There are several different ways to approach segmentation, making it important to determine meaningful groups into which to divide your database. This could be based on individual characteristics like geographical location or attendance history. Alternately, you can segment based on targeted messaging when you desire to speak to audiences differently like special offers for past attendees or specific education tracks targeted by job function.
Marketing Segmentation vs. Analytical Segmentation
Just because you can segment an audience and send a specific message to them, doesn’t mean that you should. If all the distinct groups within a segment respond similarly to your marketing efforts, then that segmentation may not be a useful one with regards to your marketing campaign. However, this does not mean it isn’t worthwhile to drill down into such segments in your analytics. Valuable business intelligence can come from the analytical review by segment and can drive future marketing strategy.
For example, it may not make sense to create separate emails promoting the expo to each job function category in your database, however, analyzing how the email performed and which links were clicked by job function, could provide valuable information that informs future campaign strategy.
Using segmentation to target can cut costs and increase campaign conversions. But it should be balanced with the opportunity to speak to your entire prospect database. It’s important to be careful when segmenting to determine who to market to. You want to segment when a message is only relevant to that particular segment of the database, or when seeking data-driven rationale for decreasing audience size, such as minimizing direct mail costs. Too much segmentation, in addition to requiring time and resources can actually be harmful to your results. Testing and optimization of campaigns requires critical mass. If you split your campaign into tiny segments you won’t gather enough data to infer trends and make informed decisions.
To this end, if you are relying on too small of a sample size to make customization decisions, you could be over-customizing a message that actually reduces clarity and causes distraction.
There are a couple of segments that are shared by all events and should be given some consideration. The first is alumni, those who attended your event last year. Given their recent history with your event, this audience is already aware of your value proposition. It is often best to reach this audience at the beginning of the campaign cycle with messaging and offers that appeal to their loyalty and create ease of registration.
The second audience that an event should consider for segmentation is the local audience. Whether the event location changes each year or remains constant, those within a 200-mile radius who are able to drive in, can be targeted closer to the event as the lead time required to make an attendance decision. Shauna recommends targeting this audience with last minute offers that capitalize of the ease of access maximize opportunity to engage this audience.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t include alumni and local audiences in your general campaign outreach, it just means that there are times when it makes more sense to target these audiences segmented campaigns. It’s the combination of these two approaches that leads to the greatest outcome.
A version of this content originally appeared in PCMA Convene November 2018