How to Segment Your Audience Online

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By Jillian Frager

Do you have a firm comprehension of your customer base? Do you know their demographic details from age to geographic location? Understand their desires and interests?  If you can’t answer any of these questions confidently, then you could be missing out on one of the most fundamental components of a successful content marketing strategy. Moreover, whether you think you understand your audience, you need hard data to ensure you’re actually targeting the right people. 

Obtaining a stronger understanding of your audience and subsequently establishing a customer segmentation strategy is crucial to achieving success with your marketing tactics. Customer-centric companies report 60% more profitability than companies that don’t focus on individual customers or buyer personas. Below, we’ll review key steps to take to establish this for your brand.

Why Segmenting Your Audience is Crucial

With the integration of targeted advertising, multi-platform data analytics, and Facebook ads, brands can now focus on specific groups to make the ad experience feel individualized. According to Econsultancy, customer experience and personalization make up one-third of the most exciting opportunities for businesses moving forward. 

The ideas behind segmentation and customer-centricity are linked hand in hand. If you want someone to feel valued and selected, you have to create a personalized experience. To personalize the experience, you have to segment the audience. By focusing on the individuals in a specific audience, you get a customer-centric business.

Understand Your Audience

With all the quantitative data at your disposal, you need to dive into who your audience is and create different groups based on notable differences. Don’t expect audiences to be swayed by general statements anymore. A reported 76% of consumers assume companies already know their needs and expectations. 

To get to this deep understanding of your audience, you need to do some digging. Audience profiling and segmentation begins by asking yourself some basic questions:

  • Where does your audience live?
  • Who makes up your audience?
  • What are they like?
  • How do they interact with your brand?

Where Does Your Audience Live?

Starting from a geographical standpoint, what can you say about your audience? What countries are they from? What states, what cities? Do they live in urban areas or suburban areas? Or do your customers hail from the rural countryside? 

Where someone lives can you tell you a lot about who they are and what they might want to buy. Selling winter wear and snowmobiles to Floridians in February would be a lost cause as would be selling beach gear to Nebraskans.

Who Makes Up Your Audience?

Your audience’s demographics should also influence the way you form your marketing strategy. This will prevent you from targeting a sale on baby clothes to 18- to 24-year-old male students who are single. The demographic trends you should look for are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Occupation
  • Income
  • Marital status
  • Education level

Companies typically start with an estimation of who their ideal customers are. But this frequently turns out not to be the case. Using demographics to narrow on who exactly is buying your product or service will allow you to hone your marketing message and call to action to fit your customers best. 

What Are They Like?

If possible, try setting up some form of feedback loop with your audience. Ask your customers questions about themselves. Areas that can grant insight into your customer base include:

  • Hobbies
  • Preferences
  • Lifestyle
  • Personality

By understanding these four components, you can determine broad behavioral traits. Are they outdoorsy types or do they prefer art galleries? Will they spend $30 on Saturday morning brunch or skip the expensive popcorn at movie theaters? What makes your customers tick? What are their pain points in the buying process? This may sound speculative and fanciful, but again, understanding your customers and what they value can generate targeted marketing campaigns. 

How do Customers Interact With Your Brand?

The next step is to research how customers are interacting with your online platform. There are four basic points you want to focus on: 

  • Where customers are coming from 
  • What they’re doing once they’re on your site 
  • How they’re maneuvering through the sales funnel
  • What the rate of conversion is 

Not only will this clue you into where your site has problems—which pages have the highest bounce rate, for example—but it will tell you about the purchasing habits and which ads are working.

Target the Unique Audiences

Once your customer segmentation strategy is a success and you know who your audience is, it’s time to target them. Incorporate everything you can glean about them from demographic details to other product interests. This will help create a robust picture of who this person is and will help you better envision to whom you’re speaking. 

Once you have a few customer personas, develop the following methods:

  • Create specific messaging in your content that speaks to each unique audience
  • Utilize proper channels to distribute that message
  • A/B test your messages to figure out what resonates

Targeting through Messaging

You wouldn’t give the same speech to Fortune 500 CEOs as you would to college graduates. And you wouldn’t use the same tone when speaking to your grandmother who’s hard of hearing as you would to your spouse. Treating people equally is one thing, but trying to market and speak to their specific pain points as if everybody were the same will only cause lost-in-translation marketing. 

