Gone are the days of mom and pop shops where the store own­ers knew every­one who entered their doors. Today’s orga­ni­za­tions have the added chal­lenge of cus­tomers enter­ing, not through their front doors, but through many dif­fer­ent “doors,” or dig­i­tal chan­nels. As cus­tomers “enter” and inter­act with orga­ni­za­tions in the dig­i­tal age, they still want to be called by name. Cus­tomers still want to be rec­og­nized, greeted, and offered ser­vices that suit their tastes and pref­er­ences. No one wants to be treated as if they were a part of the masses.

In many ways, cus­tomers still want the days of the mom and pop shop. So, how can orga­ni­za­tions best achieve this in the dig­i­tal era?

A tech­no­log­i­cal tool is needed in order to under­stand and act in response to cus­tomer behav­ior. Today, tech­no­log­i­cal tools are giv­ing orga­ni­za­tions the power to pre­dict cus­tomer behav­ior, to put the cus­tomer at the cen­ter of every­thing that they do. The 2013 Big Data Plan­ning Guide for Mar­keters notes,

Cus­tomers already are demand­ing that brands treat them as indi­vid­u­als. As response rates con­tinue to fall across chan­nels, forward-leaning mar­keters will cor­ral and har­ness all pos­si­ble data to opti­mize their mix of chan­nels, con­tent and cam­paigns around the customer.

In today’s blog, I will cover a key fea­ture offered by tech­nol­ogy: advanced ana­lyt­ics or micro-segmentation. This pow­er­ful fea­ture is being used by lead­ing orga­ni­za­tions to put the “me” in mar­ket­ing strate­gies in the era of Big Data and mul­ti­ple dig­i­tal channels.

Peo­ple Don’t Want Email, They Want “Me” Mail

How can your orga­ni­za­tion move from pro­duc­ing mass mar­ket­ing strate­gies to “me” mar­ket­ing strategies?

In the “Ten IT-Enabled Busi­ness Trends For The Decade Ahead,” the McK­in­sey Global Insti­tute (MGI) writes, “Con­sumers expect to be treated as indi­vid­u­als who are valu­able to the com­pa­nies they give their busi­ness to.” MGI goes on to note that orga­ni­za­tions that are able to “offer per­son­al­ized ser­vice are rewarded with greater loy­alty and sales.” Exam­ples of per­son­al­iza­tion include Amazon’s cus­tomized land­ing pages or a retailer’s cloth­ing page “remem­ber­ing” what their cus­tomer last searched for and pulling up related prod­ucts and offers.

Let’s look at an orga­ni­za­tion that is global in scope and per­sonal in its approach: Nike.

Nike Gets Personal

The Nike orga­ni­za­tion, has a suc­cess­ful online and offline per­son­al­iza­tion strat­egy for cus­tomers. Nike offers ser­vices such as allow­ing cus­tomers to design their own shoes, empow­er­ing the cus­tomer to order exactly what they want.

So where did Nike begin? How does a global, billion-dollar orga­ni­za­tion move from pro­duc­ing and mar­ket­ing to the masses to sit­ting down face to face with the indi­vid­ual cus­tomer? Nike deployed a Web con­tent man­age­ment solu­tion in order to coor­di­nate mes­sag­ing across dig­i­tal chan­nels. Imple­ment­ing a uni­fied plat­form enables orga­ni­za­tions to deliver con­sis­tency and cre­ativ­ity to their indi­vid­ual customers.

Micro-Segmentation: Plac­ing the “Me” in Marketing

Are you lis­ten­ing to the voice of the cus­tomer? Can you say that your orga­ni­za­tion is truly cus­tomer obsessed? If so, what are some indicators?

Accord­ing to For­rester Research, best prac­tices include embed­ding data and ana­lyt­ics into your design when you exe­cute mar­ket­ing strate­gies. In the “iCon­sumer: Dig­i­tal Con­sumers Alter­ing the Value Chain,” MGI fur­ther rec­om­mends build­ing an “edge with deep ana­lytic skills. Espe­cially as seg­ments get smaller and more pre­cise, the need to use data to opti­mize prod­uct devel­op­ment and mar­ket­ing will only grow. Lead­ing play­ers will test and mea­sure just about every­thing – and, ‘big data,’ sys­tems will sup­port and guide them.” As MGI points out, there is “incred­i­ble diver­sity in con­sumer behav­ior, mak­ing micro-segmentation nec­es­sary.” Today’s orga­ni­za­tions must go beyond the sim­ple seg­men­ta­tion of the past (using demo­graph­ics such as income, age, etc.) and move toward micro-segmentation, or the more gran­u­lar level of data. This data can be used to improve many dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tional processes that directly affect the cus­tomer. The iCon­sumer sug­gests that “incor­po­rat­ing prod­uct– and brand-specific usage, spend­ing, atti­tudes and needs can allow devel­op­ment of far more nuanced segments.”

Data should be ana­lyzed, not sim­ply gath­ered or aggre­gated. Tech­nol­ogy can pro­vide orga­ni­za­tions with the infor­ma­tion needed to gain the lead­ing edge, but with­out the ana­lyt­i­cal power of the human mind, data is essen­tially use­less. In The Mobile Mind Shift Index report, For­rester advises,

Ana­lyze data to land on the right fre­quency. Inter­act­ing with your cus­tomers many times a day isn’t a good thing if the inter­ac­tion isn’t rel­e­vant. One drug­store app gets bad reviews because even though it’s tied to a customer’s loy­alty card, it sends daily deals that have noth­ing to do with the customer’s pur­chase his­tory. If the brand started deliv­er­ing only rel­e­vant deals, it would send fewer alerts, which would save the com­pany money, drive up response rates, and make its cus­tomers think of it more as a util­ity and less as spam.

As orga­ni­za­tions move from mass mar­ket­ing to “me” mar­ket­ing, more com­mu­ni­ca­tion isn’t the right approach. It’s more about the right com­mu­ni­ca­tions, at the right fre­quency and the right time. Using ana­lyt­ics and micro-segmentation tools, you can help your orga­ni­za­tion move closer to those objec­tives. Remem­ber that the goal is to get closer to the con­sumer, to essen­tially greet them by name as if they were walk­ing through the doors of your mom and pop shop.