Audience segmentation is the process of dividing your entire audience into segments — groups that have something in common, like gender, age, location, interests, behavior, etc. to better tailor your marketing offers, ads, and products.
Back in the day, setting up segmentation was an uphill battle that used to give marketers a headache. Today, thanks to simplified tools in email marketing, SMM, messenger marketing, search engine marketing, and other digital marketing channels, have made it that even an entry-level marketer can effectively segment their audiences.
3 Reasons to Segment Your Audience
- It helps you provide your audience with personalized treatment
- It helps you overcome competitors
- It helps you build meaningful relationships with the audience
There are several reasons you should segment your audience, so let’s review them. Segmentation:
- Helps you provide your audience with personalized treatment. Today, customers seek personalized experiences, and they want super-relevant offers at the right time, too. This became possible once social networks and search engines started collecting a lot of behavioral and demographic data about people so that brands can divide people into segments and tailor their messages more precisely.
- Helps you overcome competitors. Fierce competition in online marketing makes it hard to market your products today. However, if you are smart with your segmentation, you can tailor your ads, nurture and convert leads into customers better than your competitors.
- Helps you build meaningful relationships with the audience. To satisfy modern customers, brands need to educate and entertain them. With segmentation tools on hand, companies can create thought out content marketing strategies that appeal to every customer.
Let’s analyze the ways you can segment your audience.
3 Crucial Audience Segmentation Strategies
- Demographic Segmentation
- Behavioral Segmentation
- Segmentation Based on the Buyer’s Journey Stages
There are three primary segmentation types: demographic, behavioral, and buyer’s journey segmentation. Let’s review each one closer.
This type of segmentation helps you divide your audience based on typical marketing demographics. Let’s look at some of the most popular ones:
- Age. It’s a crucial segmentation variable since people’s preferences are continually changing throughout their lifetime. People of various age groups communicate with brands in specific ways, so you need to conduct research and consider these differences when you do your marketing. If you run an apparel business, you need to target different collections to different age groups: children, teens, and adults.
- Gender. Each gender has a specific thinking process, needs, and desires. For instance, men and women often want different body care products. However, you should carefully avoid advertising on gender stereotypes because it will offend some of your prospects and makes your brand look sexist.
- Location. This segmentation variable is vital because people use different languages and have different cultures, climatic conditions, time zones, etc. Aside from this, it’s necessary for businesses in specific areas to target their messages to the local audience. There’s no need to waste your budget on marketing to people that will never make it to your store.
- Income. Based on your customer’s estimated salary, you can tailor different classes of products to the right people. For example, in the automotive industry, there is little sense in advertising first-class sports cars to people with lower incomes. In this case, it’s best to promote used vehicles or offer new cars with low APR. And vice versa, people that earn a lot of money are more likely to buy luxury brands.
- Occupation. Some niche products are tailored based on employment: medical equipment, woodworking tools, fitness training equipment, software, etc.
- Ethnicity. It’s essential to know about the cultural differences and conflicts between neighboring nations. Think of Armenia and Azerbaijan, or Spain and the Catalonian crisis. Target your communication paying attention to the situation in your customers’ countries. Also, conduct research as you grow your business internationally.
- Family structure. Think of “family pack” products in the supermarket. It’s best to tailor such products to families with three and more members. With the data about family structure at hand, you can quickly identify the target audience for such products.
This type of segmentation is based on users’ shopping habits and the way they interact with your brand. Let’s review the most common ways to segment users by behavior:
- Purchasing behavior. Look for any obstacles that keep users from making a decision. People hesitate to purchase for three reasons: they are waiting for the best offer, they are looking for social proof, or some of them are “just looking around” and are not in a hurry. Use shopping holidays to convert the first type, collect feedback from happy customers for the second type, and don’t spend much time and effort on the third type since they aren’t likely to buy anything.
- Benefits. This is a way to divide customers based on the benefits they are looking for. You can motivate them to buy your products or services by stressing the best parts and benefits of your products. For instance, chewing gum gives people clean teeth, fresh breath, a nice flavor, and even an anti-stress effect. Find out the benefits that drive your customers towards making a purchase and emphasize them.
- Engagement level. Some users occasionally contact your brand, so you can survey them to find out if they see a lack of value or motivation from your side. The others regularly use your service but don’t use its functions to the full extent. Share how-to videos and highlight all the features that will be handy for them. Lastly, people who integrate your brand into their lives require special treatment. You can provide them with bonuses, loyalty programs, and greetings on birthdays and anniversaries.
- Special occasions. This segmentation type helps you deliver your messages at the right time. Utilize events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, national holidays, etc., to add more reasons to go shopping. You can implement occasion-based segmentation by collecting data from subscription forms, lead magnets, or surveys. These insights will help you build a positive brand image.
Segmentation Based on the Buyer’s Journey Stages
There are three buyer journey stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. In each stage, prospects need different kinds of treatment.
If users have just found out they have a problem, they usually use Google to find a solution. So in this stage, it’s best to have helpful content that will provide answers to your future customers’ questions. It can be an article that outlines how to deal with the problem in different ways.
If a user already knows what kind of product can solve their problem, they will want to learn more about its characteristics and determine which exact product they need. It’s a great idea to show reviews like “best tools for...”
