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.

Read more on this topic:

-Posted by Elizabeth Donovan (Pace)-

On the job hunt: Should you pay attention to what former employees say?

job-hu1I am freshly back in the USA after taking some time off to travel through Europe and Asia. (For more on that, visit my Instagram: @Donovans_TakeTheWorld.) As I start my job search, one of the important factors I’m considering is company reputation and whether employees are happy. There are multiple tools to research employee sentiment, including GlassDoor.com. Former employees’ personal blogs and other forms of outreach are also becoming more common. But should you trust what a former employee says?

Major tech companies like Uber and Amazon have received negative press based on blogs published by or statements made by former employees.  When individuals speak out against their former employer, I usually take it with a grain of salt. Some former employees are disgruntled and have their own agendas. However, the company’s response is far more telling and provides insight into the values of its leadership team.

For example, after former Uber employee Susan Fowler wrote a negative post about the company’s allegedly sexist culture, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick took it seriously. Shortly after the post was published, Kalanick met with 100 female engineers internally and committed to addressing the issue head-on. A head engineer was also fired in the aftermath. While these actions don’t immediately solve the problem, they do prove that Uber’s leadership team acknowledges and cares about improving employee welfare.

In another famous example, The New York Times published an article in August 2015 about Amazon’s workplace that was critical of how it treats employees.  Several current and former employees were interviewed, offering varying degrees of negative comments. Despite the excellent reputation of the NYT, I’m not convinced the article presented the entire story. If you pick any company and interview its employees anonymously, or talk to its former employees, negative aspects of the company will come to light. How many of your friends need a night of venting about work every now and then, even if they love their job?

Interestingly, Amazon shot back with a scathing response to the NYT article. Amazon’s Senior Vice President for Global Corporate Affairs at Amazon, Jay Carney, published a blog on Medium claiming the NYT didn’t provide all the facts. He also claimed that one of the former employees who was quoted in the NYT article left the company “after an investigation revealed he had attempted to defraud vendors and conceal it by falsifying business records.” Carney provided other specifics providing background on the comments made by other disgruntled employees. What he didn’t do, and maybe should have, was make a public statement about Amazon’s commitment to employee welfare.

These examples demonstrate the obvious cliché that there are two sides to every story. While it’s important to research the reputation of a company you want to work for, don’t dismiss a company outright based on a few instances of negative press. I rely more heavily on first-hand information from trusted friends and colleagues, as well as my own impressions throughout the interview process.

Wish me luck in my job search!

-Posted by Elizabeth 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.

Read more on this topic:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Confessions of an Influencer N00b

The following post was written by guest blogger Ashley Christiano. Please read her bio after the post.

So you’ve decided to try your hand at influencer marketing, that wild west of user acquisition where you put your brand in the hands of a total stranger. A total stranger who’s probably never used your product or app or service, but one who’s following trusts their word before all else. They’re smart, they’re beautiful, and they have the audience you want.

Now what?

You’re excited. You’re a little scared. And you’re probably pretty unsure of what to do next.

I was in your shoes not too long ago. Just a marketing manager for a news app, thrilled at the getting to try out one of the year’s big trends. So I did what any good marketing manager does: research. I read articles, I took notes, and I vetted agencies and platforms. I decided a platform (Revfluence) would work best for us. With our small test budget and virtually zero knowledge of just what we were getting ourselves into, it would give us the most hands-on experience and control over the campaign.

So here’s what I learned over the course of our two-month experiment.

  • Be patient:

It will take much longer to get this campaign up than you think, especially if you’re working with YouTube influencers (which we were). Give yourself at least a month to just get a good number of creators signed on to work with you before making any decisions about the success or failure of the campaign.

  • Try out different kinds of creatives:

For this campaign, we were focused on YouTube only. So for us it was trying out different kinds of video reviews: dedicated app reviews, a mention in a best apps of the month for various platforms, life hacks or productivity tips.

For our campaign, the dedicated videos did not work at all. They cost more and they sounded less authentic, leading to less installs and lower engaged users.

So ask your influencers what ideas they have. What do they think will resonate best with their audience?

