Segmentation

Use Demographic Segmentation Tools Not Only For Marketing

People always fascinate me: different lifestyles, different backgrounds, different races and different behaviors. I never get tired of observing more and more about what drives them, what makes them engage in certain activities and what happens afterwards once “the pot gets stirred” skillfully by social trends or sometimes by actions of fellow-marketers.  Simultaneously, this entire process serves my own purpose as a consumer of the environment I want to be in. What I find myself doing is segmenting the “market” of a social event or a city to see what experiences I can have as a consumer of a social interaction. Perhaps, all of us do that. And yes, nothing beats the hands-on approach of going into the “field” and actually experiencing all the combinations in that or this zip code yourself.  But, as they say, being forearmed is half the victory.

So, while thinking about potential move to a bigger city like San Francisco, Chicago or New York (with all the benefits we already know), I find it useful to utilize PRIZM or other demographic segmentation tools to see the degree of how those cities can be attractive to me based on the social crowd.  And it might not be the news as we all have learned about the stereotypes, and some, are, granted valid in describing what to expect, I still believe it pays extra to dissect the population into more statistically accurate attributes. By doing this, you can predict the quality of your social life, professional success and other experiences based on the patterns discovered. As consumers, at least here in the states, we became very sophisticated and educated at what we want, like, dislike and how it should be served. Sometimes, this thought scares me when I feel like I have to look for niche-services already since I know what works well.  Sometimes, I wish I were as open as a child – when simpler choices were of existence.

Going back to the segmentation tools, as an example, I wanted to first validate the accuracy of experiences I had in Seattle and only then quick-check the potential Chicago can provide. I also wish that US. Census got more up-to-date and more detailed reports, as most of the information is based on 2000 reports – Hello?! It has been almost a decade and people moved, changed in proportion due to natural causes considerably since then.  Thank God, we have commercial software that can solve those problems and allow us see the light or to be precise the stripes on the map.  What if you do not have access to this information through those tools? Again, US Census or city-data.com site can provide you with rough but workable ideas on the demographics (alongside some extra ads).  Example, for Bellevue showcases graphs on gender distribution, age, income and housing situation and I must say it is very close to accurate even if the site uses 2000 census data and 2005 projections. 

But, what I found most exciting is the information on foreign-born residents (remember, one of the attributes of the social mix I was looking for?), it provides a neat chart as well! It describes the following distribution of nationalities (hence potential social interactions flavored by cultural attributes): 

  • Mexico (13%)
  • India (10%)
  • China, excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan (7%)
  • Vietnam (5%)
  • Korea (5%)
  • Russia (5%)
  • Ukraine (4%)

Information like that can provide me with insights on how diverse the locality is and will the mix be appealing to my social taste?

Digging deeper, there is always PRIZM, a tool that can share the details on lifestyle preferences.  According to the report on my zip code, the groups are: 44% New Beginnings, 22% Young Influentials, 21% Gray Power, 19% Home Sweet Home and 8 % Executive Suites.   If we take Young Influentials into consideration, the tools describes the segment as ” Midscale, Younger without Kids yuppies that reflect the fading glow of acquisitive yuppiedom.  Today, the segment is a common address for younger, middle-class singles and couples who are more preoccupied with balancing work and leisure pursuits. Having recently left college dorms, they now live in apartment complexes surrounded by ball fields, health clubs and casual-dining restaurants. ” It also goes into the details of: median income ($47,976), lifestyle traits (plays racquetball, drives mazda 3), demographics traits (suburban crowd, midscale income, age < 35, mostly renters without kids, college graduates, mix of ethnic groups). Very neat tool! You can definitely learn much about your audience! How about a Lifestage group? “Young, hip singles are the prime residents of Young Achievers, a lifestage group of twentysomethings who’ve recently settled in metro neighborhoods. Their incomes range from working-class to well-to-do, but most residents are still renting apartments in cities or close-in suburbs. These seven segments contain a high percentage of Asian singles, and there’s a decidedly progressive sensibility in their tastes as reflected in the group’s liberal politics, alternative music and lively nightlife. Mainstream Singles segments are twice as likely as the general population to include college students living in group quarters.”  Each segment shares this level of granularity. Now, knowing all that does make a difference while making a decision where to live, work and play!

