Two of the most common misconceptions when it comes to activation are; that activation is just sharing the insight, and that this is the last step in your segmentation programme.

To better understand where activation fits into the greater scheme of your programme, picture a road trip with a convoy of vehicles:
  • The data you collect during your segmentation programme forms a map.
  • Insight is like someone interpreting that map and forming a set of directions.
  • Activation is essentially giving those directions to the drivers. Some drivers might like to navigate by landmarks, others by co-ordinates…but it’s not the last step in your journey, in many ways it’s the first, as you all still need to get to the end destination.
Activation is taking the insights generated from market research and them applying them to your business plans to form strategic decisions. If you assume its the last step on your journey or is just about sharing insights, this can lead to some very costly mistakes:

Thinking the job is over

In order to maximise the return on investment, segmentation programmes need to spark ongoing and lasting change. As such it will need ongoing project management, buy-in from management and budget. The consequence of not thinking long-term is obvious. The materials you produced to activate the segment will quickly gather dust, teams will revert to the old ways of doing things, and your programme will ultimately not be a success.

Insight becomes a roadblock

Whilst we must always acknowledge that it takes commercial nous and more than a little know-how to read and interpret data, this doesn’t mean that this is solely the remit of an Insight or Research department. Different stakeholders will need to be involved in order to understand and enact change and enabling them to read and understand the data is key. The alternative may seem desirable to some Insights professionals, where they are indispensable to the process, but all too often this quickly leads to them becoming a blocker, becoming insular within the organisation, and not having the impact they’d desire.

Lack of measurement

As we have said, a segmentation programme is often the start of a longer journey. It might lead to a new product or new marketing campaign, but that might be months or even years down the road. As such it can be easy to overlook the impact that the programme has had. It’s important that you start recording all the different aspects like product launches, CRM campaigns, an uplift in ROI, etc where your programme will have had an effect. Measurement is important as it can help to justify ongoing time and budgetary commitment to the evolution of your segments and re-engagement within your organisation.

Letting your segments decay

It’s generally expected that segmentation has a shelf life of 3-5 years. The mistake is in assuming that you will produce have a single dataset that gradually loses relevance over time. Ideally you should be updating your understanding of the segments throughout that time, by adding in new research, combining data sets and updating algorithms.

If these are some of the common mistakes, then what does best practice look like? How can you ensure you activation is successful? Well, why not contact the team at Bonamy Finch for some pointers from our 20+ years of segmentation experience.