Change the Message for the Medium

  |  May 4, 2010   |  Comments

With hundreds of ways to get your message in front of prospective customers, which ones work best for you?

Do people respond better to an offer that promises lower price, higher quality, or instant delivery? Yes, they do. And that's why we all need segmentation.

When it comes to segmenting customers by behavior, Bernard Berelson pretty much nailed it in his "Human Behavior: An Inventory of Scientific Findings" (1964) where he said:

Some do and some don't.
The differences aren't that great.
It's more complicated than that.

Granted, people fit nicely into specific categories, and any categories will be more appropriate for some markets than for your goods or services. But segmentation is the key to success and here's another lock it can open: media mix.

You want to use all the data you can get your hands on to validate your ads and make them more memorable, your links more clickable, your landing pages more actionable, and your Net Promoter Scores higher. You also want to tie sales results to marketing spend so you can figure out what portion of your budget to spend on billboards vs. PPC (define) search marketing vs. e-mail blasts vs. social media vs. tattooing your logo on foreheads. (That's just so 1995!)

With hundreds of ways to get your message in front of prospective customers, which ones work best for you? A simple one-to-one relationship would be nice but, of course, life is more complex than that. Banner ads may never have produced a dime in sales for you, but if you drop that brand advertising, guess what? Your search traffic starts to dwindle. Attribution is a tough game to play, but play it we must.

One way to help in that game is combining attribution with segmentation.

Let's say Segment A really responds to the message about lower prices, Segment B likes higher quality, and Segment C goes gaga for instant gratification. It's now your job to find out how these groups differ in the channels they consume.

If Segment A watches a lot of TV, reads the newspaper, and does most of their searches on Yahoo, then it's clear that your low price offers should be sent off into the world via those channels. Not only are you delivering the right message to the right people, if you integrate your marketing messages and coordinate your distribution, Segment A will see your low cost proposition everywhere they look. You will be ubiquitous. You will be the low cost leader.

The same holds true for your other prospects. Segment B reads lots of online news, spends a lot of time on Facebook, and searches primarily on Google. In those channels, your message is all about quality and status. They see you everywhere they look and they come to know you as the superior product.

If you are in complete control of your marketing spend, have the ability to change your message by segment, and the means to capture the results to complete the feedback loop, you will win the game. This is not an easy task, it is not made easy with effortlessly integratable technology, and there are no silver bullets for breaking down the silos between advertising, marketing, sales, and public relations, let alone e-mail, search, website, and banner ads. But if you do, you will be getting the right message to the right person at the right time in the right way. You win.

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Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne is an international consultant who focuses on measuring the value of the Web as a medium for creating and strengthening customer relationships. Sterne has written eight books on using the Internet for marketing, is the founding president and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association and produces the eMetrics Summit and the Media Analytics Summit.

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