Triggered Messaging Overview

Triggered messages are emails sent when a user completes a specific action or fulfills a specific criteria. User actions generally happen on-site, like making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. Specific criteria that might trigger a message include opening or clicking a link in an email or abandoning a shopping cart.

Triggered Message Types

There are two types of triggered emails:

Marketing Triggered Messages
  • Opening an email or clicking a link in an email
  • Abandoned shopping cart item reminders
  • User-specific item alerts (such as product search/availability updates)
  • A response to a change in a user's profile, for example when a user indicates their favorite color
Transactional Triggered Messages
  • Email newsletter double-opt-in (confirmation) requests
  • Purchase receipts
  • Shipping confirmation
  • Welcome emails when users registers with your site or newsletter

Marketing vs. Transactional is an important distinction. Transactional triggered messages can still be sent to users who have opted out of marketing email.

See the User Opt-Out Levels documentation or the Transactional Messages Overview for more information.

Triggering a Message

You set up the triggers that will govern email sends. You can set these up programmatically or by using Lifecycle Optimizer to follow best practices.

Best Practices

API Call Send messages programmatically using the appropriate API call.
  • Use the Send API to send a specified template to a specified user, such as a password reset template. Messages sent using the Send API should have a 1:1 relationship, meaning that one template is sent at a time to one user.
  • Call the Purchase API after a user makes a purchase or a cart change posts to their User Profile. Pass the send_template parameter to specify which template to send, such as a receipt, order confirmation, or abandoned cart message. Use the "Purchase Made" Lifecycle Optimizer entry to allow marketers to go beyond the initial order/receipt template with their own series of actions.
Lifecycle Optimizer Create user flows in Lifecycle Optimizer to automate Triggered messages. Along with defined Entry points, developers can use a variety of API calls that marketers can then leverage as Entries for LO Flows. When a user meets your entry criteria, such as making a purchase, they join the flow. Once in the flow, users will receive the messaging you want them to at the interval you specified.


While no longer our recommended practice, some implementations may use the following mechanisms to send triggered messaging. Email Trigger Trigger a send from an existing template. Select a triggering event, template, and other criteria from the Triggers tab in the Template Editor. Smart Strategies Superceded by Lifecycle Optimizer, Smart Strategies allowed marketers an easier way to create email triggers on their templates. This functionality is available for clients using the platform prior to April 2017. Signup Form Embed a form on your site to capture signups. Select the List you wish to add new users to and the template you wish to send as a follow-up. When a user completes the form, they'll be added to the list and the selected template will be sent to them.

Triggered Message Parameters

For each triggered message you have set up, select:

  • The email template to send.
  • Some personalization, like a user's name.
  • A time - By default, a Triggered message sends immediately, but you can schedule it for a future time using the API. If using Lifecycle Optimizer, you may include a wait period before a message sends.

In addition to the template, you can specify optional parameters in Marketing Triggered messages, including:

  • A data feed - Include content from a feed, such as item information from your Content Library.


Before you begin, you'll need:

  • A template for your Triggered message
  • The API call or Lifecycle Optimizer Flow you wish to use.
    • API Call: Typically, the Send API is used, but a triggered message can also send as a result of a Purchase API call.
    • Lifecycle Optimizer: Add users to an existing flow when they meet entry criteria. This can include signing up for a mailing list, making a purchase, or abandoning a cart. Or create a new flow for your Triggered message.

To get started, see Set Up a Triggered Message.

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