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Big Data – Removing the peel to uncover your segments

Jed MoleSeptember 30, 2013

If you’ve been to a festival this summer or spent a day at the beach, you may have had the thought “Look at all these people here? Can we all really be unique?” After all, ‘birds of a feather do tend to flock together!’

For marketers wanting to segment audiences into distinct demographics, that question poses a serious challenge. Finding that one-in-a-million consumer who needs what’s on offer, separating the signals from the noise to find the perfect opportunity, is no simple slice of summer pudding.

Segmenting the crowd

How do you segment an audience? Geography, gender, age, and domestic circumstance are definable fields. But what if you want to focus on something less obvious? After all, a segment is any group of consumers who share something – anything – in common.

Data enables marketers to identify segments around that ‘anything’ and message them effectively. This ‘anything’ (e.g. cookery) can then be matched with consumer need – even if consumers don’t know they have that need (“It’s summer + I love cooking = I’m likely to want to cook outside!”). Tailored messages promoting products that fulfil those desires can then be driven. (For example, home improvement stores could target their outdoor BBQ’s to relevant and known cookery-loving segments).

Effectively, data allows organisations to identify and market to their one-in-a-million prospects at just the right moment – generating sales before that prospect even realised their need.

Identifying who you’re really targeting

However, today, this is just the beginning of segmentation. After identification, broad segments can be further drilled into, revealing additional related categories to market to. Using lifestyle data, social data and a wealth of combined consumer information such as purchasing histories, marketers can generate deeper, multi-dimensional insight that lets them see which consumers to contact with what specific messages. For example: How old are buyers? Have they shown a past interest in/ proof of budget to buy luxury products? Do they have a family?

Accurate data curation allows marketing communications to be as uniquely relevant to individuals as possible, retaining their brand interest and loyalty, increasing ROI and enhancing customer experiences.

Real-life data use

UK based charity Save the Children wanted to create a rounded picture of donor lifestyle attributes across different data segments to enable better-targeted, relevant, personalised communications. In response, Acxiom enhanced existing donor information with profiling data drawn from its UK-wide database. This allowed messaging and channel strategies to be refined yet varied, resulting in the best possible marketing effectiveness for the charity.

Removing the guesswork

A combination of location information, social, profiling and other data helps marketers develop full 360 pictures of consumers; invaluable when refining analytics models for new, untested targets. Data providers already have pre-defined segment selection criteria/ targeted lists to make best use of data for common products, services or targets.

Whatever the product, the use of data removes the guesswork to answer questions such as “who is actually buying the product? Is it the expected segment? What are their key characteristics? Do strategies need to be readjusted?”, continually enhancing and refining segments and marketing strategies.