Blog post

5 Event-Triggered Marketing Steps Marketers Aren’t Doing

By Adam Sarner | February 05, 2013 | 3 Comments

Marketing StrategyMarketing

Event-triggered marketing identifies and executes campaigns based on events that affect a customer relationship. Marketers that do this right (less than 20% of marketing organizations today) will see their marketing messages receive, at minimum, five times the response rate of non-targeted push messages. Event-triggered marketing addresses the appropriate context of engagement and offers from the customer’s perspective, rather than just the company’s perspective. It should be applied to all multichannel marketing techniques, such as social marketing, mobile marketing, inbound call conversions, lead management and direct mail and e-mail marketing. Event-triggered marketing enables relevant offers to customers rather than traditional outbound blast campaigns, which causes major customer contact fatigue.

The challenge for event triggered marketing is following all five steps. Many marketers start with step one without prioritizing and go straight to step five, blasting out offers at their choosing. Marketers will need all five steps to determine the “where, when, what, why and how” of execution.

Five steps for successful event-triggered marketing:

1. Identify and Prioritize Meaningful Events: The first step is to understand relevant events in the customer/company relationship and to formally identify those specific events. Transactions, contract signings, App downloads, store visits, inbound calls, social engagement and change in deposits are examples of events that occur between a company and its customer. Events can also include external events, such as economic changes, types of weather, or government legislation. There are many potential events, but it will be more important to prioritize with a handful of events that are truly meaningful to both you and the customer (typically five to seven) and get those right than have too many without the means to scale process or execution.

2. Categorize Events into Fixed and Variable Triggers: Fixed event triggers have relatively predictable time components, such as a yearly contract renewal period, a birthday or a welcome letter for new customers (“onboarding”). Fixed events can be frequent, such as a biweekly deposit, or long-term, such as a five- or 10-year lease. Variable event triggers are less predictable and can be more difficult to react to. A change in address, a transfer of funds or a poor score on a customer satisfaction survey are examples. Begin with fixed predictable events to learn how to react to them then move on to less-predictable and, therefore, more-complex variable events.

3. Monitor Event Triggers: Marketers need to put in place detection mechanisms to monitor events that have been identified then categorized in the second stage. This is where the type of trigger matters, because it will be used to determine how to monitor and what data will be utilized. For instance, companies will use a type of rule-based system of customer events, such as triggering an action when passing a threshold, while others use a “change in state” based type mechanism that triggers an action when there is a change in a defined state. The idea is to have the means by which a company can monitor and detect whether a defined event has actually taken place. Begin to monitor a channel such as e-mail, get that right, and then start to add others.

4. Optimize Event Triggers: The key to optimizing event-triggered marketing is to identify the best marketing offer based on many triggers and other types of offers. Optimization for event-triggered marketing is similar to any other optimization exercise where conditions, constraints, rules for change and objectives are considered to identify action plans that will provide the best balance in meeting business objectives. Budget allocation, profitability analysis of segments and treatments, time, availability of channel, contact limitation rules and propensity to churn are just a few of the many variables that could be considered for optimizing the best offer.

5. Execution of Event Triggers: Having identified the right trigger, but having no execution process defined and implemented, will lead to null results and zero ROI. Marketers can eventually have hundreds of relevant events that can be acted on. The key processes for scale. Examples include scripting processes for the call center, automated online dialogue for a Web site, a multistep campaign process for a branch agent, and augmenting content of a trigger within a lead management process to support sales. This step is likely to be the most challenging of the five, and the most important. Finding skill sets, the creation of many processes and how well your organization has developed steps 1-4, will ultimately determine success in event-triggered marketing execution.

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  • steven dupon says:

    Hi Adam,

    Interesting post. My experience tells me a lot of companies are interested in the concept of EDM, but get frustrated when trying to implement it because:

    – detecting events meaningful to the customer AND the company is harder than it might seem. A contract end date for example often isn’t meaningful to the customer who may have started shopping around months before. Even something seemingly simple as a birthdate often gets complicated because of data quality issues.

    – execution problems and risks. You don’t really want to wish somebody a happy birthday months away from the actual date. Nor do you want an event to trigger a marketing action that is not suitably followed up by sales or customer service.

    I find EDM hugely powerful when done right. But many aspects of your business, over many different departments have to come together to make it work

  • Hans Willems says:

    Adam, I really like your post and have read a couple of times.

    It is also an organizational challenge but we see great results if you can make people internally collaborate together.

    I continuously collect behavioural data on an individual level at 6 online channels (corporate site, customer support site, market place, product micro site, independent business unit site and an HR campaign site). We use this live information to trigger and deliver the right message in the channel the individual is currently in (yes, this is possible without touching the CMS system). This information is stored in individual profiles and holds also data from other customer systems. Its connected to salesforce to support the lead to revenue process.

    So there are lots of real-time decisions to make. Which message to display? If you have alternatives: which one works best? If you have more messages from different departments to deliver: how to handle that? And, what if someone identified earlier on your mobile channel now hits your website? Stupidly repeat the same message or taking the earlier interaction into account? It requires massive decision power from the system (although it are micro decisions).

    We are discovering the power of having the possibility to create an ongoing communication flow with individuals based on specific customer criteria and live feedback (did he consume the message?). It works very well and I love the overview to understand customer channel preferences and cross-channel behaviour.

    Disclosure: I am responsible for marketing and use our own products.

  • Great points. It’s important to capitalize on an opportunity when a consumer will be looking for you as opposed to the other way around. This is why inbound marketing tactics, including content marketing, are so beneficial.