Intro to Auto-Triggers for Sales and Marketing


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Auto-triggers allow marketing and sales to turn routine, manual touch points into automated, highly-effective communications.

From a simple email auto-responder that thanks web visitors for downloading a whitepaper, to a multi-touch, multi-channel campaign initiated by a customer behavior, organizations are discovering the benefits of auto-triggered marketing and sales communications. Here’s why:

Auto-Triggered Communications…

  1. Increase the efficiency of your Sales team
    Automatic responses and follow-up messages can replace many routine sales communications, freeing up your Sales reps for higher-leverage communications.
  2. Make your marketing more effective
    Auto-trigger technology allows marketers to target prospects and customers that already in motion, moving them further through the sales funnel with relevant, perfectly timed communications.
  3. Provide your prospects and customers with more timely and relevant information
    Put yourself on the other side of the equation; would you rather receive a generic, mass-delivered communication, or one that matches your recent behaviors (such as a purchase, lapsed membership, or request for info) with a timely, relevant response or offer?

Which Communications Should You Automate?

So you’re ready to institute auto-triggered communications into your sales and marketing processes. But which of your existing manual touch points should be replaced, what additional automated communications do you need, what mediums should be used, and how quickly should each response follow the action?

A good place to start is by asking yourself these questions:

  • What self-created standard responses are your sales reps already using (by copying and pasting from a document on their desktop)?
  • What behaviors indicate a lead is ready for immediate attention?
  • What behaviors indicate a current customer is unhappy?
  • When does up-selling make sense in your sales process?
  • What information do your prospects need to see or hear to make an informed buying decision, and when do the need to receive it?
  • What can be done to turn current customers into advocates?
  • When your website or email campaigns generate a lead, does anyone follow up, and if so, how quickly?
  • For each of your automatic communications, which medium will be the most effective for direct communication?
  • What action should be taken with prospects or customers who:
    • Report and email hard bounces?
    • Unsubscribe to your email list?
    • Never open email?
    • Never respond to direct mail?
  • Which of your current marketing touches would be more effective if they were sent in response to a customer behavior?
  • Which of your common sales follow-up communications would be more effective is they were delivered more quickly?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

David Vogel
David Vogel is Digital Marketing Manager at Datapipe, specializing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), online advertising, analytics, and marketing technology. David also blogs about online marketing at href="">@DavidVogelDotCo.


  1. . . . but I’m unsure whether the concept suffers from abuse. I considered your idea about looking at the other side of the equation, and I asked myself “what auto-generated communication have I received that was useful, valuable, wanted, or memorable?” I tried hard–really I did! And I couldn’t think of one. That could mean a) some were so well crafted that I didn’t suspect that they were algorithmically generated, or b) I just deleted them without reading because I knew they were auto-generated, like I regularly do with auto-responses on Twitter.

    I like auto-generated email from my local library reminding me that books are due or available, but for me, marketing and sales communications are different. When a company wants impact and positive customer experience, nothing replaces the perception of a real person taking the time to communicate. It tells a customer “you’re worth it.” Maybe by including a few common typos, auto-generated responses can create the illusion that someone cared enough to hammer out the message on a keyboard, one at a time.

  2. Thanks for your comments Andrew!

    I tried to keep the post example-free to keep people from pigeon-holing how auto-triggered communications could be used. In response to your comments through, here are some of the automatic communications I appreciate receiving:

    • Purchase confirmations
    • Personalized service reminders (I get automatic postcards from my local service station a couple months after my last oil change, reminding me of my mileage and date of last service, with a coupon).
    • Online info/support request confirmations (“we’ve received your request; a rep will respond within 30 minutes”)
    • Customer win-back offers (“We’ve missed you; here’s a coupon for X% off your next order”).
    • “Related items” emails that cross-sell me relevant products after I make a purchase
    • Lead nurturing campaigns (when you receive them from a company you’ve engaged with in the past, they can be good reminders and provide you with relevant information to help you during your purchase decision making; when the campaign comes from a company who purchased your name, it’s spam).
    • Billing notifications/payment reminders
    • “Would you like to chat with a representative” popup windows, when they’re used intelligently (based on how long I’ve been on the site or page, especially if I’m on a “help” or “support” page).
    • Account action/updates (the notifications I get from web tools that a new report has run, a new comment has been posted, new data is available, etc.)

    I could keep going, but I’ll stop.

    I agree with you that even with the best execution, automatic communications will never replace all marketing, sales, and customer support messages. Especially for B2B and B2C companies with high cost, high margin products and services. However, even these companies could benefit from auto-triggered notifications that identify when a prospect or customer needs attention, and sends the sales, support or marketing team a reminder to followup personally.

    That’s where I see auto-triggers bringing huge efficiencies and results to companies, by tying into their CRM and customer database to automatically recognize contact behaviors that indicate a need for a marketing, sales or support communication, and then either automatically personalizing and deploying the communication, or notifying a rep to personally reach out to the contact.

    I’d love to talk with you offline as well and share some examples of how we and some of our customers are using auto-triggers for email and direct mail marketing and sales communications. It’s very cool stuff.

    David Vogel is an online and direct marketing specialist at Mail Print.

  3. Hi David: thanks for your comment. I read your post just after receiving a slew of holiday e-greetings from companies I had barely heard of. As your list indicates, there is so much more to auto-triggers than the ubiquitous holiday or personally-invasive birthday greetings. And I did recognize some communications that are truly useful and valuable. As you mentioned, the key to the successful use of the auto-trigger capability is properly embedding them into the context of customer conversations and customer experience. The friction occurs when companies don’t pay attention to that concern.

  4. I wouldn’t count the blast, non permission-based, email campaigns we’re being inundated with as anything less than spam.

    The successful (and customer friendly) auto-triggered campaigns I’ve seen are 1-to-1 communications sent in a response to a behavior or data point. This usually leads to timely, highly-relevant communications.

    To close, let me wish you a personal, no-strings-attached, Season’s Greetings! 🙂

    David Vogel is an online and direct marketing specialist at Mail Print.


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