All customers today are looking for a highly personalized experience. They expect businesses—from the big guys like Amazon all the way down to their local coffee shop—to understand their wants and needs, and to treat them like an individual.
When you’re running a successful business with hundreds or thousands of customers, though, it is impossible to make your audience feel special if everyone is getting the exact same messaging. That’s where audience segmentation comes in. When used properly, the information stored within your CRM can be used to create subsets of your prospect and customer population who you can then approach with highly tailored messaging. This makes every individual feel like a VIP, and it makes them all the more likely to do business with you over the other guy.
Today we’re going to take a closer look at audience segmentation: What it is, how to do it, and why it matters for your business.
What is Audience Segmentation?
Audience segmentation is the process of breaking your audience down into smaller groups. There are a number of ways that you may choose to segment your audience, and each business will segment differently based on their individual needs and goals. You can consider the following categories of attributes when you’re thinking about segmentation:
- Demographics: Do you want to break your list down by age, gender, geographical location, income, or job title?
- Stage in Customer Journey: Is this individual a prospect, a repeat customer, or somewhere in between?
- Actions: Have they signed up for your newsletter? Abandoned a cart on your e-commerce website?
- Interactions: When was the last time they interacted with your business, and how did they do so?
- Purchases: What purchases have they already made, and how recently?
- Preferences: How do they prefer to be contacted? And how frequently do they want to hear from you?
Segmenting your audience allows you to approach different subsets with different messaging and offers. These targeted messages are more likely to meet with a positive response than if you send the exact same message to everyone on your mailing list.
How Do I Segment for My Business?
Every business has unique goals and will segment their lists differently as a result. The first step in deciding how to segment your list is to look at your ideal customer: What are their attributes, and what actions can you take in contacting them to ensure you’ll move them further down the marketing hourglass?
For example, for a retail store with both a brick and mortar and e-commerce platform, geographical location is an important way to segment your list. You want to be sure that the people receiving your email about in-store deals and promotions live close enough to actually come to the store. For a B2B business, factors like job title or company seniority might be more important to take into account when segmenting. Those who are in leadership positions are more likely to be the decision-makers in selecting your business, so you’ll want your messaging to reflect that.
The great thing about CRM tools is that they allow you to segment based on multiple attributes and actions, so don’t feel like you only have to pick only one or two. The system will manage each individual’s profile, and the more information you have on each person the more able you are to target them with the messaging that is most relevant.
Why Does Segmentation Matter?
Creating an incredible user experience is all about personalization. Marketo released the results of a survey recently, where they found that 63 percent of all respondents were “highly annoyed” by generic email blast messaging. Nearly 80 percent of those respondents also indicated that they will only engage with promotions from a brand if the promotions are related to a prior purchase they made.
With statistics like those, it’s easy to see why segmentation is so important. People are less likely to do business with you—even when you offer them a promotion or deal—if it’s not something specially tailored to them. Not only that, but when you begin to annoy customers and prospects with generic messaging, you erode trust and effectively encourage them to look for a competitor who will acknowledge their individual wants and needs.
Use Segmentation to Inform Future Campaigns
Outside of the unparalleled personalization that email segmentation offers, there’s a benefit to your team in email segmentation as well—one that goes beyond the obvious benefit of more sales. Email segmentation makes it very easy for your team to run A/B testing on different messaging and campaigns.
When you break your list down into subsets, you can send variations on the same messaging to groups in your email list and see which campaign gets greater traction. When an email campaign is successful, you know that something about the messaging was persuasive to the audience. The next step for you is to identify what made it so great and then to replicate this in future campaigns. As you continue to refine your approach, your audience will be delighted by how well you understand them and their needs, and will be all the more likely to become return clients and to refer you to their friends.
How Do I Find the Right CRM to Implement Segmented Messaging?
All CRMs allow you to collect and save data on customers and prospects, and many have campaign management and email marketing built directly into the platform. Others work with an outside email messaging system to get the job done.
If you have yet to select a CRM for your business consider a comprehensive tool like ActiveCampaign, ZoHo, OntraPort, and InfusionSoft. These platforms offer more traditional CRM functions like sales and lead scoring, plus segmentation and email marketing.
If you already have a CRM in place that doesn’t provide an email marketing function, don’t despair. Most email management systems will integrate with CRMs; take, for example, MailChimp’s integrations with a variety of CRM and e-commerce platforms that allow you to undertake effective email segmentation by bringing the tools you already use together.
Audience segmentation is the key to providing the kind of highly personalized attention that prospects and clients not only want, but expect. Using a CRM to help you create detailed profiles and send targeted messages to users based on their individual wants, needs, and attributes helps establish your business as a likable and trustworthy brand—the kind of business someone is excited to interact with.