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Segment now, or confuse later?

Nobody likes to be called John when your name is Mike. And “hey you” is far too impersonal to inspire action. So why would emergency communicators talk to everyone the same way and expect great results?

One of the core capabilities of an incident notification system is distributing one message to a large audience (so you don’t play the old “telephone game”). Equally important, but often overlooked, is the ability to customize your message to unique audience groups. Time and again it’s been proven that more targeted, relevant messages do a better job in getting people to respond the way you want. However, creating different audiences requires advance planning into how to segment your audience and gather that segmentation data.

So how do we do that?

Step 1: Determine how to segment your audience You can divide and categorize your audiences in many ways, including by preferred language, title or role, building or facility location, response team, special skills, and more. Using custom attributes to identify these different preferences makes creating and delivering different messages to different segments a snap.

Step 2: Gather segmentation data The next step is to identify how you will collect your audience segmentation data. In many instances, you may already have that information in the same place where you maintain your contact database, such as your HR system, Active Directory, ERP, or other system of record. But what if this data is not readily available? One tried-and-true solution is to use your notification system to poll your audience and collect that information. Using a polling notification, you can quickly gather information about specific audience attributes and use this as an opportunity to test your notification system to ensure you are reaching all of your intended recipients.

A simple polling message might say, “Hello, this is a test of the XYZ Organization notification system. To help us improve our communication effectiveness, please provide us with the following information. Would you like to participate in our volunteer program? Volunteers are responsible for… [description].” Press 1 for “Yes, I would like to be a volunteer”, press 2 for “No, I’m not interested”, press 3 for “Send me more information”, and so forth.

Step 3: Customizing and sending your message Once you have collected the segmentation information from your audience, you will be able to assign user attributes to each of your contacts. By selecting message recipients according to their attributes, you can localize your message to make it more relevant and improve the effectiveness of your critical communications.

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