Success stories
March 29, 2022

46 Triggers are Better than 133. How Panasonic Carried Out a Triggered Email Audit and Saved a Quarter of the Marketer’s Time

  • Scale500,000 customers in the database
  • ITMindbox Platform
  • GoalCarry out an audit of the triggered mailing system to maximize revenue and allow the marketer to spend less time setting them up
  • ParticipantsPanasonic Loyalty Program Specialist, Mindbox Analyst and Marketer
  • Term1 month
  • ResultsThe share of revenue from updated triggered email campaigns in relation to the total revenue of the online store increased from 2.3% to 5.06%

One of the world’s leading manufacturers of household appliances and electronics. The company was founded in 1918 in Japan. The annual turnover in 2019 was 61.9 billion euros

Vadim Vihrov

Vadim Vikhrov, Head of Online Advertising and Digital Communications, Panasonic Russia

The results of the triggered mailing audit

For the online store, the total revenue share from abandoned category triggered mailings, abandoned views, next purchase recommendations, and product articles increased on average from 2.3% to 5.06%.

How it was achieved:

  • We reduced the number of triggers from 133 to only 46. We removed overlaps and duplicates when necessary and have also chosen to get rid of emails that did not increase revenue;
  • We reduced the number of abandoned emails per customer from 4 to 1 to minimize unsubscribers;
  • We found and identified the customer base facet that had not been covered by triggered emails and are now distributing mailings to them to avoid losing any revenue;
  • We added mailings with recommendations for smaller categories that had not been previously included and likewise increased their coverage;
  • We replaced the triggers’ manual setting with recommendations for future purchases using an automatic algorithm;
  • We began recommending to customers products that fell in the same price category as they had previously viewed on the website;
  • We prioritized sending emails for abandoned views over emails for abandoned carts to increase the likelihood of a sale;
  • We segmented the customer base according to the customer lifecycle;
  • We made email templates more evident;
  • In accordance with our auditor’s plan, we conducted A/B tests and have continued to improve triggers using our in-house markete.

As a result, Panasonic has developed a new strategy for communication with customers, a roadmap for the future, and an increased revenue from mailings on updated triggers.

Share of revenue from mailings with updated triggers relating to total revenue

Share of revenue from mailings
To determine the outcome of the marketing audit, we compared results from March and July, but disregarded April. In April, revenue from all mailings, including trigger mailings, fell. Presumably, this was caused by the pandemic and a general decline in demand for goods. Customers were less likely to add items to their shopping cart, and the number of abandoned cart emails decreased.

Share of revenue from all automated mailings relative to total revenue

Share of revenue from all automated mailings
The auditor only made partial changes to the trigger mailings. The next stage was the responsibility of the marketer, who independently processed all automatic triggers and transactional mailings according to the auditor’s recommendations. The first changes have already yielded results since the revenue share from all trigger mailings have peaked this year.

This story explains why Panasonic decided to conduct a marketing audit, determining what was checked and how the trigger mailings had been set up.

Panasonic’s Experience

Mindbox is our permanent database operator. On the Mindbox platform, and with the help of our colleagues, we have been developing our direct marketing and automated communications for several years. With our communication developments’ success, we have now reached the stage of maturity with more than 100 automated mechanics, resulting in millions in sales. So now it’s time to take a closer look at what we’ve done, see what can be improved on, and learn how we can move forward.

Mindbox’s expertise in analytics is unquestionable. When it comes to improvements and new ways of project development, who better than the platform provider to tell us which direction to take or where else we could «strike oil.»

Vadim Vikhrov

Vadim Vikhrov, Head of Online Advertising and Digital Communications, Panasonic Russia

What prompted us to conduct the audit

A year and a half before the audit, Panasonic analyzed the activity and coverage of its customer base, segmented customers, and relaunched its online store’s website. Based on this, Panasonic completely renewed its email communication with customers by changing the logic and mechanics of its trigger mailings. It also launched reminders about abandoned views and shopping carts, started providing recommendations for viewed categories, and introduced welcome emails. Panasonic later created engaging and retention-building email chains with longer reads about products and developed reactivation mechanics to reduce churn.

Dozens of new triggers were launched using similar manual settings. Some example changes were made to the timing of sending a letter and to the structure of the product catalog. Previously, this operation would require several triggers to be edited all at once. This would then lead to errors while simultaneously lessening marketers’ resources.

Triggers were launched so quickly that it was nearly impossible to track down and fix all errors manually.

As a result, the company never received the maximum profit amount from its trigger mailings. To further develop its direct marketing, Panasonic wanted to optimize its existing trigger mailings and build its customer communication strategy.

Why we didn’t conduct the audit on our own, but instead outsourced it to marketing experts

Six years ago, Panasonic began using Mindbox as its primary tool for collecting, storing, analyzing customer data, and communicating with customers. During the first few months of cooperation, we implemented the platform, including consolidating heterogeneous customer data from seven different resources into single profiles and developing a comprehensive loyalty program.

