Trigger Marketing: the ‘trigger’ that increases conversions and sales

Trigger marketing is increasingly used in online sales strategies. It allows you to expand your business by targeting users at the right time: whether they have yet to make a purchase or have already bought, as it is useful to remind them that they can do it again.

For example, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Women’s Day or the various international days dedicated to some cause are some of the events we celebrate or pay homage to on a fixed schedule. We perceive them as special moments and, therefore, often make purchases related to that event.

On these occasions, communication to ‘hook’ potential customers or to re-contact those who already are is vital to induce users to make purchases.

Thus, these moments turn out to be ‘special’ on a strategic level not only for users but also for companies that, through trigger marketing, manage to interact with the right person at the right time.

I will explain the meaning of the term, how different types of emails (from welcome to customer reactivation emails) work, and all the benefits of trigger marketing. Read on!

Trigger Marketing: meaning and definition

It is a brand new technique in the world of digitally related sales strategies, but not only. When one speaks of trigger-based marketing, one enters the large sphere of automation marketing. To understand the topic, it is useful to start with the etymology of this English term.

The term ‘trigger‘  in the verbal form, it takes on the meaning of ‘to trigger’. In fact, this type of marketing consists of sending messages (or notifications) that are triggered when certain conditions occur: time, place, events, or user actions and behavior. The messages arrive at a specific time, but only as a consequence of one of the factors just listed.

You’re wondering how this is possible, right? Know this, it is not the result of a spell but the result you get through this practice is portentous, I would say almost ‘magical’!

You have to imagine the trigger mechanism as a kind of trigger that, automatically activated at the most opportune moment, fires targeted messages to selected users. Delivery is possible because the surfer and the site have somehow come into contact.

Different users and different user actions generate necessarily different messages, aiming for maximum personalization of communication. In this way, the visitor is ‘grabbed’ at the most appropriate moment for a purchase or, more generally, a conversion. Through trigger marketing, therefore, the customer’s needs and the company’s intentions intersect in what we can define as the ‘perfect moment’. I told you, something magical is there!

This type of marketing is fundamental in email campaigns. In fact, it is in email marketing that triggers are used the most because they are highly effective. They can, however, also be applied to other tools and are divided into:

  • Triggered mail
  • Triggers on site and app
  • Triggered sms

Find out more about triggers, and pivotal elements of databases, capable of triggering an automatic mechanism.

In the following paragraphs, we will take an in-depth look at how this works when applied to emails and websites. After reading, you will also be able to understand the functioning of triggers connected to apps and phone messages, as the mechanism of this text message automation is very similar to that of emails, just as that of apps (a kind of mini-sites) is similar to that of websites.

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Trigger-based email marketing

In the previous paragraph, I introduced the topic in broad strokes, in this one I will explain exactly what trigger marketing applied to email marketing consists of, what triggered emails are, and how to run a trigger-based email marketing campaign.

how do you use trigger marketing

Trigger-based email marketing campaigns are exactly what they sound like: automated emails that are triggered by a specific action of a web visitor or customer. They are called ‘triggered emails‘ and their most common form is the welcome email. Find out more about trigger e-mails.

Typically, the email marketing cycle works like this: a user searches for something on Google, lands on a site, and based on a particular need, registers, leaving their email address. It is at this moment that the trigger is activated, which has the task of sending the welcome message. After this ‘welcome’, the user is prompted to return to the site.

The automatic and instantaneous delivery of the message makes triggered e-mails timely, relevant, and highly personalized. Thanks to these features, there is a high degree of convertibility, because one is able to act when the visitor is still actively thinking about a certain topic, product, or service. The visitor, in practice, feels considered even before becoming a customer or user of a service.

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Triggered mail: mail that works for you

Triggered mails work optimally in the service of companies, precisely because they are automated and therefore provide great help when it comes to the marketing strategies to be implemented. Depending on the marketing strategies deployed by a company, triggered e-mail campaigns can be very complex and sophisticated. At this point, I imagine you are asking yourself this question: how do you start a trigger-based email campaign? Keep calm, the answer is coming.

Based on what are called Key Moments there are certain types of messages that just cannot be missed. Among the most important and used in trigger marketing are the ones I will explain in the following paragraphs.

