17 Simple Triggered Emails That Drive Major Revenue

When done well, email marketing is one of the best channels for creating a personalized experience, and as a result, driving revenue. So today, we’re going to cover the best triggered emails and automated workflows for B2C businesses, with a few ways to adapt them for B2B businesses. Plus, I’ll reveal some best practices that’ll take them up a notch.

To deliver the most results, this channel needs to be managed thoughtfully, with the consumer in mind: for example, it’s no surprise that segmented email campaigns deliver a 760% increase in revenue. So, these email drips take both the customers’ expressed interests via their actions into account, and take who the customer is into consideration, such as their demographic and firmographic information.

You can expect a lift in email traffic back to your site by close to 100% in aggregate by implementing these drips. And while the effort is heavy up-front (and to maintain them at least every quarter), these will drive significantly better results than your manual email sends which tend to be to broader, less customized audiences. Plus, they will save you time because you can sort of set ’em and forget ’em.

When I was working for a small sports fashion eCommerce brand (a couple million in revenue a year), I implemented just the abandon cart email, the high-value pageviews email, the purchase follow-up email, and the cross-sell email, and was able to double monthly revenue. So let’s get at it!

Discover the best triggered emails

Still not convinced? 99% of consumers still check their email every day and greater than 59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI. For real, don’t miss out on this opportunity.

The emails we’ll cover below are in order of potential revenue impact, inferred by expected impact on your conversion rate and audience size. The sections they’re in “both,” “leads,” and “customers” can’t quite be in order of impact, because it’ll depend on the stage of your company.

But regardless the “both” bucket will be most valuable and should be addressed first. So start at the top and work your way down the list implementing and automating these bad boys (and girls, we’re pro both sexes here thank you very much).

Set up the best email workflows for both leads and customers

Here are a few drips that work for all kinds of folks.

1. Abandon cart email

Send this email when someone adds an item to their cart and doesn’t purchase it. Roughly 60-80% of online shopping carts are abandoned before the customer completes a sale. The idea is that they’re right on the cusp of purchase (your final conversion point!) so you want to get them over the hump.

Common reasons people abandon online carts include:

  • Distractions
  • They forgot
  • Price or shipping costs
  • Website issues
  • Complex checkout process
  • Return or exchange policies
  • Comparison shopping
  • Just browsing

So there are a few common approaches to combating some of these issues in an email:

  1. Bookmark reminder and urgency: You can follow up within 24 hours reminding folks that they saved something to their cart and that there’s limited supply.
  2. Discount to purchase: Or you can wait 3-7 days before sending the email, and include an offer in order to incentivize action.
  3. You can also do both!

Things to consider including in the email to push them to the point of purchase:

  • Show or link to the exact product
  • A product guarantee such as full-refund should they not be happy
  • Free returns
  • Peer pressure like a customer testimonial
  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • Contact information for customer support in case they have questions
  • Highlight multiple payment methods to reduce friction

The best version of this email:

The highest performing email I’ve seen at this point is a plain-text email from a person (ideally a real person in customer support) that links to the product in their cart, asks if the potential buyer has any questions about the product, explains how the product could benefit them, and let’s them know there’s a guarantee.

Check out abandon cart email examples

Below is a great example from Nike where they have a clear CTA above the fold, show you what’s in your cart, make it easy to ask questions, and boost your confidence with free returns.

Here are some others great abandon cart examples.

2. The favorites on sale triggered email

This is an email that you send when someone has saved or added a product to their “favorites” or “wish” lists but not yet purchased it. The idea is that they’re very close to purchase as they’ve indicated they like something, so you want to get them to take the next step.

Common reasons customers add something to their wish list:

  • They’re on their mobile device
  • Comparison shopping
  • Just browsing
  • Making a list of gifts they want for an upcoming event
  • Some companies run “win your wishlist” promotions encouraging customers to identify things they like

There are two common approaches to take with this email:

  1. Let them know the items are running out (add urgency) and that they’re on sale.
  2. Email the wisher to let them know they send an email to anyone suggesting that it’s something they want.

