As an insurance agent, you or your company probably already use traditional direct mail to help drive sales. Perhaps you’ve even heard of the latest strategy, known as trigger mail. In a nutshell, trigger-based marketing programs are designed to automatically generate a marketing message to prospects in response to certain actions they’ve taken that will change their needs – such as filing for a marriage license or registering a birth. According to the technology research firm Aberdeen Group, many companies report a 200 to 400 percent improvement in marketing campaign performance using event-based triggers.

Trigger-based marketing programs essentially capture data from clients and prospects and turn that data into executable campaigns before the window of sales opportunity closes. For example, a property and casualty insurance company might generate an offer based on a credit inquiry for an auto loan or a new mortgage. And with any number of life-changing events (e.g., birth, death, marriage, etc.) potentially affecting your prospects’ financial decisions, trigger mail could present many possibilities for expanding your book of business.

Why use trigger mail?
Trigger campaigns seek to eliminate much of the waste created by traditional push-marketing tactics, where marketers send unsolicited messages and offers to consumers. Because they’re driven by data rather than the constraints of individual media, trigger campaigns generally work across many different channels. In addition, trigger campaigns may lead to a better response rate while helping agents complete a number of other tasks, including:

  • Response management – Providing a mechanism to better satisfy consumer information requests.
  • Internal transaction history – Responding to known consumer purchase behavior to generate appropriate follow-up offers.
  • External transaction history – Leveraging known personal information to predict future behavior and needs.
  • Geographic targeting – Extending specific offers at precise times given factors such as expected need, available alternatives, and demographic and geographic variables.

Why does trigger mail work so well? According to the Consumer Focus survey by Vertis Communications, consumer response is driven by a combination of elements:

  • Timing – The ability to deliver an offer when the consumer is likely to be most interested. Trigger mail helps accomplish this by coordinating your offers with life events (e.g., births, marriages, moving, etc.), holidays, or major purchases (e.g., the purchase of a new car), heightening the chances that a prospect will find immediate value in your marketing message.
  • Relevance – The ability to deliver an offer that responds to unique consumer needs, desires, preferences, attitudes, and attributes.
  • Personalization – The ability to deliver an offer that is tailored to a recipient.

Trigger drivers
Triggers represent specific moments in time that offer a unique marketing and sales opportunity. These will often have added relevance to the customer because of other events happening in tandem. According to Aberdeen Group, triggers generally fall into six categories:

  1. External – Product development cycles, mergers and acquisitions, changes in market conditions, and competitive actions.
  2. Customer life – Birthdays, family additions (e.g., births or adoptions), home relocations, changes in marital status.
  3. Behavioral – New bank or investment accounts, changes in purchasing patterns, and changes in spending levels or account values.
  4. Communication – Company-specific announcements such as welcome packets or notices about a change in service.
  5. Online behavioral – Web-browsing patterns, information requests, and information captured as part of landing page interactions (these provide insight into consumer needs that can be matched to the creation of targeted offers).
  6. Expiration – Policy expiration and maturity dates (can be used to trigger a “loyalty” or “good customer” offer).

Types of trigger programs
Trigger programs generally take the shape of one of three formats:

  1. Notification programs – Used to alert customers to changes in service, account monitoring, and data breaches.
  2. Acquisition programs – Use events to create a new offer, often an upsell or cross-sell for an existing customer or an introductory offer for a prospect.
  3. Retention programs – Sent to existing customers; may be based on purchase behavior or account activity.

If your marketing relies heavily upon direct-mail strategies, you may consider looking at the events in your clients’ lives to create a trigger mail campaign that can help boost your response rates – and understanding how it works is the first step.

Debora Haskel is vice president of marketing at IWCO Direct, a provider of integrated direct marketing services. She can be reached at 952-470-3295 or debora.haskel@iwco.com.