Creating one blanket marketing message for your campaign may save you time, but it can cost you in other ways over the long term of your strategy and the longevity of your company. There’s a better way to develop messaging called audience segmentation that can help you reach the right groups of people every time. But what is audience segmentation? To explain, we’re covering frequently asked questions about the topic, like:
Audience segmentation is a marketing strategy where you identify subgroups in your target audience to share more personalized or specific messaging with each one. Using audience segmentation can help you organize these smaller groups to give them what they really want from your marketing efforts. It allows you to talk and communicate with different people on their own levels with words and messages they understand.
For example, CopyPress works with a variety of clients with content marketing needs. They come from different industries and comfort levels with content creation. Many also have different expectations and uses for the content they want to be produced. By segmenting our target audience with all these parameters, we can better understand their expectations and provide marketing messages to entice them to start a conversation and learn more about what we do.
You often hear in marketing that you want to appeal to your target audience because, without one, you don’t have a reason to do marketing or even have a company. For that reason, some people think marketing messages should be broad, vague, and “for everyone.” The belief stems from fear or uncertainty that you may off-put or deter a potential customer by getting too specific with your messaging. To avoid that, marketers may make their communications too broad. Instead of appealing to everyone, they appeal to no one because they’re generic and boring.
For example, which of these two messages is more appealing?:
Do you see the difference? This email client may have audience members from a variety of different industries, and the product can work in any of them. But the first message for everyone doesn’t entice you to buy the product or even learn more. By segmenting out a portion of the audience, marketers, and talking about how the product can serve them specifically, it becomes more interesting. When customers feel you’ve written a message for them, they’re more receptive to what you’re saying.
Besides making customers feel like they have your attention, there are other benefits to using audience segmentation in your marketing. Some of them include:
Any sales or marketing professional looking to better understand their potential leads and clients can use audience segmentation. If you’re a business owner, CEO, COO, or general manager, you can too. Both B2B and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies can benefit from engaging in segmentation, though the criteria they choose and the research they do to find out about their target audiences may differ. This is because B2B companies target other businesses, so there are multiple people at different authority and skill levels in the mix when creating messaging. B2C companies often target just an individual person, which may take less strategic effort and planning.
There are multiple factors you can use to segment your audience. The ones you choose may depend on the product or service you’re providing, and the size of both your audience and your business. You can use two or more segmentation strategies together to expand your reach. Segmentation types include:
Demographics are one of the most common ways to segment an audience. They may also be one of the easiest because people will share this information about themselves publicly, making it easy to find and collect. Demographics tell you about a person’s non-character or non-personality traits, such as:
For example, demographic segmentation can help you target an audience that can afford your product. If you know their income information, you can tell if what you sell is within their budget or price range.
Psychographics tell you who your audience is based on their interests or personalities. They can give you insights into why people think and act the way they do, covering areas like:
This segment may be harder to define than demographics because you can track those with metrics, statistics, or data. But people may be less willing to share some of their psychographic information publicly for fear of judgment or backlash. Because people hold these things so close and care about them so much, if you can learn the information and segment that way, you may speak to your audience on a more personal level. This can evoke emotion and influence their behavioral buying decisions.
The behavior segment looks at how people work through the marketing and sales process. It analyzes criteria like:
Behavior segmentation allows you to tailor your messages to reach customers when they’re most likely to convert, such as when they need to make a new purchase or when they’re ready to switch from one company or brand to another.
Geographics segmentation tells you about your customers’ physical locations. It can include both where people live permanently or where they visit and how they get there. This is another segment that’s easy to track thanks to technology, like location services. Geographic segmentation factors include:
This can help you target an audience within a certain locational area or based on their needs for specific times of the year. For example, a snow shovel business may target certain members of its audience based on the seasons in their specific parts of the world.
Image via Lucidchart
You can segment your audience by where they fall within the sales and marketing funnels. Each layer of the funnel represents a different stage of the customer journey. The closer someone is to the bottom, the more likely that they’re closer to making a purchase or a conversion with your company. Different diagrams break the funnel down into three to five segments, with the most common being:
Engagement levels tell you how involved a lead or customer is with your business. The way you appeal to a casual brand follower differs from how you interact with a previous customer. For example, people who subscribe to your newsletter or sign up for your online courses are likely more engaged with your brand than people who just follow you on social media. Knowing this information can help you tailor campaigns based on how much people already know about and interact with your brand.
