Chances are you’re already doing some events-based marketing.
Have you ever sent Christmas wishes? Or special Black Friday offers? These are both examples (though somewhat unimaginative ones) of event-triggered marketing. And you didn’t even need to come up with the idea. New Year sales and back-to-school discounts have been around so long it would be ludicrous not to offer them.
But these are very obvious events in a very eventful year for your customer. And you’re really not doing anything unexpected by getting in touch at these times. Every company under the sun is. But life goes on between these global events and is packed with personal day-to-day ones. Your customer might get married, have their first child, buy a new home, or redecorate the living room. And these events are broken down into smaller events. They might buy a new crib for the nursery, browse for paint online, answer an appeal on Facebook, or visit your store to test sofas. These are not irrelevant events to your customer and shouldn’t be to you!
How Does Event-Triggered Marketing Work?
As the name suggests, event-triggered marketing executes campaigns based on events in the customer’s life. It is a truly personalized strategy that can not only help form personal connections with customers, but allows you to respond to your customers’ needs at precisely the right moment.
More specifically, it involves identifying and optimizing events occurring in your customer’s life and offering appropriate marketing for exactly that event.
Contextually appropriate customer-centric timeliness.
Finding Meaningful Customer Events
So first, businesses need to understand and identify what makes events meaningful according to their customer. Specifically, their customer. Triggers can be one-off events, unpredictably spaced events, or fixed regular events.
So these events can include: a customer passing a threshold, sharing a blog, downloading an app, installing a trial, engaging on social platforms, abandoning a shopping cart, encountering technical difficulties, calling the sales team, visiting the showroom, renewing a contract, letting a lease expire, or even changing their address, getting married, getting pregnant, or having a birthday. In fact, they can also include major news stories, trends on social media, or a change in season or weather!
What events you discover and choose to use as triggers will vary greatly depending on your customer base, your business, and your channels.
It’s Not Whom They Are, but When
Once you know which events you want to target, you’ll need to work out the most effective response you could have to them. And for this, you really need to get inside the mind of your customer.
No doubt, you’ll have been tracking customers and analyzing their behavior for some time now. (If not, no time like the present—find out what makes your customers tick.)
As marketers, we have a natural curiosity for who our customer is; their job title, status, location, hobbies, and likes and dislikes. But when it comes to event-based marketing, a successful response is dependent upon great timing. So, we need to focus on when they are. When are they most likely to buy? What events seem to precede a purchase? When are they feeling lost, unsure, or confused? When are they most likely to need additional information, or a boost in confidence, or a friendly reminder?
And Now for the How: Creativity and Technology
Don’t just copy your competitors. You’ll only create an echo chamber where no one can be heard. Events-based marketing is one area where your marketing team can be encouraged to get their creative juices flowing. Outside-the-box-thinking about your customer’s “whens” can be extremely rewarding, in terms of creativity and ROI. So do your research.
And this brings me to technology. Our multichannel marketing world crept up with such force and vigor, we all did our best to seize it by the various horns coming our way and do what we could. This often meant a marketing team split into channel-specific segments, each with its own lonely software that couldn’t talk to any of the others. And despite our best attempts, silos of customer data cannot move us forward in the evolution of digital marketing. Many of us have realized the importance of having one contact management hub at the center of our efforts that stores all customer information from across all channels (be it website, instore, mobile, social, chatbot, email, etc.) in one place. Only when we have this holistic view of who our customer is can we start to work out when matters to them most.
Having a clear plan for how to respond to each event will put you in a great position to deliver on it in a timely fashion. While on-the-fly marketing can be exciting, it can be risky and isn’t scalable to your entire customer base. Know exactly what you’re going to do when. And choose your given response based on your understanding of what your customer responds to best. Coupons? Discounts? Social mentions? Friendly advice? Personalized chatbots?
Not to harp on about technology, but can your CRM or CMS do what you need it to automatically?
Never Stop Learning and Improving
The term “automated marketing” casually suggests that you can set things and forget them. But once you’ve got your event-triggered marketing strategy up and running, you’ll want to be constantly watching and optimizing its effectiveness and eliminating the guesswork. Keeping your eyes open for more events can mean more enriching customer experiences that nurture towards conversion.
Remember, not all events will prompt the same speed of response. While a birthday coupon may be redeemed within hours of receipt, a request for a product review may take weeks. And you’ll need to plan accordingly. But think how good you feel when you receive a birthday card that was sent from the other side of the planet in time for you to open on your special day. That forethought, planning, and care doesn’t go unnoticed, and creates a warm fuzzy feeling in us all.
And warm and fuzzy is the goal.
Gartner has reported that messages that are event triggered receive up to five times the response their non-targeted counterparts do. Event-based marketing can improve customer relationships and brand recognition. You can better track and measure the speed of conversion and better align yourself for timely cross and up selling. By automating event-driven cross-channel campaigns, you can boost relevance, improve the customer journey and (with the right technology) efficiently and effectively drive profits.