Marketing to the wrong segment can feel like barking up the wrong tree, or more specifically, barking up tens of thousands of wrong trees.
Nearly everybody in sales has, at one point or another, heard someone reasoning that simply adding more people to the funnel will improve their sales numbers while preserving their conversion rate. If you’re a sales rep making 30 calls a day, you might reasonably extrapolate that making 60 calls a day would double your closed deals. Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward.
Building a sales process can be complicated. What one audience might find valuable might just be noise for another.
That’s where effective customer segmentation can bring in some serious value for your business. Different demographics respond differently to marketing campaigns, and finding the right target market for your products or services can help you tailor your marketing strategies to be the most impactful they can be.
This guide to marketing segmentation will help you find your target audience and choose the best market segmentation strategies.
Market segmentation is the process of qualifying companies (or people) into groups that respond similarly to specific marketing strategies. This is the first critical step in creating a marketing and sales process tailored to differentiate your business in the market and resonate across multiple demographics.
Market segmentation divides customers into segments based on shared characteristics, behaviors, or other attributes so you can create marketing strategies that appeal to entire groups. Your marketing segmentation strategy will be mainly influenced by what your product is and which types of companies are already buying it.
The expression “market segmentation” was first coined by Wendell R. Smith in his 1956 publication Product Differentiation and Market Segmentation as Alternative Marketing Strategies. Smith wrote that modern marketing appeals to selective rather than primary buying motives.
In other words, consumers are actively contrasting products against one another rather than simply purchasing a product to satisfy an immediate need. This realization was the inception of the modern market segmentation we practice today.
Before 1956, there wasn’t a huge market variety, and general stores tended to carry only one or two brands’ versions of the same product. As time went on, more and more emerging brands began offering similar products and thus needed to differentiate themselves with branding and by targeting different markets.
It wasn’t enough to just manufacture ketchup, you had to identify your brand as America’s ketchup, or kids’ ketchup, or fancy ketchup.
Market segmentation provides several benefits to small teams and enterprises alike, including:
Market segmentation helps savvy marketers categorize their target customers based on shared characteristics to keep their efforts focused and effective. Below are the 10 most common types of market segmentation:
Demographic market segmentation is the most commonly used form of market segmentation and entails categorizing your market based on age, gender, income, profession, race, religion, education, location, family situation, etc.
More specific characteristics are categorized under the umbrella of psychographic segmentation. Less tangible than demographic segmentation, this classification method includes details like lifestyle, personality, beliefs, values, and social class.
This evaluation is important because two individuals can possess identical demographic information but make purchasing decisions completely differently, and thus require different marketing.
At its core, behavioral segmentation is the act of categorizing prospects based on their actions, usually within your marketing funnel. For instance, prospects who visited a landing page for an upcoming event might benefit from receiving a personalized invitation.
Segmenting your market based on behaviors is typically done by marketers within their marketing automation software, but any company with a mailing list has already performed behavioral segmentation simply by tracking prospects who have signed up to receive emails.
Geographic market segmentation takes into account prospects’ locations to help determine marketing strategies. Although SaaS sales are relatively unaffected, a salesperson of gigantic coats knows to avoid pitching to Arizona residents.
Price segmentation alters the price of similar products and services sold to different consumer groups. If you ever forced your kids to pretend to be under a certain age to qualify for the “kids eat free” special, then you understand the power and utility of price segmentation.
However, price segmentation can get much more granular. It can be used to identify customers who may be willing to pay more for a particular product or service that they perceive to be more valuable.
Done correctly, price segmentation can capture the maximum amount of revenue for each transaction.
Instead of categorizing consumers based on age, location, income, etc, firmographic segmentation categorizes companies based on industry, annual revenue, job function, company size, location, status, performance, etc.
For B2B marketers, utilizing firmographic segmentation is non-negotiable to a high-performing marketing strategy.
Just as the demographic segmentation variables can help you form a buyer persona at the consumer level, firmographic segmentation can help you develop a buyer persona at the company level.
Generational segmentation is almost comparable to the “age” variable in demographic segmentation. However, generational market segmentation goes beyond age by considering the difference in preferences, habits, lifestyles, and attitudes of a particular generation.