Panasonic requested an external audit of trigger mailings for three reasons:

Firstly, Mindbox has a lot of experience with mailings. Their analysts know how to set up triggers, find gaps in running mechanics, and build a communication strategy.

Secondly, its mailings ceased to increase in their profitability. In 2018, Panasonic relaunched its website and updated all email communication scenarios with customers, which resulted in profitability growth. As growth stalled, it became clear that it was time to improve its trigger emails. To not squander resources on testing our own ideas, we decided to take action by formulating a new strategy with the help of external experts.

Thirdly, Panasonic has only one full-time marketer responsible for direct channel communication with its customers. It would have taken a marketer a month to independently check all triggers, find errors, update scripts, and explore additional functionalities of the system. In the same vein, they would have had to put off completing all other tasks.

What was checked and what was achieved as a result of the audit

For one month, an auditor checked 133 mailing scripts. Here’s what they looked at and what they presented in the auditor’s report:

What Was Checked What We Achieved
Which trigger mailings have been launched, how the conditions for sending trigger emails are configured, whether emails are being sent correctly, and whether they reach the desired recipients;

A list and description of existing trigger mailings and edits to them and a description of new triggers;

How often messages are sent by triggers, what is the priority of sending, and whether or not there are any overlaps in the triggers; An indication of which triggers do and don’t and where, including errors;
To what extent the customer base is covered by trigger mailings, which customers do not receive emails and why they may not receive them; Breakdown of triggers by customer lifecycle to reduce customer churn and recommendations on how to increase the reach of trigger emails;
How email templates are displayed in the customer’s inbox, and how product recommendations are inserted; Advice on how to change the layout of emails;
How to improve the effectiveness of mailings. Advice on which triggers to improve on, where to launch new ones, and which A/B tests to run.
In the audit report
In the audit report, the analysts described in detail the shortcomings of the trigger mailings, suggested improvements, and gave the marketer future recommendations. Additionally, we also made a convenient visual summary for the company’s management team

Panasonic’s Experience

Optimizing the trigger mailings helped increase sales several times over the last two months in terms of views of trigger emails for abandoned product views and abandoned categories.

Now I am confident that our emails are being sent correctly. I received an opinion from the auditor, who thoroughly tested our hypotheses and straightened a few things out. This acts as a benchmark to be observed in the future.

There is a detailed plan for the entire financial year, and I know which areas will require extra effort and attention. In addition, the plan is supported by the audit’s results, to justify to the company’s management why you are taking specific steps and actions.

In any case, changes and improvements always have two sides. Even with successes, there are failures. On the one hand, sales from abandoned view emails increased. On the other hand, I have dealt with individual customers who received trigger emails of items with the wrong price. I do recall that after the implementation, the number of reviews on our website decreased; however, it is not to say that the decrease occurred due to the implementation. Nevertheless, we do need to improve this aspect. All improvements are potentially risky and require a lot of attention.

Ekaterina Milanovskaya

Ekaterina Milanovskaya, Panasonic Russia Loyalty Program Specialist

The auditor’s advice will serve as a benchmark to be observed in the future

What problems were found in trigger mailings and how they were solved

Let’s observe which aspects of the triggered mailings were changed and what the results were.

We reduced the number of triggers

Panasonic had 133 mailing triggers, some of which turned out to be ineffective and didn’t result in an increase in revenue, so the auditor recommended turning them off or replacing them. Emails with a selection of products for newcomers had very few views and clicks. At this stage, the customer’s preferences are unknown, and irrelevant products were often included in the recommendations. These emails were replaced with a brand awareness mailing list.

The biggest changes affected the following mailings:

Mailing type Number of triggers
  Before After
Abandoned Category 24 1
Recommendations for Re-purchase 13 1
Long Reads About Goods 96 44

Suppose we combine several conditions and rules in one trigger. In that case, the marketer will spend less time configuring changes and settings, triggers won’t be duplicated, and customers will receive fewer emails. At the same time, efficiency and revenue will not decrease.

Number of Triggers Average Share of Mailing Revenue in Total Revenue Average Time to Set Up Triggers
133 triggers 19,07% ~ 4 hours
46 triggers 20,85% ~ 1 hour
We compared the indicators for three months before the audit and after, with the exception of April. In April, revenue from all mailings decreased, including trigger mailings, presumably due to the pandemic.

We removed overlapping triggers as

Sending conditions resulted in the customer receiving up to four similar emails a day. When customers looked at products from different categories in one browsing session, they received a separate email for each category with a motivational offer to return to shopping. For example:

Nick bought a blender. A month later, he looked at a razor for himself and a hairdryer for his wife but didn’t place an order. The system launched three triggers simultaneously: an offer to buy something else for the kitchen and recommendations for razors and hair dryers. As a result, Nick received three emails in one day — he considered it spam and unsubscribed.

The auditor traced all of the overlaps, removed the duplicates, and merged some triggers.

We distribute triggers to the entire customer base

It turned out that trigger mailings for the abandoned category and recommendations for the next purchase did not cover the entire customer base because the triggers were configured according to outdated mechanics. That meant Panasonic was losing revenue. The auditor set up the triggers to send the emails to all customers.

