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Trigger Marketing: The Full 2024 Guide (+ Examples)

By Liza Shuttleworth Last updated: 13 minute read Marketing Guides

Trigger marketing is a highly effective marketing technique. It gives you a way to reach your contacts with relevant, personalized messages that are precisely timed to reach your lead or customer at exactly the right time.

Trigger marketing also allows you to automate and scale your campaign, without losing the personalization and customization you need to make the most of every opportunity.

Throughout the customer journey, trigger-based marketing allows you to make contact at precisely the right moment, and provide a relevant and timely offer to drive engagement and increase your revenue.

So, what exactly is trigger-based marketing? And how can you use it to maximize the efficacy of your marketing campaign, while also making it more efficient?

In this guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about triggered marketing – what it is, what the benefits of trigger-based marketing are, and how to use it, and some key examples of trigger marketing messages to use in your business.  

Let’s jump right in!

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    What is Trigger Marketing?

    Trigger marketing is an automated marketing technique where predefined events or ‘triggers’ activate a specific action to be undertaken or a marketing message to be sent to a customer or lead.

    Triggers can be defined and set for any point in the customer journey. They’re ideal for marketing campaigns that require very precise and timely targeting, which is based on specific buyer behaviors.

    This means you can use it to send your leads and customers exactly the right message, at exactly the right time, based on any predefined event.

    Set triggers can be anything measurable by the automation software or CRM that you use, such as making a purchase, completing a form, opening/not opening an email, abandoning a cart, or even just spending more than a set amount of time on a certain section of your website.

    Triggered messages can be sent by any means of communication, like email, SMS, post, or instant message, which allows you to further customize and personalize your marketing to your prospects’ preferences.

    In addition to marketing messages, triggers can be used for internal actions like sending notifications, updating records, or prompting action from a salesperson.

    Trigger Marketing Definition

    Trigger marketing refers to the use of automated tasks that are carried out as a result of a predefined ‘trigger’ event, which is often an action taken by a prospect or customer. Any measurable action can be defined as a ‘trigger’. Triggers can be used to initiate a wide variety of marketing messages, such as emails, SMS, IM, or pop-up offers. Trigger-based messaging is precisely timed, as it occurs immediately after the triggering action.

    The Benefits of Trigger Marketing

    Trigger marketing is highly effective. According to a recent Blueshift Report, trigger-based marketing emails are 497% more effective than batch and blast emails, and mobile push triggers are 1490% more effective than batch push notifications.

    Trigger marketing, or event-based marketing, is so successful because it is inherently relevant and precisely timed.


    “Trigger-based marketing emails are 497% more effective than blast emails”

    Blueshift Benchmark Report (2021)


    It also allows you to automate, segment, customize and personalize your marketing efforts and messaging, without doing it all manually.  This frees you up to focus on fine-tuning your campaign and maximizing performance.

    Using trigger-based marketing offers some great benefits, which include:

    Relevance and Timing

    Trigger-based marketing allows you to take highly relevant actions and send relevant messages, at exactly the right time. You can use events (or triggers) to initiate immediate, automated, actions.

    This means that your customer or prospect will receive it at the right time for them. They will get it when it is most relevant and convenient for them to receive it, rather than when it is most convenient for you to send it.

    You can also use the channel best suited to the trigger for your communication, which increases receptiveness and positive regard from your prospects. If they’re already on your website, a highly relevant and timely chat bot message is more likely to get an immediate response (and further action) than an email sent a few hours later.

    Automation and Efficiency  

    Automation allows for greater efficiency and accuracy in your campaign. Having predefined triggers initiate actions or messages, on autopilot, means you will never miss an opportunity to connect with your customers or leads.

    The precision of predefined triggers and the actions they initiate also allows for a level of customization and personalization that other automated processes, like bulk email dumps, do not.

    Having your processes automated, but still highly relevant, allows you and your team to focus on the creative aspects of your campaign, rather than the mundane tasks of segmenting lists and sending messages or updating records.   

    Customization and Personalization  

    Trigger marketing is a great way to create customized and personalized campaigns for each stage of your customer journey. Personalization is a vital component of marketing messaging, with 72% of consumers saying they only engage with personalized messaging.

    From your welcome email to your post-purchase and retargeting efforts, every stage can be tailor-made to suit the needs of your customers and keep them engaging with you to build trust.

    Trigger marketing - Image text says "72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized content" (SmarterHQ)"

    Improved Customer Experience, Satisfaction, and Loyalty

    Providing a great customer experience is vital for success. Sending personalized messages that are highly relevant and perfectly timed makes your customers feel like you know what they need, and you’re making sure that they get it.

    Customers who feel valued and taken care of are customers who will buy more, more frequently, and spend more at each purchase. Great customer experience and satisfaction lead to higher levels of customer loyalty.

