Why Segmentation is Marketing 101

Good looking adult woman working at the office. Probably waiting for lunch...The basics of marketing are to establish the benefits of the product you are trying to sell and to communicate those benefits. But a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t cut it. Your customers and audience are as unique as your friends—each has different goals, problems, and interests. And each person will use your product in a different way, for their own reasons. So, it’s important to segment your audience by their differences and communicate benefits in a way that speaks to them as individuals.

Today there are any number of ad and email tools that help marketers segment and target different audience groups for better results. But before you dive into execution, there’s some legwork to do. Here’s my broad checklist on how to segment your audience for the best results.

  • Before you can understand the differences within your target audience, first identify what commonalities they share. Who is your audience: where do they live, what do they like to do, what brands and products do they like? Identifying the key problem that your product solves on a high-level is also important. For example, Postmates might identify their main benefit as “We enable busy people to have anything delivered on-demand,” therefore solving the problem that people don’t have time to go to the store. The target audience is people who don’t have time. (Note: I’m using Postmates solely as an example; I don’t have any insider knowledge of their marketing strategy.)
  • Next, gather information about your current and prospective customers. You can do this through surveys, collecting information at registration to build your own database, or use built-in targeting options through your email-service provider or ad platform. For example, many ESPs will offer geo-targeting based on IP address and or Wifi/GPS data. Facebook is the best platform when it comes to data, because you can target by dozens of categories and data points.
  • Once you’ve established your high-level benefit and target audience, build out segments. If we look at the “people who don’t have time” audience, there are a hundred ways to break down this very broad definition depending on the information available to you. For example, you could segment by age group, urban/suburban dwellers, high-tech/low-tech users, parents, singles, etc. Overlap is inevitable, so try not to get bogged down with creating dozens of super-minute segments. Start with the basics.
  • Last one: think about the messages that might work best for each individual group, and how they like to receive information. Come up with a hypothesis and then test and reiterate to find the combination that works best. Here’s a (very simplified) example of how you might approach the Postmates case with a Facebook ad campaign:
    1. In Facebook Campaign A, use an ad with the same message and photo “You have better things to do than run errands this weekend. Try Postmates to get what you need, delivered anytime.” (image of individual outside jogging in park)
    2. In Facebook Campaign B, change the image depending on whether the individual is single or married:
      • Single Ad Group: You have better things to do than run errands this weekend. Try Postmates to get what you need, delivered anytime. (image of singles at bar scene)
      • Married Ad Group: You have better things to do than run errands this weekend. Try Postmates to get what you need, delivered anytime. (image of couple at home having romantic dinner)

Let’s say your hypothesis is that Campaign B is more efficient. If you’re correct, you can continue to refine the image/message for better results, or segment even further. Also, you may find out that certain segments respond better on different platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Partner Marketing, etc.) or via different mediums (email, push notification, SMS, desktop notifications etc). Pay attention to the data and continuously test your hypotheses.

For retention-based campaigns, it’s important to segment messaging based on how your users interact with your product. For example, at Reuters TV we segmented users into super users, medium users, and low users and built email campaigns based on how often a user was watching our content. This strategy is very common with e-commerce sites. Ever gotten the “We miss you, Person! Come back and receive 15% off your next order” email? If this tactic feels like a no-brainer, it’s because it works.

The bottom line: if you’re not segmenting your marketing campaigns, you’re behind the times. It’s important to build a segmentation strategy for customer acquisition and retention, but don’t feel overwhelmed. You can start with the simplest tests to gather valuable data and become more sophisticated as you learn.

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-Posted by Elizabeth Donovan (Pace)-

Should your brand talk politics?

politics
Everyone is talking politics lately, and some brands are jumping in to the heated discussion. But is it smart to insert a political stance for your brand?

There are a number of considerations to take before a brand should make politically opinionated statements. First, know your audience. Chances are you have an audience/customer base that is diverse– from geography, gender, age to political stance, etc. So first, consider the business consequences of angering or alienating even a small group of customers. Is it worth it?

