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Three common email triggers which may work even better as sequences

A commonly used email marketing tactic is to "remail" your email campaign again to the same audience, suppressing the folks who have already responded to the offer. This is both easy to do and can increase the overall response rate to the campaign by up to thirty percent. One of the reasons that this works is that a campaign email offer is simply one in a long list of decisions and "to dos" that folks need to manage every day. By allowing them a second chance to take advantage of the offer, a fair number will do it.

With this in mind, here are three common email triggers, used in both B2C and B2B, that could see significant increases in effectiveness and response if turned from a single message into a multi-touch sequence of messages.


The humble welcome message is often just an auto-responder which confirms opt-in. If so, it's a huge loss of opportunity for both B2C and B2B email marketers. When a person takes the time to subscribe to your emails, your brand is top of mind. Take better advantage of this momentum with a thoughtful sequence of messages which introduces your offerings, educates the subscriber on what to expect, and gives incentives for the subscriber to continue reading. In parallel, use the open and click behavior of that sequence of emails to make your future emails even more relevant.


Typically, the "inactive" trigger is sent after a subscriber has not opened, clicked, converted or visited the website for say, ninety days. Personally, I think sooner is better. Some email marketers bring out their best offers and content to drive re-engagement. Others may use the results of the inactive trigger to determine if a subscriber should be purged from the database entirely (something I would not recommend). Either of these help to provide a strong rationale for multiple touches to your "dormant" subscribers.

How so? First, all of that work put into coming up with a strong offer should not be wasted with only one email. Second, a multi-touch approach is more likely to drive a response of some sort. In some cases, if that response is an unsubscribe, it's a good thing. Yes, some people will choose the "spam" option instead, but it likely will not happen any more than in any other campaign email.

Finally, the inactive sequence can be used similarly to the welcome sequence to re-introduce your offerings and then to capture subscriber behavior than can later be used to make future communications more relevant. A single trigger will not be anywhere near as effective for that.


Another very commonly used trigger is a message that typically goes out between a week and a month after email sign up which asks the subscriber to update their "preferences" for how frequently they want to receive email and what types of offers or communications they would like to receive, and do they want HTML, blah, blah, blah....

I am going to go out on a limb right now and say that I personally think preference centers are wholly ineffective. Why? Personal experience has shown me that subscribers are either complete and utter liars about what they want or more likely, don't know what they want.

That said, in the spirit of "giving the subscriber the control" of what they receive, I actually do think that a sequence of "preference update" messages can be used to both stay in front of and better serve the subscriber. However, a simple email with link to the preference page is not my recommended approach.

The messages in a preference sequence should include links to very concrete examples of the categories of content, offers or information that a subscriber can expect, turning their engagement with the content into an implied preference. I have personally tested implied versus stated preferences and implicit preferences end up being far more accurate.

A preference sequence that spans say, four weeks, can actually provide implicit preferences for frequency based on the recipients activity across all of the messages. Finally, by providing content with flavors that align to whether someone is an executive, manager or user of a product or service, a B2B email marketer can use the resulting click behavior to better categorize a subscriber and present them with the messaging that best suits their level within an organization and the resulting pain points.

Clearly, all of this would be very tough to capture via a single triggered email. Subsequently, I don't recommending forsaking a preference center entirely. What I do recommend is a test to compare the performance of audiences with stated preferences (via the preference center) versus implied preferences based on behavior.

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