email notification

As consumers, we live in a real-time world. We have the technology to access the information we need, when and where we want it, and the “when” is usually “now.” 

This access to real-time information produces a lot of data that companies can use in order to target and market to us more accurately, gain better insights and help them plan more effectively.

All this real-time action generates plenty of data that companies can use to improve their messaging to those customers.

One use I particularly like is triggering emails that respond to customer actions like visiting a website or browsing a product page. Responding to these signals in real time helps companies capitalize on behavior and move customers closer to a conversion.

Triggered and transactional emails can account for 50% or more of email revenue in a year. So, they’re definitely worth your time to investigate and add to your email program.

Hands typing on laptop keyboard

Add this trigger: ‘next logical product’

As I outlined in this recent blog post How incremental innovation drives steady and strategic change, even marketers with limited time and resources can build a program of triggers if they add them one at a time.

A good place to start is with a “next logical product” trigger, which combines your data with a relevant email message to your customers.

“Next logical product” analysis uses data to determine what customers buy next after they make a specific purchase. Here’s an example: Your data tells you a large percentage of customers who buy washer-dryer combinations on your website often buy hoses or storage platforms within two weeks of having their new appliances installed.

Your customers who don’t buy that extra equipment when they check out on your website could probably find it at any big-box appliance store, but, naturally, (Read more...) want them to buy it from you.

So, you look at your data, and you say, “Hey! Let’s message everybody who doesn’t buy storage platforms from us 10 days later, show them the models of washers and dryers they bought, plus the storage platforms that fit those models and show how to order them!”

“Next logical product” emails tie customer intent with your data to produce a result – another purchase. You can predict this behavior because your statistics show a significant majority of people buy that product next. That’s your “next logical product” trigger.

How to identify ‘next logical product’ triggers

First, study your product line and purchase data so you can understand purchasing patterns. What do people buy, what do they buy next, and what’s the time frame? Try to identify five products that you could investigate.

Next, give your data scientists or CRM analysts your product list. Ask them, “Of these products, what do people buy next shortly after the purchase, and what percentage of customers buy those products?”

(This should be a simple query, but if you have to persuade your data people to make your project a priority, remind them that you could use the data to make more money for the company.)

Use your data to build a financial model, and then test it on a sample of customers. If you can confirm your hypothesis, create a simple email featuring the upsell for the product purchased.

Test several versions of the copy, including one that uses a transactional approach (“We noticed you didn’t buy this essential product to go with your recent purchase. Do you still need it?”) or a helpful/customer-relationship one (“Many customers find this product helps them get more use out of your product…”) Then, link directly to the product page from the email.

After you create and test your emails, isolate the customers who bought the item in your time frame. Send the email to them manually, and assess the response. Try another date range as well. This will help you figure out the best time frame to send the email.

Creating this trigger gives you two brag-worthy benefits:

  1. You just created a new revenue stream. Maybe these customers might have come back on their own to buy the next product; maybe they might have gone to a competitor. Your next-logical-product email increases the odds exponentially that you’ll get the sale.
  1. You also created a new proof point you can take back to your data people when you need to ask for data or to give your systems people when it’s time to automate the process using the results you generated in your tests.

What could you start testing today?

Ryan Phelan is the VP Marketing Insights at Adestra and a contributor to ClickZ.

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