Categorizing in Event based marketing

Thursday 11th, August 2016

categories photoThe great thing about Event Based Marketing is that it is possible to offer new products or services to individual customers on any channel at the moment it is most relevant to him or her. With some great tools and carefully crafted marketing plans, it is possible to market to millions of individuals across multiple channels, at the most relevant time, ensuring effective, automated dialogue that produces value. It gives marketers the power to trigger customer interaction, shape how the interaction would take place and engage with customers based on each person’s individual behaviour and interests as opposed to a campaign or promo aimed at a particular segment.

As the name suggests, event-based marketing is all about events. There are many different ways to categorize these events – it could be the Olympics now, for instance. Or the fact that the Indian Independence day is around the corner – Amazon had its great Indian sale recently.

That being said, Event-based marketing is not just about sporting events or holidays and tailoring offers around that. It is about the many events in a person’s life – this event could be anything that presents an opportunity for interaction like a change of address, a birthday, an anniversary, births of babies, children reaching college age, home purchases, or any other personal event. Events would also include visits to a web page, the click of the mouse on a particular item, or a keyword search! It could even be calls or letters from customers asking about a product or service – could be a complaint or a request for some information. Shopping cart abandonment is yet another event!

Apart from this, it could be a one-off event that your business runs – a once a year deal. Like Amazon’s Great Indian Sale that we just mentioned, for example. This kind of thing can be a very successful effort on the part of the company. Think of annual trade shows – there is great build up and terrific euphoria when it happens. Or it could be a series of smaller events and activities that run through the year. Maybe a regular newsletter or virtual events or webinars – scheduled regularly at intervals.

Broadly speaking you could classify these into four main types of events – simple, complex, real-time and sophisticated.

Simple events include life-stage and lifestyle changes, product purchases, and professional life changes (e.g., job change, promotion, relocation). The marketer keys in these queries to search warehouse data in order to find the customers who meet those conditions. Queries could be something like “Give me the names of those who have had babies in the last 30 days” and have baby formula pamphlets sent to them. The customer feels special. And the whole process can be automated, so the marketer does not need to remember to do this at regular intervals.

Complex events are changes in customer behaviour over time. They are not very easy to detect at a glance. The marketer has to study and understand trends in the customer’s behaviour. A good example is if a marketer wants to know if some customers’ spending is increasing or decreasing over time. So he delves into the data warehouse using analytical technology and pulls out the information he is looking for by using formulae. And then he can reward a customer for increasing his spending or send relevant offers to someone whose spends are on the decline.

And then there are Real-Time events – which are of two types.

Real-Time Scoring events are normally web-based interactions. If for example someone buys a camera online, while the customer is still in session at the web site, he or she gets an additional offer for a tripod or a camera bag, as an up-sell or cross-sell message. This is driven from a pre-defined product profile – such customers can get a very Amazon-like “customers who bought this also bought at.” These Real-Time Scoring events are normally focused on a small set of data in a single channel.

The other kind of Real-Time events are Real-Time Delivery events. For example, if a customer calls a call centre, a notification comes to the screen of the call centre agent’s computer telling him or her what to discuss or offer to the specific customer. Or when someone buys a product on a website, immediately an email goes out to them with an upsell included. Maybe if someone browses the mortgage section on a bank’s website, the next time he goes to the ATM, he gets a notification of some special mortgage rates! Here the marketer leverages any customer event by combining it with additional information from the data warehouse, and responds with an enhanced offer for that specific customer. Now this could happen on the same channel in a different session, or in a different channel.

The marketer can now look at events that are beyond the customer touch point – events that could have an effect on the communication you might want to initiate with him or her. While the advantage here is that one can act instantly on any activity on a channel, on the flip side, it is heavily IT dependant. Also it is very easy to make a bad decision and send out communications that might not be of any value. It is crucial to first leverage detailed historical data/information along with the Real-Time event in order to make offers that are of genuine personal relevance.

Sophisticated events go a step further – into the realm of a customer’s needs and preferences, which would in turn, help marketers make better, more informed decisions with regard to communications, sales, and personal service. Any exception or deviation from the baseline norm for a customer over time is picked up and its significance analysed. Sophisticated events focus on one specific monumental moment in a person’s life which could lead to a huge change in a customer’s normal behaviour, state of mind, personal circumstance, or interaction pattern. The key here is to proactively identify these events as they happen or predict their happening ahead of time. The next step is to understand or analyse the significance of this event against a base-line period – the longer the baseline period, the clearer these exceptions, deviations, or significant behaviour are. The important thing is to clearly define what is truly exceptional versus what is normal in each individual customer’s interactions and behaviour over time.

Marketers need to remember that there is a big difference between a person’s change of circumstance and change of mind. For example, if a man uses an ATM in a different geographic location it could mean that he moved, or that he switched jobs or it could just be that he is travelling. So it is very important to think of all kinds of possibilities, then test and validate them – a marketer should try and figure out if such an event could lead to a customer change of mind and so affect his relationship with his business. He needs to know why the knowledge of a certain event in a customer’s life would be useful – or how it would add any value. Reaction time frame is important here – some events lose customer relevance and business value if they are not acted upon promptly. For example, if someone deposits about $ 25000 into his bank account – you cannot be sure if that is significant, in a context where many customers make such deposits regularly. So you add some conditions to it – how is this deposit different from his other deposits?  Did he make a large deposit today as opposed to the small deposits over the last 6 months? There needs to be a constant study of all the customer’s data to pick up any significant changes to an individual’s profile.

At the end of the day, the marketer needs to be careful not to see too much in too little and play ‘event detective’!

Image by leateds 

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