How to Develop Triggered Customer Life Cycle Communications

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February 15, 2011

Using business intelligence along with triggered communications is the new rocket science behind digital and direct marketing. Identifying prospect and customer activities and behaviors that indicate the need for more or less contact, business intelligence is what makes everything else happen.

For example, using strategic business intelligence to detect when a prospect has moved further into the buying process allows you to trigger communications to influence the behavior of the individual.  Triggers can be simple or complex depending on your business, industry and capabilities.

Some common triggers include:

  • A prospect changing to a customer
  • A customer requesting a new product demonstration
  • A prospect’s status changing from “cold” to “warm” as identified through predetermined behaviors
  • A customer missing a regularly placed seasonal order
  • A prospect visiting your website multiple times within the same week
  • Online shopping cart abandonment
  • Algorithms and predictive models that indicate probability of purchase

Using Triggers to Initiate Multi-Channel Communications

With programmed business rules, triggers can then automatically initiate the appropriate actions, including automatic electronic and printed communications in the forms of: text messages, email, direct mail, and personalized landing pages (PURLs).  These individual communications can be sent one at a time, and can include highly personalized information such as product specifications and recommendations, industry-targeted case studies and testimonials, and satisfaction surveys to name a few.

Identifying and mapping the stages of the customer lifecycle, and then applying strategic direct marketing plans to build sales and customer loyalty are worthwhile activities. By identifying the critical communication points for each stage of the customer lifecycle, and then deploying relevant, triggered communications at those key points, direct marketing can positively influence the lifetime value of the client by increasing sales and the length of the relationship.

Creating Your Customer Lifecycle Communication Strategy

Developing a solid triggered lifecycle communication plan begins with universal principles:

  • Who wants or needs to hear from us?
  • What do they need to see or hear to make a decision?
  • What are they trying to decide? It is not necessarily just a purchasing decision.

Other important aspects to consider:

  • When do they need to see or hear the information?
  • Where would they like to receive the information: in the mail, via personal visit, telephone, email or The internet?
  • Understand why they want or need the information to make sure the communication is relevant and speaks to their situation.
  • How much information is needed?  Too much, and the person loses interest.  Too little, and the person doesn’t get what they need.

Buying processes are becoming longer as both consumers and businesses carefully consider each purchase, and for sophisticated products and services it can take months to more than a year to close a sale. Poorly timed digital and direct marketing processes that try to force a prospect into a premature purchasing decision will cause the prospect to become annoyed with the communication. They will assume future communications are irrelevant and will eventually “tune out” all attempts at engagement. Aligning triggered direct marketing efforts to the customer buying process was critical for success.

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