Trigger Marketing: Start With The Money

Human nature drives us to seek a response to a behavior. Consumers are wired to expect more — positive or negative — during digital experiences.   Some generations, this is an expectation, some a requirement and some are pleasantly surprised when response matches anticipated needs.   The challenge is to be contextual in this exchange.   

Sound visionary?  Not really! In the late 1990s,  when I was wearing a marketer hat, our BEHAG (Big Enormous Hairy Audacious Goal)  was to “own the point of intermediation” — which was when the customer interacted with our brand online.  This was very early Web, ecommerce and building online content, so the technologies were a bit of a nightmare to contemplate delivering this at scale. Yet having a BEHAG like this forced us not just to think about the consumer or the content, but how we could make the most of the interaction and value exchange and, the ways we could sustain it.  



The biggest change between then and now is, everyone expects this to happen now. Not to mention, those were the Palm Pilot days, not the always-on world we live in today.

I believe trigger marketing is how everything will run in the future.   Some think it’s about intelligent, predictive communications based on 1:1 events. It is, and then some.  As we begin to explore new devices that aren’t as “smart” as our mobile phones, we will be deluged with signals that mean something — but, left alone, are simply signals that tell an incomplete story.  The possibilities are simply endless, but the principles of applying, delivering and optimizing interactions and triggers based on some behavior won’t be. So you’ll need to start thinking about this strategically.  

We spent a better part of a decade selling people on the value of consumer preference centers and the ability to manage what we want, when we want it, and how often we want it.  Yet we aren’t signed up for five newsletters as we were 10 years ago — we are getting content from all the apps we have on our phone, all the sites we are signed up for, all the brands we do business with, and more. I believe this model will be valuable for member loyalty and rewards management, but there are just too many things for consumers to manage digitally to be that vested in this way.

Triggers! Are they the the pulse of engagement and the future of how to consistently deliver next-gen experiences?  Yes! The challenge with triggers and automation, much like that of direct marketing, is knowing enough to make decisions on what to trigger, and when to change this. Do you have enough data to support a path for EVERYONE, or are you relegated to segments, cohorts and groups?

Start with the money!  You can’t solve world peace by trying to understand 20 billion people’s needs. You must start with high-value customers and low-risk audiences. Simple enough, right?   

While triggers and automation are grand for key interactions — shop, buy, browse, download, loyalty rewards — you have the opportunity to test very aggressively in high-value and low- risk segments. The question is, what do you test?  What increases purchase, or cart value?   How about where and how users will engage, and whether device makes an impact? Today’s methods of A/B/multivariate testing will be fine for some, but not likely be efficient enough for others who can’t sacrifice revenue while they “learn.”    

Where do you start then?  It starts with asking the right questions and expecting the right results.   The difference between a local coffee shop’s marketing challenges and a Fortune 500  company’s challenges is simply the size of the cup that you put the problems in.   

Simplify the complex and take a risk or two.

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