    Using your trigger marketing and automation to keep customers engaged and responsive builds trust and allows you to re-engage your customers and retain them. Improved customer loyalty also leads to greater customer advocacy, which is a key element in digital marketing success.  

    Increased Brand Awareness

    Keeping your leads happy and feeling like they’re seen and appreciated, at every stage of the buying cycle, ensures that you’re top of mind when they’re ready to buy. You’re also top of mind when they’re making a recommendation to others.

    Besides direct sales, brand awareness and customer advocacy are important aspects of any trigger marketing campaign as they lead to higher conversions down the line.

    Nurture Leads at Every Stage of the Customer Journey

    Nurturing leads and keeping them engaged with relevant, informative, and useful information at each stage of the customer journey is the best way to retain them until conversion.

    Use Trigger Marketing Combat Hesitation and Drop Off in Your Sales Funnel

    Trigger marketing is especially useful for nudging customers along the sales funnel by identifying where they hesitate – and addressing their reservations at that precise point on their journey.

    Increased Conversions and Repeat Sales  

    All the benefits listed above amount to one thing – more sales and higher revenues for your business. Triggered marketing campaigns are relevant, timeous, personalized, and customized for every stage of the customer journey.

    This maximizes the opportunities to convert sales, re-engage customers who have dropped out, and retarget customers for more repeat business.

    Trigger marketing also allows you to improve trust, customer experience, satisfaction, and loyalty – the cornerstones of a successful, long-term marketing strategy.

    How to Use Trigger Marketing

    Triggered marketing campaigns work best when your automated marketing triggers are precise and accurately defined, and the action they trigger is immediate and highly relevant to the receiver at that point in time.

    To achieve this, you need to consider the following five steps when you’re setting up your event or trigger-based marketing campaign:

    1. Know Your Buyer Persona

    Understanding your buyer persona very well is especially important for automated marketing campaigns, where there is no room for a flexible approach.

    An accurate and detailed customer or buyer persona will allow you to analyze the customer’s pain points, motivations, and challenges at every stage of their journey with you.

    This is how you find the right ways to personalize your communication and offerings, which leads to higher conversions, at each stage of the journey. Your automation processes can then take that information and implement them at scale – providing a great customer experience to as many prospects as possible.

    2. Identify Your Triggering Events and Set Your Automated Marketing Triggers

    Trigger marketing relies on software, which requires clearly defined ‘if/then’ criteria to be set so that an action can be initiated by a triggering event.

    Triggers can be based on anything your software can measure. That measurable ‘event’ or ‘trigger’ then initiates an action or sequence of actions.

    One way to identify where/when your triggers will be most effective, is to analyze your customer lifecycle and see where you lose customers. Where do customers drop off?

    Those points are where trigger-based communication and relevant, valuable offerings will be an effective way to pull them back in and keep them moving down the funnel.

    Look for actions your customers take that can be used as the ‘if’ in your ‘if/then’ equation. That is your trigger. Then you need to decide what the appropriate action is, for that specific that trigger. The action is your ‘then’.

    Identifying Effective Trigger Events

    Triggers require If/Then criteria. Analyze your sales process, and look for places where prospects take an action that moves them away from your desired outcome. Define that action as your trigger, and set up an action, or series of actions, such as email or personalized offer, that can be initiated to bring them back in, and move them closer to your desired outcome.

    3. Personalizing Your Offerings and Communication

    As 80% of customers are more likely to buy if they receive a personalized experience, the actions your automated marketing triggers initiate must be personalized and relevant.

    Personalizing what you offer and how you communicate with contacts at different stages of their journey is one of the most useful aspects of trigger-based marketing – use it to your full advantage! Craft your messages, offers, and methods to be as relevant and personal as possible.

    Useful information and offers, that are communicated immediately after the triggering event, are important for moving customers from one stage to the next, right up to your final conversion.

    You can also leverage some psychological triggers to make the most of your personalized offers and messages. Check out this video by Adam Erhart that outlines how this can work for you:

    4. Maximize the Benefits of Automation

    Identify where triggers can be used to initiate as many of your repetitive marketing tasks as possible. Look at your tasks and see which ones you do the most, like sending the same email to dozens of different recipients, and see how you can automate those tasks.

    That frees you and your team up to focus on the things that can’t be automated, like fine-tuning your campaign and crafting great offers and messages for your customers.   

    5. Analyze and Improve Your Campaign

    Once you have your campaign up and running, keep track of what works best and where you’re still losing customers.

    Focus on strengthening the weak points, adding triggers where you need them, and improving your successful offers. The more up-to-date and relevant your offers are, the better.

    This analysis is also where you can identify the points where non-automated contact is needed to retain someone in the pipeline and move them to the next point, where the automated processes can pick up again.

