4 Key Triggered Emails Across the Subscriber Lifecycle

Posted by Julia Peavy 

The email channel provides a unique opportunity to engage your subscribers at key points in the customer lifecycle. At a high level, we can think of the subscriber lifecycle in four key stages:

  • Acquiring new subscribers
  • Converting these subscribers into customers
  • Engaging these subscribers
  • Winning back lapsed subscribers

From past website and email behavior to demographics and past purchase history, email marketers have a great deal of data at their disposal to help craft emails that meet the subscriber at the right point in their lifecycle. Here are four key triggered emails to engage subscribers at the various stages of their journey.

Welcome/Onboarding Emails
More than likely, you already send a welcome message as part of your email program. But, don’t let yourself become complacent. Make sure you evaluate your welcome email on a regular basis to ensure it is on brand, takes advantage of responsive design, and is still working properly. You might also want to consider how to expand your single welcome message into a series of emails to further engage a new subscriber. This welcome series from Gamestop is sent over seven days and is a great example of relaying one key message in each email during the early stages of the relationship.

gamestop-welcome-series       gamestop-welcome-series-2   gamestop-welcome-series-3

Check out our Return Path Welcome Study for even more insights on optimizing your welcome emails.

Conversion Emails
While your standard promotional emails continually work to convert your subscribers to customers, triggered emails (emails deployed based on subscriber action) are some of the most important emails to implement to increase your conversion rates. According to Epsilon’s latest benchmark report, opens and clicks for triggered emails outperformed standard messages in every industry in Q1 of 2016.


Examples of triggered emails that drive subscribers to convert are abandoned cart, browse abandonment, and product recommendation emails. These emails obviously require more data than a simple welcome message, but the potential return is worth it. Because of the increased difficulty, we recommend tackling one specific triggered email focused on conversion at a time. Learn from it, and then focus on the next conversion email.  After being added to the waitlist for a specific product, Gilt sends this triggered email a few days later suggesting other similar products the customer may be interested in.


Engagement Emails
Unfortunately, subscribers aren’t going to convert on every single promotional (or triggered) email you send. This means you have to find additional moments in the lifecycle where an email can be triggered to drive subscriber engagement. Birthday and anniversaries are timely, relevant, and great examples of triggered emails that increase engagement. In addition, engagement emails can request product or brand feedback or be personalized based on location, weather, or preferences.  Granted, some of these are harder to implement than others, but anniversary emails only require the date the subscriber signed up for your email program and birthday emails  only require, well, a birth date! This email from Ulta celebrates the subscriber’s birthday with two gifts – free hairspray and double points!


Win Back Emails
Eventually, there will be subscribers that no longer engage with your email. It might be them……it might be you. Regardless, it’s worth managing these inactive subscribers and trying to engage them. Once subscribers reach a pre-defined threshold (e.g., x days since opening or clicking your email, x days since a purchase, etc), trigger emails that mention the absence, offer incentives to engage, show appreciation, or promote what the subscriber is missing.

Having a large inactive audience can hurt inbox placement so it’s important to manage this audience and test a variety of different tactics to determine which message works best with your subscribers. Nordstrom reaches out to lapsed subscribers with this two-touch email series cleverly designed to allow them to easily modify their email preferences right within the email.

nordstrom-1     nordstrom-2

For additional insights on re-engaging lapsed subscribers, check out Return Path’s Win Back Report 

How does your lifecycle marketing strategy stack up? Need help? Return Path’s Professional Services team can help you engage subscribers across the lifecycle and more.

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About Julia Peavy

Julia Peavy is currently the Director of Partner Services at Return Path. In this role, Julia is responsible for supporting Return Path’s partners and helping improve the client experience through consistent, quality, and scalable services. When Julia's not helping partners and their clients, you can find her on the slopes, trying to lower her handicap, looking for bargains, or watching one of her boys' many sporting events.

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