trophies lined up
PHOTO: Ariel

As ecommerce keeps on growing and customers keep on evolving, the importance of triggered marketing (aka real-time marketing) is at an all-time high. I recently wrote about the need to combine both real-time and batch customer data in order to maximize the value of this marketing strategy. The short take: triggered marketing is only as effective as the customer data used to shape and define segments, triggers and campaigns.

For example, a marketer can decide to greet a member of the loyalty program with a special offer when they arrive at the brand’s ecommerce site, while everyone else sees nothing. Or that a customer who viewed a specific product without ordering it will receive an email with reviews of that product, encouraging them to return and complete the purchase.

The messages in both of the examples above are triggered by customer behavior. But (there’s always a but, right?) there is a second type of triggered campaigns. Ones that do not occur as a result of an event taken by a specific customer. These triggered campaigns focus on helping customers, rather than just showing them you know them. Research shows that customers appreciate brands that use this second type of triggered campaign significantly more.

The Helping vs. Knowing Personalization Scale

Back in 2018, Gartner released research focusing on different types of personalization. They differentiated between “know me” and “help me” personalization. The report noted that brands which moved from the lowest to the highest quartile on the “help me” category saw a 16% lift in commercial benefit. If the same brands were to do the exact same movement in the “know me” category, they’d experience a 4% drop in commercial benefit.

The implication is clear: brands should focus on helping customers through their personalization efforts, rather than just showing customers that they know them. This extends to real-time triggered marketing as well.

Take, for example, one of the most common scenarios of the past few months: Customers arriving at a brand’s site, only to find the item they wanted is out of stock. Imagine the impact on those customers should they receive a notification once the product is back in stock. A great experience, considering the alternative — continuously going back to the website to check for themselves.

Related Article: Which of the Three Personalization Types Are You?

How Universal Events Help You Help Customers

Some marketers solve this by manually creating a list of customers who visited the product while it was out of stock, and then targeting them with a “back in stock” message once stock is replenished. This practice is outdated and non-scalable. This is where universal events kick in, and why they are the perfect complement to customer data for triggered marketing.

Universal events refer to non-customer-specific events, such as changes in inventory, weather or price, which impact a specific subset of the brand’s customers. In the context of triggered marketing, they refer to the ability to automatically identify the relevant customers, and trigger an action as a result of the event. None of this requires a direct customer action.

In the example given above, marketers could set up a triggered campaign to target customers who viewed out-of-stock products, once the product returns to stock (i.e., the universal event occurred). Marketers might also want to ensure that these customers have not yet purchased a substitute product (i.e., leveraging customer data). When the product returns, a campaign would be automatically triggered to all relevant customers, ensuring they are notified in a timely manner, sweetening their frustration from their out-of-stock experience.

Combining universal events with customer data allows marketers to take their triggered marketing from a “know me” personalization, to a “help me” personalization. The brand wins and the customer wins.