Vive la difference! Profile and segment to discover the who, what, where and when of marketing


In my last post I looked at bringing meaning to mass marketing. In this one I’ll be looking at how we do it.

So let me start with personal  experience. On the surface, most of my friends are just like me. Steve and Jane, for example, grew up in the same town, went to the same school and have very similar tastes. But if you look beneath the surface, they are actually quite different.

Steve dislikes social media whilst Jane lives on Facebook and Twitter. Jane is annoyed by marketing emails but Steve uses his inbox as a virtual shop window. Steve logs on in the morning and evening, and Jane flits in and out of social media at all times of day and night. Both love travel, but Steve has a weakness for exotic luxury breaks whilst Jane adores adventure holidays.

How then does a marketer distinguish the differences and similarities between Steve and Jane to understand: the who (consumer), the what (message), the where (channel) and the when (timing).

Segmentation is one answer, but traditionally many organisations have only invested in market segmentation which helps to identify groups with different needs but can’t then be mapped back to individuals to support prospect and customer targeting. This type of segmentation helps to create the right message, but falls short when trying to understand the people who will receive it. So we need to combine market know-how with consumer segmentation, which demands insight into both consumer purchasing and engagement behaviours.

A good tip is to go to specialist provider here, because it can be complicated if data isn’t your business. Experian’s Mosaic UK is a good example, allowing marketers to identify the customer types most likely to engage with their brand. With classifications such as ‘Suburban Comfort’, ‘Symbols of Success’ and ‘Blue Collar Enterprise’, suddenly you can see the lives your customers lead and how they are likely to behave. This is the foundation of any effective marketing strategy. We have worked with many organisations to use specific customer behaviours and market needs to reclassify Mosaic to build bespoke segmentations, with the crucial benefit that the resulting segments can be identified in the real world.

The second strand is to add in customer profiling — drilling down further into the individual. The good news is that most organisations already have the ability to distinguish between Steve and Jane using profiling — the bad news is that many don’t know it.

The key is to profile your consumers to bring benefit:

  1. Identify the data that drives your customer understanding and business objectives.
  2. Make sure that you collect this data effectively (perhaps refining online/email/instore sign up processes to get information on channel preferences, for example).
  3. Authenticate this information. This should be at point of capture (e.g. validating postcodes and mobile numbers) and, because databases degrade quickly, regularly thereafter.
  4. Pull together behavioural data on your customers such as purchase and communications engagement history and start to understand groups such as high and low value, engaged vs. not engaged and product purchases.
  5. Append third party sources that cross reference your data with national factors such as income, demographics and known behaviours.

Segmentation and profiling build an incredibly rich and detailed picture of your audiences. By understanding the ‘who, what, where and when’ your audiences get the messages they appreciate and are far more likely to become long-term customers.

Now you can reach Steve with messages about five star breaks perfectly timed to reach his inbox as he logs in, and Jane with integrated newsfeed and banner advertising on performance clothing and swimming with sharks holidays. Vive la difference!


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