Too much information? If all that is too overwhelming, you can always turn to wikipidea that will outlay lightly some of the basics!  

 
 

Targeting Methods in Online Advertising

Selecting the right audience is the key driving factor in online advertising – your marketing campaigns’ performance depends on it almost 90 percent. With numerous tracking systems for monitoring users behaviors online, their ways to interact, their purchase habits, there are a number of targeting variables available to modern marketers. What is a well-targeted advertising? It is more relevant, compelling and subtle. What are the tools we have these days? According to the Advertising Research Foundation in its latest publication titled as The Online Advertising Playbook , there 7 highly usable methods:

Demographic Targeting – the old and familiar approach that defines audiences by gender, age, occupation, household size. It will always be there due to its advantages for broader product categories. It is easy to project behavior for such products based on demographic information and it costs less than tracking individual purchase behavior. More on the tips for successful demographic targeting, read the article on iMedia Connection.

Contextual Targeting – implies placing ads on sites that are related in content to the products, as an example: diet programs ads show up on healthy living related sites, financial products ads are displayed on money and investment sites. Contextual placements catch shoppers at the time when they are thinking about the product or related to it issues, catch up on news or read up on tips.  Due to the fact that shoppers (potential and actual) are caught in the active state – it becomes quite important to select quality sites, with relevant and most popular content to make your campaigns perform.  Site credibility is also important for the product especially when sales occur offline. Thus, it is a key consideration for your branding efforts.  Also, if you are tasked with building a community around your product, having a group of high regarded sites extends your influence further with the already highly engaged audience.  More on the contextual targeting, check this blog post that cites the research study on its effectiveness.

Behavioral Targeting – is the hottest method these days and the most controversial, allows marketers to track users’ site “hopping” through the cookies and come up with models and behavioral patterns for targeting those users later on those sites. Advertisers use these models to serve ads that are relevant to those “mapped” individuals across the various sites. It could be cheaper to do behavioral targeting than a contextual one: you have more points to reach the same audience. At the same time, it has its pitfalls and Jack Jia covers them well in his recent article.

Geographic Targeting – is especially powerful for smaller businesses that would like to capitalize on the local searches for products and services. DMA areas, area codes, time zones, GPS coordinates and IP protocols provide some geo targeting capability and allow marketers maximize the reach.  In addition, it can always bring additional sales to the brick-and-mortar store if you send your shoppers to the nearest location to pick up the purchase. More on the ways you can leverage geo information, read this blog post by Charles Thrasher.

Daypart Targeting – comes back to online advertising from the more traditional media (TV, radio) where it reaches specific audiences. Daypart targeting varies by audience size and specifications, can be very cost-efficient – as you expose your message to the largest audiences at the right time when they want to hear, see, view your message. Internet is used differently throughout the day with the highest percentage of people shopping and surfing the web during the normal business hours at work! According to emarketer, 31% people shop online at work, and if you add more detailed data on at which hours exactly they heavily engage into it – you are in business!

Affinity Targeting – refers to reaching customers on their favorite sites (usually related to hobbies and interests) that they heavily visit and interact with. Those users spend more time online (on those sites), are more favorable to the site content and ads and purchase faster and easier. If you like one site that you visit daily, you are more open to digest the message in the ads and in fact act on it. Works every time.  Affinity targeting especially works for brand evangelism.

Purchase-Based Category Targeting – represents a new method of merging data from the online behavior database to the purchases. It is very efficient, but very costly since you do have to customize the databases for your specific markets.  Companies like Nielsen try to create profiles of the “heavy shaving cream users” and low-carb dinners buyers” and map it against their online surfing patterns and predict their next purchase across product categories.

With all those methods, marketers are indeed empowered to deliver the right message at the right time to the right audience, even when the data is not perfect. Select 2-3 methods that fit your business and marketing strategy and find the good enough fits for your audiences and you are bound to have success.

