What Is Trigger Marketing? A Definitive Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Given the popularity of online advertising, it's important for marketing professionals to keep up to date with the latest tools and strategies, which may help get the attention of potential consumers online. One such tool is trigger marketing, an event-based marketing technique that can help deliver specific messaging to consumers at specifically selected moments. In this article, we define trigger marketing and discuss why it's important, explain how to implement a trigger marketing campaign and review the related benefits.

Related: 20 Marketing Tactics for a Successful Marketing Campaign

What is trigger marketing?

Trigger marketing is an advertising technique that involves targeted messages or notifications designed for a particular moment. This is a way of customizing advertising and making it more applicable to viewers. Certain "events" trigger each consumer facing message in this strategy. An event might be an online action, like spending time on a particular webpage or downloading an app. An event could also be a certain date, like a holiday or a real-world event. By using event triggers, advertisers can create messages in line with both the user and the event, and deliver them when they are particularly relevant.

These triggering fit into four categories:

  • Behavior-based triggers: Also known as transactional events, these involve tracking your customer's online behavior and interacting based on it. For example, website visits or previous buying patterns are both behavior based trigger events.

  • Engagement-base triggers: These triggers focus on the goal of encouraging users to visit and engage with your website. Triggers that link from social media or subscription offers are examples of engagement-based triggers.

  • Event-based triggers: Triggers based on certain events can be a useful way to drive engagement. Your company's event-based triggers may include holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, marriage, employment, big purchases or family expansion.

  • Emotional triggers: Emotional triggers rely on the emotional connection between the viewer and the advertisement. Messages that are triggered by a certain accomplishment, a global event or that encourage viewers to fit in with a certain trend are based on emotional triggers.

Why is trigger marketing important?

Trigger marketing is important because it can help ensure that the messages being delivered to your audience have the greatest chance possible of prompting a positive reaction. These messages accomplish this by focusing on personal relevance to a particular customer at a particular time. This may be much more effective than, for instance, sending everyone on your email list the same generalized message. While many companies use personalized messaging and email marketing, thoughtful and innovative messaging that truly holds value for a viewer remains one of the best way to capture their attention.

How to implement trigger marketing

You might implement your trigger marketing campaign either manually or through automation software. There are several email or messaging software options that speed up the lead tracking and messaging process. You may research software and using one to assist your trigger marketing campaign.

Whether you decide to implement your campaign yourself or using automation software, here are some steps to follow:

1. Perform research

As with most marketing strategies, it is important to know and understand the user base you are trying to reach. Performing user research may help you make best value decisions about which events to trigger. For example, if an extensive selection of your viewership comes from a place where a particular holiday is important, ensure that your trigger marketing campaign includes that holiday as an event.

User research may also reveal your typical viewer age range, interests and times of greatest activity, all of which may affect your trigger marketing strategies. Specific information about your current customer base or target audience may also be helpful for the development of your trigger marketing technique. This information could include online behavior, lifestyle, trends and tastes.

Read more: What Is User Research?

2. Select your triggering events

There are many types of events that may be useful for trigger marketing. You might implement targeted messages in response to the following events:

  • First connection: The first time a user visits your site or registers for your mailing list may be an excellent time to send a targeted message. This can help establish a relationship, point them towards relevant products or help encourage their customer loyalty.

  • Purchase: A purchase, especially a first purchase, is an important step where a potential customer becomes a customer. A targeted confirmation or thank you note at the time of purchase can help establish open lines of communication and might make the client feel good about their purchasing decision.

  • Client birthday or anniversary: Periodic personalized messaging lets a client know you are thinking of them and keeps them thinking about you. Consider messaging clients with a special offer or a note of appreciation on their birthday or the anniversary of their first interaction.

  • Acts in a series: Another good opportunity for a trigger marketing message is when a customer or potential customer performs a series of acts but stops short of completing the purchase. For example, you might follow up when a customer visits your website, browses the item catalog and puts a product in their cart, but does not go through on the purchase.

