Getting the right content in front of the right buyer is the heart of well-deployed content marketing. When you know your customers and what’s important to them, the content you develop will be more relevant and boost your conversions.
To do this efficiently and at scale, using audience segmentation to better target customers is critical. Once you can segment your audience, the ability to focus, personalize, and connect will be more easily achieved.
What Is Audience Segmentation?
Audience segmentation is a strategic marketing exercise that involves creating subgroups within your customer profiles based on like characteristics. These segments can be defined by several different aspects, including:
- Demographics: location, age, title, industry, income, education, etc.
- Behaviors: any interactions with your brand across all channels
- Psychographics: beliefs, values, and attitudes
- Firmographics: business characteristics like company size, B2B vs. B2C, industry vertical, etc.
We’ll develop these ideas further in a bit, but for now, simply think of audience segmentation as using parameters to organize and sort individuals.
Do You Know Your Audience?
Before you begin to develop audience segments, your first move should be to create or update buyer personas. Your buyer personas represent fictional target customers and include general information, such as demographics, motivations, preferences, and more.
Beyond just having customer outlines, your buyer personas should be integrated with your content strategy. These elements need to be connected to ensure your content themes and plans align with what your buyers expect and need in relation to content.
Knowing your customers requires market research, as well as looking at your own data. By reviewing your content analytics, you can learn which subjects, formats, and phrasing resonated the most with customers.
Why Bother with Audience Segmentation?
Many brands, especially B2B, tend to create content for all (a.k.a one-size-fits-all content). They develop a wide range of blogs, videos, eBooks, and more, without focusing on personalizing the content experience for specific segments or personas.
But content marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all initiative—not if you want to use it to accelerate growth. If you fail to personalize your initiatives and content assets down to specific audiences, your brand will come off as generic and mediocre. Buyers will quickly recognize that a content piece is irrelevant to them, bounce, and seek out brands that seem to be talking just to them. Segmentation is the most important starting point for introducing personalization into your efforts. Without it, you’ll have no consistent way to ensure the right content reaches the right audience.
Looking back at the four different ways in which to segment your customers, let’s go more in-depth and look at some examples.
Using demographics is the most common method of segmentation as it’s usually the easiest. A lot of demographic data is readily available to you based on your current customer base. It’s also the most used method because it’s highly effective.
For example, if you sell lawn equipment across the country, segmenting by location makes sense because those in the desert won’t need the same items as those living in areas of lush greenery.
Segmenting by behaviors requires data analysis and a way to track interactions. You’ll be analyzing what they buy, when they buy it, what products they click on, as well as other types of actions like engaging on social media, opening emails, or downloading content. There are hundreds of different interactions, so you’ll need to define which ones matter the most.
Filtering groups based on actions allows you to personalize the content they’ll receive. For example, if you add a tag to your customer list to identify those that requested a quote but haven’t responded. You can then draft a drip campaign that offers incentives or stresses urgency with messages that the quote will expire. Because you know where they are in the customer journey, the content will speak to them more precisely.
Psychographics is the most challenging way to segment, but it’s certainly not impossible. You just have to dig deeper into your data to find patterns that would indicate certain emotional responses. Ultimately, you’ll be trying to align content with your customer segment’s value set so they feel connected to your brand.
For example, if you can determine that a segment of your audience prioritizes corporate responsibility as a differentiator, you can create content that illustrates your brand’s stance. If this is really important to some of your buyers, they’ll be attracted to this type of content and your company.
Segmentation based on firmographics is normally only used within the B2B marketing context. Firmographic data often lives within a company’s CRM and can be easy to aggregate and analyze, provided it’s being captured and stored within the prospect or customer database.
For example at DivvyHQ, part of the registration process for starting a 14-day trial of our software requires prospects to provide the following:
- Company Name
- Company Size (number of employees)
- Company Type (corporation, non-profit, etc.)
- Job Title
- Their role in their content process (I manage a team, I’m a content producer, etc.)
Later on when engaging with these prospects, we can capture additional information, like industry vertical and whether they are a B2B or B2C company.
Capturing and analyzing this information with regard to your existing customers can provide a wealth of knowledge and contribute significantly to your audience segmentation process.
Audience Segmenting Can Advance Your Content Marketing
Audience segmentation can add fuel to your content marketing tactics and deliver a greater return on investment (ROI) for your efforts in a few specific ways.
Relevance is one of the most influential elements when it comes to making a buying decision. Personalized content drives connections and performs much better than content that is not. Now it’s time to look for opportunities for personalization in your content plan. You can direct specific content to buyers via email or use technology to display dynamic content on your website. This level of personalization is sure to accelerate the sales process.
Nurturing your audience is imperative to get them to convert, especially if you have a longer sales cycle. Most buyers want to consume multiple pieces of content before they are ready to buy, so you need to ensure that you have assets available for every step of the funnel. You’ll determine where they are in the funnel based on their behaviors; then, you can launch drip campaigns to move them further down the path to yes.
Expand Your Content’s Reach
Developing highly targeted content delivers additional benefits to help you expand your reach. First, it improves your search rankings for keywords that are specific to how an audience segment would search (i.e., marketing tips for insurance companies). Second, it can also amplify your content on social media with very specific hashtags. Those searching the hashtag may find your content and become a new prospect for your brand.
Audience segmentation is essential to an effective content marketing plan. By defining your audience and what’s important to them, your content marketing will be more relevant, engaging, and consumable.
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