Give Your Triggered Messages a Fighting Chance

Posted by Josh Weissburg on Feb 25, 2015


Have you checked your inbox lately? I’ll bet you have at least a dozen emails from companies you have purchased from in the past few months, all vying for your attention and hoping you’ll click on their email.

Now check your deleted/archived folder. How many of those emails are waiting there to be dumped, unopened? They all held so much promise, at least from the perspective of the marketing person who wrote them, yet there they are, wasted efforts that represent countless hours of development time. Depressing, isn’t it?


Triggered email is losing its luster

As I've written about before, trigger-based messaging is one of the most important tools in the marketing toolbox - and triggered email is usually the foundation. Many companies can still make gains by setting up quality triggered email. You could notify active users with information on an impending sale or special offer related to an action they just took, ask happy customers for referrals or social media support, or ask unhappy customers to come back for another try because you fixed something they didn't like.

But as with any successful technique, as it becomes commonplace, its effectiveness declines. Growth guru Andrew Chen calls this the Law of Shitty Clickthroughs: "Over time, all marketing strategies result in shitty clickthrough rates." The sheer number of triggered emails in every inbox has begun to dilute their effectiveness. Order confirmations and shipping notifications may be saved, but many triggered emails are deleted because they are recognized as marketing fluff by savvy consumers. Your 30% off for “special” customers email or “we miss you” email to a visitor who hasn’t purchased from you in a while is no longer unique and doesn’t carry the same punch it may once have had.


Email is the new snail mail

So what's the answer? Triggered emails are still necessary and useful, but they are not the end of the story. If your product has a significant mobile component or people use your product on the go, mobile push and/or SMS can be tremendously useful. Paper circulars in physical mailboxes used to be the primary way to engage with customers, then companies realized that so much of the buying process was happening online that email would convert better as a channel. The same thing is happening with mobile; when the action you want your customer to take is on a mobile device, they don’t necessarily want to be reminded with an email. You want to use the channel that matches their engagement pattern with your product.

For a lot of marketers, the idea of managing triggered iOS/Android push or SMS just sounds crazy. Doesn't that mean writing code? Will new channels overwhelm customers? How will your users react? Should you replace triggered emails you already send or add other channels alongside them? Getting answers to these questions requires that you have flexibility to make changes without engineering and the ability to test the effect of your changes on user behavior.


How triggered messaging is changing

Let's break down those two requirements: flexibility and testing. Flexibility means the ability to alternate delivery channels between email, SMS and push notifications based on customer preference and use customer actions to trigger the right type of message at the right time. For testing, you need to be able to try a new channel like push or SMS with a segment of your mobile users, then see if those messages drive customer actions better than email does. The final question to ask: can you do all of this without involving IT or engineers?

Outbound connects to your site or app so you can track customer action and develop contextual, targeted messages, then experiment with how well they work. We also make it ridiculously easy to test and edit triggered messages so you can improve the success rate of marketing initiatives. The best marketing campaigns in the world won’t succeed if they aren’t delivered in the right way – that’s why Outbound makes it simple to use any combination of them: email, SMS and push notifications (and others coming soon).

If your marketing automation software is limited to email (or is just a pain to work with), it’s probably time to take a look at Outbound. Give your customer communication a fighting chance!


Topics: Triggered messages, Mobile messaging