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The Case Against Segments 

Dave Will
May 3, 2024

Everyone says, “We need to segment our audience,” as if that’s the solution. It’s not. All that does is puts people in buckets. Nobody puts Baby in a bucket #PatrickSwayzeRules

It’s been really surprising to me recently, as I listen to podcasts about member engagement, that all the experts in marketing and communications are still preaching segments. It’s been 20 years. If you’re not doing it by now, it’s not going to happen.

Am I being a little too “assertive?” Maybe.

I’m not bashing segments completely. Naturally, segmentation is way better than mass emailing everything to everyone, but it’s far from the end-all. Segmentation is a good start, and it does get us closer to the goal, but experts in our space need to do better in terms of thought leadership on this topic.

If you use the word “personalization”, you can’t say segmentation is the answer. Personalization is connecting with an individual in a way that you know their needs and you’re engaging them with their needs in mind.

 Enough of my aggressive language. I’m a lover, not a fighter… usually. If you are interested in personalization, keep reading. Nothing but love from this point forward.

I see a future where we know our members like we know our friends. You can better predict what they’re thinking and be there when they need you.

You already have behavioral and transactional data, and you’re also hopefully listening to their needs… yes, using PropFuel. It’s the only way to do that effectively at scale right now. You’re regularly asking them questions to better understand what they need all the way down at the individual level, not a segment. Please, not a bucket of people.

You know who’s in the same segment?


They are. Do you think they have the same needs? No, they do not.

Over time, you should get to know your members just like you get to know new friends. You ask them things and respond to them. You remember what’s important to them and you check back with them when the time is right.

It’s just the right thing to do when you have a meaningful relationship with someone.

Do you want a meaningful relationship with your members?

Then sure, let’s start with segments, but it’s not the answer. The answer lies in each and every individual. We just need to pull it out of them, one question at a time.

So if you like that concept, let’s talk more. We can show you how 200+ other associations are already doing this successfully. Let us show you. Or, try it out in 5 minutes or less!

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