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Last night in bed, I went on Amazon and casually spent $200 on a hodgepodge of items including shampoo, a spatula and a Dunkin’ Donuts T-shirt. The latter was a consolation prize because those ridiculous sneakers from Saucony sold out before I had a chance to buy them. The thing is, I’m not even a regular Amazon shopper. I just got a good email.
Email is the most lucrative digital marketing channel with a median ROI of 122%, according to the Data & Marketing Association. The D&MA also found that 77% of that email ROI is generated from targeted, triggered messages. It makes sense; triggered messages are inherently personalized communications, which consumers prefer.
However, the most common triggered messages are reactive in nature, direct responses to something you did. Maybe you signed up for an email list and the brand is welcoming you. Or perhaps a retailer is reminding you that you never bought any of the stuff sitting in your shopping cart.
Amazon shows that more proactive triggered messages can be just as effective. I just moved last weekend and thanks to a partnership with the United States Postal Service, Amazon knew. Amazon also knew I’d likely buy some things for my new apartment and sent me a 10% sitewide discount. It worked. Here are three other types of proactive triggered emails:
Birthday emails: 481% higher transaction rate than promotional emails
Who doesn’t love a good birthday wish? Compared with promotional emails, birthday emails have a 481% higher transaction rate and generate 342% higher revenue per email, according to Experian.
It probably helps that birthdays are synonymous with gifts. These emails usually include a discount or some other incentive to get you on the retailer’s site or in the store. Macy’s offers free shipping, while Starbucks and Panera sends coupons to be redeemed for a birthday coffee or baked good. I got this email (from a mom and pop shop, no less) two birthdays ago and as a result, I have a permanent reminder of how well birthday emails can work.
Stitch Fix also nails these messages, keeping the birthday gift theme going without actually giving you one. The personal styling service reminds you that birthdays are a great time to treat yourself.
Reminder emails: A term that includes the most-opened triggered messages
The word “reminder” paints a pretty broad brush, but judging from cart abandonment emails, it has a powerful effect on people. According to SaleCycle, 48% of cart abandonment emails are opened and 33.3% of those lead to a sale.
Reminder emails can also be much more proactive. For example, Sephora reminds Beauty Insiders about their loyalty point balances, giving them suggestions for how to redeem them. Airbnb also emails travelers a few days before their trips to promote Airbnb Experiences, fun activities led by locals that may also serve as reminders to finish planning their trip. (If you’re ever in Krakow, the vodka tasting tour with James and Monika is amazing, by the way.)
One common reminder trigger is the replenishment email, a strategically-timed reminder that you’re about to run out of face wash or dog food or any other consumable with a predictable cadence. According to Listrak, replenishment emails have by far the highest open rate of any triggered message. How often do you find yourself thinking, “Oh, I’m running low on my charcoal mask?” Probably not as often as Sephora.
Back in stock: Three words that inspire action
Adding something to your cart demonstrates interest, but what about those items you can’t add because they’re unavailable? “You want what you can’t have” must apply to shopping. Using artificial intelligence to analyze subject lines, Phrasee gave words and phrases scores out of 100 based on how effectively they drove a response. “Back in stock” got a 79, one of the study’s highest.
Wayfair let this customer know the TV stand she had her eye on was back, while also jogging her memory with all pertinent information, such as the size of the TVs it can accommodate. The online home goods retailer knew she liked it; not letting her know it was available would have been a missed opportunity.
I signed up for Saucony’s email list in the hopes of getting a back in stock message because I still really want those sneakers. Am I weirdly adamant about making sure everyone at my gym can see where my coffee loyalty lies? Yes, but not enough to pay a price-gouging eBay seller.