More Reasons to Use Trigger-Based Marketing

By | December 13, 2012

Back in June, I posted about a Forrester/Silverpop study that shows a rise in marketing automation, including trigger-based marketing. Among the data used to construct triggers, according to the study, were transaction history, order and response history, social media activity or comments, and account activity and balance.

The latest study from Epsilon, its Q3 2012 Email Trends and Benchmarks study, adds to this picture. Marketers’ use of emails triggered from welcome, thank you, or abandoned shopping cart pages rose 10.3% to 2.6% of total email volume in Q3 2012 compared with the year-ago quarter. Triggered open rates performed at 75.1% higher than “business as usual” (BAU) emails in Q312.

These and similar trigger data provide important lessons for the digital print industry. Primary among them: Triggered email doesn’t work because it is email. It works because it is triggered — it offers really, really good timing based on something the consumer himself or herself does. That kind of relevance works for print, too.

The more we see data showing the value of triggers for email, the more it should motivate us to do the same for print. This might mean sending an extra 25% off on the recipient’s birthday. Incentives and promotions to renew subscriptions, leases, or licenses right before the renewal date. Or “we miss you” communications and discounts offered to customers who haven’t ordered from you past a certain date.

There are lots of triggers that you (and your customers) can use to generate high-impact direct mail. Or email if you’re doing multichannel marketing. That, of course, means having the data to construct the triggers. So if you haven’t been able to convince your customers to append their databases or turn their mailing lists into marketing databases, maybe triggers are your “in”!

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8 thoughts on “More Reasons to Use Trigger-Based Marketing

  1. Chuck Gehman

    It’s a real stretch to suggest that it would be possible to emulate what is going on in the digital world. It is possible that a few years ago, before digital marketing started to “run over” personalized print, this would have been a good idea.

    Now, though, why on earth would you want to? I mean, I get letters from my Honda dealer telling me my car is about to need a service. My BMW/Mini Cooper dealer, on the other hand, has an email platform.

    I honestly don’t have a preference as to which one I prefer… but I do know that the Honda dealer is spending way more money, and I believe I’m paying for it, which makes me a little unhappy.

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    So let me make sure I understand what you are saying. You are saying that your Honda dealer should stop sending triggered letters and that trigger-based marketing is something that email marketers do well and that print marketers should not bother with? That sure sounds to me like what you’re saying.

  3. Chuck Gehman

    Yes, unfortunately. The time has past for “that kind” of transactional/transpromo direct mail. In fact, I went to the Honda dealer yesterday– and I brought the letter with me (it’s a black and white letter in an envelope with two coupons at the bottom). I didn’t need it, because its content was all in their computer. The first thing the service adviser said was, “I have a coupon for you.”

    One thing I might add is that my car was also telling me I needed service every time I turned it on, and it told me what kind of service it needed with a little code on the display– I looked up the code by typing “Honda Pilot B12” into Google, and voila, I found out I needed an Oil Change.

    So, Heidi, what’s the point?

    There may still be room for the “print as a luxury” crowd, where some super-high end transactional/triggered direct mail piece is a good move, but generally, I think it’s a quickly and dramatically shrinking category.

    I mean, I love print as much (and probably a lot more) than the next guy, but we can’t keep fooling ourselves. Some applications are just done.

  4. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Maybe for some target audiences, Chuck, but not everyone lives in the world that you do.

    My car doesn’t talk to me. I have a neighbor without Internet access. Both my husband’s parents and mine are highly educated, with disposable incomes, but neither has an iPad or a smartphone. My huband’s parents don’t even watch television. I have a close friend whose husband runs a research lab at Penn State. They don’t have smartphones, and their computer has so many filters on it I’m surprised email gets through. Another set of close friends is still smartphone-free, as well, despite the fact that she’s a teacher and her husband works in the world of computers. My husband has a director-level job at a private school, but he doesn’t have a smartphone, receives no marketing email, and only looks at his home email once a week.

    I think we forget that there is still a whole world out there that is not plugged into this world of e-everything, and unless we don’t need revenue from their wallets, I think print is still very much worthy of their attention.

  5. Chuck Gehman

    That’s a very dramatically shrinking world, though Heidi, you’ve published a lot of the statistics to prove what I’m saying in previous posts you have made here!

    People who have Smartphones are the people marketers want to spend money trying to reach… not people who don’t consume any media, which is increasingly the demo for the people you are describing.

  6. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    I don’t think either point is mutually exclusive. Yes, the e-everything audience is growing, but that doesn’t mean that the non-e-everything audience is irrelevant. Smartphone owners are 50% if the market, but that still leaves the other 50%. Are you say they don’t spend any money or consume media? That’s certainly not the case for the non-smartphone owners I know. Their lack of e-everything isn’t lack of income. (One is an avid iPad user.) It’s preference.

  7. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    By the way, just for fun, it’s worth noting that I’m posting my defense of the legitimacy of trigger-based print from my iPhone while at the gym…

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