Using customer segmentation and attributed reporting together allows you to gain greater insight into what drives your customers to purchase.

This is crucial information in a world where paths to conversion are so complex.

Ultimately, being shrewd about how you segment your marketing data gives you the opportunity to become more effective at targeting the right people at the right time.

Here, I share just some of the ways you can use attribution and segmentation to unlock even more value from your marketing efforts.

Different customers shopping online

Understand the journeys of converting and non-converting users

As the name suggests, the data captured by traditional CRM systems is based on customers: On people who have completed a conversion.

However, there will always be far more people browsing your products and services only to walk away.

It’s here, in these non-converting journeys, that marketers are able to uncover where their efforts are falling flat.

Effective user journey analysis and attributed reporting provides you with not only an understanding of the behaviour of people who buy from you but also those people who come to your site and do not purchase.

Armed with this information, you can identify the marketing channels that aren’t helping attract or convert your chosen customer segments well enough.

You can then experiment with cutting back spend in those areas and reallocating budget to other more effective channels.

Discover what activities attract new customers

One of the most common uses of segmentation is to provide a distinction between new and existing customers.

Segmentation allows you to distinguish between these two types of customers, while attributed reporting and user journey analysis helps you understand their typical behaviours.

This combination then gives you the power to experiment and discover which channels are most effective at attracting each type of customer.

How might user behaviour differ between these two segments? You might expect that new customers are exposed to your brand through channels like display and non-navigational search.

On the other hand, existing customers might visit your website more often directly, through email marketing, or a branded, more specific, search.

Once you have the data to prove (or disprove) these assumptions, you’ll have an idea of where to focus your marketing efforts.

For example, if you want to attract more new customers, you’ll know which channels, and which combination of channels, to test first.

Reach your different customer groups in the most effective ways

Effective segmentation should also allow you to determine between different groups of customers based on their demographic or behavioural characteristics.

Analysing your attributed reporting data by customer segment allows you to formulate and test marketing campaigns specific to your different customer groups, rather than put out an ineffective ‘one-size-fits-all’ campaign and hope for the best.

To give a simple example to put this into context, say you’re a travel company and you’ve identified two of your common customer types:

Active Retirees

  • Description: older holidaymakers who have the free time and money to enjoy travel.
  • Relevant products: cruises, package holidays, tours.
  • User journey: don’t regularly use social media, conduct a lot of online research before making final choice, often complete purchase offline.
  • Effective marketing campaigns: display advertising, affiliate partnerships, email marketing campaigns well in advance of peak booking time offering in-store discount.

Affluent Singles

  • Description: spontaneous decision makers with money to burn.
  • Relevant products: last minute group holiday deals.
  • User journey: impulse purchasers with short lead time, engage with social media regularly.
  • Effective marketing campaigns: targeted social media advertising offering limited-time group discount.

In this example, ‘Active Retirees’ tend to have more touchpoints in their path to purchase than ‘Affluent Singles’.

Given this data, you can then try targeting your Active Retirees well in advance with an in-store discount across the various platforms that work for them.

At the same time, you can test cutting back on the number of different touchpoints used to engage with Affluent Singles, who convert last-minute regardless, to see if you get better results.

Learn how to market to customers with high lifetime value

Segmentation can also allow you to group customers based on their purchasing habits.

For example, one-time purchasers, occasional purchasers, and regular purchasers with a high lifetime value.

Using the Active Retirees example again, let’s say that your attributed reporting shows that a retargeting campaign had only a minor impact on these customers’ decisions to purchase their first holiday.

In this way, it doesn’t appear to be a profitable a campaign.

However, when you analyse the attributed data over an extended period of time, you may find that these same customers come back to make additional purchases further down the line, making them fall into your high lifetime value segment.

You may also find that they return using what we might call ‘free’ channels (SEO, email, or direct), interacting with fewer touchpoints each time.

When judging the value of the initial retargeting campaign across the entire lifetime value of these customers, the associated ROI becomes much greater.

Only by using segmentation and attribution in combination can you gain this insight and judge the performance of your campaigns effectively.

