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Trigger Marketing: The Essential Guide for 2023

Marketing efforts triggered by consumer behavior streamline data-driven marketing campaigns to get responses. Learn the basics of trigger marketing here.

Your strategies as a marketer are heavily laced with purpose; each message is aimed towards a specific goal. To be able to define those goals more accurately is the key to communicating even more effectively. That is just what trigger marketing does. It tells a marketer where customers are in the decision-making process based on their actions – or lack thereof.

This form of data-driven marketing says “where, when, and what” to communicate to prospective customers. And the best part is that it’s all in the data you already collect! Read on if you want to craft an efficient trigger marketing campaign that runs on autopilot!

What is Trigger Marketing?

Trigger Marketing Points
Marketing Trigger Points

Trigger marketing refers to sending messages, via email, SMS, direct mail, or any other communication channel, to customers when an event/trigger occurs. These triggers are generally automated and majorly fall under one of these categories:

  • Engagement-based triggers help increase engagement by sending out mails on making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or visiting your website.
  • Event-based triggers help in developing an emotional connection with customers that develops trust and brand loyalty. These triggers are determined by details like birthdays, anniversaries, or relocations.
  • Behavior-based triggers look at online customer behavior and activities such as new registration, website activities, and conversion rates.

If you’ve ever gotten an anniversary coupon from a company, that’s an event-based trigger; if you’ve ever received a company’s catalog in the mail after visiting their website, that’s an engagement-based trigger.

The principle of trigger marketing is action and reaction. The actions of your customers can trigger a reaction from your business, such as the instantaneous sending of a personalized welcome email while onboarding.

By interacting with your brand, consumers give you all the intelligence needed to reach them efficiently. They tell you they’re ready, and you the marketer set the aim. All you have to do is send the communication that fits best. Trigger marketing applies consumer behavior data to tailor a response. For example, an abandoned shopping cart is a trigger. It notifies a company that the person is interested in their product, but due to some circumstance, they did not complete a purchase. The company can then follow up with a reminder campaign to all customers via direct mail or email. The consumer acts, the company learns about the consumer from that action, and the company plans accordingly. The trigger starts the process. This is one of the best trigger-based marketing examples.

Trigger marketing has proved its metal in the last few years. Don’t believe us, check the Blueshift Benchmark Report (2021.

Email Triggers are 497% More Effective than Random Batch Emails
Multi-Channel Triggers are 283% More Effective
Predictive Recommendations are 116% More Effective

Blueshift Benchmark Report Statistics

Types of Marketing Triggers

Triggers in marketing are largely based on four wide categories, let’s review the classification of triggers and examples for each type.

  • ‍Behavioral Triggers 

These events include the opening of an account, requests for information, changes in purchasing patterns, browsing patterns, website interactions, and other events along those lines. Each action says a lot about the consumer’s position in the buying process. Say a university sees someone has clicked an email link to visit the website for their college of business. The university now knows to have someone call that person for a follow-up conversation, or to send a direct mail campaign about their program.‍

Trigger Marketing Action
Behavioral triggers help you send tailored offers just when your customer needs them
  • Transactional Triggers

Transactions naturally prompt further marketing communications. They inform marketers of the customer’s interests, what additional purchases could supplement previous purchases, the value of the customer, when they buy, how they buy, and so forth. This data allows for more accurate segmentation of prospects, as well as prompting for responses.‍

Trigger Marketing Sweet Spot
  • Recurring Triggers 

These triggers come from an individual’s personal profile and happen on a certain date, including birthdays, expiration dates, anniversaries, and other recurring events. When a database shows upcoming birthdays and anniversaries, there is an opportunity for relationship-building and brand reminders. Trigger marketing automates that process by linking the trigger to a direct marketing campaign. The date is the trigger; a birthday card or membership anniversary email is the response.‍ Trigger-based direct mails like personalized coupons can be highly effective in gaining customer loyalty.

Trigger Marketing Personalized Postcards
Send Personalized Postcards Using Recurring Event-based Triggers
  • Threshold Triggers

The message you receive after reaching the spending limit on your credit card is a classic example. The bank sees in its data that you’ve reached a threshold, and respond accordingly. A database can alert you when a threshold is reached, permitting you to respond directly to it with targeted messages and means.

Trigger Marketing
Brands Leverage Trigger Marketing to Send Relevant Messages

How to Use Trigger Marketing?

When you’re setting up your trigger-based marketing campaign, you need to consider the following five steps to leverage automated marketing to ensure precise and accurately defined actions as well as responses.

