Email Marketing

The Power of Triggered Emails; 6 Examples

In the natural progression of most email programs, there comes a time when an ecommerce site is ready to tackle the power of triggered emails. Although a challenge to set up, they can be a crucial element in your overall marketing communications strategy, and for good reason. Triggered mailings have a proven track record of phenomenal response and conversion rates. For the overall email program of S&S Worldwide, my employer, 40 percent of all email-generated revenue comes from triggered and transactional-based emails that account for only 4 percent of the total email volume. That is an incredible return on investment.

6 Triggered Email Samples

But where do you begin, and what types of triggered emails may make sense for your site? Start with those emails that are easiest to create and most likely to convert, and then work your way up to more complicated and dynamically driven emails. Here are a few examples of triggered emails that may work for you.

  1. Welcome email. I am still surprised at how many sites do not implement an instant welcome email once someone subscribes to a newsletter. A welcome email is your site’s opportunity at a personal communication with the customers. Wow them with the benefits they’ll receive as subscribers, give them information on the frequency they can expect, contact information, and, possibly, a new subscriber bonus of some kind.

    Sample 'Welcome' email from S&S Worldwide.

    Sample ‘Welcome’ email from S&S Worldwide.

  2. Reorder or order reminder emails. Depending on your business model and frequency of customer orders, it may make sense to trigger a message based on the customer’s previous orders. For example, several of our customers tend to order similar products once every year. We send an email to them at the 11 month mark which includes all the information from their past orders, making it easy for them to see what it was they ordered and if they would be interested in ordering the same or similar products. This email is very effective for any replenishment-type product.

    Sample reorder reminder email from S&S Worldwide.

    Sample reorder reminder email from S&S Worldwide.

  3. Birthday or special-occasion emails. If it makes business sense for your site to capture subscribers’ birthdays, email them to say “happy birthday” and include a special offer. The logic here can also apply to any other date-driven event: An anniversary, a birth of a child, an upcoming vacation or holiday. Be creative and structure your promotions around the events happening in an individual’s life.

  4. Abandoned cart emails. This is one of the more powerful emails in a marketer’s tool box. Some ecommerce sites have been wary of sending abandoned-cart emails for fear the consumer may feel overly monitored. However, in practice most retailers find that the customers value the reminders as a great service. Once set up, abandoned cart emails can run automatically and they will help capture lost sales. Test the timing, message content and product offers in these emails to find the combination that best works for your site. For additional reading on abandoned cart emails, including how to implement them, see “Abandoned-Cart Remarketing Effective, Says Ecommerce Exec,” my recent interview with Practical eCommerce on that topic.

    Sample 'abandoned cart' email from S&S Worldwide.

    Sample ‘abandoned cart’ email from S&S Worldwide.

  5. Abandoned site browse or search. Using the same logic as abandon cart emails, abandon site browse or search is, essentially, the same type of communication, but the customer has not yet added anything to his or her cart. There are two methods to implement abandoned site emails. First, the visitor needs to be “cookied.” If he or she has clicked on any past email campaigns from the site and the email included a personalized email capture within the URL, you can capture the visitor’s email address every time they come back to the site (as long as cookies are still enabled). Second, if visitors are logged into their accounts, you will have the email addresses.

    Emphasizing the customer service aspect of this email is vital. Offering things such as live chat is you have it on your site. Customers here may have had problems finding exactly it was they were looking for, so a good strategy is to get them the help they need to find what they are looking for.

    Sample abandoned site email from S&S Worldwide.

    Sample abandoned site email from S&S Worldwide.

  6. Transactional emails. Transactional emails are a form of triggered email since they happen automatically following an online order. They provide an opportunity to create and maintain a lasting relationship and to encourage repeat purchases. Read more on transactional emails in my recent article, “5 Keys to Transactional Emails.”


Triggered emails should be a part of every ecommerce marketing toolbox. They offer real-time relevancy to customers that have increasingly grown to expect these communications. Implement the triggered emails that apply to your business and you will likely see some positive results.

Carolyn Nye
Carolyn Nye
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