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How Much Segmenting Is too Much?

  |  October 25, 2010   |  Comments

Recommendations from 25 experts in the e-mail industry on how much segmentation you need.

In a perfect world, every e-mail you get would be driven off of your actual interactions with the brand sending it. Maybe you haven't been in the store for awhile. Maybe you recently bought online from the site, or maybe you are new to subscribe to the list and most recently searched for "kids' socks" on the site.

In the real world, creating templates that support dynamic datafeeds is difficult enough. Creating database integration points that feed all of the personal and behavioral data you need to speak personally to your consumer is close to impossible. Over 65 percent of companies eliminate all personalization except first name from their programs due to issues with datafeeds and dynamic content generation.

But how much segmentation do you need? And, in reality, how much is too much? I posed this question to 25 people I know in the e-mail industry who I consider "experts" and got this set of responses and recommendations.

How much segmentation do you need? (Unedited comments from various industries.)

  • Retail: Segmentation should be ignored until you are building a win-back program. Until then, standard messaging should be built to meet all audiences
  • CPG: Segmentation should never be built after the fact, it should always and only be part of the registration process to ensure 100 percent accuracy. If the subscriber doesn't tell you, you shouldn't guess.
  • B2B: No segmentation is the best route to go. A drive to a phone call is where the segmentation should occur.
  • Auto: Segmentation should only be driven off of cookied site activity. If the customer tells you what they want, it's almost always different from what they actually look at and interact with on the site.
  • Publishing: Outside of staying within the right gender offering, segmentation should not be about behaviors as much as what will drive spend on subscriptions.

Five recommendations to create good segments:

  1. Preference center
  2. Using search terms from your site
  3. Building a netmining profile and applying it to clusters of your database
  4. Using a recommendation engine from your site
  5. Choosing the top five clicked-on offers or links from prior efforts

I found these results and thoughts interesting. The recommendations seem like something almost any company could apply, but the perception around the importance of segmentation varied significantly by industry. This is certainly one of those areas where the answer is "it depends" until you are able to dive deeper into the specific behaviors that your brand or industry emulate and define a strategy from there.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition.

Prior to her role at NOOKTM Jeanniey launched a wearables fashion technology company called Ringblingz. Before getting into the wearables business, Jeanniey was the chief marketing officer (CMO) of Zinio, where she grew the business by more than 427 percent, into one of the largest global digital newsstands. Other notable roles in her career include her involvement as the executive director and senior partner at OgilvyOne, where she led the digital Dialogue business and worked with Fortune 50 brands including IBM, Unilever, and American Express, and being a general manager at Grey Direct. At Grey Direct Jeanniey launched the first email marketing division of a global advertising agency. Prior to her time in advertising, Jeanniey spent seven years in retail leading a variety of groups from Consumer Relations and Operations, to Collections and Digital at JCPenney.

One of Jeanniey's favorite times in her career was when she founded the Email Experience Council (which was acquired by the Direct Marketing Association). Jeanniey is a recognized "Women in Business," a frequent keynote speaker, and has authored three books and launched a number of companies ranging from entertainment to technology and fashion.

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