How to avoid a CIO segmentation soup: What the ‘devil’ can teach us about personalisation

Tech Heads 2014 is our annual survey of tech buyers in the SME and enterprise sectors, looking at how content influences buying behaviours. We think it’s a must-read for any tech marketer. Entitled The Human CIO, this year’s research gets closer to our digital decision-makers’ blood supply. There are five recommendations on the last page of Tech Heads 2014 research report. Let’s have a look at each of them in turn with a post to give some details and practical advice, starting with the first recommendation: Get Personal. In our research, personalisation* was considered ‘critical’ by 37% of respondents and ‘important’ by 52% (89% combined). Segmenting, Targeting and Personalistion The key ‘tip’ in getting personal is to understand that segmenting, targeting and personalising are different things. In thinking that we can be GCHQ, M and James Bond all at once, the risk is that we jumble these stages up, spend budget and engage nobody. Segmentation is not targeting. Persona workshops are somewhat to blame for seeing them as one thing. We get our ‘Sales Steve’ and ‘Finance Fred’ from a sort of segmentation / targeting hybrid. In research, you can segment anything. It is simply a case of breaking down data into groups – in most case audience attributes, behaviours or characteristics. There is no ‘right’ segment. The decision to segment in a certain way should be driven by how these segments influence commercial outcomes. For your particular product or service it may be that vertical market, company size, job role, or geography are more effective ways of understanding the audience need. Of course, it may be a combination of these factors. Freakonomically speaking it could be the status, diet, or even cultural take on contraception that proves most effective for understanding audience differences! As segmentation is the prequel to targeting, get something wrong here and the error can be exponential. For example, it can lead to personas that are too crude. The result is content that becomes dry very quickly as the topics are too generic, which equates to poor targeting. Subsequently, if targeting is off then personalisation becomes very uncomfortable. There’s a great scene in Devil Wears Prada where Glenn Close is prompted and briefed in real time by her PAs on the people she greets at a cocktail party. That’s not ‘knowing the customer’ but it’s creepily appropriate for what bad CRM looks like. Devil Wears Prada   Personalisation can be creepy all round. “We want to know where they live!” I’ve heard this comment from a client in a meeting about targeting C-level IT people. No joke. As if somehow this knowledge equates to better marketing? Think of personalisation as an outcome Effective personalisation can be informed by DNA-level knowledge of a buyer, but it’s actually better understood as an outcome. It’s the ‘impression’ that you leave with a prospect. This is a combination of good data, good planning and good people getting across the right message. Software alone will not get you there. Here’s the conundrum: at the start of the segmentation, targeting and personalisation process we don’t rely on technology or data nearly enough and at the end we tend to rely on it way too much. Below is a funnel of how we think it should break down (A) and what can happen when you get the route to personalisation mixed up (B) BlogPictures   The tip on getting personal is that you need to get the route to personalisation right and demonstrate to the customer or prospect that you know them. Whilst we may think that highly prescriptive content and targeting constricts the marketing process, the opposite is often true. How could your current approach evolve? To get a fresh pair of eyes on the segmentation, targeting and personalisation of your marketing outputs, why not try our free marketing diagnostic? Stay tuned The next topic to address from our TechHeads research summary is how to ‘Create Valuable Content’. This post will get throw light on what ‘value’ is for content and how to make content more useful to your audience. *Overall, how important is it to you to have a personalised service from technology vendors? By this, I mean a service whereby you are treated as an individual and where your interactions, both online and offline, are tailored specifically to you.