Pull the E-Mail Trigger

Perhaps you received an email from a nonprofit right after the tsunami hit Southeast Asia, urging you to make a donation to help those unfortunate people. Or maybe you received an email promoting an antihistamine medicine just before allergy season. These are event-based trigger email messages, or triggers. They’re very different from the regular email messages you send, and that’s exactly what makes them more powerful.

Triggers can be a great addition to an email toolbox. They are newsworthy and can contain more emotion. They’re timely, containing important information. And, they provide a sense of urgency.

Newsworthy Triggers

When most marketers think of triggers, they think of lifestyle-related ones such as getting married, having a baby, or moving. There are so many more triggers to be mined.

Products often follow specific events. After the U.S. government issued the Iraqi Most Wanted in the form of a deck of cards, companies promoted those decks by email. As soon as Philadelphia and New England became 2005’s Super Bowl participants, I got email for related merchandise.

Depending on your business, you may be able to tie email to news events. News-related triggers fall into several categories: news, weather, sports, and entertainment.

Other Triggers

There are literally hundreds of other triggers you can use. Here’s a sample:

  • Personal: birthdays, anniversaries, spouse’s and children’s birthdays
  • Holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Mother’s Day, Independence Day
  • Buying history: product/service, recency, purchase size
  • Interests: golf, crafts, reading, dining out
  • Tasks: fertilizing lawn, taking vehicle for oil change, changing heating filters
  • Charitable: an avalanche in Chile, a tsunami in Southeast Asia, poaching in Africa
  • Web site: new content posted, new section added
  • Ethnic: Black History Month, Chinese New Year
  • Work-related: National Secretary’s Day, business milestones (e.g., 10th anniversary)

Trigger E-Mail Content

Trigger email is targeted and responsibly packaged in the context of an important announcement, news, event, or other important message. Messages are short and clearly state why people are receiving it and what the call to action is. A nonprofit organization’s message might read:

As you know, the recent tsunami caused devastation in numerous countries. We’re one of several agencies supplying much needed medicines, food, and other supplies to the area. Every dollar helps feed a family for a day. We desperately need your help.

To make a donation online, click here.

Thank you so much, and please pass this email on to your friends, family, and coworkers.

A music seller might send this:

Because we know you’re a Beach Boys fan, we wanted to tell you their latest CD, “Summer Gold,” will ship next week. But we only have a limited quantity.

Order today, and we’ll automatically ship a copy to you when they arrive. Plus, we’ll knock 25 percent off your order.

Click here to order your copy of “Summer Gold” today!

From a sunscreen manufacturer:

The weather bureau predicts temperatures at the Jersey Shore will be over 90 in the coming weeks. If you’re planning to head to the beach, arm yourself with the best sunscreen.

For detailed information about which sunscreen is best for you and for coupons for big savings at Walgreens, click here.

What a wonderful world it would be if most email I received was trigger-based! Triggers are one of email’s most powerful uses. Load your email gun, and pull that trigger!

Keep reading…

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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