Interview: Triggerdialog facilitates the automatic dispatch of customized print mailshots


It’s pretty practical when customers themselves can trigger print mailshots that are addressed to them personally by performing defined actions. I spoke with two decision-makers involved with Triggerdialog about how that works.

There are several dispatch strategies for customized mailshots about. For this reason I took a look at the dmexco show at a – to be followed by others as already indicated – print-compatible solution that promises simple handling as far as campaign management is concerned and which at the same time has very broad reach potential in terms of customer activation. I therefore asked Mathias Rochlitz, Triggerdialog product manager at Deutsche Post, and Holger Behnsen, Managing Director of the B2C marketing cloud specialist, emarsys, for more detailed information about what’s behind this compound construct and what benefits this print mailshot platform provides.

Bernd Zipper: Mr. Rochlitz, you are the Triggerdialog product manager at Deutsche Post. What exactly is Triggerdialog?

Mathias Rochlitz: Triggerdialog is an automated dispatch tool that can be used by advertisers for the automated management of print mailshots generated by a marketing automation system. It can take the form of a highly customized e-mail or a highly customized print mailshot. That’s exactly what Triggerdialog offers all advertisers – to help them convey highly customized marketing messages in a physical format.

Bernd Zipper: Here at the dmexco show you have demonstrated the way you have integrated with emarsys – are there any other systems in which you are integrated? Or are you planning further integrations?

Mathias Rochlitz: Triggerdialog is in principle non-platform-dependent. It can be integrated into all marketing automation systems. At present Triggerdialog dovetails with three marketing automation systems, one of which is emarsys. But there are plenty of other marketing automation systems that are currently being integrated. Where integration takes place and where not is also driven by market demand; but in principle we are open to all.

Bernd Zipper: Was it difficult to persuade onliners of the merits of print?

Mathias Rochlitz: At the beginning there were certain obstacles. But it was more of a question of faith that had to be challenged. Two years after entering the market, the onliners now welcome us with open arms. That’s because they suddenly have an alternative that makes very high response rates possible and that can be fully integrated into the digital trigger chain alongside digital channels. This opens up “new” channels that provide customers with a hands-on experience.

Bernd Zipper: Given your situation, you of course work with the Deutsche Post print centers. But are there other print providers that you partner with?

Mathias Rochlitz: We don’t just partner with Deutsche Post print centers, but also with all print providers that want to join the system and meet our quality standards. Here we broker contacts in accordance with needs and the skills of the relevant print provider, thus linking digital and online environments. In that respect we regard ourselves as intermediaries. We also know how to use print as a channel for opting out of a highly digitalized environment and adopting a personal approach.

Bernd Zipper: Where do you see Triggerdialog in the next few years?

Mathias Rochlitz: Triggerdialog is growing continuously and very fast, which is why we already deliver throughout Germany. Of course we also have a corresponding roadmap for more internationalization projects, because demand abroad is just as high. And given that we have a majorly integrated system with a wide range of applications, we have superb opportunities to expand even more.

“Print mailshots achieve significantly higher conversion rates than digital messages. Anybody that doesn’t use this key marketing channel despite the availability of automated platform solutions is missing out on a most valuable opportunity to reach out to potential and existing customers.” – Bernd Zipper

Bernd Zipper: Mr. Behnsen – what eCommerce areas does emarsys cover and how does Triggerdialog as a partnership with Deutsche Post dovetail with them?

Holger Behnsen: emarsys has been on the market for 17 years now, having started out as an e-mail service provider and then evolving ever since. These days we regard ourselves as a marketing cloud provider focusing on eCommerce and retail. Our software is designed to help overcome major eCommerce challenges, for example, if a very large number of users visit an online store, but only a small handful are converted to customers. That’s because more than 50 percent of shopping carts are abandoned. One major problem is that most customers only make one purchase at an online store. The proportion of active buyers or repeat buyers is often very low. Our marketing cloud helps to combat this phenomenon and reach out to customers at exactly the point in the customer lifecycle that they currently find themselves at. The whole thing is managed via a range of different channels and boosts interaction with customers. We started with e-mail and added other marketing channels via which customers can be reached, like, for example, mobile push or so-called CRM ads via Facebook and Google. The whole thing is based on an integrated customer profile in our software, which contains all the buying history and user behavior information we have, i.e. where somebody browsed in the online store, what products they took a look at and maybe placed in their shopping cart.  We have now added Triggerdialog as an extra channel to complement the mobile one, in order to be able to reach out to customers offline. A so-called automation center serves as part of our marketing software, in which you can create special automation sections based on the customer lifecycle. For example, if the customer is inactive and has not bought anything for 180 days, we take that as a trigger and send them, for example, an e-mail with a message saying we are missing them, in line with the motto “Here is an incentive, a voucher, come back to us”. If the customer does not react via the inexpensive e-mail channel or has unsubscribed from the newsletter, then there is the option of contacting the customer using a customized print mailshot. We have fully integrated Triggerdialog into our automation center for this purpose and can determine at any time from when this is to happen. Conversely the highest-spending customers, who either have large shopping carts or who purchase from us at higher frequencies, can also be selected to receive these targeted print mailshots. These are two example use cases that demonstrate how Triggerdialog can be used in conjunction with the emarsys marketing cloud.

