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A thriving triggered email programme could very well be the most engaging tactic in your marketing toolkit. But how to begin and select the best triggered email provider? Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of different email trigger solutions, and the questions you should ask when deciding on a vendor.
Why is triggered email so common?
Triggered emails treat customers as individuals, sending them messages based on an action they’ve just taken. They meet marketers’ ultimate objective of getting content in front of customers at the moment when they are most likely to engage. That’s the reason they work so well.
Sales uplift from shopping recovery emails alone can exceed 10%:
(Source: Fresh Relevance Real-Time Advertising Report Q4 2018)
The above figures are for shopping recovery mails, but triggered messages can take a range of forms.
Here are some types of triggered emails:
- Browse abandonment emails
- Post-purchase mails
- Wishlist emails
- Back-in-stock emails
- Price-drop emails
How do I want my triggered emails to work?
Before you decide on an approach, let’s look at the moving parts of triggered emails.
Triggered emails automatically serve relevant advertising and marketing messages to customers, based on their (inter)actions. Customers who raise a certain signal (such as abandoning a shopping cart) are put into a trigger programme. Trigger programmes perform actions, such as sending the user an email or collection of emails.
Here are some activities that could trigger an email programme:
Looks simple so far!
But you won’t need to send a one-size-fits-all email to every customer who completes an action. For example, it may be more effective to send browse abandonment emails only to your engaged clients. Or you might prefer to run another trigger programme for high spenders versus low spenders. Conditions and principles can be set to ascertain which trigger programme a client should receive.
Imagine your aim is to increase the effectiveness of browse abandon campaigns. You could treat customers differently depending on if they’ve previously made a purchase:
|b82fe09836784055fec60834794b17a6| for navigate abandoners who have previously purchased, and recently spent a lot of time on the website.
|7daa4dc26195078f930be59a72de7287| for browse abandoners who’ve made a purchase, but haven’t spent much time on the site recently.
|c52ad72a15604025a94a959e3fa7fee6| to browse abandoners who have not previously made a purchase.
This means that to begin with triggered mails, your eCommerce system and ESP have to have the ability to speak to each other in real time.
Online brands have choices when it comes to setting up triggered email campaigns. You can:
- Automate triggered mails using your existing Email Service Provider (ESP).
- Adopt a purpose-built triggered email platform to do the heavy lifting.
Here, we’ll explore the business case for each strategy, and examine the questions you should ask when selecting a provider.
Setting up triggered mails using your ESP
To automate triggered emails using your existing email system, you’ll have to make an integration procedure to move eCommerce data into your ESP.
The system will have to collect, transfer and implement data in near-real-time so that activates do not misbehave. Where you allow multi-stage programmes, there must be conditions to ensure they get canceled if behavior changes. You won’t win shoppers’ loyalty by sending them a cart abandonment email after they have already made a purchase!
5 things to consider when sending triggered emails from your ESP
1. Can you read data from your eCommerce system in your ESP?
Emails containing product information should be up-to-date, and consistent with what the client browsed on site.
This means that your ESP will need access to the following information:
- Client list (e.g. first name, last name)
- Transactional events (e.g. cart events, purchases, returns)
- Behavioral Info, (e.g. product browsed, view cart contents)
- Merchandise data (text, image urls, costs )
- Stock level, for in-stock products
There are a couple ways to connect the information with your ESP.
1. Use custom data extensions
Popular eCommerce providers like Magento can use custom-written extensions to pass data to an ESP or other platform. This can work well for transactional, product and stock information. However, behavioral information is generally only recorded when the shopper has logged to the eCommerce website.
Most shoppers don’t login until they’re prepared to buy, and non-purchasers never log in, so that you ’ll lose out on behavioral data for the majority of the shoppers. Bear in mind that plugging in an extension can interrupt your existing eCommerce system, so check with your eCommerce system supervisor.
Many eCommerce providers can use a normal Digital Data Layer to expose stock levels, product info, and user details. If you must re-implement a new data layer every time you add a new vendor (e.g. an email service provider), the execution time and server load increases, therefore it’s a fantastic idea to use a standards-based one such as the W3C version.
