Take the Time to Segment Your Messages

No one doubts the importance of personalization in both consumer and business to business marketing.  In fact, it seems to me that with the use of event triggered emails and entire nurturing programs that are created to provide just the right content for an individual during their B2B buying journey, our ability to customize content is pretty exceptional.

So why do so many companies fail to take even the partial  leap from one-size-fits-all to message segmentation by title or department, when they are doing outbound marketing?

A few years ago I was working with a client and as is often the case, the actual execution of their campaign was delegated to a relatively junior person.

Quick aside – This is something I don’t understand and see all the time. The development of the strategy is hummed and hawed over by Directors and VP’s and the new managers are then stranded with the details. Ideas are a dime a dozen – I have a million of them, just give me a call – but a brilliant execution is solid gold.

As is often the case, this campaign was to promote an event and happily, this client elected to run a total of three messaging waves to their invitation list of 2,000 contacts.  The list was targeted to a single vertical, but covered both managers and directors in Marketing, Sales, IT and Finance.  Both the voicemail and email messages were, as is often the case, a bland mix of easily communicated logistical information (please someone explain to me why registrants care about what you call your event) and a fairly generic attendance benefit.

Responses were very poor. They had under 10 registrations for the event.

Taking another look at the list, we talked about the differences in the contacts they were reaching out to. Although the event featured sessions that specifically addressed issues of importance to Marketing/Sales, IT and Finance/Management, our vanilla messaging wasn’t honing in on what really mattered to any one group.  The client was not convinced that unique messaging was required since the briefing from which she was working did not specify that as one of the deliverables.  And so, the second wave of messaging went by and 10 more (I’m guessing rather reluctant) registrants signed up.

With failure looming on the not-at-all distant horizon, the manager took the briefing back to her boss, with a suggestion that responses might improve if they highlighted technical value to IT, profit implications to Finance and workload oriented benefits to their Marketing peers.

Long story short (too late for that you say?) The final wave of messaging was delayed for a few days while the list was split by departments and three recordings replaced the original one.  When the final wave of messaging ran, the value of this extra bit of work and expense was clear.  Registrations climbed from 20 to 81 for a total of almost 6% from the deliverable names on the list. they even had the opportunity to start to measure the relative appeal of the event against each of their target audiences.

The point is, people with different levels of responsibility respond to different benefits. No business challenge looks the same from every department and each has a unique perspective. Business people will only respond best to benefits (or pain points) that are meaningful to them as individuals. A single homogenous message is milk toast to everyone.

It might have worked in the past where the novelty of voicemail and email messaging alone could help to drive responses, but homogenized messages don’t cut it anymore.  Segmenting your lists into departmental and seniority clusters is not all that difficult or time-consuming to do.  But it is necessary if you want to give anyone a good enough reason to respond to your offer.

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