Data giant Experian in late June announced the launch of B2B Marketing Triggers, a service that uses credit and marketing data to help marketers improve response rates in their campaigns by pointing them to targets most likely to respond to an offer.
The service uses information from Experian’s National Business Database to identify changes in a business’ demographic information and credit behavior. Identifying various types of events can help marketers zero in on businesses that might be in the market for additional products. It can also help them steer clear of marketing to potentially risky business prospects based on changes in credit information.
There are 19 automatic "triggering events," including changes in a business’ name, address, phone or executive personnel, and several credit triggers, including "derogatory legal indicator," such as a late payment, and "recent high credit."
Triggering has long been a proven way for consumer marketers to lift campaign response rates.
Leveraging consumer concept
"On the consumer side, triggering has been in place for about five years," said Denise Hopkins, senior director of business marketing solutions for Experian. "Customers were seeing response rates doubling in some cases. We’ve leveraged that concept and brought it over to the b-to-b world."
"They and their competitors have been doing this in the consumer arena for some time," said Elana Anderson, a principal analyst at Forrester Research. "In the b-to-b space, I’m not aware of anyone who has anything that is similar to it."
Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) said it has had such a product available to business marketers for several years. "Congratulations, Experian," said Andrew Kapochunas, senior consultant-customer information management at D&B. "Welcome to the show. Alert services have been a standard product for us for many years."
B-to-b marketers can subscribe to D&B’s company monitoring services and receive automatic alerts advising them of any business or credit changes.
"It’s an early detection system for customers with 13 elements they can choose that can be used to monitor their target market," Kapochunas said. While Experian’s product can send the triggers on a monthly basis, D&B’s alerts can be daily, weekly, monthly, bimonthly or quarterly.
Another competitor, Acxiom, said it is currently developing a similar product for its b-to-b and b-to-c clients. "We are currently in the testing phase of the solution, and it should be introduced to the general marketplace as early as this summer," a spokesman said.
With the Experian product, customers choose which trigger events they would like to track. "A customer can look at 19 events and select triggers that are most important to them," Hopkins said.
Customers can use the product to identify targets for marketing campaigns or to customize a campaign that is already "in their cycle," Hopkins said. "It gives the marketer the ability to look at specific events and find the ones that are most important to the product they are marketing."
If a marketer is promoting office products, for example, and there is a new address for a business, it might indicate the company needs more office supplies following a move.
"Customers can actually set parameters so that they can customize it for their use," Forrester’s Anderson said.
tracking triggering events
Hopkins said about 3.5 million of the 16 million businesses Experian monitors have some kind of triggering event every month. In addition, clients can sometimes take up to 60 days to mail a campaign after obtaining a list.
"We can push out to our customers the changes that have occurred," Hopkins said. In that way, campaign costs can be reduced by decreasing the number of offers that are returned or rejected due to old data.
Part of the reason Experian is now able to offer the new triggering service to clients is its implementation of what Hopkins calls a "persistent ID."
"It’s our business identification number in the national business database, and it allows us to be able to identify a business over time as changes occur in the business," Hopkins said. "That capability is critical to triggering. You need to recognize it’s the same business, but the name has changed [for example]. The business ID number allows us to do that today."
In addition, the company’s National Business Database was re-engineered in October, which gave it the ability to better manage the data and offer b-to-b triggers. "What really is powering the service is the National Business Database and the Business Credit Database," Hopkins said.