Audience Profile vs Audience Segmentation: Are They Different?

Christy Walters


September 20, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

white hands holding up paper chain of people on grey background to show the differences of audience profile vs audience segmentation

The best marketing isn’t about your brand. It’s about your audience. If you’re not saying something the audience wants to hear, they won’t listen, no matter how great your product or service is. Luckily, there are plenty of strategies and tactics for finding out what piques your audience’s interest. But which one should you choose? Today we’re looking at an audience profile vs audience segmentation to see which option is the right strategic tactic for the current state of your marketing campaign:

What Is an Audience Profile?

An audience profile defines your target customer base by analyzing client or consumer behaviors across all your channels and platforms. Brands often have multiple audience profiles for different segments of their target market. The clients in these segments share similar characteristics, like demographics or purchasing behavior. Marketing teams use these profiles to create campaigns personalized to each segment to increase the appeal and success of the content, ads, or marketing materials. An audience profile has four main parts:

  • Engagement: Connecting with the target audience through marketing campaigns
  • Measurement: Tracking the success of a marketing campaign
  • Messaging: The words, text, or content that speak to and persuade the audience
  • Segmentation: Dividing the audience up into groups with similar characteristics

What Is Audience Segmentation?

white hands holding up paper chain of people on grey background to show the differences of audience profile vs audience segmentation

Image via Unsplash by @mocaandrew

Audience segmentation is a component of an audience profile. As we already said, it’s the process of dividing your larger target audience into smaller groups with similar characteristics. The purpose of segmentation is to get more specific with your marketing messages. Rather than creating generic messages meant for your entire audience, you can create personalized ones for different groups. By appealing to each group on a more granular level, you have a better chance of catching their attention and making a conversion or a sale.

Related: FAQ: What Is Audience Segmentation?

Similarities Between Audience Profiles and Segmentation?

Because segmentation fits within the audience profiling process, the two share multiple similarities, like:

Understanding Your Audience Better

Both audience segmentation and profiling help you better understand the makeup of your audience. Segmentation allows you to get to know your clients and leads at a surface level. Through this process, you can discover their ages, genders, and geographic locations. You may also learn about their spending habits, income brackets, and market expectations. With audience profiling, you learn more about how those surface-level factors affect people’s willingness to listen to brand messaging and the likelihood of purchasing from your company.

Prioritizing Personalization

When you understand your audience better, it’s easier to create personalized content and messages for your audience. Segmentation sets the stage for personalized marketing by creating smaller audience groups based on unique characteristics. Profiling picks up where segmentation leaves off, by turning those characteristics into messaging across platforms and channels. Personalization is important because it avoids the pitfalls of generic marketing. It makes content sound dynamic and interesting.

Related: Hyper-Personalization Marketing: Cute or Creepy?

Relying on Data Collection

Audience profiles and segmentation both rely heavily on research and data collection to get them right. Segmentation data comes from places like market research, online reviews, social media posts, and web metrics. Data for audience profiles come from the same sources but usually go deeper to look at information beyond the surface level.

Research and data like search intent and competitor data help you understand the right channels and messages to include in your audience profiles. That type of information tells you why your audience does what they do and how they spend their time, browse the internet, and make purchases. Knowing why the audience does something makes it easier to craft messages and design marketing touchpoints that get them to take action.

Acknowledging Consumer Behavior

Profiling and segmentation both acknowledge consumer or client behavior and how it factors into the marketing decisions your team makes. For audience segmentation, customer behaviors may indicate their own groupings, like leads who shop online, those who are returning customers, or shoppers who always use discount codes.

In profiling, these behaviors influence the messaging, channels, and engagement tactics your team uses to entice these segments to complete an action. For example, if you want the bargain shopper group to subscribe to your newsletter, you may offer a free 20% off coupon to anyone who signs up within 24 hours. Acknowledging client or customer behaviors helps make sure you reference them in your campaigns and reach the audience in a way that gets them to take action.

