Forget the Marketing Funnel

The traditional idea of the customer journey is focused on the concept of the customer funnel. Driving a customer from awareness and interest down into a purchase – then rinse and repeat to increase brand loyalty and repeat purchases. However, in reality, the customer journey is more complex and variable. In today’s digital-driven mindset, it’s defined – and consistently and constantly redefined – by consumer intent. 

Allan Thygesen, Google’s President of the Americas, reported on this shift in October 2018, commenting that predicting consumer intent and using real-time behaviors to segment customers is critical in impacting consumer decisions. Additionally, this article reported on a study that found preference [for a brand] is harder to achieve than satisfaction [with the brand]. Meaning, you can have a consumer who is completely satisfied with the brand and may still leave the brand due to low engagement or interest in competitors.

The broadening and narrowing of the consumer’s intent and consideration means that brands need to shift their thinking away from the funnel and understand the customer journey as more than the sum of touchpoints. This means brands need to be more surgical and responsive to where a consumer is within their journey when considering how to guide them towards conversion (initial or repeat).

Basic Segmentation all Wineries Should Utilize

In its most basic form a segment is a group of customers who have a commonality. Almost every wine brand with a DTC component has a defined marketing schedule where they circulate brand news and offers to their consumers. Many of these brands do a great job of surface-level segmentation, usually focused around whether a customer is a club member or not. Members receive pre-release information, access to exclusive products not available to non-members and so on. However, beyond this basic member/non-member qualifier segmentation is less common.

Understanding who your customers are beyond their member or non-member status is key to understanding when and how to impact their journey. There are various ways to segment your customers and understanding and utilizing these segments improves the response to marketing efforts. 

Varietal Segmentation This is pretty common. Segment your customer based on their past purchases of a given varietal so you know you are sending an offer with wines that are relevant to their preferences. 

Recent Purchase Segmentation Identify customers who have made a purchase in the last 6 months. These customers have recently engaged with your brand and you want to help facilitate their customer journey. Once these customers are identified, segment them by the number of orders they’ve placed and craft different messages that resonate with the consumer in each stage. For example, you wouldn’t want to send a “Welcome to Our Brand” style email to someone who has purchased with you repeatedly, but this might be appropriate for customers who have only made 1-2 purchases. 

Drop Off Segmentation Target customers who have not purchased in the last 6-12 months with an email containing a special incentive to purchase, or upload the list to social media and target them with an ad. Regardless of the method you choose it’s great to remind these consumers about your brand and encourage them to re-engage.  

Beyond the Basics: Dynamic Segmentation

Dynamic segmentation takes segmentation a step further.  Rather than a set list or single criteria, segments are fluid groups and are often segments within a larger cohort. Customers move in and out of the cohort as they meet (or don’t meet) defined criteria. We discuss the basics of this in our last post, focusing on the molecular foundation of the customer journey. To review, we divide customers into four different cohorts, top performers, consistent buyers, casual buyers and spectators.

Once in divided into groups based on their importance to your business you can further segment those cohorts into smaller groups based on their recent behavior. This allows you to conduct targeted and personalized interventions that fit within and across your conventional marketing efforts, adding an additional layer of touch at intervention points.  By segmenting you segments you can treat customers differently based on their relationship and value to your business. 

Dynamic segmentation is a powerful tool because it enables marketers to target customer cohorts based on their recent actions rather than sending the same message to your entire list. Dynamic segments are great to layer into marketing efforts. They support and bolster existing marketing by engaging consumers when they reach critical points in their journey. 

These interventions should be specific to the customer cohort and the filtered segments within based on journey points. For example, a person whose spending pattern is increasing should not receive the same intervention as someone whose spending pattern is slowing, nor should someone who has just begun their journey with a brand receive the same message as someone who has been loyal for several years. Interweaving these two approaches provides even greater specificity when attempting to guide the customer journey.

Focus on the Segment with the Most Potential

You always want to put resources where they will have the most impact. In the example above this is the consistent buyer cohort. They are above average customers, active purchasers, and are engaged with the brand. Their purchasing profiles often mimic those of the top performers. They’re similar in the wines they buy and their purchasing timelines. This means customers in the consistent buyer cohort have a high potential for growth and are excellent candidates for upward movement if nurtured properly. This is why we suggest starting your segmentation journey with your above average customers and when beginning to layer in dynamic segmentation interventions.

Putting Dynamic Segmentation Into Action

Define Your Goals

The first step when using any segmentation is to define your goals. Defined goals naturally lead to strategy and defined outcomes. It also allows for hypothesis testing and easy scaling to other cohorts when you are ready. Your goals should align with the customer’s intent to best influence conversion and brand engagement. 

Set a Control Group and a Test Group

When first starting with dynamic segmentation, approach your interventions as if they are experiments, recognizing that not all interventions will provide you with your desired outcomes. This is why you should start with a control group (a group of customers who does not get the intervention) and a small test group, where you can easily track outcomes. Once the test is done, compare the two groups. Was there a significant increase in sales or communications from the test group? If so, you can then apply the technique confidently with the rest of the cohort. If not, you test a different intervention. Remember, sometimes interventions can take 2 months to drive conversions within the new journey model, with its iterative broadening and narrowing steps through interest and evaluation. 

Apply The Most Successful Treatment Across the Segment

Once tested, measured and determined the most successful treatment strategy for a segment apply it to the entire segment moving forward. 

Layer in Other Segments to your Strategy

After you’re confident your first treatment strategy is working try layering in another, then another. If you keep building to your strategy in this additive way create a solid dynamic segmentation foundation that you can continue building on as your business grows. 

Prevent Burnout

If the above sounds intimidating, start with the basics! The key here is not doing it all but building a long term strategy one step at a time. Remember complexity is not the goal, start with the molecular customer journey. 

Affecting Customer Intent and Consideration

The ultimate goal of using data is to remove the guesswork aka. your “gut-feeling” from decision-making. Let the data inform your decisions. By using the steps above you’re using behavior to understand customer intent and taking steps to strategize and act to aid customers on their journey with your brand. We’ve shared a lot on personalization and this is just one more way to personalize your customers experience. You are meeting them where they are on their journey and should be providing them with touch-points that are relevant and meaningful to their relationship stage with your brand.