Everyone is familiar with the Chinese saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
It’s commonly used to explain how large efforts start with a simple, single effort. In modern marketing, we can apply this same idiom to starting your customers’ journey. And their journey begins when you capture their attention and engage them to take that first step.
Currently, there is so much focus on the journey itself that the critical first step to engage them is often overlooked.
Your marketing initiatives start the customer on that journey by targeting the best segments of customers and prospects that qualify for your offers and are likely to find them relevant and timely. They can be as simple as a single segment of a marketing list, a data stream of segments to the web, or a complex mail list with an array of segments/cells each assigned different offers and treatments.
A segment could include new customers or buyers to receive a bounce-back (i.e. return purchase) offer. It could be a segment of current resort guests who qualify for an upgraded spa package during their stay. Finally, a segment may be a prequalified credit segment with subsegments/cells that can receive a variety of credit card offers based on their risk score.
What you need to create high-performing segments
The quality of your marketing engagement starts with, and depends heavily on, how well you understand your various customer segments and your segmentation plan. The better you understand your prospective customers and customers, the better that plan can be.
It’s all about your data.
The data points you should capture to support segmentation include:
- Customer and prospect data – The best segments rely on great data. You should have a customer or prospect database that includes demographics, transactions like past purchases, and behaviors including web visits, service calls, etc., to drive segment membership. You likely already have this data in an in-house database collected from your operational purchasing and customer service systems as well as from your apps and web sites.
- Scores – Enhance your customer and prospect data with tendencies and preferences reflected in cluster analysis and propensity, customer value, loyalty, risk, and other scores to help inform and refine your segmentation plans. Scoring also allows you to partition customers into subsegments of customer value, revenue, or propensity within homogenous groups.
- Buyer Profiles – Using the data of existing customers along with their past campaigns, purchases, scores, and other behavior will help you develop best customer profiles by business category, brand, or even down to the product to further refine your segments and align them with your products and services.
- Exclusions – As important as it is to understand the profiles of your best customers, you should understand who you do NOT want to market. An organization should always apply overarching exclusion segments to eliminate high risk, opt-outs, unqualified individuals, and invalid customers and prospects. Note, some of these exclusions may even be dynamic based on the type of product, the offer, and the execution channel (e.g. email, call, mail, and door-to-door opt-outs).
- Personas – Adding personas to your segments provides a representative customer character with a personality, motivations, pains, and goals that are beyond demographic data points. This personification of your marketing segments will drive your creative messaging, content, personalization, and the supporting advertising to better deliver more personal appeals and offers to the target customers and prospects.
Distribute your segments across touchpoints and time
The customer journey is not controlled by the marketer. The customer decides the time and place to engage with your marketing. This means that your offer and supporting content must be available to the customer where, when, and how they want.
The best way to do this is to send an initial series of messages over time to qualified customer and prospect segments using the best direct marketing channel. This repeated primary effort drives the number of responders you need to engage with you. These same segments should also be distributed with their messaging to supporting inbound channels including customer service, operational systems, mobile apps, websites, as well as online advertising systems (e.g. DMPs).
So, no matter how the customer wants to travel in their buyer’s journey and no matter what touchpoint they encounter your messages, they will be able to engage with your marketing.
Don’t let mapping the customer journey distract you from the most critical element – starting those journeys with the right customer and prospect segments with the right message. To build these high performing segments, you must have reliable customer and prospect data enhanced with their purchases and site behavior and with the necessary supporting data including buyer profiles, classifications, scores, and exclusions specific to your business. These qualified segments, and their associated offers and messaging, can then be distributed to the primary marketing channel(s) as well as broadcast across other internal and external touchpoints. The persistent clear delivery of offers and messaging across touchpoints and to targeted segments will engage the customer or prospect to start their journey and drive your revenue.
Visit the Aprimo Campaign page to experience how it can help your organization effectively perform segmentation from your own data to engage the best prospects and customers and bring them in to their customer journey and guide them to their purchase.