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Designing advertising, services, products or doing media planning requires us to understand customers and target markets. The more we understand about behavioral preferences, attitudes, lifestyles and multiple other variables, the better we can do our jobs. Combining all sources of data: research, analytics, buyer segments in real time bidding (RTB) targeting engines, qualitative research.. its such a wealth of data that it has become too big to manage. Right now we need to be able to simplify and turn such wealth of data in to understanding and actionable priorities. This is exactly what segmenting should be all about.
Segmentation 1.0 is about creating customer understanding inside organization. The segments are actually stand alone pictures and stories about customers. These segments can’t be connected to data, which means that they steer creativity but don’t offer KPI’s, real business management tools or monitor market share changes.
Segmentation 2.0 is about more data driven and actionable segmentation. Dynamic interest grouping with online targeting tools allows you to calculate probability of click or purchase and adjust your investment/segment accordingly. Same method applies to existing customer analytics, which offers steering such as next best offer, likelihood of negative churn or the level of monetary value of different segments. It’s already about making data actionable. However, these technology specific, not market level segments.
There are two cases of Segmentation 2.0 that are now leading the way to 3.0 available in Finland. Finland is interesting because of advanced population register allowing you to do interesting solutions easier than elsewhere. However, these learnings will soon become internationalised.
The story about Finnish church is quite eye opening. Since 2000 the Finnish national church membership level has dropped from 85% to 72%. The Church is in crisis.
Church has been responsible for registering population since the beginning of organized society in Finland. Everyone who gets baptized start paying church tax as part of their national taxation. My personal church tax was more than 1000€ last year. Losing members means losses in church taxation and losing young people means losing their life time taxes calculated in billions.
Church needed tools to understand their members and ways of preventing churn. Actually the church needed to re-invent them selves. They needed segmentation. Jarmo Lipiäinen, head of Kotimaa’s sales and marketing recognized this challenge and took action. Member 360 was born. This segmentation divides people in to segments by their religious tendencies and multiple other lifestyle variables. This segment tag is attached to everyone in Finland, member or not.
Picture: Main and sub-segments
Picture: Example profile – Disconnected experience seekers
Making the segmentation applicable required tools. Jarmo Lipiäinen led the project and they created data visualization tools for parishes. You can now look at areas and understand what kind of segments are there and buy addresses to people from different segments. This allows church to speak to their members and prospects in language and perception they can agree with. Church is not just about religion, it’s a second layer of safety net for under privileged people and has multiple other roles in society . People don’t leave church only for religious reasons, they expect church to act for greater good and help people. Church stands for a lot more than God.
Since the Member 360 was introduced, now +100 parishes are using the tools and changing the way church works and is relevant to their members. Church is now rewriting their story, hiring service designers to design engagements and services for members. One experiment, internet priest with chat, was very popular among young people who were in distress but would never have reached out to church advice or someone to talk face to face. The role of church, the message and ways of being part of peoples’ lives is now changing fast. Church is learning member centricity.
Commercial 2.0 segmentation
Another initiative took place simultaneously on commercial side, Fonecta Buyer Classification. This toolkit looked at people’s lifestyles and buying preferences and was also connected to the entire population. On top of that, it is also connected to media buying tools and TNS research data. I have personally implemented multiple cases with buyer classification in travel, restaurants, hotels, telco and retail. Buyer classification has 8 main segments and sub-segments.
- Budget-Concious young adults
- Bargain hunters preferring finnish purhases
- Parsimonious Pensioners
- Brand-Focused thrill seekers
- Ordinary citizens
- Service-seeking couples
- Family-focused quality seekers
- Solid and prosperous elite consumers
The segments can be attached to your own customer database which allows you to see how many people there are in each segment, how they behave, how valuable they are, what do they buy. You can use this understanding to reach out potential new customers out there based on insights from your own data. Buyer classification allows you to connect internal and external realities with same segments and also monitor market development in numbers: who’s winning and losing what kind of customers. Business is not just simple numbers – won and lost, its very much about value too. The whole point of segmenting is about understanding where to concentrate your resources and optimize your profitability. You have to make choices, segmenting allows you to do make better decisions for those that matter most. This kind of generic segmenting attached to media buying and external data is a whole new game for business KPI’s and corporate management. It’s a possibility to connect creativity, resource allocation and business goals together
Human 360 – Next generation – segmentation 3.0
The next level is currently entering the market. Same segments are now connected to online behaviour too. You can now do online media planning by segments and use same segments in real-time-bidding. That’s a minimum standard in this day and age, but there’s more.
