One of the biggest trends in digital marketing and ecommerce, in particular, is the increasing personalization and segmentation of audiences. This simply means treating your customers as individuals and not providing everyone with a generic, one-size-fits-all approach. To effectively implement this strategy, however, takes some careful planning and possibly adding some tools and services to your ecommerce website.
Why Personalization and Segmentation are so Important
Ecommerce is getting more competitive all the time. The average consumer sees dozens, if not hundreds, of ads per day in the form of emails, social media ads, banners, popups and others. This makes it harder for anyone to get noticed. A generic approach is more likely to be ignored than communication that’s more personalized and aimed at the customer’s particular needs. There are many ways to personalize and segment your customers. Personalization is the simpler of the two ideas and can be accomplished by referring to customers by name in your emails or if you talk to them on the phone or via chat. Segmentation is a bit more involved. Here are just a few examples.
- Interests and Buying Preferences – This is the most basic way to segment your customers. When people show a preference for a certain type of item, it makes sense to offer them similar items in the future. Amazon has mastered this approach with its recommendations and similar items.
- Geography – If you have customers in different cities, regions or countries it may help to target them by geography. You may find that people in certain regions are more receptive to your offers. You may also be able to find ways to tailor your communications to people in different areas. For example, you might refer to the cold winter when talking to people in northern regions but this wouldn’t be relevant to customers in Florida or Arizona. This can also be a type of personalization when you refer to their area in your ads or communications.
- Gender – Some of your products may appeal more to your male or female audience.
- Age – Millennials, middle-aged and senior customers have different preferences in many areas.
- Buying History – This is an important one for any business to keep in mind. You don’t want to market the same items to people who’ve already purchased them. Existing customers may be interested in upgrades or accessories. Also, if you sell products in various price ranges you’ll find that different customers have very different budgets.
- Devices and Platforms – Another type of segmentation has to do with how people are accessing your website and other content. If you find that most of your customers are mobile, for example, this helps you plan future strategies and campaigns. If certain social media sites are especially good sources of traffic, you’ll know to focus more on these sites.
- Segmentation serves several purposes. It helps you create a more targeted marketing strategy. It helps you engage better with customers by talking to them in a language they can relate to. It also helps you save time money on marketing and content creation. By learning how to target your offers more precisely, you avoid wasting time and expenses marketing to the wrong people
The type of segmentation you employ depends on the type of business you have. The point is to go out of your way to identify the most useful ways to segment your customers. This helps you reach them with offers that are customized to their needs and interests as opposed to simply blasting offers at them. Now let’s look at some specific techniques to help you do this more effectively.
All of Your Customers Aren’t Equal
While it might sound fair and nice to treat all of your customers equally, this isn’t really a sound business practice. Customers who buy from you frequently or who purchase high ticket items are much more valuable to your business than those who only buy from you occasionally or who spend less. This is a simple enough concept but it’s one you should keep in mind in your segmentation strategy.
It’s important to show your best customers that you appreciate them. You can do this in a number of ways, such as by giving them priority support, offering them special discounts and giving them perks such as free upgraded shipping. Many businesses offer loyalty programs to give customers an incentive to buy regularly. That’s an effective technique but it depends on the customer taking a certain action -i.e. joining your program.
The idea of granting your best customers special privileges is a unilateral action on your part that doesn’t require them to sign up for anything. Rewarding these customers is a type of segmentation that encourages them to remain loyal. You could, of course, create a loyalty program where customers earn points automatically without having to sign up.
The Opposite Extreme: Targeting Your “Worst” Customers
This may sound like a contradiction of the last point, but it’s also important to target your “worst” customers to encourage them to get more active. The approach here is slightly different. You wouldn’t offer them upgraded customer service or grant them loyalty points. But if you notice that certain customers haven’t bought from you in a while, you can create special offers to motivate them to return.
Even a gently chiding email with a subject or opening line such as “We miss you” can work. People like to be noticed and simply be showing them that you’re aware of their actions (or, in this case, inaction) you’re personalizing the message. When you combine this with a special offer, you have a chance to turn them into better customers.
Cross Sells and Upsells
Another way to use segmentation is to create customized upsell and cross-sell offers based on customers’ purchases. For example, if someone buys a pair of running shoes, they might also be interested in athletic socks. Certain shopping cart platforms such as Magento and Shopify offer tools to automate this process. With Shopify, for example, you can use the Product Upsell app that automatically suggests related items when someone makes a purchase. It’s also good to track customers’ purchases so you can target them in the future with upsells and related products.
These are a few ideas of how segmentation can help you get better results. This is a way to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your marketing and putting the right offers in front of the right customers.