event based marketing
March 4, 2017

Event based Marketing and why GDPR makes it more important

By Paul Laughlin

This week, I had opportunity to lecture at the Royal Institute. Ok, not really lecture, but share advice on event based marketing.

I may not have fulfilled a pipe-dream to give a Christmas Lecture at the Royal Institute, but it was a fascinating time. Over 40 of us were gathered there for another breakfast briefing sponsored by My Customer and Royal Mail Data Services (RMDS).

Compared to previous breakfasts, this briefing included more of a focus on GDPR. This was driven by both latest research (from RMDS) and the popularity of GDPR advice in recent blog posts here.

Following the same format as Gherkin briefings, after breakfast, I shared some findings (from that latest research) as well as advice from my experience. Then, we split up into 3 large roundtables to discuss the implications for delegates’ businesses. In line with my experience at recent DataIQ discussion event, at least as much insight came from these roundtable conversations. So, I was glad to see another event prioritise time for conversations.

Advice from a presentation on event based marketing

At a very high-level, my presentation shared the following information & advice:

  • Evidence for rise in use of Analytics & value being generated by such use
  • Despite that, marketers surveyed, still reporting challenges of acquiring sufficient new customers & retaining existing ones
  • Those marketers who do use Predictive Analytics, are much more likely to use propensity models for targeting
  • Some of the inherent limitations of propensity models & why timing matters in our own lives as consumers (events)
  • Low awareness of event based marketing & my own experience of helping clients make use of event triggers
  • Some of the barriers marketers face in trying to implement event based marketing (missing data, insufficient volume, belief models are better)
  • Data quality issues & why marketing leaders are needing to become data leaders in their businesses
  • Why GDPR & higher expectations for permission based marketing make event based marketing & relevance even more crucial

Following that presentation, we had engaging roundtable conversations to consider these key questions:

Which life-event triggers could be relevant for your marketing?

A number of the familiar life events were cited (including births, deaths, marriage, moving home, kids leaving home, death & retirement).

Some others, you may not have thought of, were:

  1. Contract end dates, policy/bond renewal dates
  2. Job loss or proxies for job hunting
  3. Additional house purchase (without moving)
  4. Competitor error (or negative PR)
  5. Children buying key items, like phone/tablet, on parent’s account
  6. Businesses moving office
  7. Rise in business travel or commencing international trading
  8. Moving into care home, or rise in medical costs
  9. Divorce or separation
  10. Granting of Power of Attorney
  11. Hiring of new employees or anniversaries of employee gifts/rewards

As we discussed, a key to identifying all the possible events for your customers is immersing yourself in their lives & journeys. Similar techniques to those we’ve shared previously for insight generation can help you first identify real world events in your customers’ lives & then work out viable data proxies/indicators.

Which barriers (if any) prevent you from using event based marketing?

There was widespread agreement around the tables that marketers did face barriers. Most did not currently use event based marketing extensively (apart from renewal date usage by insurers).

Here are the key barriers cited most often by the marketers present:

  • Historic use of propensity models (investment made & assumption this is good enough)
  • Lack of budget to test alternative targeting methods (assumptions that data costs will be high)
  • Lack of the required event data internally (need for external data spend, if can be sourced)
  • Gaining suitable permissions for use of event data (being appropriate for customer & valued)
  • Poor data quality of existing internal data (and/or poor past experience of external data quality)
  • Lack of Single Customer View, CRM system or data infrastructure to deploy event triggers
  • Need help to be able to pilot such use & prove the business case (before challenge status quo)

It became apparent during this conversation, that marketing leaders still faced a number of the limitations we have identified previously on this blog. Despite the media coverage of sophisticated scientific marketing or use of AI, there are still many marketers struggling with the basics of customer insight & better marketing targeting.

Would your marketing benefit from external data on life events?

Once again, there was agreement ‘in principle’ around most tables that it would. But, this was tempered with a number of concerns that would need to be addressed first.

Themes from this conversation included:

  1. A key is depth of brand relationship with customers, will relevance by welcomed?
  2. Most marketers recognised the damage done by talking to everyone about everything
  3. Some identified that it depends on the life-cycle of the purchase (less frequent, larger spends, benefited more from event triggers)
  4. Many leaders were already becoming concerned about opt-in permission impact & how could ensure had permission for event data usage
  5. As well as acquisition marketing, some marketers saw value in use of external event data to validate, augment or fill gaps in existing customer data
  6. Recognition that device differences have a key role to play in how & which event triggers made sense for a customer & when

Given the conversation had already started to focus on permission based marketing implications, it was natural for our next question to come back to GDPR.

Does your readiness for GDPR change the importance of you implementing event-based marketing?

Most attendees confessed to being only partially ready for GDPR. Many wanted further guidance from the ICO before committing to their strategy (wanting to avoid the trap of being over or under compliant compared to guidance or market reaction).

Here are the key responses shared at our discussion tables:

  • GDPR seen as a good thing (in principle) but also difficult to navigate at first (especially while ICO specific guidance has been late coming)
  • Different views on the appropriateness of re-permissioning projects (especially for customers who have been cold for some time)
  • Leaders ideally wanted a way to model or simulate impact of switch to opt-in permission capture (would do if didn’t cut marketable audience unduly)
  • Recognition of the marketing challenge to market the benefit of marketing permission (how word in best way, even if using legitimate interest)
  • Few yet knew how they would implement capturing & acting on permission for profiling (again a challenge to communicate this to customers)
  • Challenge to ensure have permission at granular enough level & that can evidence the specific permission gained for all data purchased
  • Most marketers wanted more prescriptive advice from ICO or industry bodies, especially on “what not to do

How are you implementing event based marketing?

I hope it was helpful to share those conversations.

What about you? Are you like the growing number of marketers who had not even heard of the term ‘event based marketing‘? Are you one of the, only circa 17%, who both understand event based marketing and are generating value from using it?

If you have a positive case study to share, I’d love to hear from you & share it as a useful guest blog post.

One thing is for sure, it continues to be useful for marketers to talk openly about their questions & what is working for them. Let’s keep sharing our insights too.