According to the Office of National Statistics, every year an average of 11% of the UK’s adult population pack up their belongings and relocate to a new address, where collectively they’re estimated to spend more than £7 billion on home improvements within the first 12 months of their move.
What’s more, two-thirds of consumers will treat this fresh start as a chance to switch financial services, telecoms and utility providers. That’s a huge customer acquisition or retention opportunity for B2C organisations – if only they had early sight of this major life event.
Life event marketing
Much is being made about life event marketing as organisations strive to become more customer-minded. The accepted key to success is customer relationship building. However, I would argue that organisations must stop thinking in terms of the products and services they can sell to customers and focus instead on understanding the customer and their journey through life – how life events are likely to affect the propensity to buy or switch services at certain, predictable times.
For example, if your organisation is a bank – by becoming more aware of family members’ ages you can start to talk to clients and prospects about special offers on student borrowing, mortgages, car loans, insurance policies and pensions at around the time individuals are most likely to need them. In this way the hard, anonymous sell is transformed into a conversation, better deals can be more appropriately timed and the customer walks away feeling they’ve received a good service. This in turn leads to loyalty, self-perpetuating word-of-mouth marketing (if you’re lucky, via social media) and a decent spread of repeat business as customers come back with follow-up needs.
A nation on the move
One of the biggest life events, of course, is when someone moves house. Why? Because a lot of things happen all at the same time. Not only will people begin to review their existing suppliers – from utilities, phone and entertainment service providers – to a wide range of financial services. Home movers will also be actively in the market for move-related goods and services and will start to begin planning home improvements. It is estimated that UK house movers spend a colossal £7 billion within the first year alone on items such as DIY, furniture, fixtures and fittings, as well as personal credit and loans to finance it all. So this is very big business to win – or indeed miss out on.
Relevant goods and service providers have a huge opportunity to issue targeted offers to prospective new customers, as well as ramping up their efforts to ensure existing customers don’t switch away from them. In our recent survey, one third of marketers recognises that a customer life event gives them a reason to engage, but a surprisingly low number saw this as a new sales opportunity (15.7%) or a very real threat of customer churn (11.8%) (Source: Life, Death and the Gap Inbetween, March 2015).
How many consumer-facing businesses have timely insight into when customers are about to embark on a house move and, if they do have this insight, how many are in a strong enough position to act on it? With so many people on the move each year, there is also the potential for a lot of out-of-date customer data on a typical B2C marketing database, leading to a huge waste in promotional resources. The solution lies in good data powering any effective marketing – especially data that is fresh, willingly submitted, complete and permissioned for relevant communications and offers.
Helping rather than hounding
With strict, new EU laws set to come into force in 2016 and the threat of hefty fines on those who have not received explicit consent from their customers or prospects to collect or use their information, businesses will undoubtedly need to clean up their customer contact databases sooner rather than later. What better way to facilitate a quick and effective best practice compliance policy than using accurate, continuously validated and updated contact and address data from a reputable first party data provider? Not only will your customer data be squeaky-clean and compliant, but will prevent you from being a nuisance as a result of poorly targeted marketing campaigns.
As everyone knows, moving home is one of the most stressful life events, so what better time for B2C organisations to shine by using data-driven, life event marketing strategies to come up with the right advice, service or offer at the right time to ease that stress?
Talking the right game
Marketers need to demonstrate real insight into customer behaviour and buying patterns. This is hard to do when the very data they are relying on gives them neither the visibility nor the accuracy they need to run the timely, relevant and highly targeted and personalised campaigns that are required in today’s consumer-driven world.
Without good, fresh intelligence, campaigns will continue to be haphazard and attempts to match propositions to customers’ life stages and key events will continue to depend more on luck than rigour. As a consequence, the results won’t be where they need to be and the customer experience will suffer.
Think of it this way – right now, someone in your street is balling up newspaper and taking down pictures, already planning the new décor they’ll invest in once that new credit card they’ve ordered comes through. As they start cancelling subscriptions and disconnecting services, what are you doing to smooth their transition?
Or perhaps you’re too late and they’ve already moved on.