It’s self-evident that the generations are vastly different. Someone born in the 1960s will likely have experienced a different culture than someone born in the 2000s.
Life stage segmentation is the process of dividing your market based on the life stage of your target audience. Someone who is married with 5 kids may respond well to an emotional advertisement about convertibles during their midlife crisis.
Seasonal segmentation targets people based on their purchasing habits during certain periods of the year. It can include actual seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter), events (Coachella, Super Bowl), and holidays (Christmas, Mother’s Day).
Much like firmographic market segmentation, technographic segmentation only applies to B2B audiences. It’s used to target companies based on the types of technology they’re using. Whether it’s a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, a website CMS, or a niche-specific software tool, utilizing technographic segmentation can help enhance sales and marketing efforts.
Every market segmentation strategy is different but most of them follow one of two fundamental outlines:
Concentration strategy is when a company determines that its efforts are best focused solely on a single market segment. This strategy is particularly great for small, growing businesses that have demonstrated a viable use case within a specific market. Focusing on one segment will allow the company to invest more time, energy, and resources into one specific market, which minimizes advertising spend and potentially mitigates wasting efforts across multiple segments.
Concentration strategy is like putting all your cards on the table—if it doesn’t work out, it can end badly. If the market segment hasn’t been properly vetted and turns out to be a bust, all of your marketing efforts could be wasted. Be sure to do some careful planning and execute thorough market testing before committing your business to a single market segment.
Multi-segment marketing, or differentiated marketing, is when a company’s marketing strategies are designed to advertise one product to more than one market segment.
Although apparently “safer” than concentration strategy, multi-segment marketing is a much larger tax on a company’s marketing spend, as it requires completely different campaigns for each market segment.
However, if a particular segment is extremely receptive and converts well, it’s easy to tailor your strategy to market more directly to that segment.
Ready to complete market segmentation for your company? Here are three phases to follow during the process that will help you ensure you’re analyzing your markets effectively:
First things first, it’s time to gather data so that you can use it to form your market segments. There are many ways to go about it—some people like to buy pre-made lead lists and others prefer to do their own research.
Two helpful methods of researching prospects are webforms and surveys. You can place high-quality data behind webforms that requires site visitors to submit their name, email address, and other information to access the content. Surveys can get specific information from potential buyers in exchange for tangible rewards, like a gift card or special offer.
If you’re doing your own research, you can frame your searches along the following categories:
There are many ways to go about sorting data. Most involve expensive analysts, marketers, and lots and lots of time. Although the DIY route is faster, it is no substitute for a comprehensive market segmentation strategy.
Assuming time and money are an obstacle, you can approximate your own market segmentation by compiling your data into one single source and running filters on it to manually group your prospects and companies together by segments.
Remember, ask yourself the following:
Now that your segments have been firmly established, it’s time to connect the dots and breathe life into your marketing. This means establishing a plan for each of your marketing tools and channels and coming up with real ways to reach your segments with them.
You’ll be attributing different marketing and sales tactics to each stage of your pipeline and determining what sticks. The good news is that your market segments are clearly defined and you’ll be able to speak to them clearly.
The real challenge is continuously improving your efforts with trial and error to get the best possible conversion rates.
There’s a good, old-fashioned way to map this out quickly and easily:
Repeat this exercise for each market segment to help establish a concise and repeatable process for marketing to your various audiences. You can fully flesh out your segmented marketing strategy by configuring your sales software and email automation around the outline you’ve created, and then make tweaks as needed.
Still have questions about market segmentation? Check out the FAQs below for answers to some common questions:
Here are a few of the challenges you may encounter when implementing your market segmentation strategy:
Five key factors to consider when selecting market segments for your marketing strategies are:
If you’ve determined that your target market no longer fits, you can always identify new markets. Here are a few tips for doing so:
Now you’ve got your demographics clearly segmented, your strategy figured out, and your sales processes mapped tightly to your market segments.
Because of this, you should have a clear understanding of how to talk to your prospects, and how to differentiate your outreach efforts based on the market segment.
The challenges that lie ahead are rooted in constantly adjusting your marketing—testing your messages, your tactics, and measuring your audiences’ responses.
If you’re ready to put your sales and marketing automation into action, get started with a free trial of Nutshell today!
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