2011: Year Of The Trigger?

Marketers often talk about using sophisticated triggered emails to drive revenue to a higher level, but if the predictions in Silverpop's newest benchmark survey come true, eight in 10 marketers will actually be deploying cart and browse abandonment emails this year. 

Up to 83% of marketers responded in September 2010 that they either had already added cart reminders to their email programs or were planning to in either 2010 or 2011.

Cart Reminders: Good Start But Improvements Needed 

If respondents carry out the plans they reported in the survey, "How Retail Marketers Are (And Aren't Quite Yet) Using Triggered Emails," cart-recovery reminders will become the norm for etailers, putting those who don't participate at a potential disadvantage:

  • 40% said they were already deploying cart reminders as of September 2010.
  • 29% said they planned to add them by the end of 2010.
  • 14% said they planned to add cart recovery emails in 2011.
  • 17% said they had "no plans."



Cart reminders are a logical and lucrative way to add triggered messaging. They can generate conversion rates of 25% or more and capture more potentially lost sales.

Marketers' experiences show that cart reminders live up to the promise of better performance:

  • Higher click-through rates: 87% of respondents said their cart reminders generate average CTR rates of 10% or higher, compared to only 38% for broadcast emails.
  • Higher conversion rates: 86% of marketers said their broadcast emails generated 10% or lower conversation rates. In contrast, 45% of survey responders reported that their cart recovery emails yielded a conversion rate of 11% or higher-nearly four times that of broadcast emails.

However, many are missing out on potential revenue by not following best practices:

  • Only 17% send a series of three or more email messages. Six in 10 of marketers (67%) send one message.
  • 90% of abandoned carts go cold within an hour, according to MIT research. However, 61% of marketers wait 24 hours or longer to send their first (or only) reminder.

Post-Purchase Emails: Popular but Underutilized

While interest in cart-recovery emails is growing, almost 75% of marketers already send at least one (of eight we listed) post-purchase messages.

The customer-satisfaction survey was the most popular kind of post-purchase email, sent by 50% of respondents, followed by an invitation to review the purchase (43%) and a recommendation based on the previous purchase (29%).

However, the survey also uncovered a vast field of untapped potential. Only 2% of marketers who send product-review invitations follow up with notices that the review has been posted.

Fewer than 20% of surveyed marketers send birthday or anniversary greetings, cross-sell/upsell messages or reorder/replenishment reminders.

Why bother with these? Because they represent another opportunity to contact your customers with relevant and personalized messages.  

Triggered messages might constitute 10% or less of your total email volume as they do for 63% of Silverpop's survey respondents, but they can generate a disproportionately large part of your revenue in addition to the positive email metrics I mentioned above. 

Next on the Horizon: Browse-Reminder Emails 

Cart-recovery reminders were once an exotic species among email marketers but are becoming the norm. Their success is sparking interest among marketers in browse-reminder emails, triggered when a customer browses products on a page but leaves the site without buying or putting items in a cart.

Only 7% of marketers report sending browse-reminder emails in 2010, but 64% said they planned to implement the trigger either before the end of 2010 or sometime in 2011. 

Are You Pulling the Trigger in 2011?

The numbers are pretty clear: Triggered messaging is on its ways to becoming the norm for email marketers, mainly as a supplement to a broadcast program. Marketers who wait to dive in are likely to find themselves losing ground to competitors who don't leave as much money lying unclaimed on a table. 

Are you planning to implement or expand triggered messaging in 2011? And if not, why not? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.  

Until next time, take it up a notch.

4 comments about "2011: Year Of The Trigger?".
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  1. Roanne Parker, January 27, 2011 at 6:08 p.m.

    Hooray, well said Loren. This is a culmination of points (rants, prods, wailing) I have been having on my blog over the past year or so: in particular -

    This from me on why my birthday came and went in virtual silence despite my DOB being in databases all over the world.

    This via eMarketer on use of email smarts.

    But also this - on why we must be careful with pre and post purchase email series!

    Love your work. @roanne1

  2. Georgia Christian from Mail Blaze, January 28, 2011 at 5:58 a.m.

    Great stats Loren, thanks for sharing. You're absolutely right about the untapped potential with notices that are sent about reviews posted. It will be interesting to see how many marketers start taking advantage of that this year. Looking forward to your next post.

  3. David Gross from Oleh Technologies, January 29, 2011 at 6:33 p.m.

    I believe it was on this web site that I read about the "creep factor" involved in browse-reminder emails. It was around 2 years ago, before Facebook tried to shift the public position on privacy -- unsuccessfully, based on the recent outcry about their policies. It still seems prudent to allow consumers to browse "under the radar" and leave creepy browse-reminder emails to Facebook and other hairy-arm operations.

  4. Gretchen Scheiman from Alchemy Worx, January 31, 2011 at 11:04 a.m.

    Nice stats Loren, thanks for sharing. I've definitely noticed more retailers using triggered emails. I wonder how many B2B mailers are picking up on these where it makes sense.

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