A guard of honor passes out as Queen Elizabeth II rides past during the trooping the color parade, 1970

In Marketing, as with Comedy, timing is everything.

A Significant Event is a major happening in a customer’s life. They can lead to a measurable change in a customer’s normal behaviour, state of mind, personal circumstance, or interaction pattern with the Bank. It offers the bank a reason to communicate with the customer, with a relevant proposal, at the right time. Events increase the knowledge, understanding and information about a customer that enables the Bank to make better, more informed decisions.

An “Event” is defined as a change in an Individual’s circumstances today which is significant, either in fact or in their mind. The three key words here are Significance, Individual and today.


Many systems work by setting triggers such as for a deposit of €10,000. This may or may not be significant. For example, let’s look at two imaginary customers: Bill Gates and Bill Doors. For Bill Gates this may be a common occurrence and he is just paying his Amex bill. For Bill Doors it may be an unexpected windfall, which will allow him to put a deposit on a house.

The trigger would catch both deposits, whereas the Event would determine that one transaction was significant and that the other was not.


Events are assessed against individuals not groups of people or segments. If we use a segment approach, both Bill Gates and Bill Doors are the same. If we analyse them individually, we can determine their individual levels and parameters of significance. This analysis shows trends that are specific to each particular person.


Once a significant Event has been detected the timeliness of customer communication is crucial. In fact, if the bank is not able to communicate with a customer within 48 hours of detecting an Event, they probably should not bother. Research has shown that the customer response rate decreases by about 66% for each 24 hour delay. An average response rate of 70% for contact within 24 hours is common. This drops to around 25% within 48 hours and less than 10% in 72 hours.


An example of a significant Event might be the deposit of a large amount of money. At this time, the customer is likely to re-assess their financial situation to cater for these new and changed circumstances.

They may consider moving house, purchasing a car, investing, opening a savings account for their child, etc. Thus, if a bank could determine an Event such as this in a customer’s life, it would represent an excellent opportunity to contact them in order to offer appropriate products and services.

There are many such significant Events in a customer’s life. But it should be noted that Events are not just for Sales opportunities and this technique can also be used to find many kinds of significant occurrences such as Attrition, Credit Risk, Anti-money Laundering and Service. Examples can include large deposit or withdrawal of money, redundancy, moving house, divorce, a new job, first child, etc.

You can read about the effect of Data Quality on EDM here.