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Welcome Email

That’s right, we are talking about the welcome email that finds its utility in the ‘welcome’ factor. The welcome email, like the other types that we will see later, is a transactional email and is a real must in communication with customers and the target community. Every self-respecting Email Marketing Manager knows this and knows the great importance of this type of message, which should essentially be used for:

  • welcome your newsletter and thank you for your subscription
  • welcome to one’s own site (be it an e-commerce, platform or other)

A new registration can be the beginning of a happy relationship between the user and the company, so make the newcomer feel at home. Thanks to the information left by filling in the registration form, it is possible to personalize the first email greeting with tips or promotions. The welcome email is an excellent opportunity to give away discount codes or free content according to the needs of the moment. One must follow the rules of relationship marketing and use the tone of voice most appropriate to the recipient, but without neglecting politeness and politeness. It is important to appear, through words, as human as possible. Because remember: the first impression is the one that counts and is often the final one. For this reason, attention to detail must also be paid in trigger marketing.

Email for post-purchase conversion

The first conversion is a key moment, the right opportunity to retain the buyer and make him/her a regular customer. Post-purchase emails are very important in a trigger marketing campaign. In fact, before making a purchase, in general, the digital shopper always carries with him a minimum of worry, so it is good and right to be close to him and reassure him. Post-conversion emails serve precisely this purpose: to send a message just after the purchase to let them know that the transaction was successful, and also to remind them of the next steps (such as the date of arrival of the goods). These actions reassure the customer and make him feel ‘pampered’. Furthermore, this type of e-mail creates trust in the company and in the customer care service.

Loyalty Award Email

As we all know, retaining an old customer is much easier and more profitable than winning a new one. So you have to let him know that the company cares about him, that it thinks about him. Here again, trigger marketing comes to our aid, providing valuable help. It is good practice, for example, to give a small reward on the second purchase, such as vouchers or discount codes, or to give discounts on birthdays or other special occasions. It might also be a good idea to distribute discounts on particular products or categories from time to time.

trigger based marketing examples

Zombie’ reactivation email

This type of trigger is also very useful and efficient. Indeed, it is not uncommon for a user to register to an e-commerce site without ever purchasing anything for months, or for a purchase to be a one-off. Reactivation emails try to solve this problem. So sending an attractive offer that cannot be refused, accompanied by very precise instructions on how to buy, will almost certainly succeed in reactivating the ‘switched-off’ customer, the so-called zombies.

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Abandoned cart email

Through Analytics tools, as you well know, it is possible to monitor the movements and clicks of those browsing a site. It happens very often that the user, even on different days, puts items in the
shopping cart without ever finalizing the transaction. What is stopping him? What prevents him from clicking on ‘buy’? Perhaps he does not trust it? Again, being present and perceived as interested is important. Then one expedient to activate a trigger could be the time-related one. Typically, items remain in the shopping cart for about a month. Thanks to trigger marketing, it is possible to send an e-mail to remind that the cart is full and that shortly the selected items will be removed from it. This could convince the customer to conclude the purchase and finally swipe the card.

Surprise email

There are some people who hate surprises, but how many users of a service would not like to receive something for free? In my opinion, none. With this in mind, in a trigger-based email marketing campaign, it is a great idea to woo the customer with what we have christened ‘surprise emails‘. Through this trigger, it is possible to send instructions to receive a surprise, such as a company gadget, a loyalty card with exclusive services, or, for example, a communication to give away a free support session. This category of digital communication can be integrated into a strategic branding plan, building customer loyalty and making them feel lucky and satisfied with the opportunity they have taken advantage of.

Follow-up email

Customers often cancel a service or switch digital stores because after the purchase they feel disregarded or even forgotten. It is, therefore, more than necessary, after a successful transition, to send a follow-up message asking for feedback on the service used. This type of triggered mail is very useful after the goods have been delivered. A survey could also be included in the e-mail, incentivizing completion through the promise of a discount voucher. All this will satisfy the customer, plus it is an easy and also fun way to acquire new data and information to improve the services offered.

Trigger marketing on the site

So far, we have seen how trigger marketing is successfully used in email campaigns, but as we said at the beginning, triggers also find their place on websites, mobile applications, and in sms marketing campaigns.

what is an example of a trigger marketing

Triggers are, we have well understood, IT automatisms that are triggered when a certain situation occurs. But how are they triggered on a site? I’ll explain in a moment, but first, you have to think of a site as a place where the user spends time and where he performs actions.