    4 Trigger Marketing Examples

    Trigger marketing can be as complex as your software and database allow. You can use it to automate and scale your pre-sale marketing messaging, and provide specific offers to specific segments of your customer database.

    As long as your triggers are defined and measurable, you can customize the rest to suit your needs and modify your campaign as you go.

    If you’re just getting started, here are some examples of the common events used in trigger-based marketing to you get you started:

    1. Welcome Messages

    Send your welcome message when someone signs up for your service, opts in to receive your newsletter, or creates an account with you.

    This is your opportunity to acknowledge them and show your appreciation for their action, as well as present an offer to move them to the next step or ensure that they continue to engage with you.

    The more personalized these messages are, the better. They’re often the first direct, one-on-one communication you will have with a customer and this is your opportunity to build trust and forge a relationship with them.  

    2. Follow-Up and Win-Back Messages

    If you have customers, clients, or subscribers who haven’t engaged with you for a set period, you can set a trigger to send them an email to re-activate them.

    These can be reminders alone, like an abandoned cart email, or a reminder combined with an offer, like an email with a discount code for a customer who hasn’t bought anything in the last six months.

    Messages like this can bring back customers who have faded away and aren’t active, or encourage customers who haven’t completed an action, like a purchase, to finish what they started.

    Make taking the desired action as easy as possible from these messages. Highlight the relevant information, like your shipping policy or what their discount code can get them, and include a direct link to checkout. 

    3. Purchase Confirmation Messages

    That moment when a customer makes an online purchase, especially the first purchase, is a key moment.

    They’ve placed their trust in you and given you their money, so it’s important to send them an immediate confirmation of their order, their payment, and your appreciation.

    This moment is where you can build trust, and transparency is important. Clearly set out what will happen next, what they can expect, and how they can contact you.

    This is the beginning of a new phase of your relationship and customer experience is more important than ever at this moment.

    4. Customer Loyalty Messages

    You can set triggers for key moments in your customer’s life, and in their relationship with you, to send personalized messages that demonstrate your appreciation.

    You can send them special offers or just a simple, personalized, message to celebrate things like their birthday, their third (any number) purchase with you, the anniversary of their first purchase, etc. 

    These kinds of messages maintain your relationship with your customer and make them feel special and appreciated. They also highlight your value to them, even when they haven’t just made a purchase.

    It costs less to retain a customer than to acquire a new one, and loyal customers tend to spend more than first-time customers too. They also make valuable referrals and advocate for your business, making them even more valuable.  

    Final Thoughts on Trigger Marketing

    Triggered marketing campaigns offer a unique combination of personalization, relevance, and precise timing, with the convenience and efficiency of automated, blast campaigns.

    Trigger marketing is a highly effective technique that yields great results, especially when compared to blast campaigns that do not offer the same level of segmentation and customization.

    In this guide, we have covered everything you need to know about triggered marketing, so you can start your own campaign and reap all the rewards of an effective, personalized, campaign that runs on autopilot! Where will you start?

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is triggered email marketing?

    Triggered email marketing refers to the use of marketing emails that are sent in response to a certain trigger (also known as an event). Triggers are predefined by the marketer and when a lead or customer completes the action, the trigger is activated and a message is immediately sent to the customer in response. Examples include order confirmation emails, and welcome emails when a prospective customer signs up for an account. Read the full guide for more info on trigger-based emails.

    Is trigger-based marketing the same thing as event-based marketing?

    Yes. The 'triggers' defined in trigger-based marketing are also referred to as 'events' - a certain, measurable, criteria that is met (which is an event, such an online form completion or email sign-up) and that triggers a message or offer to be sent to that customer by an automated system. Read the full guide for more info on the key events and triggers used in trigger-based marketing.

    What are some examples of trigger-based marketing?

    Any marketing message that is automatically sent by a system that recognizes a certain criteria has been met can be considered a trigger marketing message. Common examples include:
    1. Welcome emails sent when a customer first registers or signs up
    2. Follow-up and Win-back messages that are sent when a customer has not performed a desired action for a set period of time
    3. Purchase or Order Confirmation messages that are sent immediately after a customer confirms their order or purchase
    4. Customer Loyalty messages that are sent to keep customers engaged, such as personalized birthday messages and loyalty-based promotions
    Read the full guide for more info on examples of trigger-based marketing.


    Blueshift: Trigger-Based Marketing Benchmark Report 2020

    Clever Tap: 10 Trigger Campaigns and Ideas to Engage Users

    HubSpot: 24 Data-Backed Reasons to Personalize Your Marketing

    Super Office: 37 Customer Experience Statistics You Need to Know for 2022

    WordStream: 5 Ways to Earn & Build Customer Loyalty