Differences Between Audience Profiles and Segmentation

Even though audience profiles and segmentation have a close relationship, that doesn’t mean they’re exactly alike. Here are a few key differences between audience profiles and segmentation:

Profiles Go Beyond Grouping

While the work of audience segmentation sets your brand up to personalize marketing and better target your clients or customers, none of that work actually happens in the segmentation phase. The process of segmentation is just about sorting your audience into groups based on what you know about them as individuals. You take the information you collected during research—about ages, locations, income, and spending habits—and group them together.

This is a critical step in profiling, but none of the analysis work or content and message creation takes place in this phase. That happens later in the four-step model, at the messaging and engagement steps. Segmentation kicks off the process and groups your audience into smaller, similar segments. The profiles use the information about those groups to create targeted messages and engage with the audience on channels or in places they frequent.

Profiling also takes an additional step in measuring the impact of messaging and engagement through analytics and data. This information helps marketers learn if they’ve segmented their audience correctly or in what ways they can fine-tune their messages to be more appealing to each one.

Profiles Focus on Audience Needs

Segmentation as an act isn’t concerned with the needs of the audience. It only cares about who’s similar and who’s different. When you’re segmenting, you’re looking at base factors that tell you who an audience member is. Audience needs could be a sorting factor, such as grouping people together by the products or services they use, or how they plan to use them. But segmentation doesn’t address how you plan to meet those needs. An audience profile does.

Thanks to messaging and engagement, audience profiles take those segmented groups and try to understand the why factor rather than just who your audience is. Why are they coming to your brand? Why do they have the needs that they do? Brands uncover the why through messaging and audience engagement across channels and touchpoints. The more they share and interact with individual audience segments, the more they can tell if they’ve created the right audience profiles to guide their campaign decisions.

Profiles Acknowledge the Review Cycle

Neither segments nor profiles stay the same forever. They evolve thanks to changes in societal values, economic standing, political climate, and the invention of new technology. While it’s common sense to think that if your market changes, your segments change too, the actual process doesn’t acknowledge that change.

Again, remember, the segmentation process is just grouping and sorting. Most seasoned marketers know to review their segments periodically, but it’s not built into the process the way it is with audience profiles. The inclusion of the measurement phase in profiling builds review into the process. Here, you can track the performance of every segment and review if you saw the expected outcomes. Whether you did or you didn’t, that’s additional data you can take with you to the next campaign and revise your segments to make them more accurate.

When Should You Use Audience Profiles vs Audience Segmentation?

Because audience segmentation is part of an audience profile, you’ll always use segmentation when you’re profiling. Segmentation, for any use, comes early in the planning and research process. It’s a helpful tool to use when starting a new campaign or implementing a new strategy. Knowing which audience members to target with every message or on every channel is a key component of allocating your time and resources in a way that brings you the biggest returns.

The best time to use audience profiles in your research and strategic planning is when you’re trying something new or significantly changing your marketing, such as rebranding. Creating an audience profile before a product launch or when you’re expanding your marketing efforts to new channels and touchpoints allows you to learn as much as you can about your audience.

When you do this prep work and research before starting a campaign, or at the end of one to review its success, you’re giving your team the information they need to reach the audience in a way that’s going to make them listen. This leads to an easier workload for your team and more brand awareness, conversions, and sales from your leads.

Get Your Profile and Segmentation Data From CopyPress

Creating the right audience profiles and doing top-notch segmentation comes from using reliable, accurate data. Knowing how well your current content performs with your audience and how that compares to your competitors are just two data sets that help you make the right decisions for your marketing messages and campaigns. You get access to both when you request your free content analysis report from CopyPress.

Learn more about your keyword, backlink, and search ranking performance. Then get all the same data on that of your closest industry competition. Use those insights to influence your segmentation and shape your audience profiles. To get started, share your information with us below. You should see your report in your inbox in as little as one hour. Or, start your profile today and retrieve your login information to come back and finish it later.

After you’ve reviewed the report, set up a one-on-one meeting with our strategy team. We’ll help you make sense of your results and work with you to create a content strategy that matches each segment of your audience profile.

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Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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