segmenting-an-audience

Why Audience Segmentation is Crucial for Inbound Marketing

Ben Crouch

There's no denying that the modern B2B experience hinges on personalisation. Since the advent of digital marketing, brands have made this more of an initiative, driving tailored customer experiences at every touchpoint along the path-to-purchase. For the most part, it's working: studies show 98% of marketing professionals credit personalisation for advancing their business relationships.

Still, today's buyers want more. In fact, 36% of them believe that companies could do a better job at tailoring their outreach approach. 

This is where audience segmentation comes in to your marketing strategy. 

You could spend months creating the most dynamic campaign, but if you're sending it out en masse without considering the unique preferences, goals, and intentions of your target audience, you could render your efforts fruitless. Today, we're sharing a few of the top reasons why this approach is critical for any successful inbound marketing campaign. Ready to learn more? Let's get started!

Section 1:

What is audience segmentation?

Before we dive into why it's so important, let's cover the basics.

As the term implies, audience segmentation is the process of dividing your target audience up into common categories based on similar interests or shared traits. When you do so, you're able to transform large, impersonal groups of people into more finite, manageable ones. This allows you to tailor your marketing materials and content to appeal to the each separate group in a different way. In turn, your efforts become endlessly more effective and recipients feel more important at the same time. 

While the term can sound complicated, it's a practice you're likely already following in your own life. Do you talk to your best friend in the same way you talk to your boss?

In the same way, audience segmentation helps ensure that you're talking to each prospective buyer group in the most appropriate and actionable way. audience-segmentation

Ways to Segment Audiences

The purpose of market segmentation is to identify the threads that bind members of your target audience together. There's no right or wrong way to do this, although there are some common segmentation criteria that are easier to measure and track. 

A few of these include:

  • Demographics
  • Geographics
  • Psychographics
  • Product use type
  • Stage in the buyer's journey
  • Preferred device use (mobile versus desktop)
  • Needs or pain points
  • Online behaviour

You can select from this list of niches when you start this journey. Don't see the one you're looking for? You can invent one!

Now, let's take a look at a few of these segments in greater detail.

Segmenting by Demographics

Demographic segmentation is the most common and straightforward approach. This requires dividing your audience by variables that include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Nationality

One of the benefits of this approach is that most of the data is usually uncomplicated to find. However, it's important to understand that individual needs might vary even within a given demographic. Knowing how to fine-tune your demographic segmentation efforts is key.

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Segmenting by Behaviour

While demographic segmentation looked at the specific traits of each buyer, behavioural segmentation focuses on their purchasing behaviours, instead.

Some prospective business partners might spend an hour clicking around through the pages on your website without buying anything. Then there are others who will click once, find what they're looking for and initiate a more meaningful conversation.

The same holds true for brick-and-mortar B2B businesses. Take a wholesale plumbing supply shop, for instance. Managers might have some plumbing professionals who visit the shop regularly to keep their inventories high while others only come in once every quarter and make a massive haul.

In other words, this approach divides an audience based on these factors:

  • What they know about your product
  • Their attitude toward your product
  • The way they use your product

This can be an ideal way to focus your efforts on those buyers whose behaviours will add the most value to your bottom line. 

Segmenting by Stage in the Buyer's Journey

The buyer's journey is the thought process that prospects go through as they decide whether or not to buy from your brand. There are three main stages, including the:

  • Awareness stage
  • Consideration stage
  • Decision stage

Someone who just learned about your company might not be as eager to buy as someone on the cusp of the decision stage. Thus, it wouldn't make sense to take the same inbound marketing with both groups. Customer segmentation allows you to meet prospects and current clients right where they are.

Segmenting by Device Use 

As an inbound B2B marketer, it's critical to create content that's accessible to any user, at any time, on any device. Still, to maximise engagement, it helps to understand which devices buyers prefer to use when they visit your website or download your content.

Say, for instance, your research reveals that most of your buyers communicate with your brand via smartphone. Knowing that, you can take strides to make your data as responsive and usable as possible, using tools such as Google's Mobile-Friendly Test to verify accessibility. You can also add a Call-to-Action (CTA) at the end of your content that prompts viewers to call you.

Understanding the logistics of how it works, what role does audience segmentation play in inbound marketing? Let's explore the answer.

Section 2:

Audience segmentation and inbound marketing

While outbound marketing pushes a general message to a wide audience, inbound marketing does the opposite. With this approach, you're focused on creating valuable, relevant content that draws your audience in, attracting the prospects who are the most interested in (and already searching for) the information you deliver.

targeting-ideal-customers


Industry research reveals that 87% of people now begin their product searches online. As more buyers turn to the internet to start their purchase journey, it's more imperative than ever before for brands to attract their individual attention. 

