How-To Personalization Spotlight: How to Make the Most of Targeted Audience Segments

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By Natalie Dollinger

What if you could segment your customers into audiences of people who browse online but only buy in store? Or have an affinity toward your highest margin products? Or only purchase products when they’ve been marked down by over 40%?

It might seem like an impossible dream, but building these types of audience segments is actually well within reach. As it turns out, you very likely already have all the data you need to do so because every time your customers interact with your emails, your website or any of your other digital marketing efforts, they leave behind a trail of information. From there, it’s simply a matter of having the tools to combine and segment all of that data in the right ways.

 

How to Build Ultra-Targeted Audience Segments

The technologies you use for most channels (e.g. your ESP, DSP) offer segmentation tools, and those are certainly a good place to start when you want to create targeted audiences.

But what if you could build your audience segments in one place that would act as a single source of truth? And what if you could easily push those audience segments out to any channel of your choice? It would help remove many of the barriers that exist when marketing gets siloed by channel (without the multi-year undertaking of redoing your entire marketing stack), improve consistency across all of your marketing to provide a better experience for customers and help uncover new opportunities to reach previously unreachable customers.

Even better, what if that single source of truth for audience creation offered supercharged segmenting capabilities, for example the ability to use predictive models to understand retail-specific factors like customer lifecycle stage, discount preference and likelihood to convert? It would allow you to take your personalized marketing to an entirely new level.

Fortunately for you, today’s technology not only makes all of that possible, it also makes it easy. So easy that you should be able to build targeted audience segments based on any number of factors in minutes (yes, you read that right). People who carted a full price item? Done. People who searched for cat shirts? No sweat. People who browsed on Black Friday last year, didn’t purchase, have an affinity for cashmere sweaters and opened an email last week? I think you get the idea.

 

How to Put Your Ultra-Targeted Audience Segments to Work

Once you have those audience segments, it’s only the beginning. At the end of the day, being able to segment your customers into ultra-targeted audiences is a big win, but it’s only the first step. That’s because those audience segments won’t do you any good if you can’t actually use them throughout your marketing campaigns. So how can you put those audience segments to work to run personalized campaigns? And where should you focus your efforts? Start here:

 

Personalize the Shopper Experience on First Party Channels

Let’s start with the seemingly obvious places — first party channels that you own like email, SMS and in-app notifications.

In these cases, you can take your targeted audience segments and push them to the tools you use to manage first party channels, such as your ESP. This approach allows you to get even more targeted than those channels typically make possible, offering a way to supercharge your efforts.

Once you’ve pushed your audience segments to those channels, you can then use them to personalize communications. For instance, you might personalize the products you feature or the discounts you offer to different audience segments. And those are just two examples of many, as the options are plentiful.

On the flip side, you might also consider using those targeted audience segments as exclusion lists in cases where you don’t want to hit certain people. Remember: Personalization is as much about what you don’t send people as it is about what you do send them.

 

Bring Deeper Intelligence to Third Party Channels

Next we have third party digital channels like your DSP, AdWords and Facebook. In these cases, you have another opportunity to get more targeted in how you interact with customers and add unique filters that these channels don’t natively support.

For example, you might want to:

  • Separate discount and full price buyers to maintain margins on customers who are willing to pay full price
  • Target customers with a low likelihood to open emails on a channel where they may be more likely to convert
  • Increase ad spend for customers with a high predicted lifetime value
  • Use an audience of customers with a high predicted lifetime value for lookalike modeling
  • Personalize ad creative for audiences segmented based on category affinities
  • Target customers based on web behaviors and custom events

 

Identify Opportunities to Think Outside the Screen

Finally, look for opportunities to get creative and use your audience segments on new (or even old) channels — even those that extend beyond the screen. For example, consider how you can personalize direct mail.

Direct mail might seem like an outdated channel or one where there’s not much room for innovation, but many retailers have found success taking personalization offline by using their audience segments to drive more targeted direct mail campaigns.

 

It’s All About What You Do With Data

At the end of the day, the opportunities for personalization extend to whatever you can imagine. But bringing those ideas to life requires you to (1) have the right data, (2) be able to segment that data in a variety of ways quickly and (3) know how to push those audience segments out to different channels to put them to work. With that in mind, do you have what it takes to create a truly personalized experience?

What do you need to make it happen? And how do your capabilities stack up to those of other retailers? Check out our recent report to find out.

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