Event Driven Marketing
“Always start from your customer”: How many times have you heard or used this slogan in
the last year? It is one of those catchphrases that are used without really using them.
Even in Direct Marketing (DM) campaigns, where the customer stands more centric by
nature, a lot of below the line activities are not customer centric.
If you talk about Direct Marketing, starting from the client, you talk about Event Driven
Need a crash course? Here you are:
What is Event Driven Marketing?
Egbert Jan van Bel1 describes Event Driven Marketing (EDM) as “a discipline within
marketing where commercial and communication activities are based on relevant and
noticeable changes in the individual needs of a client”.
What makes EDM different from more ‘traditional’ DM is that you start from the needs of
your client that he/she has at a given moment in time.
So, instead of starting from your offers and finding a group of people who are likely to be
interested in one offer (Product push), you start from one person with one specific need and
try to find an offer that best answers his need.
An example: you are marketer in a bank: In your database you see that a client could not
withdraw money from a cash machine because he passed his limit. This might be the moment
to propose him a flexible credit.
Customer centric with a targeted approach for an individual need.
A client action (which can also be doing nothing) triggers a commercial action.
For the client, his need is very personal. It is a concrete need he has at this moment in his life.
On the other hand, for you as a company, you have different customers (and prospects) that
have the same need (but on different times).
This means you can develop generic programs that cover a need. When you are able to start
this program for one client at the time he has the need, for him, this feels like a very welcome
and personal offer.
“The right offer” instead of “The right client”.
Traditional direct marketing campaigns start from a certain offer. Eg.: in a financial
environment, you want to launch a campaign to sell or upgrade credit cards.
Autor of “Event Driven Marketing, Op het juiste moment , met het juiste aanbod, bij de juiste klant.”, Kluwer –
With EDM you select one specific customer for whom you capture a need. Afterwards, you
find the best product in your portfolio to answer that need.
“The right timing for the customer” instead of “The right time for the organisation”.
The right time for the customer can be… any day for your company. This means that you will
have to identify daily which customer has which specific need.
When a client benefits of a heritage, he need a good advice and a relevant way to do
something with the extra money now and not four months later when it happens to be your
yearly investment campaign.
“The preferred channel” instead of “The chosen channel”.
“At the right time” is closely linked with “Trough the right channel”, because getting the
message in time with the best impact to your client means using the right channel. To fully
benefit of your channels, you need to have identified the ‘preferred channel’ for every client
(or even better: for every client-offering type combination).
Requirements for implementation.
In order to be able to implement an EDM program, you need certain conditions to be fulfilled:
a. Accessible client-interaction database.
To propose an offer to a client at a suitable moment in time, you need to be able to
capture this moment. This means that you need to have access to as many client
interactions as possible. Access can be both in a more technical way (where can I find
certain information?) as in a legal way (can I use this information for commercial
b. Automation of event capturing and initiation of commercial action.
When it is your mother’s birthday, you do not send her an anniversary card 20 days
after her birthday. The same goes for an offering targeted at a specific client need. If a
debt payment for a car ends at the first of April, the ‘extra available money’ may long
be gone on the first of May. Also for more generic needs (eg. Need of a flexible credit
solution), the success rate goes down quickly as time goes by. This requires you to
have an automated process that - ideally - starts every day various programs triggered
by client actions.
c. Contact management.
When you define various scenarios, the risk of over-targeting one particular client
becomes imminent. Before going live with a wide span of scenarios, make sure that
you develop and implement a contact grid.
d. An organisation that is ready for EDM.
People in your organisation (be it marketing, sales, communication,…) have to adopt
to the EDM way of working. Going from managing one huge nation-wide campaign
aimed at all customers at once towards a group of volatile, small day-by-day and
customer-by-customer campaigns is not that easy.
What is in it for me?
Competition becomes harder. We are not telling anything new with that. EDM has some
advantages over traditional direct marketing campaigns:
a. Higher response rate.
EDM typically has higher response rates than traditional DM campaigns. Not only is
the client more perceptive for your offer because you target him at the appropriate
time and trough the channel of choice of the client, you also gain by sending out less
b. Higher impact.
Not only do you leverage the response rate, you also have more impact on the client,
resulting in higher profit.
c. Possibility of testing.
In contrast to traditional campaigns where testing is either very expensive or nearly
close to a real campaign run, EDM lets you test new ideas for scenarios rather quickly
because, once the scenario is ready, you can select a limited number of clients daily
d. Ongoing adjustments.
Because you select a target group every day and send out messages every day, you can
monitor and adjust both selection criteria, scenario and message content daily.
Compare this to a traditional campaign where you can adjust these variables lets say
once every year…
e. Homogenous load.
With EDM, you level out the work load (both financial as in terms of human
resources). You divert the peaks of load in the start-up-phase of a new traditional
campaign to daily operations.
Limitations of EDM
There is no such thing as the Holy Marketing Grail. Also EDM has it limitations:
a. Type of organisation – sector.
You need to be able to design relevant, profitable and sustainable scenarios. For this
you need to be able to capture actions of clients and you need sufficient clients with
enough personal data. This makes EDM more suitable for some sectors than others.
Banks, Insurance companies,… can typically benefit more or faster from EDM than
b. Client driven – no prospecting.
EDM actions (except from some more socio-demographic triggered actions, with are
more loyalty based) only work for existing clients. Since you have no or limited
information on prospects and their actions, these potential customers are out of scope
c. Need of client action database.
Having a client interaction every day is one thing, capturing these interactions is
another. Being able to use this information in a standardized and automated way is
more then one step further. The most appealing EDM scenarios are nothing if you
have no accessible triggers to start them.
Pitfalls / Points of attention during EDM implementation
a. Make sure your organisation is able to support EDM.
If you need to send out daily mails to clients, make sure all departments involved can
handle this daily feed. Working 1 month toward one gigantic campaign is not the same
as sending the same load of mails evenly divided over the days of that same month.
b. Make sure your channels are ready for EDM.
Also here, make sure that your channels (from e-channels to sales force) are ready to
work with a day to day feed of different offerings instead of one offering for a certain
period in time.
The JOINED! EDM approach
The JOINED! EDM approach starts with an inventarisation of possibilities and limitations in
A second phase is the creative, strategic phase, where events are defined and programs
This results in a series of events (which can be Socio-demographic, transaction, product-
lifetime, contact,… based).
Defined events are allocated to clients when a client triggers an event. Before executing the
program, all events pass trough a filter, were you check the number of events with the contact
grid, calculate a prioritization, take a look at the event history, consider the clients preferences
and characteristics and various limitations of your organization.
In a final phase, a ROI model and dashboard are being build. The EDM approach enables you
not only to take a look at the ROI of one specific program, but also at the ROI of one
customer (or a group of customers).
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JOINED! internal research.
Event Driven Marketing, Ed Sander, Failsafe Database Marketing.
Event-Based Marketing Metrics, Bob Brady – April 2005
The Perfect Message at the perfect moment, Kirthi Kalyanam & Monte Zweben, Harvard
Business Review, October 2005
Event Based Marketing for Financial Services, Vipin Mayar & Nathan Uffenheimer, May
Enterprise Event Management in Banks, Umporn Tantipech & Simon Doherty, 2005