Why We Marketers Should Adopt Another Segmentation Tool – Personas from User Experience Design

The best discovery from last week was stumbling upon Steve Mudler’s session at Webvisions on personas . It almost feels like the more I learn, the more is out there still awaiting for discovery. Two weeks ago, I was rambling on the database marketing and its behavioristic approach to segmenting. I was thrilled and motivated to learn as much as I can about it. Last week, my attention radar caught the concept from the user design (scenario design) field – creating “personas” to segment potential customers and be able to communicate better with them, while resonating with their specific challenges. “Personas”, as a market segmentation tool does bring: focus, empathy, consensus, better designs and communications.

If I narrow down to the two major benefits of this technique, I would mention its flexibility and applicability to real life situations we marketers face and its fundamental psychological truth about discrepancies of people’s words and actions.

The greatest part about creating “personas” is that it allows segmenting your market while you engage into the limited market research initiatives. Let’s face it – most of the time, we (marketers) have limited budget and resources (people and time) and there is so much that we could do but we cannot afford….How do you find out what your potential customers will want and to what they would respond to if you only have 4 weeks, 4 people and no budget? You can only interview a small number of people, you can do so much as opposing to engaging in the ideal long and steady market research process that we learnt from the books or that is feasible if a specialized agency does it for us for a good sum.

Well, we have “personas”! Steve Mudler actually shares his expertise on it in his book ” The User is Always Right”, As an example, creating personas becomes a good segmentation alternative in the real life situation where you are developing a channel for a newly developed product or a “newly-is-still-in-development- product-that-is-has-to-sell-in-6-months”. There are three primary approaches, based on the type of research, scope and analysis performed:

• Qualitative personas (based on interviews, as an example)
• Qualitative personas with quantitative validation (interviews and surveys)
• Quantitative personas (surveys, data from the CRM systems, etc.)

Thus, it allows you to apply this technique to any scope of research that you are doing. Flexibility makes it a good model.

Another useful disclaimer that all of us – marketers performing research should always keep in mind is that what people say is not what they necessarily do. What they say is important as it reflects their goals and attitudes as well as perceptions and aspirations of being seen in a certain light. What people do is just as important, since actual behavior can reveal more about people than what they say. Behavior reveals patterns around which you can design your product or communication strategy. Again, the perfect combination of promise and action, if those are consistent – you got your answer and you are on the right track, if those are conflicting, you have to test your hypothesis again or change it completely.

Why Some Loyalty Programs Work and Others Don’t?

Three week intensive course of CRM class uncovered the basics of customer loyalty aspect: loyal customers add more lifetime value (LTV) and we marketers should be focused on it and court them as they are less expensive (they are knowledgeable about your service and product and thus take less time and money to service, they might even educate your prospects and refer). Well, it all makes sense and this week we discovered the opposite! According to Werner Reinartz and V. Kumar article on “The Mismanagement of Customer Loyalty“, customer loyalty focus only can be a big mistake.

Studies show that loyal customers could be rather demanding and not willing to upgrade, buy more or pay a premium. How about the obvious resentment in some consumer industries that loyal customers experience when they are hogged or bombarded with upsell messages? I might buy the product more frequently, but why should I pay a premium or extra as I know exactly what the product value is. Why do I want to spend $70 a year just for 2 day free shipping if I can continue buying my books on Amazon in triplets to use a free shipping option of purchase order that exceeds $ 30? It works well, why change? Thus, loyal customers can be quite price-sensitive.

In business-to-business industries, loyal customers can be expensive to serve: as they buy in large volumes and dictate the terms. A closer look should be taken at the relationship between the loyalty and profitability. One of the solutions provided is time-driven activity-based costing. It allows to uncover the costs of business activities and all the time spent on them.

What about endorsement? Supposedly, loyal customers are your product evangelists. But, looking just at the purchase behavior is not enough. It is a combination of attitude and consumption that makes an average heavy user an endorser.

The bottom line is that the link between loyalty and lower costs = profitability is industry specific. Consistency in purchasing behavior and attitude/emotional connection to the product make the best referral agents from your customers. To choose an appropriate loyalty strategy, segment your customers by longevity and profitability.