Organising and directing your marketing efforts based on audience segmentation is one of the simplest and most effective ways to do so. When you know how to cater your content to each segment, you boost your opportunity to connect on a personal basis.

Need proof? If they receive a personalised experience with your brand, research shows that 80% of web shoppers will ultimately make a purchase. From there, 25% of them will come back again to make a repeat purchase! In the vast sea of the internet, buyers appreciate brands that treat them as more than just another number. Thanks to audience segmentation, inbound marketers can cater to this demand, creating materials that draw in a specific group, persona or individual online. 

From targeted ad campaigns to personalised web pages, location-specific blog posts and more, the opportunities to connect on a meaningful basis are limitless.

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Gleaning Insights from Audience Data

The benefits of audience segmentation are two-fold. On one hand, inbound marketing software makes it easier for brands to take a more personal approach, tailoring messages and reaching more niche groups of prospects. At the same time, as those prospects become active buyers, the same software reveals even greater, more granular insights on their habits. 

It's a cycle that delivers value across the purchase journey. Any time someone decides to visit your website, click on your blog, download your white paper or sign up for your e-course, there are myriads of data points available for inbound marketers to capture.

You can use this data to help customise the buying experience, rather than throwing the veritable spaghetti against the wall and hoping something sticks. Taking this approach allows inbound markers to:

  • Determine your distinct marketing targets
  • Customise your message to appeal to those targets
  • Meet the individual needs of those targets to drive conversions
  • Build long-term relationships and make meaningful connections, fostering loyalty
  • Identify warm leads that could accelerate the sales cycle

 

Section 3:

Fine-tuning your segmentation strategy

While targeting specific audiences can add value and direction to your inbound marketing and growth strategy, it's easy to fall into a few common traps. Next, let's explore ways to avoid those challenges and optimise your approach. optimise-targeting-strategy

Set Actionable Goals

Before you begin to segment target audiences, take the time to meet with your key business executives to answer the following question: why are we doing this? Are you trying to build lagging sales numbers back up? Do you want to ramp up interest in a new product or service? Are you looking to increase customer engagement and promote conversion?

The answer might be "yes" to all of these, and that's OK. The important part is to communicate these goals at the beginning and make sure they align with the overarching goals and missions that define your organisation. 

Know When to Stop

It's wise to break a large audience down into smaller groups. It's unwise, however, to treat the process like a Russian nesting doll, where every section breaks down into an even tinier one. At some point, you'll need to stop segmenting. Otherwise, you'll be tasked with creating an individual buying experience for every single customer. 

Good segmentation

Stick with groups that are a little more generic in nature rather than those that are too specific. An example being:

Buyers from the Midwest, made at least three purchases, bought everything online. 

Poor segmentation

One example is:

Buyers who are only active on the weekend, use their Visa to pay, buy at least five products, aged 18 to 24 and live within 10 miles of your business headquarters.

Can you see how difficult it would be to track those metrics? It's a better use of your time to widen the umbrella a little and lessen the number of individual data points you use. 

Commit to Continuous Improvement

As inbound marketing software continues to innovate, there are countless new discoveries you can make about your target audience. To that end, keep researching!

If one segmentation doesn't yield the results you thought it would, you're not locked into it. Feel free to try different combinations until you're comfortable with a given strategy. One way to figure out what works? Analyse successful campaigns to see how the audience was segmented, and vice versa. Even after you've created your segments and found the ideal way to organise your audience data, you're never done learning. 

Extend Past Email

When you're first organising and testing your segmentation approach, it's easy to rely on email lists to get the job done. While these can deliver an incredible amount of value, it's important to expand your delivery. 

In addition to sending personalised emails to your customers and prospects, why not devote entire webpages to them? The same goes for blog articles, promotions, industry content, social media posts, and more. Email can be a great stepping stone, but it should lead to a larger journey. 

 

Section 4:

Use audience segmentation to learn, grow and discover

Your inbound marketing efforts are only as successful as the tools you have at your disposal. Audience segmentation is one of them. 

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In today's quick-paced digital world, you can't afford to lose a sale because you forgot or failed to personalise an offer. The technology is there, and it's time to start using it. Our attention spans are narrowing at the same pace that our online options are widening, and catching the eye of today's buyer means getting in front of them. Segmenting your audience can be as easy as a few steps, as long as you select the right partner. 

That's where we come in.

We're inbound marketing specialists dedicated to helping you make the most of your corner of the internet. Contact us today for a free growth audit that analyses your existing marketing and advertising campaigns and helps you understand your next steps. Then, let's take them together!

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Originally published on 08/10/19 12:07

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