When the big event isn’t a sale

We’re heading into Columbus Day Weekend in the U.S., giving us a great chance to look at the fundamental changes that technology is bringing to retail. The new game is event-based marketing.

Big Sale!

A quick look at the LA Times shows who’s in the old game. The pages are full of merchants using discounting as impersonal enticements to come out shopping. The merchants want to move overstocked merchandise, maybe, but more likely are hoping people will buy non-sale items while in the store.

But this isn’t an efficient model. The stores have to re-compete each time for the same customer using ever louder advertisements on the web, emails, print and broadcast media. This is a dead-end game and a broken process but the standard model for those who haven’t invested in loyalty programs. And as a recent article pointed out, loyalty programs are about much more than discounts.

Loyalty’s real purpose

Preceding event-based marketing was trigger-based marketing, and it would be worthwhile to look at what that means: Rather than choose a date like Columbus Day and discount of x%, trigger-based marketing involves really knowing and understanding the actual customer, not just their demographic group. Knowledge of the individual allows key events in the customer and business lifecycle to combine with measurable changes in customer behavior, ‘pulling the trigger’ on specific marketing activities.

Types of triggers include transactional (a purchase or question), recurring (birthdays and other life events), behavioral (initiating new accounts, changes in spending levels), and threshold (amount spent, limits exceeded). Each of these has implications for retention, up-sell and cross-sell that drive profitability.

These triggers are monitored in technology systems that continuously watch for predetermined patterns and enable delivery of marketing activities with the best timing and highest relevancy. Getting those two things right involves doing things, not after the ideal moment has passed. It means reacting to the customer when their actions and business conditions indicate, not before and not after.

But we can do even better.

Anywhere, everywhere

We’re in an omni-channel world…social, , mobile, web, physical location (0nline, in or near store) and already moving beyond trigger-based marketing to event-based. Real-time, mobile and event processing technology takes the trigger idea much further. For example, a customer visits a website, puts things in their shopping cart but then abandons it. If they are within a distance of a local store, they receive an offer delivered to their phone for the things left in the cart. As you can imagine, the response rates are much higher when the system works one-to-one and not one-to-many.

While these sophisticated systems have a cost, it involves up front investment that has recurring return, unlike the traditional advertising model. Where graphic art and a holiday once dominated, information flow, predictive analytics, cross-channel integration and process automation are the new tools of effective retail. Where we once shouted, we now understand, anticipate and act.

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Categories: Data Analytics / Big Data, Loyalty, Patterns / Rules / Events, Real-time, Retail

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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One Comment on “When the big event isn’t a sale”

  1. October 6, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

    Trigger-based marketing is defined as a marketing technique that is based on response to a measurable change in customer behaviour or a specific customer action or an event that influences customer response. Assisted by technology, organisations can deliver personalised relevant communications on products and offers to each customer, generating a higher ROI. The key to the success of trigger based marketing is timing and relevancy.

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