Your audience consists of individuals with different needs, behaviors, and even demographics. You can't afford to generalize the promotional or educational emails you send to them.
This is where audience segmentation appears in the picture. Segmenting your audience into groups with similar characteristics enables you to send personalized messages that meet their needs.
In this article, you will learn essential details about audience segmentation including its benefits, types, best practices, and tips to scale through email marketing effectively.
What is audience segmentation?
Audience segmentation is the process of separating your audience into groups based on similar qualities and traits they share.
It offers an easy way of organizing and managing a brand's relationship with its customer base.
Creating generalized content for an audience can be a bit boring and give poor results.
But, separating an audience into groups with similar characteristics creates an opportunity for precisely targeted marketing and personalized content.
This empowers the brand to advertise its products or services to the target audience in a more meaningful way.
Besides, incorporating this strategy enables the company to tailor the marketing and sales efforts to the needs of each customer segment, thereby catching their attention and improving conversion rate.
Why do you need audience segmentation?
There are a lot of reasons that make audience segmentation important.
Segmenting your audience enables you to create and send messages and create marketing campaigns that meet the unique interests and needs of each individual in your target audience.
Here are three reasons why customer segmentation is crucial to your business.
1 - Creating tailored messages and personalized experiences
Audience segmentation helps you to target the right people and target them with messages that suit their needs and preferences.
By segmenting your audience, you learn more about them and classify them based on their unique customer traits and actions they take.
For instance, if you are running an email marketing campaign, you can segment people that open your emails in one group and segment those that don't open your email in another. You can then create email strategies accordingly.
To be more specific you can create strategies that entice reluctant customers to open your emails and get those open to take buying decisions, for example.
You can take it a step further and segment your lists based on recipients who click on your CTAs and those that do not.
Or on your website, you can leverage audience segmentation to display content based on customer engagement, referring domains, past interactions etc.
For example, you can set your site segmentation rules to present a certain pop-up or opt-in offers to visitors based on where they are coming from or how many times they have visited your site.
Segmenting your audience enables you to create tailored messages and create personalized experiences for your audience.
Audience segmentation lets you use contextual data to make decisions and make relevant offers to your target audiences — at the right time. It allows you to be more meaningful in your marketing strategy.
2 - Build a better strategy
The ability of your marketing efforts to meet your target customers’ needs and demands right when they need it to be relevant is what makes you the most successful.
Audience segment requires you to create a different group of customers based on common traits or pain points they share.
You are required to properly research each of your customer segments and properly understand their needs.
As well, you are required to tailor your email marketing messaging, the offers you make as well as how you shape those offers to the audience.
Data show that segmentation makes firms 60% more likely to understand customers' challenges and concerns and 130% more likely to know their intentions.
And this is what allows businesses to build marketing strategies during campaigns.
Audience segmentation allows you to eliminate generalization and the guesses and gets you to focus on a handful of people and what matters to them.
Companies can build websites that are more successful at covering visitors needs than those that provide generic content for their entire audience.
As an email marketer, for example, the data you collect through segmentation allows you to tailor messages that meet their needs and better connect with them.
You can study your audience and collect insights on the best time to send your emails for the best engagement.
You can learn about their interests and craft subject lines that get them to open your emails and much more.
In a nutshell, it allows you to get smart about what will work and the best practices you need to implement based on your audience.
3 - More conversions
According to a 2021 HubSpot Blog Research, the most effective strategies for email marketing campaigns are subscriber segmentation, 78%, and message personalization 72%.
They also revealed that 30% of the marketers who participated in research used audience segmentation techniques to improve email engagement.
Segmenting your audience implies customizing and personalizing content to meet the needs of each group.
Thus, the customer engages more with your content and feels more valued. Consequently, it can lead to higher conversion.
According to a survey from MailChimp, segmented campaigns had open rates 14.31 percent higher than non-segmented campaigns.
HubSpot also proved in a study that email campaigns that use audience segmentation had 101% more clicks than non-segmented campaigns.
Types of audience segmentation for effective marketing strategy
Marketers often separate their audience based on different factors such as demographics, levels of engagement, or behavior.
The model you use in segmenting your audience often depends on the type of products or services you offer for sale.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the types of audience segmentation.
This is one of the most common forms of audience segmentation. It involves splitting people based on different factors and demographic data such as age, income level, gender identity, religion, family structure, geographic location, and more.
Here, you advertise your products or services based on a specific demographic.
Demographic segmentation allows you to tailor your marketing strategies to specific demographics.
Having a clear vision of your audience demographics will help you make better advertising plans, optimize your resources, time, and budget.
For instance, a personal care company can make two deodorant products and advertise based on two audience segments — men's deodorant and women's deodorant.
Similarly, an educational company can send emails to parents about various classes their children can enroll in. The classes are categorized based on the ages of the children.
Buyer's journey progress
The best way to segment your audience is to determine where they stand in the stages of your buyer's journey and create audience segments accordingly.
The idea is to tailor and personalize messages based on the level at which your customer is in the buyer's journey. The buyer's journey typically consists of three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision.
You can’t possibly send the same message to people who just discovered your brand and those who have been engaging and showing interest with your brand for some time.
For each stage there is a specific type of content you must provide your audience.
For instance, you can send an onboarding email to a new subscriber that is at the beginning of the journey and looking for how your product will be useful to them.
The content you create and how they engage with it will help you qualify your audience through each stage of the journey down to purchase.
