Keeping It Personal: Tips for Better Segmenting

It seems like every time I open my feed reader I see an article about personalizing (or segmenting) marketing messages. Highly targeted marketing is far more effective, and less expensive, than simply blasting generic marketing messages out to all your customers.

I recently purchased a new pair of headphones from Amazon.com. A few days later, I received an email from Amazon listing its bestselling headphones of the particular brand I bought. The same thing happened shortly after I purchased a digital SLR camera. I received several emails advertising “Bestselling DSLRs,” and even one featuring the actual camera acquired.

Does Amazon really think I’ll buy two pairs of headphones in a month, or two brand -new cameras back to back? No, these emails were simply a product of behavior targeting gone awry. Amazon’s email targeting has no clue I purchased these products. Their systems must simply be looking at my browsing history.

Amazon would be far more effective if they instead, suggested bestselling accessories for my new camera, or products purchased with studio headphones (such as microphones or headphone amplifiers, for example).

Here are my tips for better segmenting:

Account for Conversions

Don’t simply look at visitor information; pay attention to conversions as well. After a conversion takes place, your marketing should shift from trying to close the sale on a product to selling accessories or complimentary products.

Take Care with Personalizing Emails

I’ve received emails from some online retailers stating, “We noticed you placed this item in your shopping cart, but didn’t complete your order.” While I understand the technical possibilities of targeting users’ behavior, the average website visitor does not. It can make some visitors uncomfortable that you track so much information about them.

Use Segmentation Across Multiple Channels

Amazon does this well—its website and emails are highly targeted. Apart from the occasional glitch (like the one mentioned above), Amazon is very good at suggesting items I like. These suggestions are based on my browsing habits and past purchases, and are made on its website and in the many emails I receive.

Allow Opt-out

Allow your customers to opt-out of highly personalized marketing, on both a global and per-product (or service) level. I may have purchased an item as a gift, so in this instance, it would be ineffective to target additional products based on that purchase.

note:Want more?

If you want to read more from Brandon, subscribe to our weekly web business newsletter, the SitePoint Tribune.

Free book: Jump Start HTML5 Basics

Grab a free copy of one our latest ebooks! Packed with hints and tips on HTML5's most powerful new features.

  • commenter

    During the Christmas Countdown promotion Sitepoint missed the target, or at least with me you did.

    I had previously downloaded sample chapters from a number of php books. During the above Countdown period I got an email reminding me I could buy a particular title pdf at full price. This email arrived a couple of days AFTER the title had been in the special offer. If it had been sent when the offer was open I would have taken it up. (I was able to get a bit later anyway but …)

    We often know quite a lot about our customers but perhaps we are sometimes guilty of not doing “joined up thinking”.