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Trigger Happy: The Four Kinds of Email Triggers

by Akash Jayaprakash, Learning and Training Associate

Salsa offers the fantastic Streaming Emails tool to automate the sending of a sequence of eblasts on a predetermined schedule or after a supporter takes action. Salsa also offers simple, quick tools called Autotriggers for firing off autotrigger emails to donors or action-takers. What's the difference? We talked about this in our June Webinar on streaming emails and autotriggers: they're both very similar, but streaming emails offer additional features like the use of your organization's email templates and also feature tracking on emails sent out. In this article, I'll talk about the different kinds of Autotriggers.

Trigger Happy: The Four Kinds of Email Triggers

The distinction between each of the three four types of Autotriggers is a little tricky, so for today's blog entry I'll focus on explaining those differences. (Impatient? Check out streaming emails in our online doc.) This is good to know even if you wind up using the Streaming Emails tool, since that tool makes the same distinction between types of automated responses.

Finger on the Autotrigger

There are three kinds of autotriggers that can be attached to Salsa objects such as sign up pages, donation pages, and advocacy actions. They have somewhat uninformative names (hey, I didn't name them--I just work here), so I'll provide some examples:

Reply email: this autotrigger fires off immediately when a supporter completes whatever activity (signing up, donating, etc.) you've attached it to.

Example: Bob donates to a campaign for tofu-based baby food. Immediately after making the donation, Bob receives a reply email autotrigger saying "Thanks for your $20 donation, Bob! You're a hero!" (Hint: use merge fields for individualized content such as donation amounts and names.)

Individual email: this autotrigger goes to one or more people whose email address(es) are listed in Salsa after a supporter completes an activity. (Use a comma to separate multiple addresses.)

Example: Su Jin fills out a "submit your story" form (a modified sign up page) for an organization collecting stories from Words with Friends addicts. Sandra, the campaign organizer, receives an individual email autotrigger informing her that someone has submitted a story. Sandra reacts quickly to contact Su Jin for additional details and to ask her to be featured in an upcoming documentary on jerks with smartphones. It's a good thing Sandra set this up, because she hasn't gotten a lot of submissions and she wanted to make sure that she responded quickly to whatever she got.

Timed Response: this autotrigger is sent to supporters after a set time delay that you specify.

Example: Carbon County Clamdiggers likes to follow up with donors 2 weeks after they give, sharing an additional thank-you from their CEO and informing donors about the work their gift has supported. By specifying a delay of 336 hours (14 days x 24 hours), this ensures that Maria will receive the follow up timed response email two weeks after signing up.

Each of these three autotriggers can be created or edited in the email blasts package:

| See how this screen looked in the previous version of Salsa

After creating autotriggers in the Email package, you can add them to your Salsa pages in the Follow Up tab of almost every workflow, just by clicking the Add Existing Response button. You can also create very simple, plaintext autotriggers on the fly by clicking the Add New Response button, though you'll be able to make them fancier looking if you create them in the Email package and then add HTML and graphics.

And of course, you can mix and match: you could put all three types of autotriggers on a single action page, for example, to 1) instantly thank supporters for taking action (Reply email), follow up a week later and direct supporters to your News page to see the latest developments (Timed Response), and notify campaign managers about new supporters (Individual email).

Welcoming People to a Group with Join Triggers

There's also a fourth kind of autotrigger, but it acts a little differently. It's called a Join Trigger. The Join Trigger checks to see if a person has been added to a specified group: if they have, then they get sent the Join Trigger email.

To set up a Join Trigger, click on the group you're interested in (under Manage Groups in Supporter Management) and click the Options tab. Scroll down all the way to find the Join Trigger listing. (Here's a handy screenshot!)

Example: The Save-a-Tapir foundation has a standard signup form. It also includes several optional checkboxes that supporters can click to be added to the "Tapir Volunteers" group for their region (e.g. "East Coast Volunteers"). Each of the regional groups has a join trigger, so after Fred chooses to join the East Coast volunteers group, he'll get a special welcome email from that group.

Important notes about Join Triggers:

  1. Join Triggers are checked and executed by the system once per day, in the wee hours of the morning (around 0200-0400 Eastern). So they won't fire off the instant someone joins a group.
  2. Join Trigger emails only go to new members of a group added through a linked action or signup: in other words, if you attach a new Join Trigger to a group with existing members, those folks won't receive the Join Trigger emails. (There's an easy way around this--I'll talk about it in Part II.) Likewise, adding folks to a group using a query or import won't fire the Trigger either. Only brand-new people, added by web signup or manual entry, will get the Join Trigger.
  3. Most important of all: make sure that any group with a Join Trigger is either a regular group or a Greedy Smartgroup. If you use a (non-Greedy) Smartgroup with Join Triggers, the people in the group will receive the emails every day because Smartgroups empty and repopulate themselves each day.

Ready, Aim, Trigger!

Hopefully reading about each of the different kinds of autotriggers has inspired you with ideas for automating some of your supporter communications. Check out the slides from the webinar below. Feel free to email questions to training @ salsalabs dot com!


Topics: Salsa Marketing