The 24 Essential Techniques of Database Marketing

While, immersing myself into the knowledge of CRM and Database Marketing, I wanted to share a great checklist Arthur Hughes provides in his Strategic Database Marketing book.  This list will help visualize the breadth and scope of this approach. At the same time, it will allow you to serve as a great keyword framework while you are building your informational library about the subject.

  1. LTV (Customer Lifetime Value) = Net worth of your customers, almost like ABC marketing segmentation
  2. RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary Analysis) = allows to predict the success of your promotional efforts
  3. Customer Communications = personalized customer communications based on the data, love this part!
  4. Appended Data = all the demographics, psyschographic data we get from “zip code profiles” providers
  5. Predictive Models = one can build based on item 4 and communications, helps to increase response rate and decrease attrition rate
  6. Relational Databases = form of the database that allows instant useful info to make marketing decisions, something you have to have set up right from the start!
  7. Caller ID = helps CRMs to do their magic = boding experience via instant info and response
  8. Web sites = helps your customers to experience your product/service, bond with it and provide their behavior pattern data for good purposes obviously, allows engage into conversations. Jeremiah has loads of nuggets in this area.
  9. Email = allows effective communication, leads to retention and increased sales. Allows to reach your customers, still does!
  10. Tests and Controls = use test groups to see the effectiveness of your customer loyalty programs
  11. Loyalty Programs = customers are delighted to participate in those! Airlines are a good example
  12. Business Intelligence Software = allows you to have “hands on” your marketing activities before, during and after, well – anytime
  13. Web Access = for your relational database for all functions within your company (management, CRS, sales, marketing, operations, etc.)
  14. Rented Lists = allows to get direct response (mail) data easily than you think
  15. Campaign Management Software = speeds up your execution phase from the planning to doing
  16. Address Correction Services = made modern database marketing possible
  17. Profitability Analysis = allows you to change your pricing and marketing strategies to increase your profits
  18. Customer Segmentation = allows to create useful segments based on demographics and behavior based on the actual data, helps to create targeting communications!
  19. Status Levels = allows to provide special services for special customers (Platinum, Gold, Silver)
  20. Multichannel Marketing = more sales wherever your customers show up
  21. Treating Customers Differently = profits come from retaining the Gold customers and encouraging others to move up the higher status levels
  22. NBP (Next Best Product) = powerful tool to determine why one group of your customers buys and the other does not. Sales people and CRM will appreciate the info
  23. Penetration Analysis = helps to direct sales force and make them more effective
  24. Cluster Coding = helps to identify who is buying and who is not, creative tool that allows to improve both marketing and sales!

Behavior-Based Segmentation and Customer Lifetime Value

Shopping lately at Amazon and getting into Database Marketing class, my last term, made me rethink the whole notion of segmentation analysis. For decades, and just personally for me, for the last 5 years, I categorized target markets/customers by psychographic and demographic data.  While, people watching and further character studying always amused me with identifying their behavior patterns and action tendencies. At the same time, it never occurred to me how the two can be well-connected in the behavior-based segmentation process.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management, Customer Equity Management) concept is not a novelty, but today I started getting excited about the idea and its application. For the last 6 months, I have been buying books on things of interest for myself at Amazon in a “triplets” manner to use free shipping service. Oddly enough (not so oddly), now I get promotional messages to buy 3 with 1 free = total 4. And guess what, I started looking for the next 4 that I want to read. It works on me and everybody else! It changes my behavior and increases my usage. “Books that might interest you” feature is not even mentioned as we all are so used to it! I wish all my online clothing shopping experience got me personalized style advice based on my purchasing behavior!

What I most looking forward to is to actually being able to calculate my lifetime value to Amazon as a customer by the end of this class…and to other services that I might reconsider! Stay tuned…

People’s profiles based on brands they consume

It is not a novelty, but still an interesting phenomenae how people can be segmented or profiled by the products they consume. Another reason why marketing is great. You can find out so much about a person based on the info where she/he shops, what he/she eats, where he/she vacations, what he/she reads and what recreation the both choose. Ask 10 questions about the person’s lifestyle, ask the brand names and you can craft a profile. Perceptions do matter. Brands become ways for us to signal about our wants and needs, existent or aspired and this is a valuable piece of data!

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