Triggered Emails: What They Are, and 9 Examples to Boost Customer Engagement

Triggered emails are an advanced email automation tactic and are one of the most potent marketing tactics for e-commerce businesses, and can save users a whole lot of time. Once you’ve set up your triggers, you can be entirely hands-off with the process, allowing users to focus their time on more important factors of their business.

Triggered emails are one of many benefits of email automation, as they allow you to not only save time and resources but also help target your customers at just the right time to maximize engagement and sales.

However, it’s not as simple as setting it and forgetting it; there are some questions that need to be answered first. For example, what are the right triggers for your use case? When should those triggers fire? How many triggers should you use?

I’m here to help you answer those questions and get started with email automation, covering triggered emails as a topic along with some of the most popular triggered email examples and why they’re so effective.

What are triggered emails?

Triggered emails are automated emails that are sent using email automation tools when a subscriber takes an action or behaves a certain way. Because triggered emails are automated, they will always arrive in your target’s inbox at just the right time without needing to monitor and send emails to your subscribers manually.

Generally, triggered emails are a part of larger email automation workflows, including multiple triggers and more complex automation tactics.

The difference between a triggered email and a promotional email is about scale; a triggered email is sent to your subscribers one-on-one while a promotional email will generally be sent at a much greater scale to all of your subscribers at once.

Why are triggered emails important?

Triggered emails are very important to maximize ROI as, according to Barilliance, triggered email campaigns generate 306% more click-throughs per email than non-triggered email campaigns. Along with email personalization, triggered email campaigns are one of the most important tools available to anyone with an email list or a product to sell.

Additionally, triggered emails can help to enhance the customer experience and improve loyalty because an effective triggered email campaign will automatically match a subscriber’s demographic and behavioral data, effectively automation the personalization of your email campaigns.

Lastly, the most obvious benefit of triggered emails is time saved. Of course, if you’re not monitoring customer behavior and sending relevant emails manually you’ll be saving yourself and/or your team a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Eliminating tedious and repetitive tasks in email marketing is what allows you or your team to focus on improvement instead of maintenance.

In summary, effectively designed triggered email campaigns can help you convert interested subscribers or casual buyers into loyal, repeat customers by reacting to personalized needs as they arise.

Below, I’ll go over 9 examples of triggered emails, what they are triggered by (note: may be redundant for many of these examples), and how you can use them in your email marketing efforts.

1. Welcome Email

Triggered by: subscription to an email newsletter OR registration on website

A welcome email is your first impression on a customer, and you don’t get to make that first impression twice. This is the best time for you to communicate to a newly-subscribed customer who you are and what your brand represents, and thank your customer for their subscription.

Also, as this is your first contact with this customer, this is the best time to set a precedent for what your emails to them will look like in the future and start building a relationship with that customer, effectively building their trust in your brand during that process.

When crafting your welcome email, make sure to include a personal touch that makes the customer feel welcome and appreciated.

This could be a welcome discount, an invitation to join your community, or a simple thank you message. Keep the tone of the email friendly and approachable, and make sure to highlight the benefits of being a subscriber or member.

2. Abandoned Cart Email

Triggered by: customer cart abandonment

If you’re so close to a sale that a customer is only a few clicks from making a purchase, it’s a no-brainer to send them a reminder. If they’ve disengaged with the conversion process so close to the finish line, it’s likely that they’ll still be interested if they are re-engaged and reminded of their purchase intent.

According to BigCommerce, abandoned cart emails have a 41.18% open rate – much higher than an average marketing email’s open rate of 21%.

An abandoned cart email is an email sent when a customer has gone so far as to put an item into their cart but never came around to completing their purchase. Whether the customer has just forgotten about putting an item into their cart or is hesitating to finish the purchase, these emails are a great way to drive conversions for your business.

Even if a customer isn’t hesitating to purchase and has just forgotten to complete their purchase, an incentive like a discount code or free shipping might still push them over the edge to converting.

Additionally, you could also include social proof, such as customer reviews or testimonials, to help convince the customer to make the purchase. If other customers are satisfied with their purchase, there’s less reason for a hesitant customer to believe they wouldn’t be satisfied.

3. Post-Purchase Follow-Up Email

Triggered by: customer purchase, physical or digital

If your abandoned cart email has worked (or if the customer never abandoned their cart), the obvious next step is to confirm their purchase.

A post-purchase follow-up email is sent to customers after they have made a purchase, which includes important information such as the order number, an itemized list of purchased items, shipping address, and delivery time.

This email is also a great opportunity to thank the customer for their business and ask for feedback or offer related products or services, which you can use as social proof for other purposes such as the abandoned cart emails mentioned previously.

In short, when crafting your post-purchase follow-up email, make sure to thank the customer for their purchase and include any relevant details, such as shipping information or order confirmation.

