Friday, November 24

Segmentation: What they want, when, why and how

We're in a lucky position online. We can know who's reading our sites, what they do, how long they spend there, where they're from and what they'll do next time they visit. You would think making use of this would be a top priority for marketeers and website owners. Not so.

If I visit an airlines website in the morning, versus lunchtime, versus evening/weekend, each time my likelihood to buy will be different, and the information I seek will too. Perhaps for research at lunchtime, since I'm slightly rushed, but ready to buy in the evening.

In the publishing industry it's easier to see; give me fun stuff on Friday afternoon, hit me with the hard facts on Monday morning. Or in more detail, facts and talking points first thing in the morning, light entertainment and features around lunch, breaking news and updates through the afternoon. And change the content mix through the week.

In my experience, the large internet operations are overwhelmed with data, so senior execs skim the 'topline' indicators. And aside from manual efforts to 'recreate' this experience, there are precious few examples of sites that embrace this.

For a long-time I have applied the disciplines of optimising e-commerce sites to every internet business I work with. It forces you to really segment audiences, understand groups of behaviour and ultimately get the product more relevant to each user.

Now with a healthy dose of capital, companies like Leiki will license you the tools for dynamic content serving - the right content, to the right people. And if you've got the budget, it's worth every penny.

But when this technology forms part of common, open source content management tools - WordPress, Blogger or even behind MySpace and Digg, this kind of segmentation will really take off.

If you're in any doubt, think of the premium you pay to advertise to a 'personal finance' user online (a segment) and then how you treat just like anyone else when they arrive at your site. Spend the money at the other end and the improvements will go straight to the bottom line.

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