Bernd Zipper: What do you find most exciting about it – what makes print mailshots so attractive?

Holger Behnsen: Customers are frequently contacted via digital channels, which means you as a marketer have to fight for a share of the customer’s attention, given they are on the receiving end of a large number of newsletters and other forms of digital interaction. A print mailshot enables you to set a different, more attention-grabbing tone. Of course the unit costs are significantly higher, but in return you have to compete with significantly fewer providers to gain the customer’s attention. This cross-channel link in particular enables you to achieve very good conversion rates.


The print mailshot as a means of reactivation – here the postcard, which as a hands-on means of communication bridges the gap to the online store; Source:

Bernd Zipper: And how did the partnership with Deutsche Post come about? There are several other print providers that produce mailshots.

Holger Behnsen: Deutsche Post has almost 100-percent market share, which makes it an excellent partner in this respect. Conversely Deutsche Post also aspires to achieve the same very high degree of digital reach that it has offline. The company therefore felt it was important to work with a partner in the German market that has the same high degree of reach. Given the fact that emarsys is the B2C eCommerce market leader in Germany, we were Deutsche Post’s first choice to help it increase its reach. That’s how the partnership came about.        

Bernd Zipper: How long did preparations for the project launch take? How much of a lead time did you have before the system went live?

Holger Behnsen: I can’t put an accurate figure on that. It took between six and nine months to integrate the whole thing into our software. You can select the relevant entry points in the automation center. But you can also incorporate Triggerdialog as a fixed element, meaning that the print mailshot is triggered at certain points in time. That of course also took a bit of time as did enabling our customers to design print mailshots direct. We went live at the beginning of the year and have now gained our first clients that actually use the product.

Bernd Zipper: Then you have already gained some experience – what has the initial feedback been like?

Holger Behnsen: So far there has been an excellent level of acceptance for the program. Of course, we still have to exceed the critical mass necessary to be able to calculate more accurately what the return on investment is and how customers that use this tool behave compared to those that don’t use Triggerdialog. Initial feedback has been very positive and we have received plenty of inquiries both from existing clients as well as new ones that regard this tool as adding value.

Bernd Zipper: So if people opt for this system, are their mailshots also billed via your platform?

Holger Behnsen: These are two separate issues. We at emarsys can on the one hand activate a billing module. Then our clients are charged a relatively low monthly usage fee. This is because we give them the opportunity to action the print trigger in a targeted way, based on the customer information that we already provide. Billing of print mailshots that are actually sent is then undertaken between our clients and Deutsche Post, which requires separate agreements, which are totally separate from emarsys.

My take: In terms of Triggerdialog campaigns, print is no stopgap, but THE key (re)activating medium that makes communication with customers effective. And the Triggerdialog system is definitely compatible with how appropriately kitted out print providers operate – that also applies to many advertisers, given that the intention is to expand international dispatch even more and enable more customers to be reached. Last week I already reported on Optilyz, which – like Deutsche Post and emarsys – provide a software tool for triggering customized print mailshots for the purposes of increasing conversion rates. Marketing decision-makers therefore have a choice of several soundly-based systems at their disposal. That’s why I am confident that several of them will utilize the strengths of customized print mailshots.

Founder and CEO of zipcon consulting GmbH, one of the leading consulting companies for the print and media industry in Central Europe. The technology and strategy consultant and his team actively support practical implementation in a wide variety of customer projects. His work involves developing visions, concepts and strategies for the players active in the print production process across a wide range of industries. His areas of expertise include online print, mass customization, strategy and technological assessment for print, and the development of new strategies in the print and media environment. Bernd Zipper is the creator and chairman of Initiative Online Print e.V. and, in addition to his consulting activities, is an author, lecturer and sought-after speaker, orator and moderator. His visionary lectures are regarded worldwide as trend-setting management recommendations for the print and media industry. (Profiles also in Xing, LinkedIn).

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