Things to consider including in the email to push them to the point of purchase:

  • Show or link to the exact product
  • A discount or offer
  • Peer pressure like a customer testimonial
  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • Contact information for customer support in case they have questions
  • Highlight multiple payment methods to reduce friction

The best version of the wish list email:

The most effective email at this stage highlights the discount, shows the product, and has a clear CTA above the fold. I’ve never seen a plain-text version of this email, so that might be something to test into.

See wish list email examples:

Check out email number two here for a great example of a wishlist sale email from ModCloth.

3. The low-stock alert email

This is an email to let the customer know something they have indicated interest in by viewing a page, saving for later, or adding to their cart is about to run out. The idea is to incentivize purchase now before what they had considered buying will soon be gone. The main key to this email is urgency!

Things to consider including in the email to push them to the point of purchase:

  • Highlight that they’re almost gone, last chance, etc
  • Show or link to the exact product
  • A discount or offer
  • Peer pressure like a customer testimonial
  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • Contact information for customer support in case they have questions
  • Highlight multiple payment methods to reduce friction

The best version of this triggered email:

The most compelling version of this email mentions how many are left, and that this is your last chance to buy.

See low-stock alert email examples:

A low stock email example from VRBO highlighting that the properties searched for could be reserved tomorrow

4. The in-stock alert triggered email

Retailers lose an estimated $93 billion in sales annually due to out-of-stock inventory. By allowing users to express interest, even when something is sold out, you’ll know to restock that item and be able to inform them when it’s in.

Things to consider including in the email to push them to the point of purchase:

  • Photos of the product and a link to the exact product
  • A list of the product’s benefits and features
  • Peer pressure such as testimonials, reviews, stars, etc
  • Urgency because it could sell out again
  • Answers to frequently asked questions

The best version of the in-stock alert email:

The best in-stock alert emails remind the user that they asked to be notified when the item was back in stock. And create a sense of urgency that the item could yet again sell out.

See in-stock alert email examples:

5. New product alert

This email alerts consumers that a new product has been added to a product category they’ve previously purchased from or browsed extensively.

Things to include in a new product alert email:

  • Photos of the product and a link to the exact product
  • A list of the product’s benefits and features
  • Urgency because it could sell out again
  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • If you have a value incentive such as free shipping include that and stress that it’s only offered to the select group of people getting this email

The best performing triggered new product email

The best version of a new product alert email I’ve seen has a subject line that says “Just in! New in {product category} for {consumer name}”.

See examples of a triggered new product email

New product alert email workflow

6. Content download triggered emails

Send this email when someone downloads an ebook, one-pager, check list, webinar, and so on. Typically this is the way you deliver the content they’ve requested to them.

Things to consider including in the content email:

  • Attach the content
  • Provide 3 actionable takeaways they can learn and apply without even reading the content
  • An easy way to share the content with colleagues such as a simple forward or click to tweet option with a pre-populated statistic
  • A way for them to rate their enjoyment of the content

The best version of the content download email:

Include the exact title of what they’ve downloaded in the subject line, as well as their name “Alex, here is your Email Ideas eBook.” This will get you the strongest open rate I’ve seen.

See content download email examples:

A content download email example from HubSpot that shows the eBook cover the what you will learn from the book, plus provides a link to it

7. Blog subscription emails (and newsletter subscription emails)

Blog and/or newsletter subscription emails confirm that a reader has subscribed. And/or you can also set automated blog emails up to distribute your latest posts.

Things to consider including in the blog or newsletter subscription email:

  • Asking what topics they’re most interested in
  • A few recent pieces of content so they know what to expect
  • A way to get in touch to provide feedback

The best version of the blog subscription email:

Provides asks what the reader is hoping to learn about (ideally providing clickable button answers), and includes quick links to the most popular posts of all time.

