to adopt list segmentation has been an utter failure.

Marketers aren’t segmenting. They’ve opened fire.

According to a recent study by Epsilon, the volume of emails its clients sent rose almost 40 percent in 2010.

The reason: Segmenting takes time and effort, there’s no such thing as an overstaffed marketing department and few have the creative resources to create multiple messages for the same campaign.

Triggered messages—those sent as the result of some action or inaction—are a different story, however. Sure, they take some planning and effort up front, but once they’re in place they pretty much run themselves. They’re about as relevant and targeted as email marketing gets.

But where to start?

This week’s Ask-an-Expert question is: What are the most effective, relatively non-labor-intensive triggered-email programs every email marketer should implement?

Once again, we turn to the experts at Only Influencers, an invitation-only discussion list of digital-marketing experts:

Stephanie Miller, vice president, email and digital services, Aprimo:

When we do this analysis with Aprimo customers (the financial impact vs. amount of work vs. ability to automate matrix) the list is pretty consistent. Welcome message, post conversion up sell (post purchase, post download, etc.), customer inquiry survey (triggered after a customer care ticket is closed or an online experience completes), birthday offer (even B2C companies can do this well) and contract renewal.

Some of these are actually series of messages, not just one message. However, most marketers start with single messages, gather some data, do some optimization and testing, and then later (maybe 3-6 months in) start to plan out the richer "conversations."

Increasingly, we are seeing marketers embrace the opportunity to use technology to power multi channel conversations.
 
Personally, I think this is the most exciting work going on in email marketing (or any digital marketing). It does require a smart email marketing strategy, but also a strong content management approach and resources, as well as a testing and optimization program.
 
David Bronson, team lead, campaign management, Turner Broadcasting:

Birthday emails are magical. They have high engagement rates and communicate and provide a welcome change by shifting the focus away from the brand and emphasizing the relationship with the recipient. I see few campaigns that perform better (and require so little effort).

These are typically easy to implement on most delivery systems and can be as easy or complex as desired. By using subscriber attributes, special offers can be created as the birthday greeting - or a generic happy birthday message is still well received.

Andy Thorpe, deliverability and compliance manager, Pure 360:

The obvious one is the welcome email:

The momentum of engagement is something that is not tapped into enough; you've earned the trust and built enough rapport with someone for them to want more from you, so they won't miss out and they've trusted you with their email address, they are tuned into your channel right then and there.

So send them a welcome email, get on their safe list, get the images loaded, make the experience fun, increase the rapport and reward them for their interactions.

Then it's plain sailing from there: As long as you maintain the experience and relevance you will maintain the revenue and you're in a position to increase it from that recipient and from the people they will refer due to the experience being literally remarkable.

All of that from a sign-up trigger!

Another good one is optimising the existing transactional emails like receipts and confirmations. Personalizing the content to help with the cross-sell and the cross-platform referrals.

One that I don't see being automated enough is 'days since last interaction/open'.

In face-to-face situations you know what you can get someone to do/buy based on the trust they have in you from the rapport you have them. In email it is often the same: People who are always engaging are more responsive & easier to close, so that call to action is achievable.

However, people who have been asleep (unemotionally subscribed - unless Dela's [Quist, CEO Alchemy Worx] patented the phrase) might not respond as well and that call to action might not be achievable for that rapport, when you need to make the call to action to just open the email and then give some really relevant content to get engagement so next time they will buy.

This might only be the subject line or it could be all of the content.

If the list could easily be segmented, even with one click, into days since last interaction, eg: 20 days / 90days / last 5 emails / etc. like a templated segmentation, people who are interacting can get more relevant content and people who are not, can be woken up.

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