Member 360 and Buyer Classification were single purpose segments that could be adapted to other purposes but weren’t optimized for them. The next generation is about connecting multiple segmentation tools together:
- 1st You have your own core segmentation or generic segmentation that has been made for your business sector’s specific needs. This segmentation is used for business management and company wide KPI’s
- 2nd You have supplementary contextual segments for further insights: eg. Food, travel, technology, sports, politics, religion, fashion, housing,… you name it
To say it simply, the new generation approaches individuals holistically. People have different kind of passions and interests, capabilities and life situations. These contexts can be translated as passions and orientation. You can now approach people based on their orientation and you can analyze what kind of passions and orientations your current and potential customers have. You can also calculate scores for each segment allowing you to evaluate which approaches to your customers have strongest likelyhood of meaningful impact. Creation of business scenarios and relevant communications has never been easier.
Such insight can be used for creative planning, media planning, new service development, partner selection,.. well, designing the future of the company.
Segmentation 3.0 enable us to connect 4C’s together and create a corporate GPS for success:
Sofar Google has given a price for words with Google Adwords. This kind of segmentation will give similar price variation for people, it becomes the unifying currency in media buying. Some people have a much higher profitability potential than others. The future of media profitability will be dependent of reaching those audiences and people, advertisers are willing to pay most for. We are truly entering a new era in data driven analytics, planning, marketing, creativity and management. This development will have major impact on general management, mediabuying practices and entire creative industry. This kind of methods and tools will allow us to work miracles in unseen scale.
This development will further enhance marketing’s strategic role in management and strategy. Data will enable us to manage end-to-end processes better than ever
Author Toni Keskinen and Jarmo Lipiäinen have published “Journey with customer – from product centricity to symbiosis strategy” –book in Finnish 2013.
I believe that in 2014 corporate management and board take action and set new requirements for marketing. This has already been the trend for some time, but I believe that in 2014 a tornado hits marketing function in large-scale. I wish you could give your opinion on these. Please, if you disagree or notice that I missed something, comment below. Here they are:
-From campaigns to systemic growth acceleration
-From advertising to operations
-From brand book to brand experience & corporate culture
-From pre-planned year to realtime
-From one way to collaborative & dialogue
-From corporate led to customer led
-From bought audiences to owned and earned channels
-From guessing to proof driven continuous analytics, data and automation
-From promise marketing to customer excellence
-From online to mobile +
-Personal Anological communications become premium experiences at the digital era of minimizing contact costs and diminishing traditional direct marketing
-From selling to servicing – From outbound- to inbound marketing
-From Solo unit to collaborative accelerator
-From second rate corporate practice to management imperative
Let’s take a look at them in more detail:
From campaigns to systemic growth acceleration & From pre-planned year to realtime
Owned, earned and partner mediums offer means to generate constant customer flow and optimize conversions for sales. On-going constant presence and dialogue increase company’s reach, impact and capacity to communicate brand and offering in the digital environment “for free” (Naturally this kind of work requires a lot of work and high quality, so nothing is completely free). The marketing automation technology and continuous personalized communications with customers enable such influence and effect that their role is currently outranking paid media. On the other hand paid media is becoming personalized too. When customer is searching for something and her digital profile gives a high scoring value for certain offering, it is time to bid higher in the digital eyeball exchange (RTB) and get your message thru. The window of opportunity in Customer journeys to purchase could vary from seconds to months and marketing must be present at the right time with a right message. The era of mass media dominated campaigns and corporate led campaign schedules is over. Mass media has an important role in marketing mix, but it’s dominance is over now and continuous communications have the lead in importance.
From advertising design to operations
Advertising has been a unique discipline in the market and creativity is the core of advertising impact. Advertising is corporate led and scheduled work that takes money to publish. In this day and age the first priority should be to concentrate on your customer interfaces and channel strategy. How well does your customer interface meet with customer’s needs and expectations? It is increasingly difficult to say where marketing stops and product starts, and this is a good thing. Marketing & services are integrating and customer interface communications can use advertising means like videos to help customers further. Creativity has is now more important than ever, but the use of creativity is now more targeted in certain context and encounters with customers instead of mass-media with reach.
