To Each His Own E-mail
In old direct marketing parlance, marketers asked, “East or west of the Mississippi?” This was how they segmented customers and prospects. Segmentation by demographics is important, but in today’s landscape, marketers have to do much more in terms of understanding their audience than simple geographic segmentation. They need to be sure they’re delivering a relevant message to their audience every time.
Let’s begin with the most straightforward type of segmentation: demographic. Demographic information probably is the most common type of information gathered from your customers, consisting of basic information such as name, address, phone and metropolitan statistical area (MSA). Their address and MSA, of course, tell you something about where they live. Do they live in a big city—an urban and cosmopolitan environment? Or do they live in a small town? Do they live in a house or an apartment? In what part of the country do they reside? Are they from the South, the Plains or New England? Knowing this much about your customers allows you to do some basic segmentation.
As your interactions with them progress, you might have an opportunity to learn more about them: age, educational level, profession, hobbies, if they have pets, what kind of car they drive, etc. Using this information, many more segments can be parsed, depending on what’s relevant to your business, your sales cycle or other factors—both internal and external. With these more sophisticated segments, your messages become more relevant to your audience. Your goal is to develop trust with every marketing communication, and the best way to do this is by providing your customers with the information they’re looking for.
Let’s take an example: Company X, an online retailer, acquires a new customer. The customer makes a purchase and some basic information about her is entered into the database. Company X adds the customer to its mailing list and sends her e-mails about other items in the product line. Whenever she makes an additional purchase, the information is added to the database. With each new purchase, Company X learns more and more about this customer: who she is and what she buys.