See blog subscription email examples:

The newsletter subscription email from Ann Handley which asks people why they subscribed, how to add the email to their main inbox tab, and her most popular posts
A blog subscription email example from The Next that shows what you'll get by being a subscriber and how to get in touch with any questions
An example of a blog subscription email featuring the latest blog post. This one is about ARR and has a big header image, a few paragraphs of text and interspersed charts - it's basically the entire blog post.

8. High-value pageviews emails

Send this email to people who browse very important pages on your website, that would likely indicate purchase: for example a product page, a certain category of product pages, or a pricing page, who also meet your demographic and firmographic persona profile. The idea is, based on their actions they’ve expressed interest. The trick is to be helpful with it, and not creepy.

Things to consider including in the high-value pageview email:

  • The product and similar products
  • Options to chose your specific pain point related to product benefits by clicking a button among a selection of buttons – which could send them down a nurture drip for their selected path
  • Ideas and ways to use the product
  • Introduces your brand and helps the reader by providing value

The best version of the high-value pageview email:

The best performing version of this email is timely, and sent within the first 24 hours. It shows the reader products they might be interested in, and gives them an actionable way to use them.

See examples of high-value pageviews emails:

Example of an Airbnb high-value pageviews email featuring a properties in Colorado based on a previous search of Colorado
High-value pageview email example from Salt and Straw where they provide a recipe for using one of their  ice cream flavors
Example of an automated email based on a consumer's high-value pageviews on the Glassdoor website. In this email Glassdoor proposes one main job the reader might be interested in at the top, and then has a list of 5 other suggestions at the bottom.
Amazon high-value pageviews email example showing how a search for basketball results in an email with 10 basketball shoes and calls to action to shop now

9. Price drop emails

These emails notify customers who’ve expressed interest in a specific product, by adding it to their wishlist, their favorites, their cart, or visited the product’s page a certain number of times, that the price has been reduced.

Things to consider including in price decrease emails:

  • The product’s benefits and features
  • A link to the product
  • Peer pressure in the form of reviews
  • The new price and the old price, and how much of a savings that is
  • Urgency, such as explaining stock is limited

The best version of the price drop email

The best performing price drop email I’ve seen included “Price drop: The product name” in the subject line, and provided an above-the-fold CTA button to “Shop before it’s gone.”

See examples of price drop emails

A Nike price drop triggered email that shows the new price and the product, and recommends other products you might like
A Zillow automated email showing that home prices dropped in a certain area

10. Re-engagement attempt emails

Automate the re-engagement email when people are just on the edge of abandoning your product forever. You’ll have to look at your data to figure out the right time period for you, but typically, if someone hasn’t been back to your site in 60 days, it’s time for this last chance attempt.

This not only helps you bring back customers on the edge, but also helps you keep your email list healthy. By taking folks who don’t respond off the list, you’ll be able to keep your overall deliverability stronger.

Things to consider including in the re-engagement email:

  • This is your last ditch effort so throw the kitchen sink at them: provide the very best discount you’re willing to give
  • A lot of companies will allude to the fact that it’s been a while since they last saw you by saying something such as “We miss you!” Though, I wouldn’t recommend it, as you don’t gain anything by pointing it out – in fact you might be reminding them they don’t care.
  • Something new! Show off a brand new product that just launched that you think they’ll be interested in.
  • Your most popular product (that they don’t yet have) and peer pressure such as reviews.

The best version of the re-engagement email:

The best performing version I’ve seen of a re-engagement email is plain-text, sent by a “person” such as someone from customer support or sales, and informs the consumer that the person just learned they’re able to offer a special limited-time discount for select customers, and includes links to 3 of the most popular relevant products at a discounted rate, and asks if they have any questions.

See examples of re-engagement emails:

We miss you email example from Mash + Grape that just says they miss the customer and includes a few of their most popular products from the last week
Re-engagement triggered email example from TaskRabbit that includes a 15% discount on the next booked task and uses peer pressure by mentioning the city the reader is in

Create the best triggered email workflows for leads

OK these are some of the best drips to automate for exclusively your leads.

