Audience segmentation is the process of dividing a target audience into smaller groups based on common characteristics. This can be done using various criteria, such as age, gender, location, interests, or income level.
Why is Audience Segmentation Important?
Audience segmentation aims to identify groups with similar needs and preferences to target them more effectively using digital marketing campaigns. As a result, you can deliver a more integrated and relevant customer experience by tailoring content and digital assets to specific audiences. This, in turn, leads to increased brand awareness and improved customer engagement, conversions, and sales.
How to Use Audience Segmentation for Digital Marketing Campaigns
There are a few key steps you can take to make sure your digital marketing campaigns are correctly leveraging audience segmentation:
Define your target audiences. The first step is to identify the different groups you want to target. This can be done by looking at your customer base and identifying common characteristics.
Research your audiences. Once you’ve defined your audiences, learning as much as possible about them is essential. This includes understanding their needs, preferences, and pain points. Try to get a feel for what motivates them and what kind of content they respond to.
Develop targeted content. Once you understand your audiences well, you can start developing data-driven content that resonates with them. This could be in the form of blog posts, ebooks, infographics, or even social media posts. The important thing is that the content is relevant and valuable to your audience.
Distribute your content. Once you have created targeted content, it’s time to get it in front of your audience. This can be done through various channels, such as email newsletters, social media, or even paid advertising.
Measure and adjust. As with all marketing campaigns, measuring the performance of your audience segmentation efforts is essential. This will help you determine what’s working and what isn’t so that you can make necessary adjustments.
When You Fail to Segment Your Audience, This Happens.
Let’s assume that you have a product that you want to sell to IT decision-makers. Perhaps it’s an innovative and secure cloud platform that uses AI to automate data management and processing. You want to go big and have a budget to do creative things.
And let’s assume you are planning for a full-scale omnichannel marketing program complete with significant media activation, social media marketing, influencer engagement, demand generation, search engine marketing, display advertising, and public relations.
You’ve had meetings to plan and then more meetings to ensure the entire customer experience is connected, integrated, and cohesive.
You’ve gone through rounds and edits to your messaging, creative, landing pages, and KPIs. You’ve double and triple-checked everything–the channel and media partners, retail, and all your agency partners.
You have everything documented and signed off by management. The entire C-suite is bought into your vision. Your media, creative, and PR agencies are ready to go. Everyone is excited.
And then you launch.
A week later, you gather all the agency data and start putting together your analytics dashboard, but something is off. There’s a mistake. The campaign isn’t performing the way you expected. Maybe it’s the agency. Let’s blame them. The targeting is off. The ads are wrong. The website broke. You start to investigate. You look at the data and realize that your IT decision-maker audience is highly segmented. There are many IT decision-makers with different needs and requirements for your product.
You have CIOs, CDOs, CSOs, VPs of Infrastructure, etc. And each of these decision-makers has different amounts of budget and priorities and is at different stages in its digital transformation journey.
How could you have missed this?
If you had properly segmented your audience and targeted each type of IT decision-maker with the right message, creativity, offer, and call to action, your campaign could have been an enormous success.
But you didn’t, and now you’re left with a campaign that bombed and disappointed stakeholders.
An Example of an Audience Segmentation
I write extensively about audience analysis and why it’s essential. I even put together these best practices for marketing to software developers, where I segment the developer audience into small clusters. For this post, I wanted to introduce a new concept called multi-segment audience intelligence.
It’s an approach that involves dissecting and clustering sub-audiences and analyzing their sharing habits, conversational patterns, demographics, and psychographics to get actionable and defendable insights that you can use to make data-informed decisions.
I did a quick audience segmentation analysis of IT decision-makers, and the cluster analysis shows each of these sub-audiences and how they are connected.
I’ve done a lot of work in the B2B and technology space. I can tell you that each of these IT audiences is very different, not just in job titles or functions but also in their interests, affinities, and behavior in the customer journey.
Once you can pull the insights for each audience, you can plot each segment in the below audience matrix. The top row represents each of the sub-segments we just analyzed.
In the columns, I added a few variables that I like to use, but you can add any other variables that may be important:
- Which brands do they follow and talk about? What’s the context of that conversation?
- What topics are they talking more or less about over time?
- What’s top of mind for them right now, today?
- What software language do they use to develop code?
- What media publications are they reading regarding specific topics? In other words, when reading about business, are they reading the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Business Insider, or all three?
- What media do they prefer when reading AI or security-related topics?
- What channels are they using (e.g., Reddit, Twitter, GitHub, LinkedIn)?
I don’t have time to do a complete analysis and fill this in this audience matrix, but if I were planning a campaign, I would go through this exercise and share it with my internal stakeholders. This approach to campaign segmentation is one B2B technology marketing trend that marketers must pay attention to.
You’d be surprised at how different each one of these audiences is and how much you can learn from analyzing their behavior.
For example, if you’re trying to reach IT decision-makers in the middle of a digital transformation initiative, you would want to target them with content about change management or digital transformation best practices.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to reach IT decision-makers who are not prioritizing digital transformation research, you would want to target them with content about digital transformation’s business benefits.
The point is that if you don’t segment your audience and understand their needs, you will not be able to create targeted campaigns that resonate with each audience segment.
Alternatives for Quick Audience Segmentation Research
Not everyone will have the budget to do a full-scale analysis, so here’s another technique that can help.
Google is your friend, but it will only give you limited information. I did some quick desk research and found this report from Adobe, “For IT Decision Makers, Data Security And AI Are Top Priorities,” filled with fascinating insights. The study examined IT decision-maker’s top concerns for 2020:
- 47% of ITDMs say that data security is a top concern
- 40% of ITDMs say that implementing AI/ML for optimizing the customer experience was a top concern
- 40% of ITDMs say that implementing AI/ML for delivering technology innovation was also a top concern
- 48% of ITDMs are looking for tools and platforms that enable faster integration and speed of insight
- 41% of ITDMs require technology that is powered by artificial intelligence
This type of data can help segment topics and brand messaging. For example, when doing an audience analysis, you can segment by role or job title and create filters about some of the insights above relating to AI, customer experience, etc.
In summary, regarding B2B technology marketing trends, audience segmentation must be prioritized. By understanding your audience and mapping out their journey, you can create targeted content that resonates and drives results.