If you’re an established business or have experienced promising growth recently, you may have noticed your data list growing. And in that list, you’re likely to have a number of different types of customer – not only in terms of their buying behaviour (returning, lapsed, big spender) but in terms of their personal qualities (gender, age or income).
This may mean that it no longer makes sense to send out mass emails or mailings, as not everything you have to say will be relevant to every customer. It’s time to start getting more specific about what you’re saying to your database – get ready to dip your toes into the waters of segmentation. But before you do so, make sure to read our quick and easy guide to getting started!
What is segmentation?
Segmentation essentially refers to the division of your audience into subsets of customers who have common requirements, and creating specific marketing strategies to target each of those groups. Segmentation becomes especially useful when in terms of email marketing; a scenario in which you’ll often need to send different messages to different people.
Why is segmentation important?
There’s a lot of noise on the internet these days, created by brands battling to retain consumer attention. This is even truer of your customers’ email inboxes. To be in with a chance of being in the percentage of emails your customer actually opens, you need to make sure your email is as relevant to them as possible.
Say, for example, that you want to send an email advertising a new women’s clothing range. You send it to your complete, unfiltered database – and are surprised to see a poor open rate and an even worse click-through rate. Is it any wonder, when half of your database might be male? Segmentation helps keep your messaging relevant, which can lead to increased conversion.
How do I get started?
Start off by thinking about the most logical way to categorise your customers. Obviously, keep in mind that every customer is an individual and segmentation only helps to group them together in a way that makes sense.
To help you with this categorisation, you may want to create buyer personas*; fictional characters to help personify the characteristics of your segmented groups.
Personas are a big part of the agile software development philosophy which can be applied outside of that arena. So think big and use personas in your marketing and web development. If you ‘d like to know more, read 10 Tips for Creating Strong Personas
It’s helpful to give these personas names, attributes and traits that typify that particular segment. The more details you associate with your defined groups, the more real and human they will feel. Here are some examples:
Manager Mark – This segment is specified by their job title. The content you produce/marketing materials you direct at this group should be relevant to the fact that they are managers, and therefore likely decision makers.
Impulsive Imogen – This group is defined by a behavioural trait – in this case, their tendency to purchase quickly and on a whim. Recognising such patterns in behaviour can help you identify not only how to market your product to your customers but also inform your wider marketing strategy.
Perfectionist Pete – This group is defined by a personality trait rather than job position or buying behaviour. Segmenting customers in this way works best on large pools of data about which you’ve amassed significant information, to help you to be as specific as possible with your marketing.
Segmenting by life-cycle stage
Identifying where exactly any one group of customers is in the buying cycle can help you to understand the most effective ways of marketing to them. For example, the kind of conversation you have with a new lead should be very different than that with a returning customer. This is very much a “right customer, right message, right time” approach to marketing that can help boost engagement and conversion rates.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still not sure where to begin? Here’s some common queries we experience at the beginning of most segmentation projects.
How many segments should I aim for?
This depends on how much time and budget you have available to dedicate to your segmentation workshop, as well as the size of your database. Why not start by dividing your customers up into those who are inactive and those who are active. This is a great starting point, and it won’t be long before you can move onto more sophisticated groupings.
How specific should I go with my segmentation?
Personalisation is always going to give you a competitive edge, but it is possible to take your segmentation too far. Don’t let the parameters you put in place restrict your marketing or lead you to make incorrect assumptions about your customers.
How much budget will I need to get started?
This will depend on whether you have capability in-house in the form of a data analyst or consultant, or whether you’ll need to outsource this project to an agency. Either way, it’s a good idea to talk it through with your email provider as a first step. Most segmentation projects are relatively cost-effective to get started, and you’ll reap the rewards in the long run.
If you need help with segmentation of your audience, speak with Surrey digital marketing agency Clever Marketing. We’re highly experienced in running managing your SEO, we can manage and segment your PPC campaigns and we’ve got tons of experience in email marketing.