From one way to collaborative & dialogue & From promise marketing to customer excellence
One way manifests and promising is dead. People don’t trust advertising anymore and the access to information is present anywhere, anytime. In the connected environment we are now living in the old approach to building a brand with advertising doesn’t apply anymore. Brands are not built they are experienced and shared. The transparency revolution that empowered customers, forces companies to actually do better, not to just look better. The measurement of customer value has been a monetary concept for a very long time. Because there has not been technologies or means to measure anything else, that has been a valid approach. Today, customers have new currencies that can also be measured too. Customers can endorse a brand they like, or they can give very visible and durable critical comments about it. Customers have ideas for improvement, they can help you in your development process by giving their opinions while you are just developing a new approach, they can participate and share and by doing so, expand company’s reach and presence in the eyes of potential customers in a very positive way. Customers can help each others too, like web developers have done since the dawn of internet. Open innovation platforms like My Starbucks Idea, Dell Ideastorm or Innocentive have led the co-created product and solution development for a long time already and new, very cost efficient cloud based services like Ideascale have emerged. Social Media and open dialogue with the customers are really making a major difference and consequently forcing companies to do better.
From corporate led to customer led
Think about your self as a customer, to which brands are you truly committed? Then think the other way: “Which brands are truly committed to you as a customer”? I would guess, there are very few, if any that you can think of. Since the industrialization, society’s chance to specialized roles and growth of cities, the availability of options has steadily increased. Early on, the producers could just produce as much as they could as cheap as they could and that was enough. Now we are living in the world where there is too much of almost everything. Just producing at lower cost and higher quality isn’t enough anymore. We have now entered the experience economy that requires companies to adapt each and every customer’s personal lifestyle and needs. Offering everything to everybody equals spamming, and indifference marketing. Such marketing is a statement: “ We don’t really care about you, but here’s everything we got”. Oracle Eloqua made a study about how often the sales people are actually contacting customers when the time is right for the customer. Majority of contacts are done at completely wrong time. Just being able to recognize that single thing makes a major difference in customer experience and operational efficiency.
From outbound- to inbound marketing
Previously a seller was looking for a customer, now customers are looking for solutions. The all-knowing Google is the most important route to most products and services and Google’s page rank is the key to the gateway to customers. Because all information is now available all the time, people want to check and make sure that they are making a smart decision or they look for options in general. Regardless which is the case, the company does not exist in the customer’s consideration unless it has very high top-of-mind score or preference rate. Most companies don’t. Once customers actually land at your site, the whole game is about conversion, whether you are capable of creating a connection with the customer or directly closing a deal. However, the fact is that people make their decisions and also transaction online and inbound approach to marketing is really becoming a very meaningful approach.
From guessing to proof driven continuous analytics, data and automation
Right now, pretty much anything you do can be measured. The availability of data has exploded while the cost of technology processing that data and making it possible to act on the data has slumped. The most pressing challenge now, is to educate people who know what to do with this capacity. You can track the customer’s transaction history with CRM, online behavior with marketing automation tools and you can even track potential customers with cookies and adapt to their behavior without them giving you any information apart from their actual behavior. You can track people’s organic journeys, interests, motives and landing sites, actually the entire market logic of preferences and customer flows between different brands and demand driving with online & search analytics. The web should be considered as the world’s largest quantitative research panel that is entirely based on actual behavior instead of opinions. Such access to information that is mostly free is really shaking the marketing and business communities in general.
From online to mobile +
There are now more connected phones to internet than computers. Online is now always on and always available. A computer was mostly used at home or office, but tablets and mobile phones are present where ever you are. The app explosion and location availability are now changing the entire role of internet enabling companies to really adapt to customer, time and location. The rise of HTML5 is making all online assets available in very intuitive and user-friendly way in any given gadget or platform instead of doing everything several times for native solutions. The dawn of “internet of things” is at hand and enable customer to have a “Sixth sense” that helps her to navigate in the actual world with more information, directions and advice than ever. On the other hand it does enable companies to really become truly customer centric.
