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.