We increased coverage through related products

By including products that were not previously included in the mailings, Panasonic managed to increase the reach of its abandoned category mailings and recommendations for the next order. Before the audit, purchase recommendations were not included for small categories, such as «batteries,» now, they are also included in the mailings.

We set up sending recommendations for the next purchase

To ensure that the next purchase recommendations are entirely consistent with the customer’s interest, we set up automatic recommendations and segmented them by the price of the viewed items. If the buyer views the cheapest products in the category, then the recommendations will include items with a lower price tag. The algorithm automatically selects the pricing category. This approach allows you to adjust to the customer’s expectations and increase the potential of a sale.

Conversion to orders from mailings:

conversion to orders
We have seen an increase in conversion to orders by last non-direct click attribution. This is the result of combining recommendation mailings for all product categories into one email, which was carried out in May. In addition, it is now easier for a marketer to conduct A/B tests and increase conversion rates on their own since, in a single mailing list, the audience is not divided by additional parameters, which increases the sample size.

The automatic algorithm also saves the marketer from manually prescribing trigger conditions with product recommendations. In the past, it was necessary to make changes to 13 emails for each category, now it is sufficient to edit only one.

We configured the priority of trigger mailings

Before the audit, abandoned category triggers took precedence over abandoned view triggers. It turned out that at first, customers were offered goods that were less relevant to them. For example:

Agatha chose a camera on the website but didn’t complete her purchase. She received an email with recommendations for her viewed category the next day. But the email didn’t contain the products that Agatha had already browsed and was interested in. Due to this, Agatha didn’t return to the website to make a purchase.

We adapted the aims/objectives, and now the customer will receive a reminder only for those products that they had been interested in.

Setting up primary customer segmentation

We divided the entire Panasonic customer base by lifecycle, depending on where the customer is in the sales funnel. The three categories are newcomers, active, and churn.

In each category, the auditor described the triggers that Panasonic already uses. They also shared insight into which triggers are missing, which are irrelevant, where to add surveys for customers, and how to test new techniques to reduce churn or stimulate a purchase. Here is a quick guide for a marketer. Panasonic can now build a new customer communication strategy.

auditor distributed all triggers
The auditor distributed all triggers according to the buyer’s lifecycle and made recommendations on supplementing or updating them to reduce customer churn

We updated the design of our emails

Even if the triggers are configured correctly, and the message reached the addressee, the customer may not read it or click the call-to-action (CTA) button. This may be affected by the text in the header of the email, the layout, or the CTA button’s name.

We slightly updated the email template to make the recommendation structure and button name more visible and noticeable.

Before

Before

After

After

What changes will Panasonic independently make to trigger mailings following the audit

The auditor made significant changes to the mailing list settings, but the work didn’t stop there. Panasonic received suggestions on what else could be changed after the audit. The company plans to do this on its own.

As recommended by the auditor:

  • Rework or disable the remaining triggers that the auditor did not update;
  • Launch new triggers in relation to the customer’s lifecycle;
  • Update the design of trigger mailings, as the auditor has made basic changes;
  • Conduct A/B tests, including checking the impact of email subject lines and target button names on clicks and reach.

Bonus. Who needs a marketing audit and how to conduct it yourself

A marketing audit is worth doing if you want to increase your mailing revenues but are unsure of what the next step is and what to prioritize. When your time resources are limited, or you don’t have the budget for an external audit, you can check the trigger mailings yourself. Here are some simple tips:

Be a mystery shopper. Register as a new user and browse the website on their behalf, put the goods in the shopping cart, and see what mailings will be sent to the registered email. Based on this data, make a flow and time diagram: how many emails you received, within which timeframe, and after what actions you took on the website. Check it against a communication map. By doing this, you will understand whether all mailings are sent on time, whether product recommendations are configured correctly, how much time passes between emails, and whether they are clogging up the customer’s inbox.

Review your mailing submission reports regularly. Compare the scheduled trigger dispatches and emails that actually went to customers. If both lists don’t match up, you’ll know where to look and find errors.

Consult with your personal manager. If you use the Mindbox system, then you’ll be assigned a personal manager. Your personal manager can help with the technical implementation of mechanics and assist with setting up triggers.

Use brainstorming to create a list of A/B tests. Invite your team for a coffee and, in a relaxed atmosphere, jot down a list of tests. We are all human. We receive emails regularly and know what to expect from our daily emails. Thus issues are resolved using common sense.

Start optimization from the active base. You won’t be able to reconfigure all mailings at once, so prioritizing is essential.

First, work with the triggers for active customers. That way, you won’t scare them off with spam.

Secondly, think about a churn strategy. Stores like Panasonic have a long cycle between purchases, and a customer can return in two years or more. It is crucial to keep in touch with them.

Finally, it’s worth considering the engagement cycle and communication strategy for new customers.

Ekaterina Milanovskaya

Ekaterina Milanovskaya, Panasonic Russia Loyalty Program Specialist