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Posing questions around the danger of describing but not understanding

  • 3 min read

Customer segmentation is in danger of describing but not understanding your customer…

Who are these socio-demographic twins?

  • Both male
  • Both born 1948
  • Both grew up in the UK
  • Both have divorced and re-married
  • Both have grown up sons
  • Both are very wealthy
  • Both like to spend their holidays in the alps
  • Both are world famous ….

If they are both in the same segment, what would the potential results be:

If we used the same tone of voice?

If we used the same language?

If we used the same messaging?

If we even used the same timing?

Segmentation is very useful. It gives a great way of targeting customers and of grouping people who may respond in a similar way. Many organisations have recorded great success by using segmentation in marketing. In fact, the industry standard for campaign automation is a “waterfall” approach to target the audience for the message that is going out. Per the above you can now see the danger of describing but not understanding the customer.

But is this approach working as well as it could?

For a start, each of the wonderful messages that is created based on segmentation only reaches a portion of the customer base. The waterfall method by its very nature is about getting the smallest audience that will optimise the response rate. (The sweet spot on the gains curve.)

The chances of it being contextually relevant are also slim. Your demographic make-up only defines a portion of who you are. It says nothing about your needs and your intent.

What happens to the rest?

Beating the industry average response rates may be a worthy goal but it still masks the uncomfortable truth that the vast percentage of the people we target do not become engaged. It is a very “leaky” funnel as a prospect goes from open to click, to engaged, to sale.

Worse still, the focus is solely given to proceeding customers to a sale that little thought is given to the missed opportunity or, potentially, the damage done to those that don’t progress.

Do we really understand the customer then craft our message or the other way around?

Perhaps, if we can understand our customer needs (as they relate to our products), we can cast a “wider net” to discover those unmet needs and in so doing plug the leaks?