SixApart Provides a Model for Customer Segmentation

I2m_sixapart_rohitvox Yesterday I received my email invite to Vox, SixApart’s new blogging platform focused on helping people to launch personal blogs.  For some time now, I have been an admirer of SixApart’s marketing strategy and business plan for blogging.  Since I originally chose Typepad to host my blog, I have found their tools to be easy to use, reliable (apart from the occasional outage) and consistently offering the right level of features and customization.  Perhaps the most impressive part of SixApart’s offering, however, is how they have effectively segmented their audience into three key groups: personal (Vox), professional (Typepad) and enterprise (Movable Type).  In effect, they have answered one of the biggest challenges that face startup online services … user confusion.  As a "professional" blogger according to SixApart’s definitions, I like this approach.  For the level of service I expect and need for my marketing blog, the price is fair and it is worth paying for.  If I started a blog with pictures of my 1 year old son, I would expect a free solution and would probably shy away from paying for the blog, no matter how cheap it was.

The interesting question this raises is why competitors and other social media sites don’t consider following SixApart’s lead.  Flickr should offer these three types of accounts.  Social bookmarketing sites like del.icio.us should as well.  Usability is much easier to accomplish when you have a better idea of who your users are.  SixApart gets this and have tailored their products to this insight.  The only criticism I can offer about Vox is that in trying to make it simple, they use a different (more "cartoony") type of interface unfamiliar to those who have used Typepad.  The unfortunate result is that it is not as seamless for a Typepad user to use Vox as it could be.  Despite this shortcoming, I am most probably one of SixApart’s best customers; one that pays for Typepad for a professional blog, will use Vox for a personal blog, and works at a company where we build blogs on their Movable Type platform.  Thanks to their smart segmentation, I imagine the group of those like me will continue to grow.  Now all they need to do is migrate LiveJournal into a Wiki publishing tool like PBWiki

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