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

One of the world’s leading manufacturers of household appliances and electronics, founded in Japan in 1918. The annual turnover in 2019 was $65 billion.
Business scale. 
500,000 customers in the database
Vadim Vikhrov,
Head of Online Advertising and Digital Communications, Panasonic CIS
Carry out an audit of the triggered email system to maximize revenue and allow the marketer to spend less time setting up emails

IT stack. 

Mindbox Platform
The 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%

Time to value. 

1 month
The following case study is from Mindbox, the original brand behind Maestra’s technology

The results of the triggered email audit

For the online store, the total revenue share from automated abandoned category, abandoned view, next purchase recommendations campaigns and product articles, increased on average from 2.3% to 5.06%.
We achieved this by:
  • Reducing the number of triggers from 133 to only 46. We removed overlaps and duplicates when necessary and opted to get rid of emails that did not increase revenue;
  • Reducing the number of abandoned cart emails per customer from 4 to 1 to minimize unsubscribers;
  • Finding and identifying the customer segment that had not been covered by triggered emails and are now sending them campaigns to avoid losing revenue;
  • Adding emails with recommendations for smaller categories that had not been previously included and likewise increased their coverage;
  • Replacing the triggers’ manual setting with recommendations for future purchases using an automatic algorithm;
  • Recommending products that fell into the same price category as customers had previously viewed on the website;
  • Prioritizing sending emails for abandoned views over emails for abandoned carts to increase the likelihood of a sale;
  • Segmenting the customer base according to the customer lifecycle;
  • Making email templates easier to understand;
  • Conducting A/B tests and improving our trigger campaigns in accordance with our auditor’s plan.
As a result, Panasonic has developed a new strategy for communication with customers, a roadmap for the future, and an increased revenue from emails with updated triggers.

Share of revenue from updated trigger email campaigns relative to total revenue

To determine the outcome of the marketing audit, we compared results from March and July, but disregarded April. In April, revenue from all campaigns, including trigger campaigns, declined. 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 email campaigns relative to total revenue

The auditor only made partial changes to the trigger emails. The next stage was the responsibility of the marketer, who independently processed all automatic triggers and transactional campaigns according to the auditor’s recommendations. The first changes have already yielded results since the revenue share from all trigger campaigns have peaked this year.
This story explains why Panasonic decided to conduct a marketing audit, what was audited and how the trigger emails were set up.

What prompted the audit

  • 133
    triggers were running before the audit. Some of these were duplicated and intersected, and required manual adjustment.
A year and a half before the audit, Panasonic analyzed the activity and coverage of its customer base, segmented its customers, and relaunched its online store’s website. Based on this, Panasonic completely renewed its email communication with customers by changing the logic of its trigger campaigns. 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 campaigns to reduce churn.
Dozens of new triggers were launched using similar manual settings.One edit in email sending time or the structure of the product catalog required having to edit multiple triggers, leading to errors and wasting marketing 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 campaigns. To further develop its direct marketing, Panasonic wanted to optimize its existing trigger emails and develop its customer communication strategy.

The audit was outsourced to marketing experts — and here’s why

Six years ago, Panasonic began using Mindbox as its primary tool for collecting, storing and analyzing customer data as well as communicating with customers. During the first few months of cooperation, we implemented the platform and consolidated customer data from seven different sources into single profiles, developing a comprehensive loyalty program.
Panasonic requested an external audit of its trigger-based campaigns for three reasons:
First, Mindbox has a lot of experience with campaigns. Their analysts know how to set up triggers, find gaps in existing campaigns and build a communication strategy.
Second, its emails ceased to increase in their profitability. In 2018, Panasonic relaunched its website and updated all email communication scenarios with customers, which resulted in a growth in profits. 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.
Third, 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.

Audit results

Over the course of a month, the auditor checked 133 email campaign scenarios. Here’s what they looked at and what they presented in the auditor’s report:
What was checked
What was achieved
Existing trigger campaigns, how the conditions for sending these trigger emails had been configured, whether they were being sent correctly, and whether they were reaching the desired recipients;
A list and description of existing trigger campaigns and edits to them, as well as list of new triggers;
How often messages are sent via triggers, sending priority and whether or not there are any overlaps in the triggers;
An indication of which triggers do and don’t work and where they contain errors;
To what extent the customer base is covered by trigger campaigns, 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 campaign effectiveness.
Advice on which triggers to improve on, where to launch new ones, and which A/B tests to run.
In the audit report, the analysts detailed the shortcomings of the trigger campaigns, suggested improvements and gave the marketer recommendations for future campaigns

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

Let’s take a closer look at which aspects of the trigger campaigns were changed and what the results were.

We cut down the number of triggers

  • 46
    trigger campaigns remained following the audit and Panasonic's revenue increased
Panasonic had 133 email triggers, some of which turned out to be ineffective and didn’t result in an increase in revenue, so the auditor recommended removing 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 an email that helped to get to know the brand better.
The biggest changes affected the following campaigns:
Campaign type
Number of triggers 

Abandoned category browse
Re-purchase recommendations
Long reads about products
Combining several conditions and rules in one trigger means the marketer spends less time configuring changes and settings, triggers don’t get duplicated and customers receive fewer emails. At the same time, efficiency and revenue do not decrease.
Number of triggers
Average share of campaign revenue relative to total revenue
Average time needed to set up triggers
133 triggers
~ 4 hours
46 triggers
~ 1 hour
We compared the indicators for three months before the audit and after, with the exception of April. In April, revenue from all campaigns decreased, including trigger emails — presumably due to the pandemic.

Overlapping triggers were removed

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 overlaps, removed duplicates and merged some triggers.

Triggers were distributed accross the entire customer base

It turned out that trigger for abandoned category browse and next purchase recommendations campaigns did not cover the entire customer base because the triggers were configured according to outdated settings. This meant Panasonic was losing revenue. The auditor set up triggers so that emails could be sent to all customers.

Related products helped increase coverage

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

Emails with recommendations for the next purchase were fine-tuned

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.
As a result, the order conversion rate in emails has changed:
We have seen an increase in the conversion rate via last non-direct click attribution. This is the result of combining recommendation campaigns for all product categories into one email, which was carried out in May. In addition, it is now easier for the 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 setting up trigger conditions with product recommendations. In the past, changes had to be made to 13 emails for each category. Now, it is sufficient to edit only one.

Trigger campaign priority

Before the audit, abandoned category view triggers took precedence over abandoned product view triggers. It turned out that at first, customers were recommended products 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 changed our approach and now the customer will receive a reminder only for products that they were previously interested in.

Setting up primary customer segmentation

We segmented 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. Panasonic can now build a new customer communication strategy.
The auditor distributed all triggers according to the customer’s lifecycle and made recommendations on supplementing or updating them to reduce churn

An updated email template design

Even if the triggers are configured correctly, and the message reached the recipient, 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 text.
We slightly updated the email template to make the recommendation structure and button name more visible and noticeable.

How Panasonic plans to further improve trigger emails based on audit results

The auditor made significant changes to the campaigns and their 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 campaigns since the auditor only made basic changes;
  • Conduct A/B tests and check the impact of email subject lines and target button texts on click and reach metrics.
Bonus: how to conduct your own quick marketing audit