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We humans are creatures of habit. From how we have our coffee in the morning to the route we take to the grocery store to the businesses we frequent, once a pattern is established, it’s close to impossible to change behavior.

There’s one exception: the moment when a person’s habitual, auto-pilot path is disrupted through a life change. It could be on the small side, like the decision to buy a car, or more profound, like buying a house, getting married or having a child.

The key is: this moment, where everything is up in the air, is your best chance of getting your foot in the door with a customer. Your business can actually be part of establishing a new habit that includes ongoing reliance on and trust in your business. But how do you identify when a customer is in this moment of flux, and open to the opportunities your company offers? That’s where trigger marketing comes in.

Trigger Marketing in a Nutshell

In the simplest terms, trigger marketing is getting the right message to the right person at the right time. Marketers do this by identifying consumer life events that will trigger a specific marketing message. Examples of these events include everything from putting a home on the market, applying for a mortgage or auto loan, requesting an insurance quote, getting married, starting a family, graduating, retiring and even incorporating that new business. By identifying these events ahead of time, marketers can respond to those signals almost immediately with a series of pre-determined messages and offers.

With the advent of data gathering and analysis through trusted business technologies, trigger marketing provides a powerful way to automatically, seamlessly and effectively integrate with your customers’ life journey, fitting in neatly with their mindset and goals. This tool means you can place personalized, relevant offers into their purchase path and decision-making at the most opportune times possible.

While traditional marketing methods still work, they’re nowhere near as effective as an ongoing trigger program: according to Dennis Driscoll, business development executive with Deluxe’s data-driven marketing division, “Marketers will be four times more effective marketing to known needs driven by a life event.”

Moments that Maximize Response

When customers are in the market for a major purchase, or a major family change throws a previous way of living to the winds, it marks a moment when customers are reconsidering many aspects of their lifestyle, from budgets to where they live to their shopping needs. As a result, your perfectly timed offer can appear to be a gift from out of the blue.

By finding the ideal moment to intersect with your customers’ lives, you’re also minimizing your investment by not having to spend as much in frequency to catch their attention, simply because they are more receptive to your message at these moments. In other words: They are trying to find a solution to a new problem, and all you need to do is show up with a relevant, personalized offer. And that’s where trigger programs make all the difference.

Driving the Opportunity: Data

The data used in trigger marketing programs is the secret to these efforts’ success—data gathered by consumers’ behavior as they do research or start shopping for specific things, such as searches for credit, banking, investment and insurance products. Or it might be as revealing as a sudden shift in store purchases and shopping behaviors.

Data for trigger programs is compiled from a multitude of sources, both self-reported data that consumers offer up when they share email addresses, ZIP codes and other details, as well as publicly available data. To craft a fine-tuned balance of information to drive insights regarding the most likely prospects, many programs draw from a combination of the following: Registries, surveys, publicly available digital tracking activity, subscriptions, memberships, coupon/rebate redemptions, newspapers, court filings, public record filings, MLS listings, ecommerce activity, utility/telco connections and more. 

“The list of potential triggers is pretty long, and multi-sourcing makes a big difference,” says Driscoll. “At Deluxe, we aggregate data from a mix of self-reported and publicly available data to enhance coverage and timeliness. By going above and beyond what other vendors provide, we can usually double the reach they offer, with no compromise on lead quality.”

Lastly, Driscoll also stresses that it's not enough to have the data—you must also know how to analyze it and interpret what it means for your business. “Timely life event data plus predictive analytics that let you get to market quickly will deliver the one-two punch.”

Timing is Everything—and Then Some

Well-timed, relevant offers create four times the likelihood of a customer engaging with your business. In addition, they can foster an immediate sense of goodwill. At the very moment a person is consumed by worry about being able to afford a new car, or having life insurance to protect their new child’s future, or needing a new place to live, you can show up with a solution—and a well priced one at that.

However, your business is not the only option out there, and with all the resources available to consumers, they’ll find a solution to their need quickly. That’s why speed to market is of the essence.

“Businesses and consumers often don’t want to wait even a few weeks to find that loan or make that urgent purchase,” says Driscoll, and you shouldn’t wait, either. In fact, studies have shown that, while using life-event triggers can double your targeted reach and almost double your marketing’s effectiveness, this responsiveness declines 30%–40% each additional week after a trigger, meaning you have to act quickly with the perfect message, ASAP. “Waiting just three weeks from the trigger event can reduce responsiveness by 50 percent.”

To get ahead of this pattern in a proactive way, Driscoll recommends daily or weekly “always on” programs to his clients. “This means always being in the market to catch consumers as soon as something important changes in their lives—and responding quickly and consistently.”

Business-to-Business is Still Human-to-Human

While much of trigger marketing seems to be consumer-focused, the same principles can apply when your marketing is focused on B2B customers. “We use data to help businesses be more successful, timely and relevant with their marketing and offers,” says Driscoll. “Increasingly, both financial services companies and retailers of all types can anticipate needs based on the whole range of life events.”

Trigger practices can collect data pertinent to startups and small businesses, such as new-to-business filing information including new licenses, incorporation filings, proprietary databases of business ownership and change of ownership. Data that offers insight into impending changes at established businesses can also include industry information, regulatory and legal filings, and of course location information. By mining the information available, and using the proper technology and processes to sift through and identify the most useful data, your business can then translate this data into an affordable and implementable trigger marketing program that benefits both your potential customers and your marketing objectives.

One of the most powerful opportunities in trigger marketing lies in credit triggers. Financial organizations can reach out to business customers who are actively seeking credit for major purchases, whether it’s a mortgage or auto loan, a personal line of credit or a new credit card. More than 1 million credit inquiries are made in the U.S. every day, and having credit triggers in place ahead of time can signal the perfect moment to make a targeted opening offer of information to spark a new relationship, whether that’s through an email campaign, direct mail, or personal reach-out to a prospect

The Data—and Relationships—that Drive Deluxe

Trigger marketing campaigns work because they nurture a relationship at an opportune moment. Trigger marketing only works if your campaign is fueled by the right data at the right time. Which brings us back to relationships: as companies carefully navigate the balance between freely given information vs. risking losing customers’ trust, it’s crucial to have a partner who knows how to get the right data, use it appropriately, and still deliver maximally effective campaigns.

Driscoll has years of experience advising companies strike that balance. “We have longstanding relationships with all three national credit bureaus and know how to work with them on FCRA-compliant programs.” He also notes that, in a competitive environment where speed is crucial, Deluxe is able to offer value daily thanks to these enduring relationships with credit bureaus. “As the leading tri-bureau prescreen and trigger provider of credit data in the market today, we can match daily credit triggers to your customer file in our system. It’s completely automated, secure, scalable and is delivered through a cloud-based infrastructure that is remarkably easy to use.”

A Strategy That Continually Improves

We live in an era where access to data, and the technology to implement it in profitable ways, continues to evolve and grow. Year over year, the data is better, the speed-to-market is faster, and the ability to personalize in multiple channels is beyond what we could have imagined just a decade ago. Taking advantage of that opportunity requires speed and planning, but in the end, trigger marketing pays for itself beyond the bottom line, as it creates goodwill with consumers and businesses in their time of need, positioning your business in a hero role that will create long-term loyalty—and repeat business—for years to come.

Ready to learn more about how data-driven trigger marketing programs can help your business see four times the response on its marketing efforts? Contact us today.

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