What is Market Segmentation?

Some would say the goal of Strategic Marketing is to target the right customer with the right communication. With the recent surgency of Big Data and other data capture and mining tools, it is now more important than ever to understand your customer base. 

Most of my clients are in the financial industry with large amounts of demographic and transactional data on their customers. This data is the lifeblood of their organization. If harvested correctly, this data can be used in numerous ways: to retain customers, to increase products purchased per household, to increase engagement with online tools, to curb customer loss, to bolster customer loyalty, to name a few.

For Marketing professionals who are responsible for transmuting raw data into usable marketing data, segmentation is imperative. Segmentation, in its broadest form, is dividing your customers (prospects) by shared selection factors. For example, customers born between 1981 and 1996 (or “Millennials”) with only one purchased product might provide a vital customer population to increase products per individual and/or household.

What are Unica Strategic Segments?

Understanding that marketing starts with segmentation, Unica Suite has built-in functionality that supports the creation of defined, reusable segmentation across your marketing initiatives. Once you define the business rules for determining a given population, that logic can be built into a reusable object within the Unica Campaign application that can be shared across users and, therefore, marketing opportunities; these reusable objects are referred to as Strategic Segments. Unica Strategic Segments are a powerful way to follow the “build once, reuse again” methodology. 

In its simplest definition, Unica Strategic Segments are a list of audience ids such built from pre-defined business rules that can be shared across multiple Campaign and flowcharts. These populations, as we will learn below, can be any population pool that is necessary for proper marketing; those populations may be inclusions, say a General Starting Population, or they can be suppression populations. Remember, due to Strategic Segments being built within the application interface, modifications to the underlying business logic can be quickly made via application users. 

Examples of Unica Strategic Segments| Business Justification:

  • Global Starting population for Monthly Email e-Mailing | While minor modifications to Strategic Segments may be necessary, the underlying logic is repeatable month over month.
  • Global Suppression of inactive customers, delinquent accounts, or deceased, a commonly and widely used suppression for use across multiple campaigns.
  • Contact frequency suppression | Contact frequency suppression impacting all promotional campaigns.

When to use Strategic Segments?

As we learned above, Strategic Segments are built to universalize any population pool for any business purpose; typically, they are used to create starting populations and/or suppressions that are shared across users in any campaign.

For example, your business wants to support the following business rule(s) in their Marketing Initiative: 

  1. Customers who are active in the last 90 days, 
  2. Marketable via email, and 
  3. Have not received the Promotion “Credit Mailing January”. 

Suppose that all three (3) rules can be derived easily from data fields in mapped Customer database tables and/or views. 

A Strategic Segment could be built to support this population pool.

How to Create Strategic Segments?

Unica Configuration Prerequisite:

Before your users can create Strategic Segments, your application Administrator must perform the following administrative task. The Save flowchart run results option under Admin > Advanced settings must be enabled for flowcharts that include CreateSeg processes. Otherwise, the strategic segments will not persist. To enable this option, the configuration property Campaign|partitions|partition[n]|server|flowchartRun|saveRunResults must be set to TRUE

Application Configuration:

Define a CreateSeg process in the Sessions area of the application so the segments are available globally. Users can then use the segments in any campaign.

Navigate to Campaign module Sessions. Typically, a dedicated Session is created to house all Strategic Segments.

1. Open a session flowchart for editing.

2. Drag the CreateSeg process from the palette to your flowchart.

3. Connect one or more data manipulation processes (for example, a Select process) as input to the CreateSeg process.

4. Double-click the CreateSeg process. The CreateSeg process configuration dialog box opens, and the Define segments tab is open by default.

5. On the Define segments tab:

    1. Select one or more source cells from the Input list. These source cells will be turned into segments. If there is only one input, it is already selected.
    2. Select Create mutually exclusive segments if you want to ensure that each qualifying record belongs to no more than one segment.
    3. In the Result segments area, highlight an input cell and click Edit to configure the segment.

6.  In the Edit segment dialog:

    1. Give the segment a name that describes its purpose. The name that you assign is the name that will appear when users select this segment from lists.
    2. Provide a brief description of the segment contents (for example, what input was used to create the segment).
    3. From the Create under list, select a folder where the segment will be stored.
    4. From the Temp table data source list, select a data source in which to cache the strategic segment. Use the Ctrl key to select multiple data sources.

Note: Selecting a data source is required only if doNotCreateServerBinFile on the Campaign|partitions|partition[n]|Server|Optimization configuration page is set to TRUE. If this property is set to TRUE, at least one valid data source must be selected.

            e. From the Security policy list, select a security policy, if applicable, to apply to the new segment.

            f.  Click OK to return to the Define segments tab.

7. (Optional) Use the General tab to assign a name and descriptive note. The name and note only appear in the session flowchart. They are not used to identify the generated segment in lists.

8. Click OK to save and close the configuration.

9. To create or update strategic segments, run the CreateSeg process in production mode, or use the Run menu to save and run the flowchart in production mode. Test runs do not create or update strategic segments.

That’s it! This Strategic Segment can now be used across multiple users and multiple flowcharts.

When to not use Strategic Segments

In general, Strategic Segments should be built when repeatable logic is required across multiple campaigns. However, there is always a risk of over-engineering Strategic Segments. If business rule(s) are specific to a singular, one-off adhoc build or the translated logic is quite simple, then adding logic directly into a singular flowchart is a better direction.

When to serve up data in the Data Layer

While Strategic Segments are generally a good idea when wanting to create reusable shared objects, there may be some instances where adding data directly into the data layer is more beneficial. Using the same example above, let’s say the Marketing team now wants to include a fourth business rule in addition to the above three; Customer(s) who:

  1. Have made Grocery transactions in the last 18 months.

Since this rule may be very specific to a single marketing initiative, this population may not be served up best by creating a Strategic segment. Also, given that transactional table(s) and corresponding logic are typically quite large and grow exponentially, serving up a flag or other identifier in a data table and/or view will likely improve execution times when used directly within flowchart logic or within a Strategic Segment.

How often should Strategic Segment flowcharts be executed?

Like all flowcharts, Strategic Segments can be refreshed per schedule. Due to the complexity of some Strategic Segment setups, many Administrative application users chose to run their Strategic segment flowcharts when application use is low (E.g., 3 am daily execution). While some Strategic Segments may need to be refreshed daily, others can only need to be refreshed weekly or even monthly. The cadence of refresh executions should be aligned with your business marketing needs.

In conclusion, Strategic Segments are powerful and often overlooked and/or underutilized functionality of Campaign. Strategic Segments created in Sessions allow for the creation of global reusable objects that can provide consistently applied logic across users as well as reduced individual flowchart executions times. The use of Strategic Segments should be carefully weighed to avoid over-engineering and/or replacement of data better served up in the Customer data layer.

Learn more about Unica Campaign Suite.

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