When you hear the term email marketing, you probably think of coupons, newsletters and maybe even spam. The negative connotation is unfortunate because email marketing can drive real revenue for any business if it’s handled strategically.

One way to unlock email’s massive potential is taking advantage of triggered emails. Most email marketing — newsletters, promotions, coupons, sales, etc. — is sent to a large group of people at the same time. The message is generic because of the sheer volume of recipients and, as a result, open and click rates are low. Emails end up in the spam folder because recipients don’t engage with them.

Triggered email on the other hand is different in that the content and calls to action are personalized for each and every person. Welcome emails, receipts, reminders, notifications — these are all great examples of triggered emails.

These emails are expected, contextual and serve a unique purpose. As a result, they are opened at up to 8x the rate as promotional email.

Now, let’s look at a few ways to scale triggered email to automate your marketing.

1. Send great welcome emails.

Welcome emails aren’t really meant to say “hello”. Rather, a welcome email is the first step in your customer onboarding process. That means that every welcome email should have a very specific goal that will get your customers to take an action that you know will lead to a great experience.

Here are a few examples of welcome email goals:

  • Create a profile
  • Check out our most popular items
  • Impour data
  • Download this PDF
  • Learn about our most important features

These goals will vary depending on your business but think in terms of quick wins. Ask yourself, “What actions lead to great customers?” and work backwards. Here are a few examples of great welcome emails.


Welcome Email


Fab Welcome Email


Check out way more welcome email examples here.

2. Send great receipts.

You may think that receipts mark the end of your relationship with a customer since it means they have made a purchase. But customer lifecycles can repeat themselves, creating a steady stream of recurring revenue.

Receipts should be functional. They must deliver the information regarding the transaction but they can also tell the customer what to do next. Here are a few examples of what that next step could be:

  • Refer a friend
  • Buy an accessory product
  • Upgrade to a premium product
  • Write a review

Receipts are nearly guaranteed to be opened so take advantage of the attention by carefully placing calls to action. Don’t be overtly promotional but make sure your receipts are consistent with your brand’s look and feel, and offer some value to the recipient.

Here are a few examples of great email receipts:


Uber Receipt


Dollar Shave Club


Dollar Shave Club


Learn more about sending great email receipts.

3. Send great retention emails

All businesses track customer activity like signups, pageviews, purchases, etc. But are you tracking inactivity?

Once you’ve invested the time and money in acquiring customers, it’s important to keep them. It costs much less to retain an existing customer than it does to find a brand new one. For that reason, retention emails can generate a lot of revenue quickly.

A retention email should be sent to nudge a customer or user to come back. Perhaps they let their free trial expire without upgrading or haven’t made a purchase in a year. The idea isn’t to sell them right there in the email, it’s to re-engage them.

Here are a few great examples of retention emails:








Learn more about retention emails here.

One common misconception about triggered emails is that you need a massive marketing budget to send them. That’s not true. Nearly every email marketing program allows you to send a welcome email. And behavioral email tools are very affordable.

Creating just one triggered email that you can use over and over again will net you a better ROI that creating new promotional emails to send every week. Over time, you can refine your copy and calls to action to ensure your triggered emails are making you money.

Have any questions? Just leave a note in the comments and we’ll be happy to help.

About the Author(s)

Jimmy Daly

Jimmy Daly is the content editor at Vero, a behavioral and transactional email service, and creator of the Swipe File marketing newsletter. You can follow him on Twitter or the Vero blog for regular updates on email marketing.

Key Topics

Email Marketing