What did you think about after your wedding?


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Nathan's weddingEnjoying the emotions of the event of my second son’s wedding, last Saturday, was the highlight of our family’s year.

After the drama of the ceremony (including the comedy of a fire alarm that wouldn’t give up), we enjoyed great food at the reception, moving speeches and then the joys of drink & dancing into the wee small hours. Everyone agreed it was a great day with brilliant weather.

Reflecting on this time afterwards, reminded me of the importance of such events in all our lives, including the lives of our customers. Whether it is getting married, the birth of your children, moving home or even (as I’ve had the joy of experiencing) the arrival of your first grandchild, such milestones impact us all.

Does our marketing or customer insight work always reflect this? Do you target your marketing on the basis of important & appropriate trigger events in your customer’s lives? Common practice can be to assume that the gold standard of targeted direct or digital marketing is to use logistic regression propensity models & perhaps optimisation across multiple models to determine next best action. However, think for a moment about your own life. Do you feel that you walk around with a more or less permanent level of propensity to buy something? Apart from perhaps coffee, chocolate or alcohol, I suspect not.

In our lives, is it really more about “events dear boy, events“, as Macmillan quipped? Different experiences and special occasions, that help us to mark out the progress of our lives, trigger us to reflect on other needs & aspirations. These can be as mundane as the annual renewal cycle for home insurance or as momentous  as the birth of our second child for considering life insurance or the need for a new home. In both those cases, predicting the timing of that trigger event will outperform targeting using any propensity model.

How long ago did you reflect on the right timing to talk with your customers? Does your customer segmentation capture the key life events that shape their thinking about new “needs”, where your products & services could help them.

Even beyond that, it is perhaps also time to acknowledge that the whole concept of an apparently permanent “needs based segmentation” is looking dated. Customers rarely have such semi-permanent needs, at least not ones which they are aware of or will consider at that point in time.

Perhaps it’s more helpful to think about the “jobs they want to get done” when the right triggers arise in their lives. Segmenting based on the jobs your products & services can help your customers to “get done easily” can be very powerful. Even more so, if you can combine that with behavioural analysis to predict the trigger events or actions that prompt such a job requirement.

Have you experienced this shift to thinking more about timing in your analysis & marketing targeting?

Paul Laughlin
Paul helps companies make money from customer insight. That means helping them maximise the value they can drive from using data, analysis & research to intelligently interact with customers. Former Head of Customer Insights for Lloyds Banking Group Insurance, he has over 12 years experience of creating & improving such teams. His teams have consistently added over £10m incremental profit per annum through improvements to customer retention and acquisition.


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