Once they know exactly what they need, users search for the best price. It’s best if your brand is visible in shopping campaign ads, which is a great way to stand out from your competitors.
If users still doubt, you can nurture them with precisely targeted ads on Facebook or Google, based on their search queries and interests.
Other Types of Audience Segmentation
Here are some additional segmentation types to enrich your strategy:
- Segmentation based on previous interactions. This type of segmentation allows you to provide super relevant content and ads based on customers’ previous behavior.
- Segmentation by device type. This allows you to send optimized messages to people that use smartphones, desktops, or tablets.
- Customer loyalty. Loyal customers are the most beneficial clients for any business since they have the highest lifetime value. These people earned their right to be treated with exclusive content and offers. Besides, it’s cheaper to retain existing customers and nurture their loyalty than to acquire new leads. Loyal clients are more likely to become brand advocates and promote your brand in their social circles.
- Customer satisfaction. This type of segmentation is based on customer feedback. It helps fix issues when users are not happy with the product before spreading negative words about your brand. On the other hand, it enables you to strengthen your relationships with users who already like your brand.
Let’s apply some audience segmentation to different marketing channels.
How to Use Audience Segmentation in Online Marketing
- Email Marketing
- SMS Marketing
- Facebook Advertising
Even entry-level marketers can use this technology for the benefit of their business. Let’s try to perform audience segmentation on every major digital marketing channel.
Bulk email marketing services, like SendPulse, MailChimp, ConstantContact, etc., allow you to collect data about your subscribers with the help of subscription forms, surveys, feedback, and email analytics.
Each subscriber you collect with subscription forms brings you data for future segmentation. The more fields you ask subscribers-to-be to fill in during subscription, the more information you will receive. However, asking for too many details isn’t smart because people don’t have a lot of time and don’t know you well enough to share a lot of data.
Here’s how an email list looks with SendPulse. Each column represents a piece of data that you can use as a variable for segmentation. It can be subscription date, user rating, gender, location, and more. After you send email campaigns to your audience, you can segment it based on their behavior: how often people open your emails, click on the links, etc.
With those insights in mind, you can send better-tailored offers, develop your content strategy, send re-engagement campaigns to retain subscribers, and clean your mailing list.
Here’s a personalized email based on one template that shows different content to audience segments from different locations.
Similarly to email marketing, you need to opt-in your audience before sending SMS campaigns. It’s harder to segment mobile users because brands can’t collect a lot of data about them. However, SMS marketing works great with loyal customers if you gather information about them. It allows companies to upsell, cross-sell, and promote discounts.
With SendPulse, you can select variables for segmentation similarly to email campaigns. Here’s a text message from Domino’s targeted at people who haven’t visited the restaurant for a while.
Facebook Ads technology allows entry-level users to create powerfully targeted ads, boost engagement with your Facebook page, drive new leads to your site, and much more.
Facebook collects data about users and provides you with simplified segmentation tools, so you don’t need to do anything except creating content and boost it with the Ads feature.
To segment your audience on Facebook, you need to choose your target audience’s gender, age, location, interests, and behavior patterns. You can narrow your audience down to San Francisco-based men interested in bodybuilding, aged between 18 and 40 y.o. The service also estimates the potential audience that you can reach, which is 210 thousand people for this particular example.
Chatbots can help you move subscribers down the lead funnel. During their conversation with the bot, users choose different questions and reply differently. Here’s where segmentation takes place — you can add users to different segments based on their interactions with a chatbot and send well-targeted offers right in personal messages.
A wisely built chatbot can identify your leads’ place in the sales funnel, their level of interest, preferences, as well as demographics like age, gender, location, etc. Based on these insights, you can divide your audience into segments and use this information for further communication and advertising, building long-lasting and productive relationships with your audience.
Here’s an example of a travelling industry bot that segments the audience by location from the start, and then moves the user to the ticket ordering.
Let’s finish this guide by reviewing some tips to help you master audience segmentation.
4 Best Practices for Audience Segmentation Success
- Don’t overdo it
- Set clear goals
- Test and improve
- Segment audience on each channel
We’ve collected a few best practices that will help you segment your audience in the right way.
- Don’t overdo it. Audience segmentation is all about balance. If you narrow your audience down too much, it will stop bringing you money because only a few people will meet all of your segmentation criteria. It’s best if you aim at providing every member of your audience with exciting and personalized content in the first place and use segmentation as a supportive tool to help you achieve that goal.
- Set clear goals. It’s better to not use segmentation at all than it is to segment at random. To segment your audience effectively, you need to develop a buyer persona, create your buyer's journey, and identify your target audience first. Only then will you be able to set realistic goals for your audience segmentation strategy.
- Test and improve. It’s important to monitor how your audience changes and adjust your strategies to meet these changes. Sometimes, you need to revise segments that were effective before, do some more research, and tests to create better segments. Your audience is an everchanging living organism, so there’s always room for improvement.
- Segment audience on each channel. Every digital marketing channel has segmentation options, and it’s a great idea to make use of them. This may be beneficial for your business. For instance, the insights you gain about your audience from Facebook can help you better segment your audience on other channels and allows you to save money and effort.
Congratulations, you’ve learned the basics of audience segmentation, so it’s time to start segmenting your email, chatbot, and SMS audiences with SendPulse!
Last Updated: 2020-09-02