11. Sign up welcome flow triggered emails

The welcome flow is a classic series of emails that greets new users and orients them to your brand, products, and website. The trick is to be helpful, and not annoy your brand new lead.

Things to include in welcome stream emails:

  • Many brands take this opportunity to train the consumer to move emails from them out of promotions tab and into their main inbox
  • Lots of brands include their website header, and ensure it links back to their website (email headers tend to be the most clicked part in nearly any email – people just use them as way to get back to your website quickly)
  • Some brands also push to download their app and feature it in the email’s footer or as a dedicated email in the stream
  • Typically a discount is included – maybe not in the first email, but at least in the second
  • Show off most popular products, ideally personalized for the reader
  • The first email is sent immediately, upon user registration, while subsequent emails (often a series of 3, so 4 in total) help span the rest of the month, one email per week
  • Sometimes a double opt-in (set a password or confirm account) is the first email the lead receives as part of this flow – so it’s important to keep in mind how that email conveys your brand as it could be the very first (and last!) touchpoint if not presented well
  • If it’s a B2B product, often this stream will teach users how to use features

The best version of welcome flow emails

The highest performing welcome stream email I’ve seen showed off the most popular products relevant to the new user and included a discount, and was sent immediately after sign up. It also included the website header, providing continuity for the users and familiarizing them with the website navigation.

See examples of welcome stream emails

The New York Times Cooking's welcome stream email example which says enjoy 28 days of kitchen inspiration and teaches you how to make the most of your free trial with options to explore, organize, and cook
Welcome email example from DIFF eyewear that explains a brand differentiator, provides a discount, and shows their top product recommendations personalized for the reader
A welcome email example for an email newsletter product
Here's an example of a welcome email from VRBO that asks the user to set a password to activate their account

12. Lead nurture email workflow

Set up this workflow to keep leads engaged and turn them into customers, guiding them through their customer journey. The trick is to address the leads’ potential pain points. And when you also set up ad retargeting matching the messaging of this drip, you can easily see another 10% lift in impact.

Things to include in lead nurture emails:

  • Something to address the leads’ awareness (what’s their problem?), consideration (what are possible solutions?), and decision (why’s your brand the answer?)
  • Benefits and features of the product, based on the persona’s pain points
  • Peer pressure in-depth customer testimonial stories
  • Give them something – whether it’s free time asking questions from customer support, or an ebook they’ll enjoy, or a free subscription to your great email newsletter, or a joke – win them over with a gift
  • If it’s a B2B product often times these nurtures are for users that have a free trial, so it’s important to teach users how to find and use the most popular features for them

The best version of lead nurture emails

The strongest revenue driving lead nurture emails I’ve seen begin by letting the customer pick their pain point by clicking on a specific button within the first email (i.e. I want to make money, save time, look better, feel better, etc). Then, in email two, they start with the hardest sell first, by putting their best product pick in front of the customer in a lengthy blog post style plain text email.

As email three, they use an entire customer story in the body to push the progressively more “top of funnel” offer, such as an ebook related to the pain point. And finally, email four, includes a complete actual blog post that can help the reader learn about their pain point with a call-to-action to subscribe to the blog email newsletter.

See examples of triggered lead nurture emails

DoorDash lead nurture email example pushing their summer of dashpass
A MasterClass lead nurture email highlighting a specific class, some video clips from it and providing peer pressure in the form of customer reviews
Hulu lead nurture email example pushing their free trial by showing popular shows and a limited time offer

Make the best triggered emails for customers

And here are a few of the most effective drips for customers.

13. Post-purchase email workflow

After a customer makes a purchase, it’s important to get in touch right away to confirm the purchase. At this stage, you want to reassure them they made the right choice.

Things to include in post-purchase emails include:

  • Thanks!
  • Re-confirm the exact products they purchased
  • Shipping information
  • When to expect delivery
  • Quick access to customer support
  • Teaching the customer how to use and get the most from the product

The best version of post-purchase emails

The best post-purchase emails are basically an itemized receipt that help bring your brand to life. They make it easy for the customer to track their package. And they do it in a way that’s uniquely that brand, whether that’s with a fun gif, by including dazzling imagery, or clever copy.

