Hensley: Our clients' vertical marketing programs used to be constructed around vertical industry marketing venues, where we delivered messages that reflected a broad-based, high-level, one-size-fits-all understanding of industry applications and benefits. Today our clients recognize an opportunity to dig deeper to create marketing programs that take into account different customer needs and buying behaviors within a given industry vertical. What has emerged are segmentation strategies based on an understanding of prospect/customer groups by value perceptions and brand preferences. This deeper knowledge and tighter segmentation are creating opportunities to be more relevant, persuasive and valued.
BtoB: What are the challenges with vertical segmentation?
Hensley: One of the challenges our clients face is the ability to gain insight from a large enough sampling of customers and prospects to see how the market might be segmented based on what they know, think, feel and believe. Even after you have this view, it can be difficult to build programs that can identify and reach the segments cost-effectively. Adding to this difficultly is the increase in complexity, more tailored programs, more personalized messages and more data collection that is required to reach and evaluate program goals and successes.
BtoB: How are marketers executing against vertical marketing strategies?
Hensley: What is emerging as the foundation for the segmentation strategy is the use of a marketing database that is fully integrated into the marketing and sales process. This data-driven platform is being further enhanced by the adoption of relationship marketing practices that aim to build value and gain new insight with every prospect/customer touch point. The outcomes are marketing programs that leverage the Web and other digital technologies to provide customized and dynamic interactions that can engage the prospect and customer throughout the purchase consideration process and life of the relationship.