Customer first. Customer-centricity. Customer is king. However you label it, meeting and exceeding customer expectations is the defining characteristic of successful brands. It leads to positive experiences, greater brand loyalty, and higher business growth.
But first you have to understand who your customers are. Which is why customer segmentation is so important. It reminds you who your typical (even ideal) customers are and what’s important to them. While this seems simple in its premise, re-aligning your whole business around customer needs is no easy feat. So how do you activate your segments to deliver the promised benefits of better experiences, brand loyalty and growth?
Michael Fisher, our lovely colleague over at partner agency Bonamy Finch provided the answer in a recent webinar on segmentation, marketing effectiveness and ROI. When discussing the impact of segmentation in long-term planning and short-term activations, he homed in on the crucial role that Insight Communities play.
An Insight Community is a way of conducting ongoing research with a group of users. They allow brands to engage with their customers (current and future) in real-time – in a safe, transparent, and secure online environment. They can tell you more about the motivations that determine whether your ad will land well, your new product feature welcomed or that new flavour you’ve created is appealing. They give you a ready-made way to conduct research over time but also – importantly – at specific points in time too.
The great advantage of using these platforms is that they can house multiple consumer segments on an ongoing basis.
Here’s four advantages in adopting segments within your Insight Community…
As Michael noted in his webinar, segmentations have less impact when they’re consigned to a report. Data-driven segmentation is all well and good for people who work with data every day. But not everyone does. Other business decision-makers need to see these segments and understand them. This is where Insight Communities really help.
Through techniques such as rich AV ethnographic content, voice of the customer reps or ‘meet the customer’ sessions, you can make personas feel like real people. By establishing an understanding of who the business is really targeting, you can create ‘stickiness’ for your segments internally. Others will know who they are because they are more tangible than words or pictures. Which means you can introduce segmentation much earlier into decision-making processes and increase the impact it will have on your business.
While data can tell you what to do, Insight Communities give data the context you need to know you’re making the right decisions. Simulate the marketing activity that you’re planning with an engaged community of high-profiled members and get instant results/feedback. Know what’s going to work and what’s not. With these results, you can then choose to implement the activity (or not) across your wider customer base. This reduces the risk that comes with committing significant resources to an activity without knowing how it will be received.
It’s the same for costs. Although there are plenty of data insights available these days, brands can still interpret them incorrectly. Insight Communities allow you to test your assumptions in the form of straplines, promotions or new service features and see what resonates. Then you can commission creative imagery and copy, allocate spend to one channel over another, or tweak your product range according to what customers are telling you. Don’t waste your limited marketing budget on educated guesses.
Insight Communities perform a dual role. On the one hand, they give you the information you need to adjust your long-term strategic objectives and maintain growth. On the other, they give you the opportunity to react quickly to new customer demands. Deliveroo is a great example. The global pandemic saw a huge rise in consumer interest for home delivered groceries. The company knew it was well-equipped to serve this new market. And it used Insight Communities to rapidly test innovations to swiftly become a leader in this space. Instead of a bunch of internal stakeholders debating whether feature A or B will work best, Deliveroo jumped straight into testing. With established Insight Communities, it could test with particular segments rather than its entire customer base. So agility in product innovation was equally matched by agility in product development and marketing.
A common stumbling block when activating segments is applying them to your database/CRM/data lake/marketing etc. All too often these different tools will sit on different infrastructure and so segments will have to be applied on a case-by-case basis. The great advantage of using an Insight Community is that it can draw in data from your other research projects. Segmentation is a great example of this. If your members can be accurately allotted into segments and if both sets of data can easily mesh, then the segmentation can inform the Insight Community’s work without being dependent on it. This could then be overlaid with data from your CRM, loyalty cards etc to build up a fuller picture which can help you to ensure that the members in your community reflect the wider world without.
Whether you are assessing whether or not an Insight Community is right for you, or are looking to get more out of your existing platform, we are here to help!