See examples of post-purchase emails

A post purchase nurture email from Shopify where they provide their latest blog posts

14. Upsell email workflow

Upsell emails provide easy add-ons to a purchase or encourage repeat purchase. The idea is that now that you’ve learned what a customer likes, you can make a strong recommendation to help them find their second purchase. For example, when someone buys a TV, you’d try to upsell them an HDMI cable.

Things the best upsell emails include:

  • A personalized product picked for the customer
  • A limited time offer on the product
  • Peer pressure in the form of a customer story or reviews

The best performing upsell email version

The best performing upsell email I’ve ever seen explains how the new item complements the original item. And provides a timely discount (basically 24 hour flash sale) for the upsell.

See examples of upsell triggered emails

Upsell email example from GrubHub offering purchase from the same place again, at a discount
Amazon upsell email example with recommendations of what other customers bought
A Best Buy upsell email showing what people who bought the first product people also bought
Upsell email example from Lemonade, which is plain text and from a fake real person

15. Cross-sell emails

Cross-sell emails help customers find other products they’re likely interested in, based on their initial purchase. For example, if they bought a shirt by a certain designer, they might also want another item of clothing from the same designer.

Things to include in cross-sell emails:

  • A personalized product picked for the customer
  • A limited time offer on the product
  • Peer pressure in the form of a customer story or reviews
  • For B2B cross-sell can also be triggered by specific in-product actions for example if you place buttons to “unlock” other features in the nav

The best version of cross-sell emails

These are very similar to upsell emails. So the best performing cross-sell email I’ve ever seen provides a timely discount (basically 24 hour flash sale) for the cross-sell, and ensures the cross-sell is a popular product that ties directly to the user.

See examples of cross-sell emails

Example of a cross sell email from Shopbop that shows more clothes from the buyer's favorite designers on sale

16. Customer happiness survey email

You can think of this as an NPS or win/loss type of email. By getting a pulse for customers’ happiness throughout their lifecycle, you can see where critical parts of your marketing, sales, and product are failing or winning. Automated this email to send after your first interaction with the lead, after they buy the product, after they get the product, and so on. Basically account for every point of your funnel. And randomize the send so that not every customer gets it at each point (that would be overwhelming!).

Things to include in happiness emails:

  • Ask how they feel about your company
  • Ask if they’d refer you to a friend
  • Ask for a review of a product
  • Inform them how the information will be used
  • Provide a benefit to incentivize action

The best performing happiness email

The best version of win/loss email I’ve created was a very simple 2 question survey they could answer right via the email:

1. How would you rate Company Name? (scale of 1-5 where 5 is the best) 2. Why? (open ended)

Examples of happiness and win/loss emails

Amazon reviews email example
Simple plain text happiness review email from a clothing store asking the reader to click whether they liked it or disliked it, regarding their experience

17. High-usage triggered emails

It’s great to reward your best customers and users. This is a simple automated way to do that. You can create a loyalty program or just provide surprise gifts along the way (you know how I feel about surprise and delight marketing!) based on milestones you pre-determine. For example, after three purchases, or after three purchases within a certain period of time.

Things to include in high-usage rewards emails:

  • Congratulations for hitting a specific milestone
  • A gift or VIP offering
  • A unique referral code they can share
  • For B2B products, these emails can also involve unlocking additional features or letting them know about early access to upcoming features

The best performing high usage rewards emails

These emails should benefit your overall email program because it should be a very specialized list and have a very high open rate. Ensure you use the name of the person in the subject line and hint at a great gift inside. The best version of this email I’ve created was a free Starbucks or Amazon giftcard that customers could redeem based on a certain product usage threshold.

It had an 85% open rate, and initially only a 50% redemption rate. After talking to customer support I learned it was because some customers were worried it wasn’t a real offer! So we cleaned that up in the text, made it easy to contact support, and bumped that up to an 85% as well.

