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6 steps to successful behavioral-based trigger marketing

Andrea Krohnberg
6 steps to successful behavioral-based trigger marketing Andrea Krohnberg

It's the marketer's dream -- delivering the most relevant message to the willing customer, at the right time, via the right channel. Achieving that dream requires a profound understanding of your customers and the capability to tailor marketing campaigns to fit their lives.

But it can be done -- through behavioral-based trigger marketing. Fundamentally, trigger marketing means communicating with customers at preplanned points in time. These communications aren't driven by dates on the marketing calendar. Rather, the customer decides when a communication occurs through prompts captured in a data collection and analysis system.

The beauty of trigger marketing is its foundational properties. With the right up-front planning and data analysis, followed by on-going "pulse checks," it can serve as the very foundation to a marketing program. It's always there, continuously updated, and constantly paying for itself by maintaining contact with your best customers. The payback, of course, is measurable. Continuous improvement allows you to keep migrating customers into higher-return categories and ultimately into brand advocacy. How do you make it happen? Here are six steps:

Identify the business fundamentals

Establish the critical business needs and strategic imperatives, such as engagement, retention, revenue generation, and other essentials. So much is happening in the lives of our customers that we sometimes forget to step back and examine what we're trying to accomplish for them. What are their core challenges, and how can we alleviate them? That prompts some fundamental information gathering. By focusing on the customer, the marketer can't lose. Reduce guesswork by letting the customer tell you what they want and need.

Investigate the data

Collect and analyze the data compared to the strategic imperatives to see if and where clear thresholds exist. The key is to gather information to help answer the questions in the previous step. For example, if we have customer retention problems, can the data help us understand why? To acquire the needed information, bring your data acquisition and analysis people into play. Evaluate what is available within the nooks and crannies of the organization, and find data sources outside as well, such as government filings, registrations, or public data. Dig to get at the voice of customer data. After all, whenever customers interact with you -- even in the smallest way -- they're telling you something. After data collection, dig into the data analysis. Look for trends, letting customers guide you down the path of what they want, what they need, and when they need it.

Initiate the development

Create a plan to understand the trigger points or thresholds for your marketing communications. Once clear thresholds, or trigger points, are identified, you'll need a project plan for engaging the necessary resources to bring the campaign to reality. These elements -- creative, operations, deployment, channels -- will all be easier because you've got the data to guide you. In your planning, be sure to include testing and measurement options for copy, visuals, delivery method, offer elements, frequency, and other variables. The data will help you decide what works and where customers are in their decision-making process. It allows you to optimize when the communications should be triggered.

Install the campaigns

Establish your engagement framework, being sure to constantly evaluate the hierarchy of triggers. The customers themselves will guide you through the data clues they deliver to you. If you're listening, they'll tell you how often they want to be contacted, what channels they prefer, and what the best timing is. Composition engines will automate the process for you so that the right customer gets the right communication at the right time.

Inspect the results

It's critical to establish a control group for each individual campaign and maintain a constant, global control group as well. These benchmark groups reveal trend insights and help identify successes and ways to improve. Then, your job is to learn from the data and establish scores for revenue and response. In the bargain, you can test for various creative techniques, from copy to photos.

Infuse the theory

Because customer needs and attitudes change over time, an ongoing review of your trigger marketing program should be incorporated into the regular business process. Triggers aren't seasonal or one-off projects. They should be part of the company marketing culture.

Trigger marketing can be your constantly humming engine. Through the measurability of trigger marketing, your annual marketing budget can reflect how trigger-generated ROI can be the foundation of the marketing campaign. Resist the temptation to get caught up in new ideas or campaigns if they come at the cost of maintaining the trigger campaign.

Andrea Krohnberg is the engagement strategist for Bridgz Marketing Group.

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"A blue dart hits a bulls-eye" image via Shutterstock.


to leave comments.

Commenter: Ishana Sundhar

2014, January 30

I agree Jon. This certainly was predictive almost. In fact, at that point of time everyone was discussing basics like in this post http://bit.ly/1ea3f0Z . Andrea was clearly able to see and articulate in an in depth manner

Commenter: Jon Tonti

2014, January 27

Great article by Andrea, since she posted this in May of 2012, I am going to say she was ahead of her time - everybody is talking about Triggered Marketing now. Something really important that also needs to be mentioned is that (as the reader probably realized) Triggered Marketing needs pretty complex supporting marketing technology if it is to be done at any kind of scale. To be able to ingest all the data on which triggered marketing (email or direct mail usually) is based and then push out sort of "mass personalized" messaging, it takes some decent technology infrastructure. Brands have to do this for their retailers, resellers, VARs, outlets, etc. or else their indirect sales channel partners will not have a chance to take advantage of this very powerful marketing medium. The company I work for built a triggered marketing tool http://www.sproutloud.com/features/triggered-communications exactly for brands to be able to do this with and through their local channel partners. I just want to mention it here so that people know it is not out of the reach of big brands to be able to carry out triggered marketing on behalf of their channel partners. Please let me know what you think, thank you.