It’s been well documented by marketers that advertising to men and women, for example, need different approaches for what the commercial should focus on. This process doesn’t mean to include stereotypical tropes, but guidelines for how to curb your message.

Use all the resources you’ve gathered to create three or four ideal customers. Determine how you would target them through marketing. Think about:

  • What tone would you use to capture their attention?
  • Would they be inclined to read dense paragraphs or short sentences?
  • Do they prefer video, audio, or text marketing?
  • What do they value and how are you bringing that value through your messaging?

Targeting Through Channels

With how many channels are available to marketers today, knowing what your audience uses is necessary. If your products are designed for young people (under 25), you need to be on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. However, if you’re targeting highly educated, higher-income individuals, Twitter should be one of the key marketing platforms.

B2B and B2C businesses also differ in their social channels. B2B companies rely heavily on professional social media like LinkedIn and Facebook. B2C focuses on the traditional three Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

As a word of warning, when using different channels, be sure to understand the format and lexicon of each. And if you’re going to meme it up, use ones of which you know the origin. This could avoid disgruntled consumers calling you out for supporting something you didn’t know the meme supported.

Targeting Through Testing

Once you have an idea in mind for who you want to target and through what channel, the final step is to test out your messaging. The most optimal way to do this is through a series of improvements known as A/B testing.

A/B testing is the process by which you take two similar groups of people, advertise the same product, but alter one part of the messaging to determine which performs better. For example, say you’re targeting post-grads entering the workforce on Facebook and LinkedIn. You have a promotional video for your job-hunting service, as well as a carefully crafted meme. To test which one has more effect, you can send one group (group A) the video with a call to action and link, while the other group (group B) will see the meme with the same call to action and link.

If the video performs 15% better, you’ll be confident to send that promotional video out to the mass audience. If you want to optimize further, you can test different calls to action, different lengths of text, and anything else that would be relevant.

Guiding Your Audience

Another key to audience profiling and segmentation is to understand the buyer journey. Dive into the typical process each audience takes to find your brand, learn more about the brand, and finally, make a purchase. With this knowledge, you can develop retargeting strategies for different personas in coordination with their journey. This is key to creating a full-funnel marketing strategy.

Understand the Funnel

While breaking down the entire sales funnel would take another post on its own, here is a basic breakdown of where customers will be on their sales journey.

  • Awareness – Before customers can purchase your product, they have to know that you exist.
  • Interest – As the customer starts to research your brand, they will gain interest in your products and consider you an option. Using automated marketing tools that retarget customers who have visited your website through a social media ad is vital at this stage.
  • Decision – Once customers have the intention to shop, they’ll browse your products and even put things in the grocery cart. At this point, many customers still walk away to do comparison shopping.
  • Action – Deciding that you are the best option, customers will buy your products. If they enjoy the product, they could become lifelong customers.

At each stage, customers will need a unique push in the right direction. This will also fit into your marketing strategy as this provides another category to target customers.

Segmentation and Targeting Customers

Understanding how to segment your audience and target each specific group with the appropriate messaging will allow you to maximize the ROI of your marketing efforts. For consumers, they will be receiving a personalized advertisement that already fits their needs and pain points. And for brands, they will be able to offer an individualized customer experience.

 

Sources:

Post Funnel. Taking The Victorious Dive into The Segmentation Pool. https://postfunnel.com/taking-victorious-dive-segmentation-pool/

Econsultancy. Three insights into B2B marketing from our trends report. https://econsultancy.com/three-insights-into-b2b-marketing-from-our-trends-report/

iPerceptions. 19 Customer Experience Statistics For 2019.  https://www.iperceptions.com/blog/customer-experience-statistics

Houston Chronicle. Marketing to Men Vs. Women. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/marketing-men-vs-women-1011.html

Pew. Social Media Use in 2018. https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/