Where did it all go wrong?

I got to thinking about the successes in Event Driven Marketing, and I remembered at least 5 other major EDM projects that had not delivered the proper results and withered away. I started to wonder why some projects deliver dramatically good results and others simply fail.

Bank A


I recently met with the marketing director for a major UK bank. He asked me how some banks were achieving such good results using Events. He told me that his bank used Events extensively and that they got response rates of around 4%. My first thought was that the 4% sounded familiar. This is the level of responses that companies get by using traditional targeted marketing.

Anyway I was invited to do an audit of their marketing system and sure enough, the 250 ‘Events’ that they had weren’t Events at all. Most were simple static segments.

It seems that after listening at a conference his technical marketing group had decided Events were the next big thing and so they asked for a budget to do an internal project. They then set off happily to play and a year later produced a list of Events for the bank to use.

The sad fact was that, as they didn’t understand and had no experience of EDM, the results they produced were pretty unremarkable.

Bank B


This reminded me of a project I did in Europe with another bank. We ran a pilot and got good results. Nevertheless the bank decided to cancel the project. I was amazed until I discovered that the technical marketing group had told their management that they could produce the same using their own internal resources.

It has now been three years since this happened and the bank in question still doesn’t have an EDM capability. In fact, as the project failed to deliver results, the whole thing was dropped and is never to be spoken of again.

Bank C


Another UK bank asked me to provide some help. They had an EDM solution implemented by one of our competitors. The ‘Events’ were producing 29m leads per month for 3m customers. That is 10 contacts a month for each customer! No wonder their response rate was 0.08%.

In this case their vendor had good technology but no business understanding of EDM (or the processes involved).

EDM project


First of all, I believe any development project has three levels; overall management, the business requirements level and the technical implementation.

In the case of EDM there are three main steps to the overall EDM process; detecting the Events, determining the best leads to deliver and then communicating with the customer.

If we combine these two ideas we come up with a picture like this which shows the main areas for an EDM project.

This highlights the main area where EDM projects fail. The vast majority of them concentrate on the Event Software box (outlined in red). A bunch of technical guys run off into a darkened room and come out after a few months with some ‘Events’. No thought is given to the overall EDM process or how to communicate with the customer. As a result, the project fails.

The common factors in those projects that were a success is that they implemented EDM as a whole process which involved business throughout. Those that failed were simply an implementation by a bunch of techies.

Here is a picture outlining our approach to EDM, showing the areas we cover as part of our projects. You will notice that we cover not only the technical implementation of Events but also all of the associated business consulting and processes.

I am often asked, “If EDM is so good, why isn’t everyone doing it?” The answer is “Because it is hard.”

Implementing EDM is like any learned skill. The first time you do it, make sure you involve business at every stage and make sure you consider the whole business process. Better yet, get an expert to help.

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