So Long, Segmentation

It's hard to be a marketer in today’s landscape, where consumers are often facing information overload. How do you get your message across? And via what channel? Email has long been -- and still remains -- the most effective communication mechanism, but too often the message doesn’t resonate with its recipient, usually due to poor targeting or segmentation.

In fact, segmenting users by demographics paints an incomplete picture. Not every 25- to-35-year-old male wants to receive information on the newest model of Audi, nor does a honeymoon-related email, inadvertently sent to a single bridesmaid, provide anything but frustration for the user.

Segmentation as a marketing tool is inherently flawed; we are individuals with unique likes and dislikes, and it is reductive to think we can simply be lumped into groups based on age, gender, socioeconomic or geographic factors and expect achieve “tailored” messaging. In short: Segmentation is not personalization.

Personalization technology



Fortunately, today’s technology allows companies to go far beyond the limits of traditional segmentation, empowering brands to personalize communications based on user actions: the links they click, what time of day they are active, and even what device they’re using. Savvy marketers are turning to technology companies that are redefining what it means to deliver relevant content to customers.

When companies deploy personalization services, they allow their customers to drive the content they receive based on their previous brand interactions. Smart technology analyzes users’ behavior, learns from individuals’ particular preferences, and applies that knowledge to communications.

These technologies have advanced to the point that they can react to changing behaviors in stride, identifying when major life events such as marriage, the arrival of children, career shifts, and relocations drive a fundamental shift in behavior and adjust accordingly. This process has become automatic, instantaneous, and scalable. Rather than simply speaking to aggregate groups, for the first time, companies can drill down to provide directed and dynamic messaging to each of their users one on one.   

Adapt to the marketing shift

To avoid being left behind, marketers have begun to adapt. In an article that appeared in MediaPost's Data and Targeting Insider, Steve Smith tells us that the understanding of personalization technology is limited, and early adopters of this technology have the potential to gain significant competitive advantage. After years of bombardment by irrelevant messages, users are opting out of brand communications at an alarming and unprecedented rate.

To date, most companies have confronted this trend by sending more email in the hopes of breaking through by sheer force, as if with a sledgehammer. But now, using the laser-like precision enabled by behavioral targeting, brands can entice users to listen simply by providing personally customized messages. Relevance is the key to making an impression and is where the industry is headed. The sooner companies embrace this fact, the greater the advantage they will have in retaining customers’ attention.

As more brands pursue an ever-increasing volume of messaging and embrace a diverse variety of avenues to make their voices heard, only the most relevant communications will penetrate. Companies must stop thinking of their customers as segments and must begin treating them as the individuals they are. By leveraging the growing mountains of data that individuals provide about themselves with every click, brands can reach their targets with tailored communications while protecting and respecting their customers.



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