Some marketers have only recently realized the importance of email. Others think it\’s old hat. But true forward-thinkers are already taking their campaigns to the next level.

A business blogger at the Sydney Morning Herald points out a particular email discussion that happened at the Adtech conference held in Sydney this week, regarding “trigger-based” messages. Trigger-based email is sent according to a consumer’s particular behavior or preferences. For example, in an emailed company newsletter, there might be a link about a particular product. When the reader clicks on that link, this then triggers another email sent to the customer, offering a special sales offer regarding that product. Such links don’t have to be about a company’s product; a consumer’s birthday or purchasing preferences are other types of triggers.

Trigger-based messages, then, ensure that a brand remains engaged with and relevant to consumers by giving them important updates. The Herald blog points to HSBC Bank in Australia, which used trigger-based email marketing “to keep consumers engaged and informed” during their loan application process. This was done because many loan applicants shop around with several banks, and HSBC did not want them to go elsewhere for their loans. The upshot? HSBC Bank saw an approximately 65 percent improvement in acceptance of home loans.

Think of trigger-based email as the master’s degree after getting a bachelor degree in email marketing: The rules of email marketing best practices must foremost be understood and used. The customer must be the one to subscribe to get email messages, and the company must explain what to expect in these messages–as well as how often to expect them. As always, relevance is the key–if you start sending messages of the type that were not expected, the consumer might ignore your email and/or cancel the subscription.

Of course, trigger-based messaging can only work if the marketer really knows the customer. So it’s important to use an email-sending platform that will gather certain information, both demographic and “psychographic,” into a user-friendly database. Once such a database is compiled, the marketer can start creating triggers based on consumers’ preferences and personal profiles. (And maybe this database creation can be accelerated by using a product-click triggered email campaign first.)

Clearly, marketers who aren’t yet in email had better get cracking. Their competitors have already mastered the basics!