When it comes to customer segmentation in the new normal, marketers need to do some serious training. Segmentations are massive undertakings that lost a lot of luster during the pandemic, where the dramatic impact on customer behavior took what would have been a months-long process and condensed it into just a few days.
Many of the segmentations done just prior to the pandemic lost utility in the face of entirely new buying behavior. That’s why there are a number of points for choosing the segmentation that best suits each business.
Despite its challenges, segmentation remains an important element of the marketer’s toolbox to help group and communicate with customers. However, rather than duplicating the frequency of traditional rigid segmentation, there are now massive data sets available in near real-time to make segmentations more flexible.
Because of the complications of segmentations, many companies today may choose to avoid them altogether and rely on instinct to identify customer profiles or target opportunities. However, data (loyalty, past purchases, contextual, behavioral) can give marketers visibility into customer behavior during and after massive social changes.
Customer Data Platforms (CDP)
CDPs became a popular way for marketers to make data actionable. They configure data from a variety of different sources and allow marketers to build their own segments. A CDP allows a brand to adjust its marketing efforts to the current context of its customers through customer segmentation and real-time decision making. This made CDPs very popular in the COVID-19 era. According to Gartner’s Marketing Technology Survey 2020, 87% of respondents say they either have a customer data platform (CDP) fully implemented or are currently implementing one.
The power of social media
Marketers can gather more information and then personalize messages to customers based on their social media engagement. However, it’s nearly impossible to scale and personalize marketing based on individual engagement. This is where market segmentation based on social media behavior becomes valuable. According to Hootsuite’s Social Trends 2021 report, “social media segmentation can offer richer, more relevant and emotional bases for defining audiences beyond simple demographics.” Social media profiling goes beyond individuals and individual data points. It takes thousands or even millions of data points to show a trend meaningful enough for targeted advertising. Because a customer’s online behavior closely mimics their offline tastes and interests, social networks allow marketers to segment behavioral lifestyles among different audiences in real time.
If flexibility comes with practice, then 2021 will be a year for marketers to reinvent and reorganize the way they segment customers based on better data. Despite their shortcomings, segmentations are still valuable tools if used correctly. CDPs and social media information allow marketers to more easily gain insights into customer behavior without having to wait months on survey data. At the end of the day, customers want personalized experiences, which means marketers must react quickly to changes in behavior. Today’s flexible segmentation is making this possible.