How to build a modern audience segmentation strategy

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Imagine if you could always be in touch with your customer – at any time and any place. No spam, only real-time interactions that the customer really needs. Sounds complicated?

Just think about a few different cases that a customer can experience:

  • A customer undecided and stuck at the checkout – receives an auto-support chat message.
  • A customer not sure about the pricing plans – receives an explanation email.
  • A customer just entered your hotel or a store – receives a welcome message via SMS.
  • A customer is inactive for a few weeks –  receives a push notification with a win-back offer.

All these real-time interactions might seem challenging to track and orchestrate. However, with modern audience segmentation tools, you can smoothly capture all customer behavior, segment them and trigger personalized messaging campaigns across different data sources.

Let’s dive deeper and explore how you can improve your audience segmentation strategy and provide personalized experiences to increase your customer lifetime value significantly.

Streamline the customer data

Customers are engaging with brands across an increasing number of digital touchpoints. For businesses, the increased amount of customer data presents both an opportunity and a challenge. Detailed activity statistics provide insight into customer interests, tendencies, product usage, market trends, and more. However, using data effectively requires unrestricted access to that data, a system to ensure data quality (consistency and accuracy), and infrastructure to enable product and marketing teams to activate that data.

One of the most efficient ways to streamline the customer data is by implementing audience segmentation. Audience segmentation is the process of identifying cohorts within your customer base and designing user experiences based on their behavior. Customer segmentation is not a novel concept –  businesses have been creating customer segments for years. But the fact is that many of the segmentation concepts that brands have relied upon (for example, .csv exports or manual list builds) are resource and time inefficient. To activate data immediately and deliver real-time experiences,  you need a modern audience segmentation tool.

Building blocks of a modern segmentation engine

Audience segmentation demands specific audience analysis tools, accessible data-sources, and organizational capabilities. Once you have your infrastructure in place, you can start building your segments.

Here are the main building blocks of a modern segmentation engine:

  • Advanced customer data collection
  • Cross-channel identity resolution
  • Real-time audience infrastructure
  • Flexible segment grouping
  • Cross-channel targetingReal-time customer data collection

Advanced and highly targeted audience segments are built on quality customer data. The first step is to ensure that you have the infrastructure to track user events in real-time across different channels. If customers are engaging with your business across multiple digital channels (iOS, Android, website, etc.), you should use a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to collect event data. CDPs gather data from different platforms and merge it into a single customer database. Such infrastructure allows you to build audience segments based on cross-channel engagement.

There few critical points which are required to be considered when evaluating cross-channel data collections:

1. Data quality. Data collection must be accurate to be implemented consistently across platforms. You need to make sure that events are correctly tracked before sending them downstream.

2. Data access. Developers usually do a technical implementation, but marketers and product managers need to easily access and manipulate the data. Business users must have access to high-quality customer data and analyze it without additional technical difficulties.

3. Technical overhead. Implementing event collection can lead to developers’ ongoing technical tasks (updating SDKs, add event modifications, etc.). You need to make sure that engineers are not spending too much time on platform maintenance.

Intempt enables you to activate your customer data with minimal technical implementation required. Intuitive visual event and segment editor minimizes the need for developer involvement and streamlines the campaign building process. Quickly set up your sources and event collections across different channels and start building your audience segments within minutes.

Cross-channel identity resolution

To implement audience segmentation successfully, it’s vital to have a sophisticated identity management solution. When you’re collecting events from different platforms (mobile, web, POS, CRM, etc.), it can become challenging to understand how users engage with your brand. A single user can browse a product on your website, click on a relevant ad, open an email or SMS promoting that product, all before purchasing that product on the mobile app. Without the ability to link those actions to a unified customer profile, some of your systems may have no way of knowing that this purchase has already been made. In this case, customers will continue to receive promotional messaging even after a purchase. Such marketing is not only inefficient but also significantly degrades the user experience. The only solution here is to have an identity management solution like a CDP that can identify cross channel users and unify their profiles into one master user identity.

Example:

The user (let’s name her  Vanessa) visited an online store. Vanessa browsed several dresses, viewed different accessories, registered, but disappointed with the selection, exited the website.

After a few hours, Vanessa decided to give it another shot. She re-opened the homepage, this time, noticed more relevant dress offers.

While on the go, she downloaded the store’s app. Vanessa opened the app, logged in, and started browsing the dress offers immediately from the main screen.

What happened here?

After viewing the “Dress collection” category and accessing several other dress items, Vanessa was assigned to the “Category affinity: Dresses” segment. Once Vanessa re-opened the home page, the content changed to show personalized information for dress items.

The same happened once Vanessa opened the app. During login, she entered her email and was identified as the same customer browsing on the web. The content changed both in the app and web site of Intempt Demo Store.

After interacting with the brand across these two channels, Vanessa was identified as one master user, and this enabled the online store to show personalized information to her. This is the real power of cross channel identity – create accurate customer segments that can allow you to create personalized and seamless experiences across channels.

Real-time audience infrastructure

The more up-to-date your audience segments are, the more valuable they become. Not long ago, segments were mainly updated periodically (through bulk processing or manual .csv upload). However, this approach only works fine if you are analyzing the historical data. If you are receiving real-time data, it increases the risk of delivering out-of-date experiences to your customers.