  1. Know your Buyer Persona

To make any marketing activity a success, understanding your buyer persona is critically important. But for automated marketing campaigns, there is no room for a flexible approach. If you understand your buyer’s lifecycle stages and pain points, you can craft a great trigger marketing strategy and guide them through the process.

  1. Identify Trigger Events & Set your Automated Marketing Triggers

The software works on a simple algorithm of ‘if’ and ‘then’. For this start analyzing the sales process, and consider what will happen and why. Define action as your trigger, and set up an action, or series of actions, such as email or personalized message.

  1. Figure Out the Triggering Events & Determine the Actions

To get your messaging to the right people, you need to identify the “right trigger”. This is the “if” part of the equation that the software can use as a green signal to execute the actions. Some of the common actions include:

  • Actions taken on the website
  • Responses to past emails
  • Creitera met in the database

Once you know your “trigger”, then you can decide the “then” part of the equation. The most common ‘then’ actions are:

  • Sending an email.
  • Categorizing the contact in the database.

For instance, when an email subscriber clicks a link in an email, they receive a follow-up specific to the trigger action. Similarly, if there are no response to a few emails, you may trigger an email giving them the option to unsubscribe.

  1. Craft personalized messaging

Did you know that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences? If you want your brand to send the messages that will uniquely appeal to the user, you must be critical to know how that specific user is different from others in your CRM. For this reason, the brands must look at users’ journey to ensure they provide value and help them move to the next step.

  1. Identify and eliminate repetitive marketing tasks.

Study shows that 70% of millennials feel frustrated with brands sending irrelevant or repetitive emails. To begin with, start by creating a list of your most repetitive tasks and eliminate them using marketing automation. This not only helps in increasing productivity, but also enhances customer experience.

  1. Improvise your CRM

To get your trigger marketing right, you have to organize your data. The best way to get the most out of your CRM, update your records and categorize contacts. Think how your brand uses CRM and ask yourself a few questions like:

  • What and when can you gather data about your prospects to increase the effectiveness of your campaigns?
  • How can you use marketing automation to ensure the cleanliness and accuracy of your database?
  • What should be the frequency of auditing your database to ensure the integrity of these efforts?

Examples of Trigger Marketing Campaigns

Triggered-based direct mail can boost customer acquisition, retention, conversions, and revenue. There are several ways to trigger direct mailings, so we’ve enlisted a few five lead-generating trigger-based direct mail examples to inspire you.

  1. Life Event Triggers: Send a postcard with a coupon to customers who have their birthday/anniversary that month.
  2. Re-Engagement Triggers: When it’s been a while since a customer last placed an order, send them a postcard with an offer to encourage them to make a purchase.
  3. Welcome Triggers: When you acquire a new customer, you can send them a personalized direct mail piece in the form of a signed “Thank You” letter or a postcard with a discount for a repeat purchase. A great example of a direct mail piece can be similar to what Verizon does when a customer signs up for a device protection plan.

The Bottom Line

Triggered Marketing campaigns are a perfect combination of relevancy, timing, and personalization with the efficiency and efficacy of automated, blast campaigns which can yield great results for the business. Here we’ve given you a rundown on everything you need to know about trigger-based marketing so that you can reap the benefits with an effective, automated, and personalized marketing strategy.


What is a trigger in marketing automation?

Trigger in marketing automation is an event or an action that results in a task. Trigger marketing uses marketing automation software to perform a task resulting from a trigger, often an action taken by a prospect or customer. For instance, when a user makes an online purchase using a credit card, an automated message gets delivered to the user confirming whether the transaction was made by them or not. . Whether it’s an update on security concern alerts or a personalized offer to an individual’s account, users will definitely be interested to receive these messages.

What is a trigger in social media marketing?

With the rise in digital marketing, social media marketing triggers are a great way to get a conversation started with potential as well as old customers. Some of the in-demand social media marketing triggers include enticing images or videos, contests, user-generated content, testimonials, questions, etc. For example, a poll on Instagram or Twitter that involves asking questions is a great trigger. With such polls, your brand can get a flood of responses that can act as the right triggers for any marketing campaign.

What is trigger marketing optimization?

In general, marketing optimization refers to making necessary adjustments/ changes in the campaigns to do a better job of reaching your business goals. The trigger marketing campaigns require small adjustments to your marketing efforts based on the data that the brand gathers with the help of the triggers that their users generate little tune-ups using the marketing tools and tactics spelt out in your marketing strategy can do wonders.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.