When it comes to marketing today, whether at the local or national level, online or offline, knowledge of consumer behaviors and life events has become an essential tool for customer acquisition and retention. Because these life events are often significant preplanned milestones- such as moving or buying a home, having a baby or changing jobs-they typically trigger corresponding purchase decisions. This offers marketers a valuable opportunity to reach existing customers and potential new customers before their competition. But the key to success is reaching these customers in a timely manner.
Oftentimes these pre-calculated life events can predict future consumer needs and behaviors. A lot of time and money is spent focusing on search, but insight into a consumer's life events can help reach the appropriate customers before they begin their online search.
For example, we know that consumers are significantly more likely to purchase a digital camera in the months after having a baby. Leveraging prenatal and new parent data can help reach these consumers first, so when they go online to research the latest digital camera offerings, they go directly to your website or search for your specific brand.
New mover insight can also be a predictor of future behaviors and needs-and proves how offline data can be used to inform online activity. As more clients interact with their customers and prospects through digital channels, the accuracy of their customer addresses will decline. This becomes an issue because demographics, segmentation tools and analytics are often driven at the geo-level. An inaccurate address can mean an inaccurate picture of your customer or segmenting your customers and prospects incorrectly.
With advances in data compilation and analytics, marketers can now detect life events as they occur or even predict certain events before they occur and adjust direct marketing efforts so they are more timely and relevant. Up-to-date and accurate information from a data partner can help marketers adjust to consumers' life events as they change. Consumer product companies have used segmented data for years to predict consumer behavior, while other industries, like insurance, have typically relied upon mass advertising-casting a wide net over an audience-with the hope that their brands and messages will hit and resonate with their targets. This approach has become less effective as the number of advertising channels has grown and audiences become more and more fragmented.
Drawing upon a wealth of critical information, data providers can offer marketers detailed, multidimensional views of consumers and households. More and more, the use of sophisticated analytics is helping marketers proactively enhance customer files on a regular basis, in turn allowing them to identify and reach highly desirable and profitable groups of consumers with messages that are better matched to their needs.
A good data provider can offer the market insights necessary to reach consumers who are ready to use or purchase products and services similar to yours. This information is centered on life events, with several subsegments that detail the type of life event, such as those who have recently moved, new homeowners and new parents. An effective data partner can assist in building a custom database model that uses ongoing metrics, measurement and ROI assessments, enriching existing databases with real-time life events data services and helping to design a direct marketing campaign that more successfully targets customers.
A skilled data provider can also bring value-added information and expert analytical consulting to marketers, enabling them to create a cost-effective program that achieves marketing goals at both the national and local level. Although there may be higher per-consumer identification costs to using this sophisticated data, marketers can expect lower overall marketing costs as a result of higher response rates and percentage of leads converted.
Bucking a national trend toward diminishing use of direct mail, industries such as insurance and telecommunications are actually expanding their use of this form of marketing. Insurance direct marketing-driven sales are expected to grow at a rate of more than 7% a year through 2012. While employing life event analytics does add to the cost of direct marketing, it also offers tremendous advantages, enabling marketers to be extremely targeted in their audience segmentation and product and service offers. Unlike online marketing efforts, where identifying the prospect and measuring campaign performance can be challenging, direct mail driven by highly relevant life event analytics offers accurate, measurable and targeted results.
The use of life event marketing analytics is helping marketers compete in a tough marketplace and economy. Analytics can be instrumental in helping to ensure product and service innovations are meeting the needs of current customers, as well as identifying the needs of prospects at the very moment significant changes occur in their lives and when they are most interested and receptive to hearing from the provider.
Kevin Akerman is the senior director of global product development at Experian. He can be reached at 714-830-5981 or firstname.lastname@example.org