Andrew Davidson
Andrew Davidson is SVP, Chief Insights Officer for Mintel Comperemedia, an expert in consumer and marketing intelligence.

“Still looking for girls’ rain boots? Here are a few styles to consider,” exclaimed an email from that prominently displayed a pair of pink Mattel Barbie Rain Boots along with eight other colorful styles that are “picks for you.” Anyone who has shopped on is familiar with this type of behavioral trigger based marketing (also known as event-driven marketing) which, more often than not, piques the recipient’s interest – after all you can’t argue that these aren’t relevant communications.

Trigger based marketing is not new but it is becoming more important as consumers increasingly expect hyper-personalized messages to be served up to them via their preferred selection of channels. In the credit card industry, behavioral trigger campaigns via email and direct mail can be categorized into three broad areas:

Trigger: Inactivity

Response: Reminders to activate, promotional pricing and upgrades urge activity.

Who’s doing it: This is the most common type of trigger based marketing in the card industry. Here are some typical strategies employed by card issuers that have been captured recently on Comperemedia:
1) Reminder to activate e.g., :”Activate the awesomeness” – Capital One
2) Send a new card e.g., Chase Slate
3) Send balance transfer checks e.g., Sears MasterCard
4) Lower the APR and offer an additional 2% cash back (limited time) e.g., U.S Bank
5) Offer the choice of an upgrade e.g.,Capital One Venture or VentureOne
6) Automatically upgrade the card e.g., BankAmericard Cash Rewards

Trigger: Unused benefits and services

Response: Activity or lack of activity online and the purchasing of services trigger benefit reminders

Who’s doing it: Increasingly popular as issuers add online services and additional benefits. Capital One and Chase have been using trigger campaigns to encourage customers to go online. “Skip the phone call” said Capital One in an email to a customer prompted by a call to the customer service center while a recent online payment by a Chase cardholder triggered an email that said “… are you aware of all the convenient ways that you can manage your account online?”

Trigger: Recent Purchase

Response: Customers are reminded of card features and offered incentives

Who’s doing it: The least common type of trigger with the biggest opportunity. Citi emailed customers who made a recent purchase on their Citi card, calling out the retail store by name and prompting customers to see if they could get a better deal with Citi Price Rewind. Lowes private label cardholders were sent a direct mail offer, triggered by a recent purchase, inviting them to take advantage of special financing.

The Opportunity for Card Marketers

  • Trigger marketing is still a niche strategy in the card industry and adopting a trigger based marketing approach will enable issuers to provide more relevant offers that stand out in an increasingly cluttered digital environment.
  • Most credit card trigger based marketing is based on negative behaviors such as inactivity or lack of usage. There is an opportunity for card issuers to focus their trigger based marketing efforts on positive experiences such as usage and spend behavior. Doing so will likely lead to increased customer engagement and loyalty resulting in a better return on the marketing dollar.
  • Card issuers can look to retailers for inspiration and ideas. Leading retailers are at the cutting edge of trigger based marketing (think indoor geolocation) and increasingly card issuers are looking out-of-category to learn from companies, like, that are known for providing a superior customer experience.

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Andrew Davidson is the Senior Vice President of Mintel Comperemedia. Andrew uses his 20 years of financial services research experience to provide insights to clients around key trends and industry marketing activity, helping companies understand and react to an ever-changing competitive environment.