Washington Post’s triggered e-mails offer opportunity for personalised engagement, lasting connections

By Anjali Iyer

The Washington Post

Washington, DC, USA


Trigger marketing proves to be a robust strategy, capitalising on consumer behaviours, preferences, and events to craft targeted and timely messages. Its primary strength lies in resonating with consumers during pivotal moments that significantly impact their decisions on engagement and subscriptions.

Through strategic use of triggers like personalised recommendations, reengagement initiatives, or anniversaries, this approach enhances the overall consumer experience, which builds a deeper connection by showcasing a genuine understanding of their needs.

Consequently, trigger marketing not only boosts engagement and conversion rates but also cultivates improved loyalty.

The Washington Post's triggered e-mails have been so successful, the media company plans on implementing more than 20 new triggers and continue to enhance them.
The Washington Post's triggered e-mails have been so successful, the media company plans on implementing more than 20 new triggers and continue to enhance them.

In essence, its success is rooted in aligning marketing efforts with the precise moments in a consumer’s journey.

Our data-driven approach

We partnered with our data analytics team to understand the most effective triggers. Through an in-depth analysis of consumer behaviours — such as the most-read topics, favourite authors, sections, and habits — we identified patterns that illustrated what resonated most with our consumers.

With this information, we strategically crafted triggers that seamlessly align with consumer interests and behaviours. Our data-driven approach enabled us to pinpoint triggers that not only capture attention but also build a connection with consumers. The outcomes are evident in our refined and personalised engagement strategies.

Here are a few trigger examples that we successfully validated through proof of concept (PoC) and have now seamlessly integrated into our marketing initiatives.

  • Reengagement triggers: Target inactive non-subscribers and subscribers to bring them back through e-mails that highlight recent articles.
  • Lifecycle triggers: Subscriber milestones, such as anniversaries or reading a certain number of articles. These personalised e-mails acknowledge the milestones that make subscribers feel valued and encourage continued engagement.
  • Paywall hit and cart abandon triggers: Proactive approach to entice consumers who have abandoned paywall or the shopping cart through personalised e-mails to boost conversions.
  • Article gifting triggers: Target subscribers who have not gifted articles to educate on the benefit and encourage gifting. It not only expands content reach but also builds a sense of community engagement.
  • Favourite author triggers: Personalised e-mail from authors fosters a genuine connection and serves to build engagement or nudge toward subscription. By humanising the interaction and offering unique insights directly from the author, this trigger creates a more personalised and impactful pathway to encourage commitment and subscription growth.
  • Content diversity triggers: Showcase breadth and depth of coverage to consumers who are solely engaged in one section such as politics.


In summary, our efforts have resulted in positive outcomes, with a 1%-2% increase in consumer engagement, conversion, and adoption of habit-building actions.

The strategic implementation of the article gifting e-mail is particularly impactful, resulting in a statistically significant 14% increase in the proportion of subscribers engaging in article gifting.

Next steps

Given the success, we plan to implement more than 20 new triggers and continue to enhance them. For instance, we plan to leverage AI to automate content feeds to ensure a diverse range of content. This includes incorporating light-hearted content for a more engaging experience and using article sensitivity built by the data science team.

Additionally, our strategy involves addressing article abandonment by providing targeted follow-ups and even granting free access in paywall hit e-mails. These advancements will deliver a dynamic and consumer-centric experience that will build lasting relationships, drive meaningful conversions, and increase consumer retention.

About Anjali Iyer

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