Segmentation and categorisation of website content is the point where creative marketing collateral is fitted into a data structure. In order for it to be successful a focus on the desired outcome and the process of implementation is needed. This sounds simple enough. However all too often it seems to go terribly wrong! Here are some of the reasons why your marketing segmentation does not work!

Where are categories and segments used?

So categories are used everywhere in digital marketing. Categorisation is generally based around the company segmentation model. Whether it is tagging blog content or organising marketing automation campaigns in folders. These are all uses of categorisation and provide structure to your activities.

Structure helps to provide context and meaning to your results. Which is important to generate insightful marketing reports.

Categorisation can connect activities enacted by different teams in your business together, adding relevance between business segments.

It can also be confusing, have little relevance and be a waste of everyone’s time. Here are the top three reasons that your categories and segments do not work:

1. Your marketing categories and segments are based solely on your activities

I have had too many arguments about this in the past. The accusation that I normally get is “I don’t think that you understand our business”.

Every company has a lot of activities , if you organise anything by activities it is very easy to have 20, 30 even 40 segments sometimes. This will end up with you collecting data in such small quantities within each segment that there will be little to compare against.

One instance that is very common is for companies that organise and attend events. They group all collateral related to that specific event in one segment. As the company grows they end up attending more events and suddenly they go from 5 to 10 categories for their content.

It is hard to compare data collected between activities as every activity is so different so that the results generated from the analysis will be largely down to interpretation. This is a dangerous position to be in, especially if the interpreter of the information is emotionally invested in that particular activity.

2. You haven’t planned your implementation properly

I once worked with a brilliant CEO: Oxbridge educated, in charge of a company with a turnover of hundreds of millions whilst in his thirties, had over 900 people working for him but could always remember your name as well as personal details, that he would always enquire about. I was massively in awe of him.

He introduced a new segmentation for the company’s CRM that sounded brilliant. It worked really well when he explained everything. He argued against, dismissed and answered all queries. This model was brilliant… Six months later, this model had already been briefly implemented before being discarded as the old model worked better.

There was nothing wrong with the new model. The problem was that there was no roadmap for getting from the old path to the new path. Employees did not understand, or use, it properly so it failed.

3. There is too much crossover between your segments

If there isn’t a clear distinction between your different categories it can be very hard to achieve consistency. Colleagues then say things like “I’m going to mark this as other” or “I’m just going to add all the categories to this one” pretty quickly this spoils your intended data structure.

The other thing is that people will just choose one category for everything. Again understanding is key. If people can’t clearly distinguish between your segments the model will fail.

Avoiding segmentation mistakes

The reason why categories and segments fail is often confusion. Either the purpose behind the categories or the amount of them makes users confused. To avoid this we need “buy-in” from the colleagues who that are using the segmentation day in day out.

Companies that involve employees in the decision making process so that they understand and feel empowered to enact the changes will be most successful.

If the categorisation needs to have a clear purpose this causes issues. If your segmentation is based around the outcomes that you would like to achieve that is beneficial. You could, for example, categorise around your products and services that you provide.

At Lucky Promotion we provide “strategic marketing consultancy“. If this segment is used as one of our categories, when a person makes a contact request to us from a blog categorised as “strategic marketing consultancy”; this then gives a good indication of the sort of service that they may wish to discuss with us.

Categorisation and segmentation are often so deeply ingrained in the way that your marketing teams operate. Which means people can be resistant to change. Always be cautious when approaching this subject, but remember: change is possible!

If you need help with categorisation and segmentation don’t hesitate to contact us

John is a data driven marketing specialist and website manager who lives in South East London. When he isn't blogging for us he works for NHS Property Services.