Real-time Customer Segmentation

I’ve been around long enough to have heard the term “real-time” associated with a variety of marketing technologies, how about you?  And I often wonder about the value of that type of immediacy let alone the possibility of actually interacting in real time with my customers.  It’s always been one of those marketing aspirations which seems never quite actualized.  Or at best, it’s realized in a very mechanical way, such as re-directing a consumer to a new offer branch in a campaign based on their real-time response in a campaign.  All of which is better by far than the “blast” form of email or direct mail – which is still practiced in many industries.

In my opinion, the only value in “real-time” is knowing who your customer is in that moment as they interact with your brand.  And by “who” I really mean not only their demographics or psychographics but also their past behaviors and transactions all of which tell me something about their capacity and propensity to buy as well as their interest in/affinity towards my product.  When properly modeled the result is a score that  effectively segments your customer according to their lifetime value to your brand which enables you to deliver the most personalized, effective offer at the most profitable price.  This is real-time segmentation.

There are numerous approaches to segmentation from the simple demographic/psychographic classifications to sub-segmentations which employ sophisticated modeling techniques like factor and cluster analysis.   Ultimately most segmentation models give you a piece of the picture but even when they come close to the full definition of “who” the customer is, the result is in the “rear-view.”  The learnings  are applied after the fact, in a sense they describe who your customer “was.”   The moment of connection with your customer is lost or delayed.  The most sophisticated companies will rigorously update their customer segmentation models, but again, they are not describing the customer in “real-time” purchasing mode.

Real-time segmentation and scoring is possible today and will soon be enhancing the customer experience in not only call centers and online, but also in social and mobile channels.

Ask me about how!

Ann McCartan, DBMCatalyst

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