Ben Davis: Why is segmentation useful?

It is fairly obvious why the segmentation of a database of contacts can be a smart idea. In short, we are all different, and what motivates me might not motivate you.

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We also differ in lifestyle. If I was a pregnant woman, you might reasonably be expected to guess at some of the things I’ll be prioritising over the next year and beyond.These differences encompass the obvious ones, geography for example, or our demographics, such as what gender we are, how old we are and our shoe size or any other attribute one might ask for.

Most pertinently, we differ in our behaviour. This is marketing bread and butter. Communicating the same messages to lapsed customers, prospects, active buyers and your big spenders would be madness.

This thinking is not new, of course. Way before email came along, mail-order companies used the measures of recency, frequency and monetary value to determine who would be sent which letter or catalogue. This was as much to prevent wasted spend as to encourage sales.

In the last 10 years, technology has enabled many organisations to use fairly sophisticated marketing automation. Segmented communication to customers is rules-based and can therefore be automated. If I leave an online checkout without buying, it can be followed up with a related email. If I am a new registrant, I could be sent a series of welcome emails depending on the information I have disclosed.

Even with anonymous users, tracking technology can personalise advertising across the web, depending on all these characteristics.

So, how to segment in workplace communications? Well, the general principles hold. What are your goals? What data do you have and what data you need in order to target effectively? Is the data stored efficiently in one place and easy to use and update?

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Remember, the more you segment, the more time you will have to spend setting up messages. However, over time, these templates can be accrued and used again, perhaps automated. In the end, there is no limit to how advanced you can be with segmentation. Just start slowly and with attributes you think will remain fairly stable over time. Then you can move on to the clever stuff.

Ben Davis is content and community producer at Econsultancy (also part of Centaur Media, owner of Employee Benefits ).