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Data and Marketing Best Practices – Life Event Strategy

by Scott Hoffman on September 14, 2010

“Everything Changes when you have a Baby” – famous quote from my Wife.

For decades, direct response marketers have been using data & statistical models to determine how to predict human behavior. They’ve built proven models that can help a marketer reach a highly targeted audience with a high degree of reliability and show that audience a message that has a higher probability of success than a random untargeted message. In marketing cycles there is no greater opportunity to speak to a consumer than when the consumer is going through big changes, called Life Events. This is also call Life-Stage Marketing. The easiest way to see this at work in real life is to have a baby (although my wife would argue that this wasn’t easy.)

Having a Baby is a major life event, it changes everything. The direct response industry knows this, and takes full advantage of the changes in our life. Overnight, the products that are relevant to raising a child – diapers, baby food, infant clothing – become a necessity.

The day that my wife and I had our first child, we were targeted with marketing messages designed specifically for a new parent. The hospital gave us a sample pack of items that would be needed for the baby, and for us as new parents. Free subscriptions to Parenting magazines were sent to our home.

Finding the correlated products

The types of products that were marketed to us went beyond Baby items. The direct response industry has statistical models that clearly show the series of marketing opportunities that are associated with major life events. These marketing opportunities are correlated Events like having a baby, there are many things you’re likely to need to buy. Having a baby frequently is followed by purchasing a new (and safer or more spacious) car, SUV, crossover, or minivan. Life insurance is another highly correlated purchase.

Data is the enabler of life event marketing. I would even argue that life event marketing is dependent upon successful data capture and analysis. Currently, data allows us to understand what are the correlated purchases to each life event. In the near future, with sources of data becoming abundant (especially in the online space,) marketers will be able to determine with greater accuracy when a consumer is about to enter into a life event.

Finding the Right People

Life event marketing is an excellent example of how data can be used within marketing, to improve marketers results and deliver relevant offers to a consumer. Data can be used to understand correlated purchases. Data can also be used to identify those people who are undergoing Life Stages. Online data, which is becoming more readily helps us pinpoint exactly which stage of their Life Event they are in.

For example, it’s relatively easy to find new homeowners. What about new-home shoppers? When a house is purchased, information is publicly available. When a couple begins looking for a house, it’s registered only in their own minds. However, their behavior clearly reveals their intentions. A new-home shopper begins to look at mortgage calculators, real estate listings, perhaps contractor listings. An Internet connection invites exploring ideas before making a formal commitment to them.

Communicating the Right Way

One school of thought says people first make decisions about the type of life they want, then seek opportunities to experience and express that life. Someone decides he has or wants an artistic life. Then, he’ll look for gallery openings to attend. The Internet accelerates and amplifies the process by providing people with an ability to try on different lifestyles with little risk and virtually no commitment.

During a life-event transition, this behavior is accelerated and amplified. Internet marketers should ensure their products and services are represented as attractive candidates during these critical try-on sessions.

For these consumers, everything is new. Brand names, product categories, price ranges… everything. The winning brands are the ones that seek to partner with consumers through a rapid-education process. The losers are the ones that try to take advantage of confusion to make a quick sale.

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