  • Give them bullets, not a script:

You’re working with them because they know their audience and what their audience wants. So give them some free reign and room for creative expression. We provided some bullets based on copy we knew worked for us in other marketing efforts, as well as an outline of the general benefits of our app. But beyond that, we let them go. And it was the ones who had the most fun with it, and sounded the most natural, that did the best.

  • Know your target audience, but be willing to experiment:

For us, we knew our current audience was predominantly male, urban professionals and early adopters. So we went for a younger, male audience (gadget and app reviewers, and men’s lifestyle, for the most part) but also explored other areas (a travel blogger, some film reviewers, and a young woman who’s channel is all about life hacks and being your best self).

By the end of our campaign we had determined who worked for us: Attractive millennials who have their shit together and a devoted following. From Austin who included a killer review of our app in his December Android Apps of the Month round-up, to Haley who pitched Reuters TV as a life hack and a way for young women to keep up with the news that was relevant to them.

Which brings me to my next point….

  • Provide a phonetic pronunciation:

There’s nothing worse then getting half a minute in to this so-far great video that probably took the influencers HOURS to produce, only to discover that..NOOOOOOOO…they pronounced your product’s name incorrectly. Yes, this happened to us. More than once. And then we started sending a phonetic pronunciation (it’s ROY-ters, y’all) to each influencer.

By the end of our campaign we had gained a better understanding of how to collaborate successfully with YouTube influencers. We’d learned what worked and what didn’t, and armed ourselves with the knowledge that this could be a viable acquisition method for us in the future. With the right creator and the right message, our Cost per Install was on par with our Facebook campaigns, and our engagement for these users was actually higher.

Does it take some extra leg work? Yes. But you’ll also learn a lot about what real consumers think about your product, and be able to use that knowledge in future campaigns, influencer marketing or not.

Plus, you’ll get to throw one of the year’s big buzzwords around in casual conversation for a bit. And who doesn’t like that?

 

-Post by guest blogger Ashley Christiano-

img_0965Ashley Christiano is the Senior Marketing Manager for Reuters TV, where she focuses on user acquisition and retention for the award-winning video news app. Ashley has worked in the mobile media space for over five years, starting out at Hearst Magazines before joining the team at Reuters TV.

 

 

 

 

Hiatus – Traveling the World

There haven’t been any posts on AspiringCMO in a while, but I promise there’s a good reason! I’ve been traveling since June 1st 2016 with my spouse, fulfilling a lifelong dream to see the world.

So far we’ve visited Portugal, Spain, France, England, Wales, Scotland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and now we’re in Vietnam. We’re planning to travel for a few more months, returning to the US in February 2017. Still on our list: Thailand, Cambodia, Italy and Croatia.

If you’d like to follow along on my adventure, check out Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/donovans_taketheworld/

It’s been an amazing adventure so far, but I haven forgotten my passion for digital marketing. I look forward to coming back full-swing early next year.

Thanks for reading!

Highlights from Facebook’s F8 2016 Conference: What Marketers Need to Know

hands-woman-laptop-notebookThis year’s annual Facebook developer conference was full of exciting announcements pertaining to marketers. Here’s a rundown of the most important takeaways:

 

  • Messenger Platform: Facebook introduced new APIs that allow brands to create custom experiences on Messenger. These APIs allow brands to build their own Messenger bots, such as automated on-demand content like weather or traffic updates, or customized messages such as receipts and shipping notifications.This API is currently open to a select few partners, and will broaden to everyone at a later unspecified date. For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/business/learn/facebook-tips-messaging-for-page-admins and check out this video from F8.
  • Branded Content: Facebook updated their branded content policy to enable verified Pages to share branded content on Facebook.  They also launched a new tool for brands/pages to “tag” a marketer when they publish branded content, allowing the marketer to see data from the tagged post and have the option to share and boost the post.  For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/branded-content-update.
  • Rights Manager: Facebook launched a new tool to help media companies monitor and protect intellectual property on Facebook. Publishers can upload their full library of videos to Rights Manager, monitor them, and use rules to tell us about how each video can be used. Learn more: https://media.fb.com/2016/04/12/introducing-rights-manager/.
  • Facebook Analytics for Apps Improvements:  Improvements to Facebook Analytics for Apps include deeper audience insights, push and in-app notifications (beta), powerful breakdowns, and an App Events Export API to analyze data offline.Most interesting for app marketers is the push and in-app notifications beta. You can now set up, create, send and measure push and in-app notification campaigns directly through Facebook. Request access to the beta by going to the Push Campaigns screen in Analytics for Apps.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