3. Use e-commerce data feeds
A third approach is to take a data feed from the eCommerce platform. Most platforms can send feeds of transactional / merchandise data to be used by other systems. This approach doesn’t usually try to take care of behavioral data.
2. Does your ESP let you set flexible business rules?
You’ll have to add conditions/rules to make certain that emails go to the perfect people. These rules should consider clients’ behaviour and your current business objectives.
Envision a marketer is using a simple navigate abandonment trigger programme, but wants to use a new programme for customers looking for bargains on holiday gifts. Rules need to be set so that regular clients receive the standard browse abandonment email, while clients who browsed lots of vacation deals get the brand new festive programme.
It’s crucial to place marketing rules to be sure abandoned and browse cart recovery emails are not sent too frequently, and customers do not get the same email twice.
For example, if you’re sending multiple kinds of cart abandonment emails, you need to be able to prioritise trigger programmes. Each client should receive only the most relevant email collection for them, and not get registered into multiple programmes concurrently.
Shoppers will be annoyed — and rightly so — if their inbox fills up with multiple, similar mails at exactly the exact same time.|a09f02f224f3da46c477a52c5fb409e7|
1 trigger programme can send a series of mails at different times. For instance, a cart abandonment email could be sent 30 minutes after abandonment, 24 hours later, and after one week.
If the customer makes a purchase prior to the email series is complete, the programme should stop sending mails. Otherwise, clients will be frustrated by an irrelevant email. This means that the rules you put on your ESP have to be educated in real time by purchase data from your eCommerce platform.|1a3e55d9ede9f40391d03a4a607b4e80|
For many sorts of triggered emails, you want to include personalised content about the context. For instance, the products which have dropped in price after being seen by the shopper.
For best results, you will need to go further. Are you able to boost the converting power of triggered emails by including smart content based on the individual’s history and tastes? ”
For instance, a personalised hero image based on the shopper’s preferences, or product recommendations filtered by the shopper’s favorite category.
Using a general-purpose tool like an ESP can work well if you are content with sending fundamental triggered messages like purchase complete emails. Cart abandonment may also work, but the conversion rates will be lower if you can not identify customers who weren’t logged in when they indulged or carted.
If your ESP is lacking navigate and form abandonment, or any sort of sophisticated personalisation, you are probably better off considering a purpose-built solution.|27ef7487c58f4097f97c92f379122709|
There are numerous dedicated triggered messaging systems which help tie your ESP and eCommerce systems together. Some handle only cart abandonment, while more sophisticated systems manage more applications including email and website personalisation.
Here’s what you should consider when choosing a triggered messaging provider:|9448b98a393631ff862c99f46d8302c7|
First, check the expense of integration of the triggered email solution with your eCommerce platform. Support for data layers may reduce this price tag. The W3C Digital Data Layer is a standard way of exposing eCommerce data such as cart contents to third party providers and partners on your site.
This makes installing plugins and tools considerably simpler. There is also less strain on your specialized teams, since there’s no need for lots of custom coding.
Also, consider how the solution is priced.
There are three main pricing models to choose from:
- Affiliate pricing model: Some solutions are priced based on the earnings generated from the triggered programmes. This can work well if you’ll be sending emails on a small scale, as you’ll pay only for what performs. However, it will be difficult to predict prices and plan your budget if you’re sending mails at scale.
- Basic/Pro/Premium pricing bands: Paying for functional packages makes it easier to predict costs and control your budget. However, you may end up missing out on some features out of your price range, or unnecessarily paying for functionality you don’t use. Often, there is an additional CPM price for email sends or other personalisation capabilities, making costs unpredictable.
- All you can eat model: Some solutions allow you to take a subscription based on the size of your company (e.g. your website’s monthly page views), without any additional variable costs such as cpm or impressions. You get control of your marketing budget, and the cost scales as your company does. This model is largely fit for mid-market and business level users with a huge customer base.
Many triggered email providers offer a range of other email and web functionalities. Find out if you’re able to pick and choose from the available modules. This will prevent copying your existing functionality or paying for features you do not need.
