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Advanced customer segmentation: it’s about people and process as much as technology

Andre Fick Consulting Director
Richard Mullins Managing Director - Europe, Middle East & Africa

Every marketer today knows that their biggest challenge is delivering the right message to the right person at the right time and on the right channel. To succeed in this, marketers need to put in place processes, systems and data sources that enable them to segment their customer base in such a finely granular manner that they can deliver personalised, consistent experiences at every touchpoint.

Yet a global Wunderman study with research partner Penn Schoen Berland illustrates the yawning gap between this aspiration and the reality for most brands. While 99% of marketers agreed that data is critical to achieve success, 68% admitted that they are unable to use their data to create relevant messages. 1

While most brands know that they need to build unique audience profiles to identify their most valuable customer segments—and leverage them across channels—practical implementation remains a significant challenge. Fragmented organisational structures, processes and data are the biggest obstacles to success. This was clearly evident when research done by Wunderman indicated that 73% of respondents had confirmed that their companies are siloed.

This is a major concern in a world where customers interact with brands across numerous channels and touchpoints—search, display ads, social, contact centres, physical branches, mobile apps, ecommerce sites, and more. With data residing in siloes, integrating it and get a complete picture of the customer is a big ask.

Even when organisations can pull data from multiple channels and systems into a comprehensive view of the audience for granular segmentation, finding and operationalising insights from an overwhelming volume of data can be difficult. The result is that many organisations and marketers are today grappling with the following challenges:

Organisational Challenges:
  • Less than optimal return on investment from marketing spend: Because they are not able to track customers and segments across channels in a consistent manner, many brands do not have the data and insight they need to optimise their marketing spending.
  • Difficulty identifying the best customers: Without a way to track customers across channels and understand their engagement and interaction with the business, marketers struggle to identify the best prospects and customers for segmentation.
  • Inconsistent customer experiences: Lacking a unified view of the customer, the brand delivers fragmented and inconsistent messages to the same customer across different channels.

Changing this picture demands investment in the right systems, technical architecture and processes. But it really all starts with people. The organisation should look at its structure, and seek to move beyond silos, products and channels. Today, technology has enabled us to organise in a completely different way: around real human needs.
We have the ability to give people what they want when they want it most. The technology exists to combine in-house, customer-level data with third-party data to create audience segments based on a variety of traits and behaviours. Marketers can use these segments to for advanced, multichannel segmentation and targeting.

But first, the organisation needs to share data from as many sources as possible: customer, relationship management, offline and online marketing, merchandising, point of sale, and more, to paint a complete picture of the customer. That requires new thinking, new structures, and new strategies—all of them human-centric and future-ready.

About The Authors Andre Fick - Consulting Director

Andre completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of South Africa and an International acknowledged E-Marketing post graduate diploma at Stellenbosch Business School.

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Richard Mullins - Managing Director - Europe, Middle East & Africa

In his role as MD, Richard is responsible for the growth and success of Acceleration clients across Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

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