Not everyone browses your content in the same way. People have the choice of desktop or laptop computers, mobile phones, tablets, and even smart TVs or smartwatches sometimes. People use these devices differently, and each one has a set of best practices for content creation and distribution. Knowing how and where people access your brand’s content can influence how you appeal to them. For example, if people view your content on a smart TV, it may be best to share your messages through video clips, while long-form written content is best for desktop, laptop, and tablet users.
There are other segmentation options used less often but could still factor into your audience groupings, such as:
It’s good to start new campaigns or strategy implementation with audience segmentation. That’s because it can help you plan your messages, channels, and advertising efforts for each one. Outside of a specific campaign, you can also engage in audience segmentation during any company, product, or strategy research phase. Any chance you have to learn more about your audience and your customers is a chance to engage in segmentation. Doing it during research can help you prepare pre-created segments to use with future campaigns.
Use these steps to learn how to segment your audience:
With every marketing strategy, goals help prepare you for the journey from ideation to review. Setting attainable, measurable goals can help you not only segment your audience but also determine if the choices you made for segments benefit your business. You may set overall goals for your marketing campaigns or set goals for each segment based on the type of messaging you plan to craft.
Learn as much as you can about your audience. The data you collect comes from multiple sources, and you can use it all to build profiles and backgrounds about the groups that interact with your brand. Helpful sources for collecting information include:
To learn even more about what your audience wants, request your free content analysis report from CopyPress. This report shows how your content compares to your three top competitors. It also tells you gaps in your strategy to determine what keywords your audience is searching for and how you can fit those queries into your audience profiles. Once you review the report, get started with us to help make your content creation and syndication work wonders for your brand. We take on the time it would normally take you or your team to produce high-quality content so you can focus on other business operations.
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After researching, you can group similar information to create your segments. Use a criteria checklist to determine if your groups have merit, like:
Once you’ve determined if a segment is worth creating, record the criteria. This can include information about the segment type and what specific factors help determine if a customer falls into it. There are many ways you can document your segments, including in spreadsheets, slide presentations, or infographics. No matter how you record them, make sure the segments are easy to read and understand, and easily shareable with other members of the sales and marketing teams.
You can monitor the metrics of your content and audit your original information sources to see if segmenting your audience the way you did is helping to reach your goals. Even if you are, there’s always room to update or change your segments as you learn more information or expand your company offerings. You can return to your segments checklist and ask yourself the same questions again to see if there are ways to improve the established groups or add new ones.
Use these tips to help you when conducting audience segmentation:
Customer personas are fictional or mock-up personalities, like fictional characters, that represent your ideal customers. Personas include demographic information, like age, gender, and geographic location. They also include psychographic information about the persona’s work and personal life. These tools help you visualize exactly who you’re trying to reach with your personalized messaging. It’s not just a nameless, faceless group, but a fictionalized individual with likes, dislikes, and pain points. Create personas for all of your segmented groups to use as a representative for that niche market.
While not segmenting at all runs the risk of making your messaging too broad, it’s also possible to make your segments too specific. Each segment should cater to a medium-to-large group of audience members. Over-segmenting can result in not reaching enough people with your messaging or spending too much of your time creating messages for too many groups. To return to our email client example, look at the following calls-to-action (CTAs):
The second CTA is a bit too specific to appeal to a large enough group. It’s important to find a balance between marketing to the entire population and one specific individual.
Content marketing is a broad field with lots of options to help you meet your audience where they’re most receptive to advertising and persuasion. Use a variety of channels to target each of your segments. Some options include:
Email is also an incredibly popular segmentation channel. You can create email campaigns based on all the different types of segmentation, but also based on how often people interact with your website or purchase products and services from you. There is even the option in most email clients to segment and connect with individuals who don’t usually open your emails or haven’t engaged with your brand in a certain period of time in an effort to reengage them with your brand.
You’re segmenting your audience for a reason: because each group needs something a little different to make a conversion. This comes from more than just messaging. It’s also about the connections you make and the incentives you offer. Find out what matters most to each group and offer an incentive that correlates.
In marketing, reaching your target audience is everything. By creating personalized connections with your brand and its clients or customers, you not only develop brand loyalty and trust, but you can also see the return on your investment (ROI) in the form of conversions and sales.
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