How 1:1 Customer Engagement is Stealing the Spotlight from Traditional Segmentation

Posted By Glenn Pingul On February 29, 2012 @ 3:11 PM In Targeting, Wireless | No Comments

There’s been a lot of buzz in the media the past few weeks after the ‘all revealing’ NY Times article – How Companies Learn Your Secrets [1].   According to the article, “one study from Duke University estimated that habits, rather than conscious decision-making, shape 45 percent of the choices we make every day, and recent discoveries have begun to change everything from the way we think about dieting to how doctors conceive treatments for anxiety, depression and addictions.”

So think about applying this to your mobile marketing strategy.   Is how you engage with end users aligned to their daily routines – what they do day in and day out, how they actually behave – or solely based on ‘who’ they are?    We’re all familiar with traditional segmentation.   But what’s more helpful – knowing that I’m categorized as a “suburban sports enthusiast” or knowing that I make the same drive, around the same time each day and am 73% more likely to respond to a SMS offer in the morning rather than in the afternoon?

One might argue that marketing to ‘segments’ isn’t much better than mass marketing.  So, what is the alternative?  The alternative is having a ‘dynamic understanding of the user’.   What is that you ask?   Bear with me and let’s break it down:

dy·nam·ic/dīˈnamik/ (of a process or system) Characterized by constant change, activity, or progress

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un·der·stand·ing/ˌəndərˈstandiNG/ the power to make experience intelligible by applying concepts and categories

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us·er/ˈyo͞ozər/ one who consumes or employs a good or service to obtain a benefit or to solve a problem

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Delivering an experience aligned to an individual’s needs which is driven by continuous analysis and application of learnings over time.

Taking a snapshot of a user delivers little value for a mobile marketer.   Sure, someone standing on the street corner in NYC may be interested in an offer from the local Thai restaurant.   But they could also hate Thai food, be visiting from the west coast, and have zero time in their schedule to swing by for your Pad Thai lunch special.

With mobile, it’s about being able to determine patterns and habits – and just as important – aligning how you engage with the user to that understanding.    Easier said than done, right?

It’s not an easy task but the good news is – it’s not an impossible task either.   Mobile marketers are beginning to use technologies that not only aggregate the massive amounts of ‘big data’ that mobile brings in, but also continuously analyze the data to determine a user’s behavior (aka: habits) and time series (aka: best time to engage the user).   With ongoing analysis that takes into account changes, patterns, and actions taken, marketers gain insight into a user’s lifecycle – versus capturing a mere snapshot in time – and are able to base customer engagement off of the predicted action of an individual user.   For the mobile channel, this is the golden ticket.   We’re bombarded by email and snail mail but with something as personal as our mobile device – which is with us constantly I might add – none of us are as forgiving to irrelevant, impersonal communications.   By determining the dynamic understanding of a user, marketers can move beyond one-off, hit or miss mobile campaigns to delivering ongoing experiences that are valuable and relevant for the user.

Let’s go back to the user on the street corner in NYC.  By leveraging analytics we can go beyond the fact that it’s 11:23 am on Tuesday morning and determine that this user works in a business park three blocks away, is more likely to go out for lunch on Mondays and Fridays, and has a higher probability of opening a SMS offer with a dollar discount versus a percentage discount.

Yes, it’s possible.  It just requires a shift from traditional segmentation to newer techniques that incorporate an ongoing and dynamic understanding of a user’s needs and the best contexts to meet those needs.  For those who are doing it, the results speak for themselves – dramatic increases in conversions and revenues and reduced cost of revenue.

Whether you’re a mobile operator, brand, retailer, or other mobile marketer, leveraging the data (ALL of it) to engage with your users when it matters most can make or break your mobile marketing success.

So ask yourself – are you delivering experiences that are aligned to your individual users’ needs and habits?   Are you engaging individuals in ways that drive the behaviors you’re trying to influence e.g., accepting an offer, driving them to your retail location, building awareness of your brand?

If not, now’s the time to rethink your strategy.


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[1] How Companies Learn Your Secrets: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Habits&st=cse

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