Top tips: Using Life Events in Marketing Campaigns

What does the perfect marketing campaign look like? In general terms, I would probably define it as exactly the right content delivered to the right person, through the right channel, at the moment that they are most interested in making a purchase. Thanks to advances in data science we’re getting closer than ever before to having the right information available to ensure that campaigns only reach the right people with the right content.

But how do you know when is the best time to reach someone? After all, you can only broadly define when people are more likely to be interested in buying something. Individual buying patterns are so personal and include so many different factors that it seems an impossible task. But what if there were a way to cheat – flags that someone is about to make a series of major purchasing decisions that are surprisingly predictable? Well, there is: a life event.

Life events cover when someone moves house, changes job, gets married, has a child, goes on a sabbatical and so forth. A life event generally represents a moment of great risk and opportunity for a business, because a life event is a moment when our purchasing behaviour can radically change.

If you move house chances are you will also review your finances, look at different utility suppliers, get new insurance and buy new furniture. You may also change your shopping habits, have a different commute and it could be the prelude to another life event such as marriage, a new job or having a child.

Surprisingly, according to recent research by the Royal Mail, few marketers realise that a ‘life event’ represents an excellent opening to reach a consumer. Only one in three marketers pinpointed it as an opportunity to increase sales. One explanation for this stat may be that marketers do not feel that they can identify when these life events will occur.

That brings me neatly on to the crux of the issue: life events are nothing new, what is new is our ability to predict when they happen and target the individual accordingly. Thanks to a huge tranche of information from social media, browsing habits and purchasing behaviour and advances in data science, it is surprisingly easy to see when someone is undergoing a life event.

The key is to monitor and analyse the information in real-time. This necessitates having a system where all available customer information is collected, stored and made available in way that a data science team can crunch the numbers. This information then needs to be immediately fed into a marketing campaign and the right message sent to the individual.

For example, the data may indicate that a customer is looking for a job. A clothing retailer can target that individual with a special offer for business clothing or shoes. Moving house? Utility suppliers can contact the individual with offers to tempt them to switch supplier. The list can go on from the obvious to the more subtle – getting married? Target the customer with gym membership offers or fitness equipment.

At this point, it’s worth sounding a note of caution. Any campaign based around actual events in a customer’s life needs to be balanced with maintaining privacy and avoiding the ‘creepiness factor’. The marketing campaign has to offer something that is of tangible benefit to the recipient because of the life event. Put simply, it shouldn’t be a message saying ‘Dear X, heard you’re getting married, here’s our weekly newsletter.’ By making the recipient feel special by giving them a genuinely good offer or invaluable information that will help them with the important change in their life will outweigh the risk of creepiness, increase the chance of a conversion and, crucially, build brand affection.

Life event marketing is going to be one of the major new factors in how brands communicate with customers. However, it is only one of a host of new techniques that have been enabled by new data analysis methods and better sources of data. The marketers and brands that will get closest to creating the ‘perfect’ marketing campaign are the ones that will invest money and time into data-driven marketing and be willing to experiment.

Article Written By: Simon Farthing