Digital Marketing

Trigger Campaigns: 6 Ways to Go from Good to Great

Michael Le

Trigger campaigns are essential to nearly every email program. They're all about engaging customers who are intrigued by your offerings and practically shouting, "Tell me more!" These campaigns kick into gear when customers demonstrate clear interest, such as signing up for the branded newsletter, exploring your site, or completing a purchase. And the real kicker is that these emails can achieve up to eight times more opens and generate significantly more revenue than standard bulk emails.

But here's the thing: while these communications reaffirm value and deepen connections along the customer journey, they can often feel generic and transactional, missing a prime opportunity to enhance engagement and drive sales.

To help, we've gathered  some of our favorite examples from brands successfully using data-driven personalization to rethink trigger campaigns and engage customers effectively. Read on to get your creative juices flowing!

What’s the problem with standard trigger messages?

Let's delve deeper into the issue. Although trigger campaigns boast an impressive track record due to customers' eagerness to engage, they can suffer from a "set-it-and-forget-it" mentality. This means marketers may not update or test these campaigns as often as needed. Instead of thinking, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," we need to flip that around and ask, "If it ain't broke, how can we make it even better?" Fortunately, there are simple ways to strategically use your existing data to deliver relevant, customer-centric experiences.

Welcome Series

First impressions can last well beyond the moment they happen. That’s why it’s crucial for brands to make an impact with new customers throughout the rest of their welcome emails, setting the stage for a fruitful, long-lasting relationship. Traditionally, welcome series emails have consisted of generic introductions and a discount, but is this the best we can do?

The Club Monaco marketing team decided to think bigger. They revamped their welcome series by displaying fresh, relevant content for every new customer. Now, with Movable Ink, they’ve created a custom "most viewed by category" app showcasing the most popular items in each section. Taking it a step further, Club Monaco adds a behavioral banner to remind new shoppers to use their welcome discount at checkout. This series includes 18 email variations between the US and Canada, each featuring a refined, on-brand editorial format.


So, your customers have received their welcome email and used the discount code for their first purchase—now what? Afterpay, the fintech giant, faced the same challenge. They needed to find a way to encourage second and third transactions from customers after their initial sign-up and purchase.

To get creative, the team pinpointed five key behaviors that lead to habitual purchasing through Afterpay. They gamified the experience, offering a $5,000 prize drawing for customers who completed all five behaviors within 60 days of their initial sign-up. ESP data fields were used to track each customer’s progress and entry into the sweepstakes. As a cherry on top, a countdown from the customer's sign-up date to 60 days later created a sense of urgency to complete the tasks.

The numbers speak for themselves as this strategy saw a 2.1% increase in app log-ins, a 0.7% uplift in second purchases, and a 1.5% uplift in third purchases.

Afterpay onboarding gif

But Afterpay isn't the only one enhancing its trigger personalization game. Toolstation takes a different approach to elevating the post-purchase journey with a trigger campaign aimed at its most loyal customers.

Toolstation crafted an automated email campaign that reached customers a few days after their purchase. This email expressed gratitude for their order and highlighted best-selling products from the category they had recently shopped. For example, if a customer bought a power tool, the personalized follow-up email featured power tool accessories. Integrating this email into the customer journey led to a remarkable 73% increase in revenue.

Cart Abandonment

Abandoned browse and cart triggers are a classic for marketers. These automated sends  give your customers the friendly nudge they need to convert. However, your behavioral triggers don't have to be limited to one-off reminders sent shortly after customers have ghosted the purchase.

Fossil cleverly reminded customers of their previous engagements by integrating a behavioral trigger strategy across their ongoing promotions for the Fossil Outlet. They displayed personalized banners featuring the customer’s unique abandoned cart items, recently browsed products, or, if those weren't available, the categories they last visited. Each banner within the campaign strategically directed customers back to their respective shopping carts, product pages, or category pages, motivating them to finalize their purchases.


Today, customers are more likely than ever to switch brands, with 71% of consumers worldwide admitting they've moved away from their usual choices at least once. Considering that acquiring new customers costs five times more than retaining existing ones, it's increasingly critical to implement win-back initiatives to re-engage these customers effectively.

One way to reel customers back in is through incentives and discounts. While this approach might seem like a no-brainer, there are creative ways to present the offer to boost engagement and make the deal even more appealing. For instance, this retailer decided to reconnect with lapsed customers by gamifying their win-back discount offer, with a scratch-to-win experience. By leveraging merge tags and a Movable Ink custom app to assign exclusive deals to specific customers, the retailer successfully increased both revenue and conversions.

In addition to discounts, marketers can employ a data-driven approach that appeals to customers' emotions by reminiscing about the positive experiences they’ve had with the brand. While year-in-review campaigns are a proven favorite among customers (think Spotify), this strategy doesn't have to be reserved for the end of the year. You can evoke the same nostalgic sentiment in your win-back campaigns anytime.

The Dinnerly team created an engaging year-in-review email to re-engage lapsed customers and highlight the benefits of their meal subscription service. Their marketers used behavioral data to  inspire customers to reactivate their subscriptions by personalizing the hero image with up to six recipes they had actually cooked, showing meaningful stats like numbers of meals cooked, minutes saved, and waste reduced,and featuring their most frequently bought cuisine with a picture of a similar upcoming recipe.

As a Marley Spoon company, other brands are now jumping on Dinnerly’s bandwagon with plans to extend this approach across all Marly Spoon’s businesses as a post-churn reactivation strategy.

It’s time to take your trigger strategy from basic to brimming with engagement and revenue. With these strategic ideas, creating personalized, data-driven content at every turn of the customer journey is exactly what your brand needs to stand out. For more inspiration, check out the resources below.