How E-commerce Brands Can Use Trigger Emails

by Corey Philip
November 8, 2022

E-commerce thrives off email marketing and is the preferred communication option of E-commerce customers. The significant benefit of E-commerce is that brands can track customer activity and automate emails based on their behaviors, allowing businesses to pre-craft emails and send them timeously according to triggers.

E-commerce brands can use trigger emails by sending emails out according to the principal actions of a customer's activity. Trigger emails can get used for many reasons, including welcoming customers, confirming details, brand updates, notifying customers about cart abandonments, and re-engagement.

Sending trigger emails enhances a brand's marketing strategy, and specific triggers are more important than others. We'll guide you on how to use E-commerce trigger emails and divide the types of trigger emails into categories, so you can plan which emails you'd like to automate.

What are Triggered Emails?


Trigger emails are automated emails sent after a customer completes an action. Businesses need to decide which actions warrant a trigger email. Trigger emails are great to use in your strategy because it's extremely efficient and saves time and money.

Trigger emails can be used for any action the E-commerce brand chooses. An automated email works effectively for specific events, such as a customer signing up for a newsletter or an order confirmation. It is best for an E-commerce brand to pre-define the actions that warrant an automated email.

How to Use Trigger Emails for E-commerce


E-commerce brands need to understand and analyze their customers' behavior and interactions to figure out the critical moments for which they could set a trigger email. Trigger emails are cost-effective and efficient, as they strike while the iron is hot by acting on the psychology of a client's interaction with the brand.

You can send trigger emails immediately after an action has been taken or time them to match an algorithm based on customer research. Some emails work instantly, like a welcome email. Others work best after some time, like a customer who has yet to engage with the brand.

You should segment your customers based on their interaction with the brand, as those who interact often benefit from more emails. In contrast, less active customers prefer not to be overstimulated and rather keep an eye out for more essential emails like order confirmations and flash sales.

To help decide on which emails to automate for your E-commerce brand, we've divided trigger emails into the following categories.

Let’s get started.

1. Welcoming Triggers


Once a potential customer has subscribed to your brand's newsletter or created an account with you, you should trigger an email or an email sequence to onboard them and make them feel comfortable after joining. (Related: 8 Email Welcome Series Best Practices + Examples)

Welcoming and onboarding emails allow you to showcase what your brand offers and create the first impression of a customer's journey with the brand.

  • Welcome emails. Welcoming subscribers to your brand are one of the most critical triggered emails and should get sent instantly after the customer has subscribed. You can tailor the email to introduce your E-commerce brand and add an actionable button for the customer to interact. We suggest refraining from advertising products in the initial email, as it could deter the customer from feeling welcome.
  • Onboarding emails. After a welcoming email, an onboarding email can introduce customers to the brand by offering a line of contact if they have questions. Other content options could include a brief overview of the business, introducing loyalty programs, giving discounts, demonstrating relevant products, or presenting the customer with the experience they will have with your brand. Onboarding emails should be sent soon after welcome emails.

Here is an example of a welcome email from Trello:

2. Confirmation Triggers


You should trigger emails to confirm purchases that a customer has made and free trials started to assure them that everything is verified and that they have the details on things like when their order will be delivered. Keeping customers updated on their free trial and shipping is vital, so nothing happens unexpectedly.

  • Order confirmation emails. Order confirmations should contain all the information on the customer's purchase and tell them their delivery dates and tracking number if something is getting shipped to them. You can thank the customer, offer communication channels if there are questions about their delivery, and even introduce similar products.
  • Free trial emails. Nothing is worse than starting a free trial and being charged afterward without warning, so it's fair for an E-commerce brand to let its customers know what's happening at least a day before their trial ends to avoid any complaints or lousy publicity. It is simple to have a free trial trigger email.

Here is an example of an order confirmation email from GoDaddy:

3. Post Purchase Triggers


Triggered emails don't need to end after a purchase, as good aftercare retains loyalty. There are many behaviors you can trigger post-purchase emails for, depending on the nature of your e-commerce brand. You could ask for a customer review or email relevant content. Keeping customers interested with trigger emails can do a world of good for sales and interaction.

  • Up-sell marketing emails. A little marketing email after a customer purchase doesn't hurt. You can base the advertised products on their previous purchases and your website browsing data and throw a small discount into the mix to keep them returning.
  • Educational emails. Offering value to a client is golden, so content with an educational spin, such as an eBook or product how-to, is a fun way to add worth to your e-commerce brand and entertain your clientele. Education-orientated emails show that your brand is more than just about selling, but rather an interactive platform that cares about customer well-being.

4. Abandonment Triggers


Cart and browsing abandonment are standard trigger email options, and for a good reason. Your customer has shown interest and got lost somewhere along the way, and a trigger email could bring them back to complete a purchase.

  • Cart abandonment emails. An email allows you to convince a customer why they should purchase your product by showing the value and care your brand provides. You can do the same for customers who are browsing. You can also use this opportunity to ask the customer to communicate with you for any questions.

Here's an abandoned cart reminder from Williams Sonoma:

5. Update Triggers


Update triggers aren't personal but showcase essential information that customers might find valuable. If there is anything to let customers know about, feel free to automate an email telling them about what's new!

  • Sale notification emails. Customers love a good sale, and if your e-commerce store is about to have one, you can whip up a catchy email to let them know.
  • Back in-stock emails. Back-in-stock items may not have been on the customer's mind, but since it was in demand previously, it might entice them to purchase them now that the items have returned to the shop.

6. Win-Back Triggers


If a client has been inactive after some time, it would be best to sweep their interest back, and a trigger email makes this easy. You can send more than one win-back email over time or after someone has unsubscribed from a mailing list. Win-back emails work best paired with discounts.

  • Re-engagement emails. After 90 days of inactivity, it warrants a trigger email to lure a previously active customer back to your e-commerce brand. Your email needs to show the value your brand offers and give a good enough reason for a customer to return. Discounts are a standard tool used to win customers over.

Final Thoughts


E-commerce brands can effectively use trigger emails in their marketing plan by evaluating which actions will work best for an email strategy. Triggers range from welcoming customers to inactive customers. We hope to have helped you find a trigger email approach!

(Related: 5 Email Marketing Strategies Local Businesses Can Use to Keep Customers Coming Back)

About the author

Corey Philip

Corey Philip is a small business owner / investor with a focus on home service businesses.

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