  • Specific content interactions: You might devise a trigger marketing campaign wherein a consumer clicks on a certain article and that triggers an email with further relevant information about the same topic. You could also link to relevant products or services if applicable.

  • Social media interactions: If a client mentions your company or your industry on social media, consider following up with a targeted message inviting them to learn more or get in touch.

  • Engagement: If a client or potential client has been highly engaged in the last week, that may be a good opening for a targeted message to encourage their behavior. Alternatively, if they have not engaged at all in the last week, you might send a triggered message encouraging them to reconnect.

  • Reactivation: If a client has been absent for some period of time, or signed up for a distribution list but never returned to the website, it may be useful to send a targeted message reminding them about you. You might include a special offer to hook interest, or fun language like "We miss you! When will you be back?"

Related: 14 Types of Email Marketing With Examples

3. Determine trigger action and presentation

Once you determined your events, the next step is to choose which form or action you plan to take. Common trigger responses include messaging via email or text, also known as trigger-based email marketing and trigger-based mobile marketing. You may also set up a pop-up chat function to offer users an easy way to begin a conversation. The presentation of your messaging may impact what the viewer chooses to do. The immediacy with which the viewer receives the triggered message may help keep them focused on your brand or product. A pleasing and intuitive design may encourage further interaction.

4. Create your message

Following your choice of inciting event and your message delivery method, it is time to create the message your viewer will see. For triggered marketing, specification is key. Remind your viewer of the event that spurred the message and give easy-to-follow suggestions about what they might do next. It can also be helpful to make your message personalized and valuable to the viewer.

Include their name and some information that might hold special value just for them. Each targeted message may be most effective when it holds a special value that makes the viewer feel that the time spent reading it has been worth it. It might include helpful information or notice of an upcoming event. Special offers or coupons are also common methods of increasing perceived value and encouraging client action.

5. Monitor and improve

Once you have begun a trigger marketing campaign, you may monitor the related analytics to refine your technique in the future. For example, you might pay attention to both views and follow-up action from the viewer. As you gather this data, you may analyze them to determine which events and messaging techniques are most effective for which groups of consumers. You may then focus more strongly on these events and techniques in the future.

Related: Marketing Plan vs. Marketing Strategy: What's the Difference?

Benefits of trigger marketing

It is in the best interest of both the consumer and the marketer for marketing materials to contain value and lead to action. Trigger marketing can be a useful way to accomplish this feat. Some more specific benefits of trigger marketing include:

Increases relevance

Reaching out to customers based on an event linked with their actions may help keep your messaging relevant to them. That they may already be thinking about your brand or product when you reach out with a follow-up message can also be an advantage for marketers. The specificity of the action that inspired the message can provide the best possible chance for providing real help and value for them.

For example, if a customer abandons their online shopping cart, you might consider why they did so and counter for one or all the possibilities in a targeted message triggered by their action. A reminder may help if they simply forgot. A how-to video or a Q&A may be useful if they got confused. A link to product reviews or a special offer coupon may help if they simply lost interest in the product. In all of these cases, the message may be of real help to the viewer, which has a better chance of leading to a sale.

Reduces spam

By utilizing trigger marketing to ensure that the emails you send are valuable and relevant, you may choose to cut back on broad email campaigns that users may have previously disregarded as spam. The increase in relevant messages may also boost the likelihood that customers will read and engage with what you send them. This is all part of good customer service and may help customers and viewers feel more invested in your brand.

Saves time and money

Trigger marketing may help your company save time and money by allowing marketing personnel to focus on content that has the highest possible chance of being viewed and appreciated by the consumer. The numerous automated software options available can also make the process of trigger marketing a fast and easy addition to your overall marketing strategy. Some may even help you implement trigger marketing on social media, a valuable channel of consumer attention. This frees you up to focus your time and attention elsewhere.

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