Even LinkedIn gets it wrong: big data & segmentation


Note: Since writing this article LinkedIn have made the Contact app available in the UK.

This morning I received an email from LinkedIn suggesting there was a smarter way for me to stay in touch with my contacts by using the new LinkedIn Contacts, a yet to be seen as useful services which turns LinkedIn into your address book by allowing you to important all your contacts from Gmail and Yahoo.

Always ready to try a new service, I imported all my contacts and immediately received an email from LinkedIn with another suggestion; this time to use their LinkedIn contacts App. As I already have the LinkedIn app and CardMunch (by LinkedIn), and was now well on my way to get fully immersed in the whole LinkedIn spirit, I thought ‘why not’ and clicked to download.

To my surprise one of the largest databases in the world, which houses the most complete information on almost every business professional in the world failed to know that I was living in the UK and not the US and therefore not eligible to download the new LinkedIn app.

This is not a blog post about me being bitter about not being able to download LinkedIn’s latest app, but about the usage of big data. LinkedIn knows where I work, where I live, my age and phone number. They can socially profile me and link this to their data. Yet they still send me an email that resulted in a broken promise.

Does your organisation use data effectively? Do you have a segmentation strategy? Are you sending your customers irrelevant offers for products that are of no interest to them (at least LinkedIn got my interest right!)? Or worst of all…Are you breaking promises with your customers?

Data can be immensely powerful but also very dangerous. Too little segmentation and the irrelevance of the message loses clients and your communication becomes ‘spammy’. Too much segmentation and you risk missing out on an audience that might also be interested in your product. As much as we may want to create a one-on-one dialogue with our customers, in most cases it is simply not scalable.

With the amount of data that most organisations have available to them, it can be extremely difficult to decide how to segment effectively.

Jordan Elkind, in his blog post The Segmentation Conundrum, gives us a very simple but helpful rule of thumb: R.E.A.L.

Here is a summary:

Relevant. Is the segmentation relevant to your customers and your products?

Efficient. Are your segments broad enough to capture the maximum amount of customers, whilst still playing on specific customer behaviour or preferences?

Actionable. Can you act on the level of segmentation you want to achieve?

Lasting. Will your segmentation remain relatively stable over time? One-off’s and short term segmentation can become irrelevant very quickly.


I honestly don’t think LinkedIn had much of a strategy in this case, but maybe for them it was simply more efficient to ‘send to all’ and risk a few disgruntled blog posts!


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