This then gives you the power to experiment and get better at targeting the right people in the right ways.

Use attribution to unlock the value that’s right under your nose

By harnessing the power of attributed reporting data, marketers can better understand the intricacies of the true value of their efforts.

By segmenting that data in astute ways, marketers are given the opportunity to test, evaluate, and ultimately get better at targeting their most valuable customers.

When talking about attribution, the conversation is immediately drawn into the algorithm, with little regard as to the additional benefits it can bring to all of your marketing channels.

The advice I’ve provided here hopefully demonstrates that using the data to enhance insight presents a huge opportunity for marketers.

James Collins

Published 28 October, 2016 by James Collins

 James Collins is Rakuten Marketing’s SVP Global Product Strategy – Attribution. James has championed the use of performance marketing data in the digital sector over the last decade, advocating open access to attribution data and delivering proven value from Rakuten Marketing’s attribution technology.  As SVP of global product strategy, James is responsible for leading Rakuten Marketing’s value proposition team, working with teams across the business to deliver the next generation of digital marketing products. You can follow Rakuten Marketing on Twitter or connect with James on LinkedIn

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Comments (5)


Kayli Kunkel, Digital Marketing Manager at SparkReaction

Great article, James! As a digital marketing agency, we see people often ignoring the journeys of their non-converting customers — but that is a huge loss of opportunity. We always encourage marketers to take an active role in setting up a complete marketing funnel on their websites, accounting for people at all different stages of their buying journeys. (We actually just published a post about it, in fact:

Thanks for the great tips!

over 1 year ago


Matt Lovell, Head of Customer Data, Insight & Analytics at Eurostar International Ltd.

It's an interesting concept but while you paint a pretty picture, I think people under estimate how doable the above is. Unfortunately, things are never as clear cut as your 'Active Retirees' and 'Affluent Singles' above which means while you can use journey path and segmentation data to understand cohorts, actually being able to use this to transform your marketing approach is never really going to happen.

I completely agree that it's worth considering these touchpoints (and would add that getting a better gauge of the 'why' from voice of customer tools and on site behaviour from your analytics would also prove enlightening), it's not going to suddenly provide the shining beacon that allows brands to radically change what they're doing and it's important for marketers to realise that.

over 1 year ago

James Collins

James Collins, SVP Global Product Strategy - Attribution - Rakuten Marketing at Rakuten Marketing

Hi Matt,

Thanks for your comment. You are right - there is very little evidence that this data is being used systematically to effect radical change at the moment. However, the important point is that better insight, gained from appropriately segmented attributed data, can allow you to challenge assumptions that have been made and make changes in new marketing campaigns - it allows you to spot potential opportunities for experimentation.

Having the data to provide the basis for justifiable experiments, and the environment to innovate, can mean that incremental changes can make a real difference in the long run.

over 1 year ago


Matt Lovell, Head of Customer Data, Insight & Analytics at Eurostar International Ltd.

I couldn't agree more. It's just making sure people realise that to do this well needs real levels of resource / automated data mapping which is probably too complex for most companies at the moment.

Instead for those companies, it's about actually making sure they're using any of the data they have effectively (as many aren't) and trying to do things a little bit better both in terms of optimising to improve their own conversion and optimising to improve the customer's experience.

over 1 year ago


Kayli Kunkel, Digital Marketing Manager at SparkReaction

I completely agree with Matt in that the kind of data you need to effectively track customer journeys are too complex or expensive for most people. We use (and help other companies use) HubSpot, which as a marketing automation platform is perfect for this kind of analysis. For example, we can clearly see any customer's digital journey through many data points, which HubSpot condenses into easy-to-digest charts. By then looking at several customers labelled into our "buyer personas," or target audience segments, we can clearly see how our content and marketing funnel impacts these segments, from first visit to final sale.

This HAS transformed our marketing approach in innumerable ways. But you're right in that it's not an easily accessible idea, if you aren't trained in/don't have the resources to use a heavy-handed automation platform.

over 1 year ago

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