The Ultimate Guide to Trigger Marketing

The Secrets of Successful Trigger Marketing

You’ve heard it before: successful marketing comes from getting the right message to the right person, at the right time. Trigger marketing is the science and art of honing in on the precise moments our customers need us, stepping in, and offering them exactly what they’re looking for. One example might be leveraging trigger automation to immediately send an email when a customer abandons their online shopping cart. Or, if a customer browses a product on your website, you might send them a follow-up text a day later inviting them to take a second peek. 

When done right, digital marketing triggers are a thing of beauty. Email automation triggers, for instance, produce a staggering 306% greater click through rate than blast emails. And yet, most companies still aren’t using trigger marketing to its fullest potential.

Marketing automation triggers foster a real, long-term relationship between a customer and brand. A customer’s journey with your company may begin months or even years before they actually make a purchase, but you should be thinking of them in terms of their LTV (lifetime value), not over-focusing on enticing them into taking an immediate action. Trigger automation and strong data allow marketers to achieve this at scale to maximize ROI. When you’ve got access to rich data that helps you understand a customer’s personality, goals, and routines, trigger marketing allows you to offer relevant, personalized communications at just the right time.

Effective trigger campaign marketing is one of the modern marketer’s most powerful tools, but it’s becoming harder to implement, with a growing number of technical and legal considerations  many marketers simply don’t have the bandwidth to address: Apple’s iOS 14.5 release shrunk support for cookies and turned off sharing of users’ IDFAs (Identifier for Advertisers) by default, vastly limiting marketers’ ability to deliver personalized and targeted advertising; Google plans to remove third-party cookie support from Google Chrome in 2023; and laws like GDPR, CCPA, and VCDPA all point to a path of narrowing data availability that will require companies to own their data. 

Companies that aren’t preparing now for the rapid changes in how customer data can be collected and used may well find their digital marketing efforts suddenly crippled in the near future. In fact, marketers should work with this shift to create more thoughtful, organic relationship-building strategies — because that’s what our customers want. This is no longer possible to achieve manually or by using the same outdated tools companies were using a decade ago.

Thankfully, for marketers intrepid enough to take the plunge, there are tools available that make trigger marketing the secret weapon you’ve been waiting for.

What is Trigger Marketing?

Trigger marketing refers to sending messages to current or potential customers when a given event occurs. This message may be through email, SMS, direct mail, or any other communication channel. 

Automation triggers generally fall under one of two categories: 

  • Event-based triggers, determined by customer behavior, like making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or visiting your website
  • Segment-based triggers, determined by information like birthdays, anniversaries, or relocations

If you’ve ever gotten a birthday coupon from a company, that’s a segment-based trigger; if you’ve ever received a company’s catalogue in the mail after buying a product from them, that’s an event-based trigger. 

Brand content is woven into the fabric of our online experiences, and modern consumers interact with brands as a matter of routine, across devices and platforms, creating a double-edged sword: there’s plenty of opportunity for marketers to connect with their audiences, but it’s also easy to send irrelevant or poorly timed messages — and this is how you end up annoying and alienating customers. 

In a study by Convince & Convert, 67% of consumers reported unsubscribing from company mailing lists because they received too many irrelevant messages. In fact, it was the number-one reason people unsubscribed.

What is Triggered Email Marketing?

Triggered email marketing refers to trigger marketing specifically using email. Email automation triggers are simply a subset of event-based and segment-based triggers. For example:

  • Event-based, such as when a customer signs up for a newsletter or loyalty program, abandons a cart, or completes a purchase online 
  • Segment-based, such as changes in attributes, like a birthday, changes in zip code or preferred store, when a consumer graduates to a new tier of a loyalty program, or even when the season changes 

The strongest email trigger campaigns have three attributes in common:

1. Email automation triggers are personalized

Don’t believe us? Take it from the customers themselves: 72% say they only engage with personalized messaging, and 80% of frequent shoppers only shop with brands that personalize the experience. Simply personalizing email subject lines — probably the most basic of all personalizations — can increase open rates by a whopping 20%. And other simple personalizations, like birthday emails, can generate 342% more revenue than generic promotional emails.

Need more proof? Learn how Tripadvisor optimized its personalization using Simon Data’s platform.

2. Email automation triggers are relevant.

40% of consumers buy more from retailers that send personalized emails, because email automation triggers allow marketers to present customers with product recommendations based on what they’ve bought before or checked out online. It also allows for cross-selling — showing customers items related to the ones they’ve been interested in before. In fact, 43.2% of consumers join email lists to either find out when products they’re interested in go on sale or receive discount codes. In other words, a one-size-fits-all approach to trigger marketing simply doesn’t get the job done.

3. Email automation triggers are timely.

If you ran a clothing brand, when would be the best time to sell someone a coat? Perhaps when you know it’s starting to snow in the customer’s city. How about when they’ve interacted with your photo of a coat on social media? Another possibility would be when they’ve browsed other warm weather apparel on your website. With Simon Data, the possibilities are endless. 

The batch-and-blast style of email marketing from yesteryear involved sending one general message to a large group of customers. Today’s triggered emails, on the other hand, are extremely personalized, highly relevant, and sent to a specific, unique customer when triggered. 


Reimagining Trigger Automation and Trigger Campaign Marketing with a Customer Data Platform

Automation is the only way to send perfectly triggered marketing emails at scale, but it may seem nebulous to marketers, as if it’s an inhuman process that takes place deep within endless lines of code. In truth, trigger marketing  is merely a way to achieve more genuine interactions with the people who communicate with your brand; automation allows us to share relevant, timely information with our audience, like friends naturally talk to one another. 

To achieve this level of genuine interaction between consumer and brand, you need a solid underlying foundation of data.

Why Industry Leaders Choose Simon Data for Trigger Marketing

Simon Data’s platforms represent the next generation of digital marketing tools. It’s a comprehensive, fully integrated platform that unites powerhouse data-gathering capabilities with the ability to craft cross-channel marketing experiences — including all essential forms of trigger marketing. 

Industry leaders like Venmo, TripAdvisor, ASOS, and BarkBox are driving explosive growth using Simon’s Customer Data Platform, along with Simon Mail and Simon Journeys. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Better CRM and marketing integration avoids trigger collisions and misfired messages. When customers are eligible for multiple campaigns, trigger collisions are a common problem. This may include situations in which customers receive a cart abandonment message after actually purchasing the item, or when customers receive several messages with disparate calls to action within too short a timespan. Simon Data’s solution sidesteps these problems through better campaign prioritization logic. 
  • Triggered email marketing is one facet of a cross-channel approach. Earlier generations of email marketing platforms didn’t allow for cross-channel campaign integration. The strongest triggered email marketing campaigns today, however, draw on triggers from a variety of channels, including but far from limited to email.

More sophistication doesn’t mean more confusion. Unifying a customer data platform with marketing management tools creates a central command hub for your marketing team. Simon Data customers don’t need to worry about important information being lost among employee silos, or about not being able to actually use good data when it counts. Instead, they enjoy smoother, more efficient workflows, and a much better ROI on marketing dollars spent.


Trigger marketing is taking the marketing world by storm. See how Simon can unlock the power of your customer data.  Get Your Personalized Demo

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