See examples of high usage rewards emails

High usage loyalty email example from Shopbop inviting the buyer to be part of a VIP program including just-because gifts, low stock alerts, and more

Bonus: Upcoming autoship or renewal emails

Some folks are really opposed to these drips because potentially they become reminders for customers to cancel their subscription. I’d argue that’s exactly why you should send them. Trust is one of the keys to driving business value. Plus, you can end up saving your customer support and operations teams a lot of time, when they don’t have to chase down and cancel things after the fact.

Things to include in subscription reminder emails:

  • The date the subscription will renew
  • At what price
  • What’s included – the benefits and features
  • Peer pressure in the forms of reviews
  • And what’s ahead – give a sneak peek into what’s new and upcoming

The best performing subscription reminder emails

The best subscription reminder emails remind you how you’ve used the product or what you could gain by using it again the following year. Often in the form of customer stories or using you data (think: Spotify’s your top hits of the year list). They also provide an easy way to update your credit card information on file, and cancel.

See examples of subscription reminder emails

Chewy subscription autoship email example that shows what is included in the shipment and provides a way to manage it

Explore a few other possible triggered emails

While you’re on a roll, you might also consider setting up:

  • Referral program – This is a great email to trigger off of a high NPS score or high usage. The best performing version I’ve seen is plain text from a “real person,” asking if there’s anyone the consumer would be willing to connect them with someone who might benefit from the same {insert product benefit}. Surprisingly, with no incentive.
  • # points away to your next reward – This can help the customer hit a new prize tier in a referral or unlock new offers in a purchase program (i.e. buy 10 coffees, get 1 free).
  • Birthday and half birthday – A fun, surprise email on the consumer’s special day.
  • Joining anniversary – A nice opportunity to remind the customer of their loyalty.
  • Offer expiration reminders – This email helps customers take advantage of offers they’re eligible for – for example maybe you give a new lead 30 days to redeem their first offer. This would be a good follow up to automate.
  • Event registration follow up – Confirm the attendees’ spot, and help them navigate the event with parking, event spaces, food information, etc.

Discover best practices for automated triggered emails

So now that you know a few of the best email workflows to implement, here are few best practices for making them the best they can be.

  1. Use email mark up to show important information at the top of the email, for example how certain airlines do, allowing the flight time and carrier to immediately greet you in a helpful manner.
  2. Suppress 60-day in-actives, always.
  3. Ensure you’re not also sending manual emails on top of these, and that a person won’t receive two automated emails in the same week. One easy way to accommodate for this is by only sending manual emails one or two days of the week, and not allowing your automated emails to send on those days.
  4. Make sure you’re subscribed to as many of your own email drip workflows as possible, so you get the complete experience and can ensure mis-fires aren’t happening.
  5. Always have one clear call-to-action. And always provide a simple way to navigate quickly to your website in the header, such as a header image or your logo or by hyperlinking your company’s name.
  6. Drop the “view online” or “view in browser” option – no one’s using it. Always include “unsubscribe” though.
  7. Ensure the design is mobile-friendly!
  8. Don’t forget to update your drips at least once per quarter, possibly once per month depending upon the frequency of your product changes.
  9. Don’t overthink it. Get something live, and then iterate on it. Try to only run a test or two a month – focusing on the biggest opportunities.
  10. Have a junk email address where you subscribe to other companies’ emails. This will keep the inspiration flowing.
  11. Bonus: Have fun! Automated email is one of the coolest and simplest ways to customize a customer’s journey. You might as well enjoy the ride.

50% of people make purchases because of a marketing email every month. Get that money! Up next, learn how to avoid email marketing mistakes.

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By Megan Mitzel

I'm the wearer of overalls behind the marketing advice website Marketing Overalls. I'm also a senior marketing director with more than ten years of experience leading acquisition and lifecycle marketing at successful startups. Before that, I got a business degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before that, I owned a seashell shop. And that's the tea on me.