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How to Develop Event-Triggered Campaigns in Data Driven Marketing

In data driven marketing, timing is everything, as the saying goes. It’s one thing to know how many widgets you sold last year. It’s quite another to know who bought how many widgets and when. And it’s worth even more to know about these events immediately — at the time they happened.

Here are some strategies and tactics that database marketers use to take advantage of time-sensitive customer information. This information might be related to their recent purchases. But it may also be related to a move, the birth of a child, or any number of life events that affect their needs and attitudes. The life events mentioned essentially signal that a customer has moved from one lifestage segment to another.

Changes in your data about customers may signal marketing opportunities. Campaigns that are designed to address these opportunities are known as event-triggered campaigns. Because you’re responding directly to a customer’s changing situation, your message will be powerfully relevant to your customer’s current needs.

For example, each time you move you get a note or a postcard from several national retail chains, home improvement stores, computer retailers, and so on. These are simple event-triggered campaigns.

These communications are all designed to guide you to the closest store in your new community. They’re triggered by the change-of-address forms you filled out at the post office. The database marketers at these retailers subscribe to change-of-address services from the USPS and they send these communications accordingly.

In many cases, these communications are quite helpful. Not only do they help you learn your way around your new environment, they often contain special offers for exactly the kind of stuff that new homeowners need.

Data driven marketing event-triggered campaigns versus mass mailings

Event-triggered data driven marketing campaigns differ in a couple important ways from more traditional mass mailings. The power of event-triggered campaigns comes from recognizing when an individual customer has experienced or caused some event.

In order to do take advantage of this information, you must run these campaigns continuously, rather than in one large mail drop. The communications are literally triggered at the time when you recognize that some event has occurred. Depending on the situation, these campaigns can be executed monthly, weekly, daily, or even in real time.

An important distinction between event-triggered campaigns and mass mailings has to do with the size of the target audience. Your customers are typically not all doing the same thing at the same time. You don’t have half of your customer base moving every month, for example. Because event-triggered campaigns are run continuously, the target audiences for these campaigns tend to be much smaller than the audiences for mass mailings.

There are seasonal fluctuations that cause demand to spike throughout your whole customer base at once. Think Black Friday after Thanksgiving, for example. In these cases, event triggers don’t really make any sense. You would take a more traditional mass-mailing approach to reach your target audience when you expect a seasonal spike in demand.

Because of the continuous nature of event-triggered campaigns, they provide an ideal laboratory for learning which messages and offers work and which don’t. In mass-mail drops, you have to wait awhile to apply what you learn to the next campaign. What you learn from your Christmas mailing can’t be applied until next Christmas.

With event-triggered campaigns, if you run the campaign for a month and it isn’t working to your satisfaction, you can tweak your messages and offers on the fly until you see the desired results. This adaptability, along with the inherent relevance of your timing, makes event-triggered campaigns an extremely effective way to generate revenue.

Choosing a marketing channel in data driven marketing

The success of an event-triggered campaign depends on its timing. You don’t want to be closing the barn door after the horses are out. When you’re deciding whether to communicate via mail, e-mail, or some other channel, it’s extremely important to understand your window of opportunity. It isn’t open forever.

Suppose you own a busy restaurant. How do you deal with last-minute cancellations? You don’t have time to send a postcard to a customer on your waiting list. That table is a perishable asset, and you will lose revenue if it sits empty tonight. So, to respond effectively to the cancellation trigger, you need to communicate quickly. A text message or phone call would be your only viable options.

This points up an advantage of event-triggered tactics as opposed to mass communications. Because of the relatively small audience size, you open the door to more expensive marketing channels.

It might be financially unthinkable to call everyone that lived within 20 miles to tell them you’re opening a new restaurant. But calling a handful of customers on your waiting list to fill a cancelled reservation is perfectly reasonable. It’s also extremely effective.

The same idea applies to event-triggered campaigns that you execute through the mail. You may not want to pay first class postage for a large mailing. But if you’re only mailing a few pieces each week, you may choose to pay the extra postage. This would get the mail into the customer’s mailbox a little faster as well as make it more likely that they actually read it.

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