You could also offer a discount on their next purchase or ask for feedback on their experience with your brand, with the goal of further strengthening the relationship between your brand and the customer in hopes that they will make another purchase or recommend new customers to your brand.

4. Review/Feedback Request Email

Triggered by: customer purchase, physical or digital

Speaking of feedback, a customer who has gone through the purchase process and received their item is the perfect target for you to gain some insight into your business and its operations.

Generally, a review/feedback request email is sent with the intent of getting feedback (duh) on both your product’s quality and your customer’s experience. However, although I’ve grouped review emails and feedback emails into one category, there is an important distinction.

The difference between a review and a feedback email is about scale; a review email is specific to the product they’ve purchased and received, while a feedback email is more general and broadly focuses on the customer’s overall experience with your business.

Thus, a review request email should only be sent after your product has arrived at the customer’s address, and a feedback request email can be sent whenever after the purchase is made. By gathering reviews and feedback directly from your purchasing customers, you can get a better idea of what is working well and where there is room for improvement in your brand.

When crafting a review/feedback request email, you should make it easy for your customers to review the product they purchased by linking back to that product page and pointing them toward the review section, and it should be made clear that giving feedback for your brand is important to improve customer experience in the future.

5. Product Recommendation Email

Triggered by: customer behavior, with or without purchase

These emails are a little more technical as they require insight into not only customer purchase history but customer behavior, such as which product categories or individual products they frequent.

The goal of a product recommendation email is to increase the average order value per customer and drive more sales for your business.

By recommending related products to customers, businesses can increase the likelihood of additional purchases and build a stronger relationship with the customer by demonstrating that they understand their preferences and needs.

To create effective product recommendation emails, you should use customer data to determine which products are most likely to be of interest to the customer. This can include analyzing purchase history, browsing behavior, and even demographic information. To aid in this process, businesses can use machine learning algorithms to predict which products are most likely to lead to a conversion.

Your product recommendation emails should be personalized and relevant to each customer and should include images & descriptions of recommended products along with any relevant promotions or discounts.

Most importantly, there should be a clear CTA (call-to-action) encouraging the customer to make a purchase.

6. Re-Engagement Email

Triggered by: customer lack of engagement

Designed to win back inactive or unengaged customers, re-engagement emails are an effective way to rekindle customer interest in your products and bring lapsed customers back into your sales funnel.

Making an effective re-engagement email isn’t as easy as it sounds, however. To create an effective re-engagement email, you have to address the reasons why customers have become disengaged in the first place. Maybe they’ve had a change in preferences, maybe your brand isn’t relevant to them anymore, or maybe they’re just forgetting your brand as a whole.

By understanding the root cause of customer disengagement, your business can create much more targeted email campaigns that address those specific concerns while encouraging customers to re-engage with your brand.

When crafting your re-engagement email, make sure to remind the customer of the benefits of being a subscriber or member. You could offer an incentive to re-engage, such as a discount code or free shipping offer. Your re-engagement email can also serve as a feedback request, and you could ask the customer for feedback on why they have been inactive and how you can improve their experience with your brand.

7. Birthday/Anniversary Email

Triggered by: customer info

A birthday or anniversary email is sent to customers on their special day, whatever that day may be.

These emails are an effective way to show that you care about them and appreciate their business, along with providing the opportunity to offer a special promotion or discount to celebrate their special day with them.

When crafting your birthday or anniversary email, make sure to personalize the email with the customer’s name and any relevant details. You could also offer a discount or special promotion as a way to celebrate with the customer.

8. Referral Email

Triggered by: referral of new customers by an existing customer

A “referral email” can mean two things: one, it could mean an email sent to customers encouraging them to spread the word about the brand to friends and family; two, it could mean an email sent to customers who have referred friends or family to the brand.

Using the first definition, to create effective referral emails, businesses should focus on creating a compelling offer or incentive to refer friends or family to the brand. This could mean offering a promotion for the referrer and the person they refer or offering a special reward or bonus for a certain number of successful referrals.

Using the second definition, to create effective referral emails, businesses should focus on creating an incentive for a customer to keep referring new customers and thanking them for the customers they’ve referred previously.

When crafting your referral email, make sure to thank the customer for their referral and offer them a reward or incentive, such as a discount on their next purchase or a free gift. You could also include a call-to-action that encourages customers to refer more business to your brand.

9. Confirmation Email

Triggered by: customer completing an action

Arguably the simplest type of triggered email, a confirmation email is sent to customers after they complete an action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form. This email confirms that action and provides them with any relevant details.

In short, confirmation emails are transactional emails.

When crafting your confirmation email, make sure to include any relevant details, such as shipping information or order confirmation. You could also offer additional resources or related products or services to the customer. Keep the tone of the email friendly and approachable, and make sure to thank the customer for their business or for completing the form.