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)-

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The idea for aspiringCMO was born out of Elizabeth’s drive to become an executive-level marketing leader, and her interest in staying informed on the latest industry news. While social media sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn provide access to a variety of news sources, there is an ever-growing amount of content to weed through. Our goal is to provide a selection of the most valuable, actionable and need-to-know ongoings in the digital marketing space.

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-Posted by Elizabeth Pace