Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Terminology: Transactional, Lifecycle, Event-Based, Trigger

I hear these thrown about a lot, and I was training someone the other day and had to clarify my own definitions. So here I will attempt to lay down some common usages and accepted definitions of these terms.

Transactional. These are email messages sent out from customer purchase behavior. I’ve also seen them used as general online behavior, event-based messages. “Cart abandonment,” for example, is considered by almost everyone a transactional email. Forgot your password, etc. are transactional emails.

Lifecycle. These are emails based on the recipients stage in their relationship, or life, with the company or sender. A beginning educational series of emails would be a lifecycle series of emails.

Event-Based. Based on a certain event, the recipient gets the email. They visit the site, they do some online activity, like “adding someone” on a social community, and the system drops an email to them. Basically the same as transactional- but transactional tends to be just commerce & shopping cart-related.

Trigger. I think of this as a kind of slangy term for event-based, or transactional, messaging. It was used a lot about 5 years ago, but as things have gotten more sophisticated, it tends to confuse more people than communicate. I had a long conversation with a colleague where we were both using “trigger” in different contexts. Him: an event-based email, me: as a lifecycle series.

Diving In Deeper
What word choice you use says a lot about you as a marketer. My old linguistics-anthropology teacher could tell who you studied with by how you said “shaman.” I think you can derive the same results from whether someone uses “trigger” instead of the more precise terminology. Not to be too judgmental, I’ve been using transactional for a long time, but I’ve also just been fixated on it for a while.

Back in 2001 or so, we were all excited if we could get our email systems to look at behavior and send out an email. The possibilities seemed endless, from an IT, integration, and data perspective. From a marketing perspective, most email was focused on the issues with rendering and delivery. In the last few years the segmentation and modeling of data- largely from print market and direct marketing industries- has opened up the larger world of lifecycle emails. Nurturing, and influencing your pod of customers and prospects to a final desired end state, all via the miraculous fully test-able channel of email. So now single event triggered messages, have been relegated to the transactional world, and long state, series emails all working on influencing customer behavior, including recommendations from other users, user-generated data, and social arenas, I see as having grown out of the initial trigger methods. The “blasts” of yore- another great term!- have changed to the timed releases of offers and information, to select segments.

More Reading
Email Marketing Reports: Transactional Emails
Tamara Geilen’s BeRelevant!: Triggered Campaigns: 3 Things to Keep In Mind

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Written on Saturday, 12. April 2008 at 09:20 In the category Basics, transactional emails. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Read the Comments. Trackbacks- Trackback on this post. Share on FriendFeed

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