Also importantly, don’t be rash. Especially lately, many of us are passionate about our political opinions. But passion can lead to rash Tweets that can cause damage–even if deleted later. Is your brand or business the right place to voice your personal opinion? Think it through, talk with your peers, superiors and advisors before making any heated statements you may regret later.

Dont participate just to participate. All too often brands insert themselves into trending topics just for relevance. Customers can see right through this misguided approach. While it’s smart to participate in trending discussions when appropriate, participaton should be authentic to the brand’s voice and cause. Otherwise it can feel out of place, confusing or downright off-putting to your audience.

If you’ve weighed the consequences and feel there is a compelling reason that your brand should take a stance, do it with taste. Bashing, name-calling or ranting is disrespectful and will almost certainly divide your audience. Stay positive and supportive in your statements, and be authentic and consistent in your voice.

Lastly, understand that your brand is human and you can’t please everyone. The strongest brands are those that forge meaningful and honest relationships with their customers. People make companies and people have opinions. Your customers will respect you for honesty. So if your opinion is relevant and adds value, standing up for your beliefs through your brand can have long-term benefits for your customer relationships.

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-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Insight into Brand Conversations on Facebook

Image source: Techcrunch.com

Image source: Techcrunch.com

Facebook’s ability to provide a mass amount of first-party data is unmatched, and therefore it’s been one of the most powerful tools for marketers in recent years.

Now, Facebook’s opening up it’s vault of data even further, granting access to “topic data” that allows marketers to see what people are saying about their brand on Facebook. This could prove to be an incredible tool for marketers to listen in and gather real-time, uninhibited feedback on their brands, services and relevant subjects without a formal survey.

“We’ve grouped data and stripped personal information from Facebook activity (not including Messenger) to offer insights on all the activity around a topic. That means marketers get a holistic and actionable view of their audience for the first time.” Facebook wrote in a blog post announcing the new feature. Facebook is partnering with data company DataSift to help turn the data into relevant insights for marketers.

Facebook provided several examples of how topic data could be used:

  • “A business selling a hair de-frizzing product can see demographics on the people talking about humidity’s effects on their hair to better understand their target audience.
  • A fashion retailer can see the clothing items its target audience is talking about to decide which products to stock.
  • A brand can see how people are talking about their brand or industry to measure brand sentiment.”

The feature is initially available to a limited number of DataSift’s partners in the US and UK. And unfortunately, the data can’t be used for ad targeting (yet). It would be incredibly powerful for marketers to be able to target their ads to individuals who are already discussing the brand or relevant subjects. However, user privacy is a key concern in when and how Facebook allows marketers to leverage topic data.

We’ll have to stay tuned to see how marketers will harness the power of topic data, and how useful the new feature proves to be.

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-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

The End of Free, Organic Reach for Brands on Facebook

Facebook is cleaning up its News Feed, and that means users will see fewer promotional page posts soon, the social media giant announced in a post published on Friday.

Facebook said it surveyed users and found that people “wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.” In response, Facebook said it will employ a new formula that will cause a steady decline in distribution for promotional posts. The change will take place starting in January.

This isn’t a huge surprise to brands, which have reported less distribution of their organic posts in recent years. Facebook has always said it favors “high-quality” content, but this is also clearly an effort to make advertisers pay up for promotion.

Facebook gave reasons why Pages are still an important part of business strategy, referring to a statistic that 1 billion people visited Pages in October.

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-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Consumers Rank Brands with Most Positive Buzz

Image source: 2014 - Mid-Year Rankings: US Top Buzz

Image source: 2014 – Mid-Year Rankings: US Top Buzz

Amazon topped the list of brands with most positive buzz in the first half of 2014, according to a report from YouGov BrandIndex. The report utilized data from the Buzz Poll, which asks consumers about buzz heard or read about a brand in the last two weeks.

Some might find the continued reign of Amazon surprising given a few PR hiccups lately, related to its battle over e-book pricing with Hachette Book Group. But excitement over the expansion of Prime and introduction of the Fire phone seems to trump any negative buzz, according to consumers.

Subway comes in at #2 and YouTube is #3 on this list of brands with the most positive buzz. See who rounded out the top ten list here.

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-Posted by Elizabeth Pace