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Segment Like Never Before: Harmonizing Marketing and IT

In the first two parts of this blog series I have been covering two of the four key pain points marketers face in customer segmentation, the data being all over the place and the nature of that data and why it is so difficult to deal with it on a daily basis. In this part, I would like to share some observations that I made in the many customer visits particularly around the expectations of the business and their frustration in case they don’t have a powerful solution that truly enables them to be an empowered marketer.

 

So from the helm of a marketing manager, the process starts with a request to run a campaign. A campaign may be executed as part of a broad strategic marketing plan or it may be ad hoc; in order to act or react to a situation happening in the market right now. There might be other responsible parties involved, such as a product or brand manager, a sales colleague, a business analyst or a 3rd party marketing agency.

 

The roles are valuable in helping define the key criteria to use to identify the “right” target group. Unless you have a tool that allows you to check against customer and other data, this is based to a large extent on assumptions, experience from the past or simply mandatory criteria that are derived for that particular campaign, the execution channel, or other prerequisites. So, for example, if you are an automobile company, and you want to run an Email campaign on a sports car, you will focus on all customers with Opt-In for Email but exclude everyone who has recently bought this product already. This method allows for a degree of freedom for all experts to add to that list of sports car prospects. But at some point, with the list of criteria in your hands, you’ll then need to reach out to either your IT department or a shared service center via Phone, Email or sharing applications to file that request within your organization.

 

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After some time, which may be days, weeks, or even more, your organizations’ IT department provides the list of customers, but immediately you realize that the list is too short, too long or simply not what you were looking for.  Or – whilst waiting for the list – some of your colleagues showed up and added another set of criteria to refine the original list. So you’ll need to update or – worst case – even refile your request and wait for the next list to come across.  This is a reiterative process that can take months to complete, and doesn’t provide a level of comfort or atmosphere where I would be thrilled to find the “best” target group for my campaign because it simply takes too long.  Further, not being able to check against the data myself, I am anything else but empowered to ask the right questions based on facts of my customer data and need to work against assumptions.  Furthermore, this back and forth is frustrating for IT too!

 

So as a marketing manager, my expectation is that I interact with the ease-of-use which we term ‘consumer-grade’.   I’ll need access to all customer data, options to collaborate with my colleagues around the exact definition of a target group, plus a powerful engine that allows me to query the data highly flexible.

We’ll take a closer look at innovative and advanced capabilities that marketing users would love to see once they are empowered to do segmentation on their own in the next blog.

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