On a site, triggers are triggered when, for example, a user arrives on the site or when he spends more than a few seconds on a specific page. This can be used to communicate with him, to offer him help, or to provide instructions and suggestions. In a nutshell, what triggers a site is the user’s behavior: the time he takes to do something, and the actions (such as clicks) he takes.

In this case, communication becomes direct, instantaneous, and interactive. Messages are not sent by e-mail, as in the previous examples, but through a dialogue box that only opens at the appropriate time. You got it right, even chatbots are triggered by trigger-based marketing.

How are triggers used on a website?

Triggers open a dialogue window that serves, precisely, to talk with the user on the other side of the screen. In the window, therefore, mainly messages are inserted, but it is also possible to insert links, images, videos, and content of various kinds. Here are some examples of what can be done:

  • suggest reading a blog-post
  • show offers and promotions related to certain products
  • propose a subscription to the newsletter
  • direct to related pages
  • give more information about the content of the page you are visiting
  • request the completion of a contact form
  • activating in a conversation following a particular question

You can indulge your imagination in choosing what to show users to try to increase engagement and try to convert them into customers. Obviously, the tone of voice you will use will be crucial. As with email, trigger messages on a site also fall into different categories. Here are them:

  • Greeting trigger message: this is the message in the dialogue box that corresponds to the welcome mail. As in real life, it is good manners to greet and therefore should also be done when a user lands on a site. The automatic greeting is simple to implement and is a proven formula for increasing interactions and conversions.
  • Message support triggers: based on the timing of actions performed on a site, one can try to interpret what the user is looking for. By means of well-designed triggers on the information that the user voluntarily or involuntarily leaves us, it is possible, for example, to set off a customer care service via chat or to display a call to action aimed at pushing toward a purchase.
  • FAQ trigger message: many users are lazy and do not feel like going to the page with the most frequently asked questions, the so-called FAQ. By means of the Marketing Trigger, it is possible to trigger a chatbot that can answer the simplest and most frequently asked questions. In this case, the user will ask something in the chat and the answer will come immediately.
  • Message triggers for advertising: if we are on a particular day of the year such as Black Friday or the Christmas period, or at a time when there are active promotions on the site, triggers can be used to advertise the offers of the moment. The user will be intrigued and will certainly go and have a look.

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Benefits of trigger marketing

If you have read this far, it means that you have already realized that trigger-based marketing really does have ‘magic’ potential. Then it is just about time to discover and fully realize all the benefits of this new practice:

  • Increased customer loyalty: when a customer decides to subscribe to a newsletter to receive promotional content, he is essentially declaring his trust in the brand. Trigger-based emails and messages allow you to send the customer useful and relevant information based on their preferences and behavior. This will work on customer loyalty
  • Relevance: sending targeted messages at certain times to certain customers increases the relevance of one’s communications. People’s mailboxes are overflowing with e-mails, many of which are not even opened. Sending an e-mail on the occasion of a special event to a user interested in that topic allows you to stand out from the mass and indistinct messages
    Improved efficiency: using automation marketing to implement email campaigns allows you to focus on campaign optimization instead of manually segmenting and uploading lists (especially if they are mail lists)
  • Competitive advantage: we said that trigger marketing is new. At the moment, it is not used by many companies to do relevant email or messaging campaigns. Therefore, companies that start trigger marketing will have a competitive advantage over those that do not.
    Increased revenue: this is undoubtedly the greatest advantage for a company. the numerous variants of trigger messages allow the perfect campaign to be created for each stage of the purchasing cycle: from the welcome mail to the follow-up mail.


Opting for this type of marketing means making a quantum leap in corporate communication, as it allows the company to send customizable messages to its database of contacts. In fact, it is now common knowledge that the customer is always looking for exclusive experiences, wanting to be at the center of everything. Personalization in digital marketing is imperative and this principle is even more important in trigger-based email marketing, which specifically aims to hit the right person at the right time with the right message.

Personalizing communication means identifying products and services through one-to-one interaction between the company and the customer. A campaign is customized when it succeeds in establishing an individual dialogue with customers, offering answers through a customized process of products, services, and messages. And, as we have seen so far, it achieves this goal through textual communication, be it e-mail, chat on a site or in an app, or text messages.

After this reading are you considering starting Trigger Marketing campaigns? Given the benefits, I highly recommend it, as well as looking at the free material provided by Digital Coach to improve your digital skills.

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