The art of event-triggered e-mail

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Event-triggered e-mail is a commonplace inbox sight. Different from transactional e-mail, which is connected to a current or previous sale, triggered e-mails are one part promotional and one part relationship-building. They are designed purely to build brand awareness so when marketers or salespeople follow up, the customer is already familiar with the brand and what it does, as well as how the company can help them, said Luc Vezina, VP-marketing for e-mail service provider Campaigner. Here are some simple tips to help you get started with your own triggered e-mail program.

1) Shift your focus from pure sales to lead nurturing. Your typical e-mail marketing message probably includes a lot of product detail as well as special offers designed to boost sales. Triggered e-mails, however, should take a different slant, focusing instead on lead nurturing—getting the prospect or customer to feel an affinity with the salesperson and the company. “A lot of salespeople and marketing folk get leads, pounce on them and aggressively follow up. When they don’t convert, they are on to the next lead,” Vezina said. “Triggered e-mails take the very soft-sell approach, providing information that’s less sales-and-marketing-focused and more focused on the industry as a whole, or current events or just relevant information that helps someone do their job.”

2) Pick your triggers. Prospects or customers might receive a triggered e-mail after participating in a Webinar or signing up for your e-mail newsletter, for instance. As long as someone has opted to receive communications from you, you’re free to send them e-mail. Plus, the more personalized that e-mail is, the better. “[These programs] don’t look like marketing campaigns,” Vezina said. “They have few graphics and little formatting. They appear to be real e-mails that someone typed out.”

3) Use your salesperson’s persona. Anonymous automated e-mails don’t have the same impact as messages that come directly from someone your prospects and customers know already. Although it may take some effort, segment your list so you can send e-mails based on sales region or salesperson responsibility.

As part of that, Vezina said, personalize each segment with a custom return address and signature file that displays the correct salesperson’s name, e-mail address and additional contact information. “You can’t expect a salesperson to send dozens of e-mails a day, so you want to make it as easy as you can for him or her and do it automatically,” he said.

Another option is to attach a photo of the sales representative. “We see a rise in response and click rates when a photo is included in the signature file,” he added.

4) Keep the salesperson in the loop. Because salespeople have access to the same e-mail and contact database as the marketing folks do, it’s not uncommon for their messages to overlap. This is why it’s a good practice to send your sales team copies of triggered e-mails that go out during the month to help avoid duplication and provide a starting point for in-person or over-the-phone conversations.

“If a salesperson sees the text of an e-mail, they can use that content in their conversations,” Vezina said. “The reality for most organizations is that there’s a definite disconnect between sales and marketing, and doing something simple like this can bridge that divide.”

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