From Online back to Analogical (Personal Anological communications become premium experiences at the digital era of minimizing contact costs and diminishing traditional direct marketing)
When ever some major change happen, there will be a counter trend. Although everything is now going online and we love it, personal analogue communications are becoming signs of premium customer care and experiences. A simple letter has become rare approach. I was involved in a case where we approached CEO’s of stock exchange listed companies. It was difficult to think how to get their attention and get to them directly without becoming cut off by an executive assistant. Eventually the solution was simple, a letter with a hand written address and a real stamp. Everything about such approach communicated intimacy and purpose. Such approach is as far as it gets from mass communications and that was exactly the reason why the campaign got 30% pull rate. The same apply to consumer communications. How would you feel, if you got a letter from Google or Facebook, that had a hand written address and a stamp? That would really be something J The person to person communications and customer service over phone are also having similar impacts, in case the service is working well. Although brand are now living in internet, we are still people who create a trusting relationship with other people. That is a fact we should never forget.
From selling to servicing
We all have been sold to. That is not really a pleasant experience. When you are looking for something you would appreciate someone who would make your need their interest and do the best they can to get you a best possible solution. Sometimes that solution is not delivering the highest possible profit margin in short-term, but it sure does deliver in so many other levels. The customer is much more likely to come back, endorse the company and deliver much higher life time value. Shortterminism is the plague we need to cure. When ever you communicate with your customers, delivering them honest advice will sell more and increase impact of communications.
From Solo unit to collaborative accelerator & From second-rate corporate practice to management imperative
Marketing has been a solo unit that has been concentrating on promotion, brand awareness, -preference and -attributes. Those days are now behind us. The same measures are still important, but the marketing unit is required to take more commercial responsibility for customer interfaces and customer contacts in general. The very heart of marketing has always been the customer understanding. That is now more important than it has ever been. Customer centric business model demands marketing to spread available customer intelligence people operating in all customer interfaces. Management, corporate strategy and operations are now required to have their foundation on customer understanding. Because of this, the role of marketing is becoming a true management imperative and driver for customer centric corporate transformation. These are truly exciting and inspiring times!
Articles for more insights:
Author: Toni Keskinen, Change Catalyst & Executive as a Service
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Customer Experience is so obvious and yet so complex subject that has multitude of perceptions and views to consider. I try to put it very objectively. What do you think about this definition about:
“Customers approach their experience subjectively and holistically and they form their view of customer experience based on one or multiple engagements with the company’s services, products and interfaces. The company could build great customer experience with multiple engagements and crush the customer’s view with one. The customer has very different approach and expectations for the company along their purchase and customer relationship process and their expectations change along the way. The key to their view on experience is customer’s subjective expectations that the company intentionally or by chance set with advertising, promises, engagements across touch points and via other customer’s shared experiences. This is why same service level deliver’s very different customer experience and Net Promoter Score results from one company to another.”
You can create brand without engagements and the brand is the key to the expectations. The customer experience though is based on personal engagements with the company, it’s products and services.
I recently wrote the article “Beyond HBR’s truth about customer experience” and “Irina” asked what kind of definition I would use for Customer Experience. I wrote that definition before checking other’s opinions. I now listed them below. I often struggle with definitions, because generalizing them to the max reduce other’s capacity to fully understand how many meanings there are behind very few words and suppressed sentence. It’s often true, that we use the same words, but connect very different contexts and views to them. Effectively we could discuss about the same subject and think about completely different issues. This is such a fundamental question, that I’d love to come up with a definition everyone could share from CEO to customer service, marketing, CTO, CFO and well ..The Customer. What is your view on this subject? Have you come across events, in which people have had completely different perception about the issues and events influencing Customer Experience?
Here are some definitions from other thought leaders and players:
Beyond Philosophy: A customer experience is an interaction between an organization and a customer as perceived through a customer’s conscious and subconscious mind. It is a blend of an organization’s rational performance, the senses stimulated and the emotions evoked and intuitively measured against customer expectations across all moments of contact. – See more here
Wikipedia: Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and/or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. This can include awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy. It can also be used to mean an individual experience over one transaction; the distinction is usually clear in context. – See more here
Adam Richardson, Frog Design: It is the sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer. – See Mr. Richardson’s article about the subject in HBR blog network here
SAS: Customer experience is defined as your customers’ perceptions – both conscious and subconscious – of their relationship with your brand resulting from all their interactions with your brand during the customer life cycle. – Article available here
Forrester Research: “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.” In Mr. Harley Manning’s blog post is available here
In Forrester’s article, there was also great picture about how expectations and meeting them influence customer’s subjective experience about the company.
The truth about Customer Experience has a lot to do with our emotional systems. This Infograph by Forbes makes a great point:
I just found a company “Touchpoint Dashboard” Do you have any experiences about using this tool?
Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer
Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here