Why customer profiling and segments of one aren’t the same thing – are you treating your customers as individuals?

Segments of one

Customers are individuals and brands need to treat them as such

One size does not fit all’ is a widely accepted nugget of wisdom in modern marketing, referring to the out-of-date tactic of marketing at everybody (or nobody, depending on your perspective). It’s widely accepted that spray and pray techniques are horribly ineffective and that sending out mass communications, without any consideration about whether your targets actually want the information you’re sending, can actually really annoy people. In today’s world, customers expect a relevant, personal and ‘non-spammy’ experience… In fact, they demand it.

To be effective, marketing communications should be tailored to individuals, regardless of channel, and that the best way to do this is through customer profiling. Customer profiling is a very important first step – however, it doesn’t provide marketers with the ability to market to individuals. It provides the ability to market to groups of similar people, which isn’t quite the same thing.

Customers are individuals and need to be treated as such. Customer experience is the key battleground in marketing and the best way to improve the customer experience is to be able to tailor it to the preference of each individual. This is where ‘segments of one’ come into play.

To be treated as individuals

To treat customers as individual segments you have to think of them as such. A larger segment may have several thousand customers in it, but brands still need to treat each one of those within that segment as an individual. Just because they’re ‘similar’ in some aspects to others in the segment group, it does not mean they are the same. They may differ wildly in certain areas (football team supported, car driven, political empathy – the possibilities are endless) and it depends on the original segmentation exercise – not only how detailed it was, but also what factors the brand chose to differentiate on.

Creating customer segments

This shows how important it is to conduct an accurate as possible profiling process that produces segments you can rely on and also demonstrates how critical the thinking behind each segment is – what are you trying to achieve with each segment?

To go further than detailed segmentation it’s necessary to be able to personalise or segment within each group. What you need, essentially, is a database with data about the customer that can be used for personalisation, a segment containing that person, and an automated process to facilitate communications using not only the segment information (i.e. what you’re trying to achieve) but also every scrap of data you have, in order to provide an individual experience.

Today’s marketers have access to so many different types of data and customers have more touch points than ever before. Each touch point – whether that’s social media, email, direct mail or SMS (to name a few) – is an opportunity to understand and know more about that customer. Other data that needs to be considered includes email references, social media activity, web browsing behaviour and purchase history.

Accurate customer segment data

Customer profiling

With multiple channels and touch points do you understand who your audience are?

The key is making sure you are collecting and accurately recording as much information and data as is available. Today’s customers create bucket loads of data – more than ever before. Every time an individual interacts with your brand is an opportunity to collect and record data that will help your communications resonate with them more in future.

Likewise you need to ensure that your pictures of customers are accurate and robust enough by validating the data you have is accurate and considering enriching with trusted third party data.

Marketing to the segment of one requires specific personalisation, in real time – based on accurate segmentation, customer insight and dynamic cross-channel capability. Only by having the right levels of technology and expertise in place will brands be able to harness the insights required in order to implement truly individual ‘segment of one’ personalised marketing.

The ability to market to a segment of one allows brands to communicate with customers on their terms. Providing a relevant message, in the right channel and at the right time – the Holy Grail of marketing – thereby increasing engagement, advocacy and loyalty.

For more on personalisation in marketing read How to personalise your marketing – four easy steps…

Experian Marketing Services is the leading global provider of consumer insights, targeting, data quality and cross-channel marketing. We help organisations intelligently interact with today’s empowered and hyper-connected consumers.

By helping marketers identify best customers, find more, and then coordinate seamless and intelligent interactions across the most appropriate channels, Experian Marketing Services can deepen customer loyalty, strengthen brand advocacy and maximise profits.