Aggregate Statistics Can Steer You Wrong


It’s been almost 20 years since I started in the media business. I’m thankful for opportunities that put me at the forefront of database marketing technologies back then. I’m also thankful that we quickly discovered database mining. Most of the tools at the time provided us with aggregate statistics across the entire database. But these aggregate statistics can really steer you wrong.

With aggregate views of our customers, we would find out that our clients’ profile was of a certain gender, age, income and lived in a specific area. To market to that segment, we’d query households to those specific. An example might be men, ages 30 to 50, with household incomes of greater than $50k. We’d push a campaign to that audience through direct mail by household and newspaper by region and we’d make sure that we’d hit everyone in that query.

As reporting and segmentation tools got stronger, we were able to mine deeper. Rather than looking across the entire database, suddenly we were able to segment the database and identify pockets of personas that were great prospects. For instance, the above example might ignore single Moms with incomes of greater than $70k that over-indexed as a likely customer. While we all have our humanity in common, the fact is that no two of us are alike.

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In online marketing, the medium is one facet. Some of you have prospects that love reviews… some that love reading, some that love sharing photos, watch videos, and some that just like to click on a good discount when they see it. There’s not a single solution that will reach all of your prospects so diversifying your strategy across mediums will generate better results. And then multi-channel marketing between your mediums will result in still greater results.

Within each of those mediums, you may be speaking to a different segment – so you need to experiment and test different offers and content. A blog post may be best if it’s informative and provides insight into how customers are successfully utilizing your product. But a Youtube video may be best used by including a customer testimonial. A banner advertisement may perform better with a discount.

It’s why online marketing is so complex. Maintaining a consistent brand and messaging across all of the media, while leveraging the strengths of each media, and speaking directly to different personas requires a ton of work. It’s not enough to see a single view of your customers… you must dive deeper into each of your mediums and determine what kind of personas you’re reaching. You may be surprised.

What do you think?

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