Event driven marketing – is it missing the customer drivers?


Shopping cart moving quickly in a store.As we all know, marketing today is moving fast (although everyone was saying that in 2005, and will be in 2025!) Currently, one of the “accelerators” is that of digital marketing, with real time event driven campaigns being one of the latest mantras.

For example when a customer puts something in a basket, maybe you want to offer them some additional products, or if they pass through a geo fence, or near an iBeacon, maybe you want to offer something that is nearby, in stock, at discount, today only?

These event driven campaigns have proven to be very successful, as the contextual information – for example what the customer is doing, or where they are at that point in time - is typically very predictive.  A customer within one hundred metres of a store is far more likely to go there than a customer one hundred miles away.

Some would have you believe that identifying all the correct events is all you need to do to be successful in marketing. I see that as a very short term, blinkered view of the world. It’s almost as if trying to manage your entire life on your reflexes, forgetting everything you have done in your life up to that point in time, ignoring everything you want to do in future, and not using the rest of your brain!  There are two reasons I think that justify this:

  1. There are many other dimensions to why a customer makes a purchase decision.
  2. What happened in the past, and what will happen in future is relevant….potentially extremely relevant.

Let’s take a simple example of a customer passing near your store, bank or retail outlet.  You can send a message in real time letting them know about the latest offer in store, and sure, that will drive some additional footfall.  But because customers aren’t living their lives by reflex, they likely will be thinking about so many other things, such as:

  • Is it easy to get there?
  • Do I have time to get there?
  • Do I need what they are offering?
  • Do I want what they are offering?
  • Is the offer good?

The event of the customer being nearby the store is really only addressing that first point.  It’s sad to say, but it’s reminiscent of the days of marketing decisioning where all campaigns were run by simple yes/no selection criteria.  Even if the event is relevant to need, such as a customer exceeding a limit or a threshold, it still isn’t addressing all of the things relevant to the customer.

My first point is that predictive analytics will start to address the last three decision drivers above – essentially the relevancy of the offer to the customer. Of course models aren’t perfect and can’t answer every question, but I’ve seen clients who are using models to augment the events.  These clients are getting significantly higher response rates (multi-fold) by using the combination of the real time event, and predictive models.

Now for some marketers, there is a small negative here – applying models reduces the number of customers contacted.  But that old-school approach of ‘more is better’ is easily outweighed by improved ROI, and less noise for the consumer – and actually, maybe the models can identify a better offer for the customer.

My second point touches on the relationship businesses have with the customer – especially the ‘history’.  If a customer drives by your store every day on their way to the station, do you really want to send them an SMS to invite them in for a special offer?  Every day?  If they visited your store in a nearby town already and made a purchase, do you really want to offer them a discount at a different store?  For the same product?  It’s important to know what has happened – the contact history you have with the customer – in order to make sure you don’t make inappropriate advances today.

Equally, it’s important to know where your relationship with your customer is going in the future.  If you have a big event coming up, such as a contract coming to an end (particularly relevant in the banking and telco industries) or a loyalty campaign about to drop (either on the door mat or in the inbox) – any message – inappropriate or not, could cannibalise revenue, or reduce the impact of the future message.

In essence this second point is that contact history, contact future, and contact policy can all help make real time events more relevant to the longer term relationship you want to have with your customer.

As I say, many of our clients are embracing the new digital world, and enjoying the benefits of making real time decisions, sent to devices that are more interactive and useful than ever. Start with our Real-Time Decision Manager page to find more information about how SAS supports these decisions.  You can also look at our Customer Decision Hub approach to managing customer interactions across all channels.  This approach adds all that valuable existing customer insight to these new channels, making interactions more relevant, and driving vastly more valuable customer relationships, which achieve long term goals more often.


About Author

Adrian Carr

Principal Business Solutions Manager

Adrian is a Principal Business Advisor at SAS, his knowledge of the use of analytics in business is both broad and deep, with over 20 years of experience in both vendor and client-side roles in marketing and credit risk at Lloyds TSB, Orange, HSBC, Marks and Spencer Money, Experian Marketswitch, and at SAS. At both SAS and Experian Marketswitch, Adrian has focused on optimisation opportunities in various countries around the globe spanning various business problems in marketing, risk, pricing and collections. With his experience of having been a risk manger, a marketing manager, and a modelling manager, Adrian brings pragmatism as well as improved performance to client solutions. Adrian’s education includes a BSc Honours in Pure Mathematics from Nottingham University, followed up with a PGCert in Operations Research from Sheffiled Hallam University.


  1. Informative article, I like how you elaborated on the real time events that connect the digital world with the physical. Sometimes it's hard to think that me driving down a specific street would trigger a custom email or text message but thats the marketing world we are going into. Thanks for the insights.

  2. Adrian Carr

    Thanks for the comments Jeremy, I think we are all starting to recognise that there is a greater blurring of the edges between the digital and physical worlds. I guess we need to resist the temptation to just use the latest 'toy' (or channel / communication device) exclusively and dump the old ones.....which is particularly relevant at this time of year!

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