Event-Driven Marketing (EDM)

Event-driven marketing (EDM), also called “event-based marketing” or “trigger-based marketing,” is a marketing practice in which sellers cater to the specific circumstances of their customers. An event in this context is a change in an individual's life that can be detected or accurately predicted by the seller. In EDM, the best way to reach a customer is to send personalized messages about an event occurring in that customer's life at that particular moment. In order for the message to be relevant, the event must be of some significance and the customer must be contacted immediately, before the event is no longer current.

Sales results from using different CRM techniques

Sales results from using different CRM techniques

In event-driven marketing, sellers examine the transactional histories of their customers to determine upcoming events. Such events could be life changing, such as having a baby. Campaigns are then targeted toward those specific customers at those specific times. This marketing practice may be used for a smaller event as well. For example, in anticipation of winter, a seller might promote a sale on gloves by alerting the customer through e-mail.

There are several types of events. Significant events, such as a large bank deposit from a new job, indicate that the customer is likely to be receptive to communication at that time. Lifecycle events include marriage, the birth of a child, the purchase of a house, and other life-changing moments. In contrast, EDM can target simple, predicted events based on previous behavior, such as an individual's birthday. There are also trigger events, which happen to a customer today but are likely not significant; these involve binary actions, such as offering a magazine renewal before the current subscription runs out. Lastly, behavioral or super events, in which a series of events occur within a certain time or in a certain order (e.g., marrying, moving to a new house, and then having a baby), reveal a lot of information about the customer.

Sellers have always kept track of individual customer preferences to predict what potential customers will want to buy. However, this could not be achieved on a mass scale until the right technology became available. Direct mail—a related form of targeted marketing that involves letters, brochures, catalogs, and other promotional materials—began in the late nineteenth century. The development of computer databases and customer relationship management (CRM) software in the 1990s made it possible to send more specific direct mail, e-mail, and other communications.

Event-driven marketing first emerged as a specific marketing practice in 1995 at National Australia Bank (NAB), under the leadership of Fernando Ricardo of NAB and Ray O'Brien of Teradata. Before EDM, up-to-date information about customers had been limited, and NAB wanted a way to better anticipate customer needs. Ricardo and O'Brien collaborated on a solution, and their combined talents—marketing expertise and Teradata's ability to quickly load and process large volumes of data—was successful. In 2000, after NAB went public with their new marketing strategy, several other banks around the world implemented EDM practices. Since then, database, server, and CRM technology have continued to advance, making EDM possible via more machines, social media, cloud computing, and more organizations. The marketing practice has achieved significant success in retail, as the industry has recognized that critical events in the lives of customers can change their brand loyalties.

—Julia Gilstein

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