How companies can benefit from trigger-based marketing

Charlotte Malz
Head of Marketing, BSI

Trigger-based marketing offers marketers brand-new possibilities in data-driven customer management. Individual events, so-called triggers, serve as activators for personalized marketing activities. The following article examines the different types of trigger marketing and shows why trigger marketing is relevant for customers and businesses.

Key points

  • Trigger-based marketing focuses on the customer as an individual rather than being part of a non-specific customer group.
  • The objective of trigger marketing is to reach the customer at the right time on the right channel and with the best possible customized message.
  • Companies can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty as well as their conversion rate and ROI by using trigger-based marketing.

The definition of trigger-based marketing:

Trigger-based marketing is, informally stated, the advanced state of conventional marketing campaigns using automation technology and big data. Here is an example: Instead of showering all customers simultaneously with a newsletter, as was done in the past, trigger-based marketing focuses on individualization. Each customer or prospective customer receives the right message for him or her at the right time and on the best channel. Each marketing action must be activated by a so-called trigger – for example, after a customer subscribes to a newsletter or makes a name change. This approach takes far less effort with automation marketing than it sounds – as long as you use the right software.

Trigger-based lifecycle campaigns have a conversion rate that is about 10% higher than the conversion rates of comparable batch push campaigns that send the same advertisement to all users via a push message. (Blueshift Study, 2020)

The four types of triggers in trigger-based marketing

Trigger-based marketing hinges on specific actions customers take or on events occurring in their lives, which, in turn, trigger appropriate marketing actions. The triggers – i.e., the activators – can be very different. Marketing experts mainly distinguish between four types of triggers.

1. Recurring triggers

The most accessible trigger relies on specific fixed dates a company has for a customer, such as the date of birth. They take this birthday as an opportunity to contact a customer, for example, by sending a particularly desirable birthday offer. Companies can also use other relevant (life) events as starting points for trigger-based customer journeys: a child’s 18th birthday, a wedding, a move, a particular holiday, the first snow, the beginning of spring, etc. Creativity has no limits.

Example: An insurance company offers its existing customers in a particular age cohort private pension insurance and explains why they recommend purchasing such insurance at that particular time.

2. Threshold-based triggers

This type of trigger sets off campaigns when certain thresholds are exceeded, for example, if a customer has gone beyond a certain sales threshold or if there has not been any sales activity in the customer’s account for some time.

Example: A bank has access to its customers’ account transactions. An e-mail is triggered to propose certain investments to customers with a specific account balance if they seem to have savings that could be invested.

3. Transactional triggers

Triggers based on specific customer actions have become the norm, particularly in online stores. These actions include purchases and shopping cart abandonment or a customer repeatedly spending time on a particular product page.

Example: A registered customer puts a high-priced product into her shopping cart but does not purchase it. She will then be reminded by e-mail of her shopping cart while, at the same time, possible alternatives are proposed to her, or the particular product is actively promoted.

4. Behavioral triggers

Customer behavior is never linear and rigid but, instead, is subject to variations and adaptations which trigger-based marketing can detect and use. If customers change their behavior in the shop, on the website or with customer service, alternate offers should be presented to them.

Example: After a customer has faithfully purchased chocolate from a convenience food store for years, the purchases stop. The store could now send him a triggered e-mail offering diet options, reduced sugar products or new flavors.

Why trigger e-mail marketing is so effective

The main objectives of trigger-based marketing, and, therefore, of trigger e-mail marketing, are the reduction in scatter loss and the increase in the efficiency of marketing activities without compromising customer loyalty. A higher return on investment and customer loyalty at the same time make trigger marketing a powerful tool in the context of modern automation marketing.

Timing and relevance are the most important criteria. Therefore, trigger-based customer journeys must be backed by automation software that has many relevant data ready in real time. Once you are at this point, you have created the basis for effective trigger marketing.

Trigger e-mails have a click-through rate that is 468% higher than for e-mails in batch campaigns, which are campaigns that start at a certain point in time and address a specific group of people at the same time. At 525%, the conversion rate is even higher. (Blueshift Study, 2020)

The result: Trigger-based marketing is worth your while

Today’s customers have expectations of their communication with companies that traditional marketing activities no longer meet: Service around the clock and a high degree of personal content relevance, coupled simultaneously with a strong dislike for generic advertising messages. For this reason, trigger-based marketing is the future: Notifications, after-sales-mails or reminders tailored to the individual customer are superior in every way to conventional newsletters and across-the-board activities. Today’s smart automation technologies provide an infrastructure that will establish trigger-based marketing as the standard in digital marketing before long.

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