Understanding Email Marketing’s Surprising Lack of Behavioral Triggers

by Victor Green
3 mins read

Pretty much any post from an email marketing news outlet or industry talking head always comes back to a single, core principle regarding this process; if you want to conquer the inbox, then you need to know your audience. With this nugget of knowledge serving as the centerpiece to so many email marketing campaigns, you’d think that a deeper understanding of behavioral triggers and how to capture the potential found within these events would be the logical follow-up topic.However, the conversation often shuffles the value of playing off the audience’s actions to the backburner – or leaves the subject out of the discussion entirely. To find out why this surprising gap in marketing tactics and approaches exists, as well as what your brand can do to make the most out of the opportunities presented by this method, let’s spend a few minutes talking about the current and future roles of behavioral triggers in the world of email marketing.

The Facts Behind This Deficiency

According to David Moth of Econsultancy, the problem surrounding behavioral triggers isn’t just one of perception or hearsay. In the study quoted by Moth, researchers found that only 20 percent of brands and marketers make use of these events and opportunities at any given time. When compared to basic segmentation (76 percent), optimization for mobile devices (61 percent), and other leading tactics, it’s easy to see that behavioral triggers as an email marketing utility simply doesn’t get the respect that it deserves.

Figuring out the Root of the Problem

So if those who aim to connect with consumers in the inbox are aware of the value of building content around behavioral triggers, why aren’t they making the most out of these practices? The answer to this question lies within two distinct, but related issues plaguing the email marketing industry.First is the notion that “good enough” is just fine in the inbox. While email marketing stands as the most engaging and powerful outreach tool on the web, that doesn’t mean that doing the bare minimum is the right call. Aside from this lackadaisical mentality, there’s also the realization that many brands simply shy away from the hard work that comes with exploring uncharted territory. The potential to fall flat with a new or innovative tactic is always there and strong enough to sway the decisions of a large number of industry movers and shakers.

Is the Marketplace Ready for Change?

Of course, it’s also important to point out that there is a growing undercurrent of change in the waters of email marketing. As Moth goes on to report, even though only 20 percent of those polled currently utilize behavioral triggers as a means to disperse relevant content to audience members, another 39 percent have plans to eventually take the plunge. It’s not the most overwhelming sign that change is imminent, but it offers up enough evidence to prove that eventually the marketplace will catch on to the opportunity found in this underemployed method.

Taking Advantage of the Cutting Edge

So now that we know that behavioral triggers as a means to prompt inbox content is underutilized and poised to start making a push into its rightful place of prominence at some point in the future, the next logical step comes in the form of finding a way to get a leg up on the rest of your competition. To kick start the discussion, let’s talk about some of the best ways to tether your content to audience actions.According to a study conducted by Marketing Sherpa’s Courtney Eckerle, the strongest place to start is by responding to initial sign-ups to your email contact list. While this seems obvious, there’s still plenty of brands who simply don’t roll out the welcome mat for new members of the community.From here, taking note of account inactivity and abandoned carts keeps this trend going. Depending on your products and services, you might be able to even slip in a triggered message here and there based on subscription cycles and the lifespan of your offerings. The big key is to build content and triggers based around the attributes of your audience.As long as you can keep this ideal at the forefront of your approach, your brand should be able to get ahead of the curve and make the most out of the potential found within behavioral triggers and email marketing. If you’d like to learn more about behavioral marketing in general and its connection to the inbox, feel free to check out our in-depth look at this emerging segment of the email marketing industry here.

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