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Identifying Buyer Profiles: 5 Ways To Segment Your Marketing Audience

Jonathan Riemer
Director, Global Campaigns Marketing

Let’s face it: unless it is a note from a loved one, or tracking info for a package, emails are interruptive at best. We, as outbound marketers, owe it to our audiences to make sure that the information we’re offering is of the highest relevance and value.

As such, you need to face the tough question: Is your email marketing messaging truly resonating with your audiences? (In other words, if you were to approach the recipient in a crowd and started to deliver your pitch, would they call security? Or maybe — just maybe — would they listen with growing interest because you hit on a key pain point of theirs?)
Continuing with this analogy, the best way to elicit the latter response is to determine, before speaking, who you’re addressing, and why they would care to give you their time.

Address them personally and specifically. Imagine the surprise and intrigue on that person in the crowd if you start with “Hey, Joe Smith, I understand you are having some issues with…”  Yes, it’s still interruptive. But they will be so surprised that you know their name and their specific ailments that they may give you a few more seconds of attention while they figure out who you are.

Enough of the marketing tutorial. Personalization of both title and interest is nothing new — great sales folks have been doing it for years. The challenge arises when you apply that to outbound mass marketing; without the right targeting and segmentation strategy, you might as well just walk over to that aforementioned security guard and give yourself up.

Modern marketing practices demand not only that you understand the nuances of who your buyers are and what they want to accomplish, but also that you have insight into which overt and covert pains are driving their actions, how they approach learning and solving those problems, when they reach a buying decision, and why they buy. This is their journey, and broader knowledge leads to more effective communication and messaging, improved alignment with buying dynamics, and, ultimately, enhanced campaign effectiveness.
Depending on your business — B2B or B2C; regional or global — these strategies vary. Here are five starting points for consideration if you’re looking to enhance your segmentation:

1. Segment by Persona. 
The Holy Grail of targeted marketing, these can be parsed in many ways: responsibility and/or job description, which department they work in, and which demographic they inhabit. Whatever the persona, you should understand which part of your business they care about. Well-understood personas are the basis for amazingly effective lead routing, scoring, and nurturing efforts, as they help your automation tools work smarter, not harder.

2. Segment by Buying Patterns/Frequency
. You may market to similar types of personas, but oftentimes there is a large discrepancy in the loyalty or frequency of their purchase habits. As you understand more fully where a contact is in their buying journey, you reduce the risk of over-engaging a person who simply responded to an email, or under-engaging someone who is already far along the consideration path. This is key, because buyers can sense if you have the right appreciation for their struggles and goals. A great example of this is Kele’s successful segmented by buyer frequency, which resulted in double the number of campaign members in six months, as well as increased marketing campaign ROI by 20%!

3. Segment by Geography 
Each country has its own holidays. Each map coordinate has its own climates. Cities, states, and regions have their own personalities and ways of “doing business.” Unless you run a lemonade stand that only serves your immediate neighbors, you must take into consideration subtle differences between customers in varying locales. For instance, this display ad targets a storm-affected region by offering "severe weather savings," a tactic that would be meaningless elsewhere.
Once buyer personas are defined, you must then map their content to each type of buyer. A/B test to understand the way each buyer desires to be engaged; some may like coupons, while others may want educational content to read.

4. Segment by Industry/Vertical
. While this is an obvious focus for many marketers’ segmentation strategy, it’s important to note that this differs for how you market to verticals for B2B and B2C industries. With B2B, you need to create engagements based on each industry’s unique buying situation and cycle. For instance, in the manufacturing industry, prospective buyers deal with long buying cycles for hardware, since plant upgrades and new builds are very expensive. It’s also critical to plainly show your product or service’s compliance with the particular industry’s federal regulations, industry regulations, and common standards. Marketing automation enables you to finetune and deliver unique vertical messages automatically based on contact data.

B2C verticals are most likely already considered when creating marketing messaging; you don’t sell shoes the same way you do a car. For instance, a travel service sells a certain way to individual buyers, another way to groups, and another way to travel agents.

5. Segment by Channel Usage
. This tactic is typically beneficial to B2C marketers. Consider whether your audiences prefer to use mobile, social media, or other channels. Sometimes the most effective way to tailor the message is via the most favored delivery mechanism. This “simple” action of segmenting based on consumption channels and preferred communication mechanisms can help you not only engage more meaningfully, but also inform your future content development and production plans.

We quickly covered a few of the many ways you can make your messaging ring truer through segmentation. With clear understanding and respect for your many segments, you can fine-tune your engagements to be as unintrusive as possible. Check out the guide, 3 Steps to Effective Email Marketing, to learn key strategies to increase database engagement.

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