2. Does the platform have access to sufficient data?
Make sure the triggered email tool can collect and organize data from several sources, like your site, ESP, and eCommerce system. Methods of data collection might include APIs, file transfer by FTP, or web scratching as appropriate.
Coordinated data ensures that the data displayed in triggered emails – like the current price and product picture – is up-to-date and matches what the customer will see when they click through to your website.
Only a platform that sits comfortably between your eCommerce platform and ESP will allow you to collect enough behavioural data to personalise and target emails effectively based on customers’ preferences and lifecycle stage.
As an example, you could run different variations of a triggered email programme based upon the customer’s level of engagement, or to get new visitors versus established customers. And when triggers are based on real-time information straight from your eCommerce site, there is no possibility of a client receiving a cart abandonment email when they’ve already made a purchase.
Also, check if there are any API or other use limitations which might prevent your solution from functioning properly or restrict the number of data available.
3. Will it work together with your existing (and new) technology?
For minimum friction when introducing the new system, adopt a platform that can work with, rather than replicate, the software that you already use. This includes:
- ESP for designing and sending emails (e.g. SendGrid, MailChimp, Adestra, Copernica)
- eCommerce platform for collecting behavioural and transactional data (e.g. Magento, Shopify, Salesforce Commerce Cloud)
- Client Data Platform (CDP) for a holistic view of the client (e.g. BlueVenn)
- Ratings and reviews provider to harness social evidence in your email content (e.g.Trustpilot, Feefo)
Implementation will be more disruptive if your marketing team must learn how to use a new ESP functionality. Ideally, your third party triggered messaging system should be able to easily switch with you if you decide to change ESP.
4. How are customers identified?
To reach the maximum number of shoppers with relevant emails, you’ll require a platform that helps you identify as many clients as possible. Logically, the more shoppers you have the ability to recognise, the better you are able to follow up with them when they interact with your company.
Taking earnings uplift from cart abandonment as an example, this graph shows a definite correlation between identification speed and sales uplift.
Data from Fresh Relevance customers deploying cart abandonment emails only.
It is not a straight line, because your loyal customers are also the easiest to identify. But if you can increase your visitor identification rate from, say, 20% to 50%, your sales uplift increases significantly.
All advertising platforms recognise shoppers who log in or register, and some recognise shoppers that have identified themselves in the past, for example using cookies. But what about visitors who normally use their desktop but that are using their mobile phone this time? They’ve never identified themselves on their current apparatus, can you identify them?
Look at a solution that allows you to identify shoppers on whichever device they are using and tie their surfing behavior back to their background, even if they have not identified themselves in this session.
5. Can you re-build a shopper’s cart across devices?
Suppose a shopper clicks a cart retrieval email on another device to the one they were using when they abandoned the cart. As it is a new device from earlier, your eCommerce system may start a new session with an empty shopping cart.
Some triggered email providers offer multi-device cart rebuild to automatically refill the cart on whatever device the customer is using. This significantly reduces friction in the customer travel.
5. How easy is it to personalise emails?
Over one in four customers is more likely to be loyal to a brand that sends emails tailored to their needs and interests. This includes a custom header image based on the shopper’s favourite category, and appropriate product recommendations based on previous searches or comparable products. It’s not as complicated as it seems: the excellent third party platform will collect the information and run the necessary analytics, while entrepreneurs focus on how the content should be displayed.
6. Can the triggered email software manage complex triggers like price-drop and back-in-stock?
Sophisticated emails such as price-drop and back-in-stock require a system that may target shoppers who have viewed a product which has then dropped in price. Or who viewed an out-of-stock product that has since returned to stock.
These trigger types have even more moving parts and require data analysis, so check carefully that the provider handles them correctly.
Conclusion: Getting started with triggered mails
The impressive ROI from triggered mails means it’s worth taking the time to weigh up all of the options available.
If you’re taking a look at adapting your existing ESP, consider how much resources will be necessary to get the system up and running and whether you will have the ability to deliver all the functionality you want to satisfy your business goals.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to email marketing. But if your aim is to send highly relevant, personalised emails to as many customers as possible, embracing a purpose-built solution may be the thing to do.