Personalization vs. Segmentation: The Real Difference and Why it Matters - Carney
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Personalization vs. Segmentation: The Real Difference and Why it Matters

It’s one thing to know your user, it’s another thing to talk to them on a personal level. It seems like a no brainer for some. Still, a lot of marketers don’t get that the companies that show they care by putting the thoughts and emotions of people first are the ones that will see customers stick around long-term.

The thing is, a lot of people get segmentation and personalization twisted or treat it the same. Personalization and segmentation couldn’t be more different. Segmentation is grouping customers together according to characteristics (the big players being demographic information). Personalization is customizing messages to individuals themselves — not just the group they belong to.

Let’s go shopping. A simple way to know the difference between these is in a retail environment:

  • Segmentation: Stores don’t pile kids’, men’s, and women’s clothes all together. Each category of clothing has a different rack, section, or floor before organizing them into further subcategories.
  • Personalization: When a stylist works with you, they are going to dig deep to understand your taste, what flatters you, and your price range.

What many marketers run into is the trouble of disorganized contact lists with slightly different messaging going to segments. Segmentation alone is not going to increase a brand’s customer lifetime value meaningfully or lead to growth. Personalized marketing is going to have to drill down further.

We’re talking that sweet, sweet data, people. Simple forms of personalization (such as putting someone’s name in a subject line) are cool, but the good strategies take it further with personalized recommendations, omni-channel optimization, and eventually, predictive personalization. You’re going to have to get to know your customers and gather that data.

At the end of the day, customers expect personalization and relevant services to them. Engaging them, gathering their preferences, and creating unique experiences is what marketers need to do to meet those expectations.


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