For example, if they're clicking on your links or CTAs to go on your sales page, they're probably in the Decision stage.
You can then create pain point driven emails or compare your service to that of your competitors to show them how you are a better choice.
In this segmentation type, you segment audiences based on customer data, purchasing behavior, and collect data from tools such as Google Analytics to discover insights and segment your audience based on that.
You track your target audience online activity. Especially how they interact with your products, emails, website content, and brand on the whole.
It allows you to create personalized messages that suit their needs contextually.
In other words, this type of segmentation allows you to provide your audience with the right message at the right and get them to engage and act, improving your marketing efforts.
You can do this by looking at the last time they purchased a product from you or opened your email, the number of times they have purchased products from you or clicked on your email, how much time they spend on your website, and how much they spend when shopping with your brand.
For instance, someone who is a new buyer needs a different email than someone who is a VIP buyer.
Behavioral segmentation enables you to tailor messages according to the behavior of each customer and reach them effectively.
Customer psychographic data is one of the most effective purchase drivers businesses can use for tailored messaging.
This type of segmentation involves marketing teams classifying audiences based on parameters that influence their buying behavior such as opinions, attitudes, interests, beliefs, personal values, lifestyle, or social status.
Psychographic segmentation goes beyond demography and geography. For instance, if two people have the same demographics, they may have different values, interests, and lifestyles.
While one is interested in fashion, another can be interested in sports. A sporting company can target individuals that are sportspersons, gym regularly, or simply take pleasure in sports.
How to perform audience segmentation on your target audience
Here are a few guidelines that enlighten you on how to perform audience segmentation.
1 - Obtain the audience's data
The first stage is to obtain data from sources such as analytics, surveys, qualitative research, customer journey maps, customer feedback, A/B tests or more.
The information you obtain lays the foundation for the segmentation process.
Some pieces of information you can consider include purchase behavior, interests, devices certain segments use (mobile users vs desktop) browsing activities, engagement level, the web page with the highest traffic, and more.
There is also the possibility for you to automate your audience segmentation processes based on how you acquire leads or or how customers engage with your emails or website content using an audience segmentation software.
You can also do this by combining the power of a CRM (Salesforce, HubSpot, etc.) and an email service provider (ESP) such as MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, etc.
These allow you to use the existing data in your ESP and all the data in your CRM for identifying trends and rapidly applying segmentation criteria to create distinct groups and better achieve customer satisfaction.
2 - Use one of the criteria to segment your audience
In this stage, you can decide on the most suitable criteria to use when segmenting your audience. You can utilize one of the four criteria discussed above to segment your audience.
For instance, if your brand deals with makeup, you can send emails based on gender. Or if your company is into sports, you can consider classifying your products based on the type of sports, gender, and so on.
3 - Evaluate your segments
Evaluating your audience segments enables you to understand whether you have made the right decision.
You can evaluate the segments by A/B testing and measuring their performance. If it isn't the right one, you can change your plans and select another segment.
For instance, if you sell beauty products, you can AB test your emails to different segments by age.
If ladies between ages 18-25 aren't engaging with your emails, you can try it with women of ages 25 and above who can give a better result.
Evaluation enables you to retrace your steps and ensure you made the right decision.
Best practices and tips for your audience segmentation strategy
Here are a few practices and tips you can use in segmenting your audience.
Avoid biases on your audience segments
The biggest problem many companies face in their audience segmentation process is biases. It is essential to consider every individual or buyer persona in your customer base and find the best audience segment for them.
Also, your marketing strategy needs to involve all of your target audience, so if your audience segmentation strategy is only attending to a segment more frequently than other segments, you will most likely not get the best results over a long period.
Engage everyone as long as they are in the process. For instance, if you choose to prioritize your active customers constantly without attending to the inactive customers, you may not like the result over time.
Identifying your customer's needs is essential for the segmentation process. To do this, you may want to consider utilizing a questionnaire.
As it stands out today, you can incorporate varieties of media materials to obtain the needed information.
Whether it is videos, graphic materials, texts, or product prototype evaluation, you can determine how to gather data for the segmentation process.
Aim for improvement
If an audience segmentation model didn't work for you, you can try another model to effectively reach your customers. The goal isn't to stop but to ensure you try out different models till you get the desired results.
Marketing goals are essential to the growth of your business. For instance, if your goal is to make more sales, define how you want to achieve that through each segment.
Do you want to increase the sales of your products by 30%? Defining goals sets you on the right path and enables you to know what you have achieved.
Make offers based on segments’ needs and traits
The main priority here is to understand what your segment cares the most about. You can't send generic emails to all your segments. It won't resonate with all of them.
By understanding what they care the most about, you can tailor the offers and content to fit their needs.
For instance, if a particular segment hasn't purchased from you in a long time, you can offer them incentives to win them back.
Meanwhile, you may want to share news about the new products or features you recently developed to other segments, especially your local customers.
In short, audience segmentation enables you to send different messages to different segments and meet their preferences.
Measure your success
Measuring your goals enables you to gain insights as to whether your segmentation process is a success or not. If you met your goals, that is great.
If not, you can consider re-strategizing to ensure you meet your goals. Tracking the outcomes of your segmentation process helps you to identify its strengths and weaknesses.
Audience segmentation involves classifying your audience into specific groups with similar traits. It enables you to make better decisions on how to reach your audience effectively.
You can segment your audience based on these criteria - demographics, buyer's progress journey, behavior, and psychographic.