How to Find Your Best Facebook Audiences

5368326607_5a7015fa02_oWhether a seasoned marketing pro or new to the game, one of the most important things you can do to improve paid marketing performance on Facebook is test audiences. Testing allows you to to find the best targeting to produce scalable, efficient results. But knowing what to test—and how to get started—is the tricky part.

First, a note on Facebook’s ad structure. A campaign establishes the high-level goal that you’re trying to achieve.  You can target different audiences, also called “ad sets,” within a campaign. For example, if my goal is to get iPhone app installs in the US, I might name my campaign “iPhone – US – App Installs”. Within that campaign, I can define different audiences, or ad sets.

Now, the important question: how do you find the Facebook audience(s) that will produce the best results? The simple answer: test anything and everything, within reason. You may be surprised by which audiences perform well. Here are a few ideas for developing your test audiences:

Leverage your existing your users/customers

In my experience, the most efficient Facebook audiences are based on my current customers. These audiences, called “Lookalikes” can be created in a few ways:

  1. If you have your users’ email addresses, you can upload those directly to Facebook as a Custom Audience.
  2. If you have a Facebook pixel on your website, can create a list of web visitors.
  3. If you have the Facebook SDK in your mobile app, you can create a list of app users.

Lookalike audiences are created in the Facebook Ads Manager. Select “Lookalike Audience” and choose your source and audience size. Audience size ranges from 1% to 10% of the total population of potential matches, with 1% being those who most closely match your source.

Target demos, interests and behaviors that your target audience shares 

This seems like a no-brainer, but you should define your target audience and brainstorm the qualities they might share. How old are they? Where do they live? What do they like to do? What other brands/products are they interested in? Once you’ve done this, you have many options to find those individuals:

  1. Demographics
    This section provides a treasure trove of detailed targeting options: everything from education, racial affinity, generation, relationship status and much more. While it’s easy to create a hyper-targeted audience, be sure your audience size is not too small. 
  2. Interests
    Interest targeting lets you define your ideal audience by their interests, hobbies and Pages they like on Facebook. Facebook identifies these interests from information users added to their Timeline, keywords associated with the Pages they like or apps they use, and ads they’ve clicked on.
  3. Behaviors
    Behaviors are activities that people do on or off Facebook, constructed from both someone’s activity on Facebook and offline activity provided by Facebook’s data partners.
  4. Partner and Facebook categories:
    Facebook has created categories of 1st party data, grouping together people who have a similar affinity. Partner Categories include data from data partners. More here.
  5. Connections
    This allows you to target (or exclude) your Facebook fans. You can also target friends of Facebook fans. Additionally, you can target people that have attended your Facebook events.

Read more about Facebook audiences here.

Lastly, a few tips to boost performance:

  • Delivery will be limited unless your audience is large enough. Each ad set should have an audience size of 1MM-5MM people.  This doesn’t apply to Custom Audiences, because they are highly qualified, but does apply to Lookalikes.
  • Allocate a larger budget to a smaller number of ad sets to optimize more effectively, rather than splitting your budget into many ad sets.
  • Avoid setting up multiple audiences that overlap more than 20%. You can see which audiences are overlapping within a single campaign by using our Audience Overlap Tool.
  • Avoid editing your ad multiple times in a short period. Every time you make a change, the algorithm will need to relearn how to deliver effectively to your audience.

As you get more sophisticated and find what works, you should iterate and layer new targeting to find even more efficient pockets.

Have any additional tips or tricks to share? Respond below in the comments!

Further Reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace