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Relevancy and context are a powerful combination of factors that can have a huge impact on the success of digital marketing campaigns.

A good example of this are triggered emails that are sent in response to a particular customer action or behaviour.

As one would probably expect, triggered emails have a far higher open rate than standard email newsletters.

Data from ExpertSender shows that the average open rate for triggered emails was consistently around 45% to 55% for the year to date, some four times higher compared to email newsletters which averaged around 10%.

However open rates alone aren’t going to help a business prosper, so it’s important to look at how recipients interact with the contents of email messages.

In this regard the results aren't quite as clear-cut. ExpertSender's data shows that the average click rate achieved by triggered emails was around 4% to 5%, while the CTR from newsletters ranged from 2% to 3.4%.

In April the difference in the CTR between triggered emails and newsletter was just 0.4%. Still, a few per cent difference could still add up to a huge increase in revenue if those users go on to convert on-site.

Marketers should be aiming to increase clicks by personalising the content using geolocation, timing, user behaviour, purchase history and responsive email design.

Data included in the Econsultancy Email Marketing Census 2013 shows that the most commonly used trigger is an automated response to website visit/sign-up, with more than a third of client-side respondents (35%) employing this tactic.

This was followed by subscription or sign-up (33%), timed content across the sales cycle (29%) and lapsed customers (25%). Just 20% of respondents said that they send abandoned basket emails.

Do you send out automated emails based on any of the following triggers or behaviour?

Examples of triggered emails

Despite the fact that I spend a lot of time browsing ecommerce sites I’ve only ever received two triggered emails (as far as I can remember).

The brands in question were Millets and Reiss, and the messages I received are a good example of the varying levels of personalisation that can be included in triggered emails.

The Reiss email was sent after I’d spent time browsing the site without actually adding anything to my basket. The retailer already had my personal details as I had previously bought items from its ecommerce store, however the message isn’t personalised in any way.

The subject simply said ‘Thank you for visiting Reiss’ and asked if I need any help or advice. In truth it’s quite a vague email and doesn’t really offer much of an incentive to revisit Reiss’ site.

In comparison, Millets sent me an abandoned basket email that welcomed me by name and included details of the item that was still in my shopping cart.

I’m not a fan of the colour scheme as the calls-to-action don’t stand out particularly well, however it’s a very simple and effective email that will no doubt help to capture some additional conversions.

Our Email Marketing Census found that abandoned basket emails achieved the highest ROI when compared to other forms of automated email marketing.

David Moth

Published 23 October, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1688 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

Mike Austin

Mike Austin, CEO at Triggered Messaging

We provide data on cart abandonment and browse abandonment effectiveness. Browse abandonment done right definitely adds value to triggered campaigns. Here's our latest report:


Highlight figures from that report:

Average return from a single cart recovery email $8.08
Average return from a single browse recovery email $1.60

Although the increment from browse recovery emails seems small compared to cart abandonment emails, they still provide very high ROI.

All the emails we send for clients are fully personalized, including e.g. pictures of products browsed. For example, we drive the browse abandonment emails for Alexandalexa.com - see this eConsultancy blog post from our partners dotMailer:


about 3 years ago


Sandhya Ramesh

It's definitely true that cart abandonment emails have a better record of response to call-to-action. We have a default cart abandonment automation in Agile CRM precisely because of this. Personalisation does elicit responses from customers.
With regards to Reiss's email, in all fairness, there was nothing in the basket, so they could not have sent you a cart abandonment email, could they?

about 3 years ago

Mike Austin

Mike Austin, CEO at Triggered Messaging

@Sandhya In our view, the best approach would be to include pictures of the products that had been browsed. We find this gets a better response rate.

about 3 years ago


Alex Nejako

This was a good article. As may be well known, triggered emails as part of a product evaluation process can be helpful (and can be a campaign in and of themsevlesl, with calls to action in the email helping to drive the recipient toward a desired outcome (e.g. buying the product).

almost 3 years ago

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