For example, suppose your marketing campaign’s target audience is only updated once or twice per day. In that case, you may be sending promotional emails to customers that have already converted within the refresh period. Besides, if a customer opts-out of marketing communication, you must make sure that you comply with GDPR or CCPA regulations and stop sending promotional messages immediately after the user expresses their consent.

To adapt to dynamic compliance requirements and deliver messaging relevant to your users in real-time, you need to construct your audience segmentation infrastructure with tools that offer API-based audience updates. Once you implement these foundations,  you can use segmentation to carry out many advanced use cases, such as transactional messaging, cross-channel campaigns, or location-based targeting.

Example:

The user (let’s continue Vanessa’s story) spotted a lovely dress in an online shop, but she was still unsure about the dress size, so she decided to drive to the offline store (same brand).

Vanessa arrived at the store, tried on the dress. It fitted her nicely, but she was still hesitant. At that moment, Vanessa received a push notification to her phone to try a necklace, which would complete her look.

She tried it on and was amazed at how great it looks on her. Instead of buying one item, Vanessa decides to purchase two things – a dress and a necklace.

What happened here?

Vanessa received this timely push notification because she was assigned to the segment „Webroomer: dresses,” which automatically triggered a messaging destination.

Here is how the segment got activated.

Before going to the offline store, Vanessa browsed the online shop and clicked on the “Dresses” category. By doing that, she made a “Browsed “Dress items” event. She also clicked the “Add to cart” button – this was another event in the segment. What is more, Vanessa did not make any purchases, both offline and online – two more events. The last part of the segment is “Entry to Store.” After Vanessa entered the store, she triggered a beacon, and her entry data was sent to the server. The whole segment got activated, and Vanessa received a recommendation to try on the necklace that eventually led to an upsell.

Cross-channel targeting

As customers engage across an increasing number of channels and devices, it’s essential to make sure that your messaging is in-sync across platforms. Cross-channel campaigns leverage data and insights gained in one channel to inform customer experiences in other channels. For example, if a customer favorites a specific product in your mobile app, you can build a cross-channel campaign to deliver that customer contextual offers on Facebook and/or through email.

To build a cross-channel campaign, it’s essential to ensure that you’re collecting data from across sources into a single system and that all customer activity is tied to a unique customer profile. Customer Data Platforms are particularly valuable when building cross-channel campaigns, as they automate data collection from across channels, ensure that that data is consistent according to your data schema, and make it easy for business users to access that data and use it to build audiences without developer support.

Example:

User (let’s name him John) arrived at the hotel and approached the reception. After he checked in, the receptionist offered him a $30 SPA voucher for any selected services. John was delighted and opted for a Thai massage and paid $25 extra to get the service.

What happened here?

Activation of a few different cross-channel events led to the personalized SPA offer.

During the online booking, John checked the box “Add a full day Hotel SPA access.” Later he unchecked the box, but his action was tracked. He had also booked a room (Hotel Booking Web) but had not booked a SPA through any channels. After John entered the hotel, he triggered a beacon, and his entry data was sent to the server. The entire segment was activated. The hotel receptionist received a segment-linked CRM notification to offer John a $30 SPA voucher.

This is how user interaction data made a cross-channel transition from web to proximity and finally to the hotel CRM database. This enabled to provide a delightful offer for a customer who was not expecting it.

Flexible segment grouping

In essence, segmentation is a combination of user-related conditions. It can be a set of events, user attributes, location restrictions, and many more properties to define an audience segment. However, how different conditions are combined is an equally critical part of the modern segmentation engine.

The most basic segment creation logic is simply summing the different conditions. For example:

A (users who clicked on the “Add to cart” button)

B (users who visited checkout page)

C (users who did not finish the transaction within the last hour)

Here is the simple formula:  A + B + C; in other words, all the conditions are equal and mutually required for the user to be assigned to this segment.

However, there is a more advanced way to group the segments. You can apply different operators and even brackets to create highly targeted and flexible segments. Let’s expand on the previous example:

  • A (users who clicked on the “Add to cart” button)
  • B (users who visited checkout page)
  • C (users who did not finish the transaction within the last hour)
  • D (users who visited a category page)
  • E (users who added items to wishlist)
  • F (users who placed the order but did not finish the payment process)

The formula, in this case, can be:

(A + B + C) or (D + E) or F

As we see, segment conditions got expanded, but we are still targeting those users who did not finish their purchase. So both A+B+C or D+E or F groups can be sufficient alone to meet the segment’s criteria and deliver highly targeted cart abandonment emails.

In a modern audience segmentation engine, flexible condition grouping is a must. With Intempt Platform, you can apply these principles to create advanced segmentation logic, filter your audience the way you need, and target only those customers who can be activated by your message.

Build modern segmentation with Intempt

Intempt is a pipelines, audiences, and metrics platform that, at its core, has an advanced segmentation engine. With Intempt, you have all your modern segmentation needs covered:

  • Advanced data collection infrastructure
  • Real-time segment processing and activation through multiple destinations
  • Cross channel targeting
  • Flexible segment grouping
  • Expand possibilities by adding Pipelines and Metrics products to implement even more advanced segmentation use cases

Try building segments for yourself with Intempt’s free trial. Go to app.intempt.com to activate your free platform onboarding. Feel free to test the waters with the comprehensive connector ecosystem that Intempt offers, which extends well beyond the segmentation engine.

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Sid Chaudhary

Sid Chaudhary

CEO & Founder

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