Gone are the days you can send one message to the masses and have it heard by anyone.
That’s trite, but true. These days, we have clients who are segmenting down to just a few hundred people per list, and getting amazing returns because of it.
But what are the different ways to segment your audiences? Why are they important and when should you use them? We’ll take a look at these questions and more in the following post.
What is Segmentation?
In brief, segmentation is simply the act of separating a large pool of elements (in marketing these would be prospects or customers), into smaller, more defined groups by relevant characteristics.
By relevant I mean that if you’re marketing a business product to a business buyer, you probably wouldn’t segment the business buyers by personal attributes (like whether or not they have a pet in the house), unless that information was directly relevant to your ability to market or sell to them.
Different Ways to Segment Your Audience
How you segment your audiences can also carry over to segmenting keywords that you’re working to rank for, and there are some parallels in the ways you segment the two.
Segmenting your audience and keywords can be done in a variety of ways, including segmenting by patterns of behavior, geographic location, psychographic, and demographic groups. In total, segmentation is usually done in B2B marketing by using firmographics.
Firmographics are the attributes firms have that you can use to divide them by. The best way firmographics can be explained is to describe it as layers of an onion. Put your mind there— you have a company—that’s the whole onion. What industry does it operate in? That’s one layer. Location? Another layer. You can keep refining segments all the way down to company performance and beyond.
Some of the other segmentation types included in this post are behavioral, geographic, psychographic, demographic, tiered, and technographic.
At the core of behavioral segmentation is the following question: What kinds of conditions must be present before your product or service is wanted? Do customers search your product with a specific purpose in mind? Do they search for it often? How are you keeping customers? Does that translate to loyalty? How valuable is your product? That can motivate behavior based on how well it works—the benefits.
These are all fantastic questions to ask. And the key here is to find answers to these questions through keyword research.
Dividing your customers based on geographic location and living arrangement (large cities, small towns, etc.) can help determine which customers in different parts of the world have similar needs.
Compared to each tactic for segmenting your audience, geographic is the easiest one to perform. This is probably because it is easier to interpret facts, such as the location of where someone searched keywords is. For example, it’s simpler to determine where customer A searched using a specific set of keywords than it is to determine what customer B’s exact motivations were behind the act.
What it means to psychographically segment groups of keywords is to understand what the keyword queries people search for reveal about them as people. This means you’ll collect data on their pain points, as well as reservations they may have about your product.
Psychographic data collection often goes further than this. As a whole, it’s divided into three more segmented categories of information: personality, lifestyle, and social class.
What successful campaign ever existed without the help of demographic segmentation? In short, to separate by demographic is to divide into groups based on variables like age or gender.
Demographic segmentation allows you to achieve one of the main pillars of ABM—developing a closer customer connection. By optimizing the customer experience based on these factors, you can create a more personal customer experience. If your customers feel their experience was personalized to them, they are likely to stick around, creating loyal returning customers.
In addition to using firmographics to segment your customers, you might try tiering your keyword groups. It’s a form of grouping that is very compatible with ABM, since you already tier account target account lists. But much more than that, these tiers are ranked according to how much value they can bring.
It’s worth mentioning that if you use this method, you should tier companies based not only on the value they can bring you, but you them. This is a central principle of ABM— finding best fit accounts. You segment based on lifetime value, not value based on how well a company is doing at a specific moment.
Further, you can also segment using technographics. Technographics are all about finding which specific types of technology channels your target accounts use so you can ensure you’re delivering the right message at the right time at the right place.
Simply put, technographic data is based around the types of technology target accounts use, for both hardware and software. This makes technographic segmentation especially compatible with ABM since that’s a big idea ABM rotates around—being there when you’re needed and how you’re needed.
All of that said, there are quite a few segmentation options to choose from, so handling all that data would normally mean time and confusion.
But merely segmenting your keywords isn’t enough. It wouldn’t be ABM if it didn’t target specific strategic business accounts. This means buyer profiles and buyer personas are involved. Now, these two terms are so similar, they are almost interchangeable.
The key word here? Almost.
Buyer Profile vs. Buyer Persona—Is There A Difference?
Given that a great deal of businesses—80%— think a buyer persona and a buyer profile are identical concepts, defining what exactly they are would be helpful. At the most basic level, the difference between buyer profiles and buyer personas is timing.
Timing plays a big role in how you implement each tactic. In other words, you should create buyer profiles before you create buyer personas. You’re probably, in all likelihood, going to be looking for and attracting the wrong type of person if you start making with personas before profiles.
Creating a Buyer Profile
Fundamentally, your buyer profile should be grounded in the easiest of questions: Which companies are a good fit for my product? Which aren’t?
But then you want to go deeper. What size companies are a good fit for my product? Here, you would want to define the metrics you use to determine company size: Profits, revenue, number of employees, etc. Do the ideal customers have to be close or far away? Does geography matter at all?
Defining a buyer profile can further distinguish types of companies you can help with your product, as well as which companies are or aren’t a good fit.
Creating a buyer profile can be a daunting process, but it is a necessary one if you seek to grow with ABM. There are plenty of buyer profile templates available for download, and you can always refine the template based on your business needs and goals.
Creating a Buyer Persona
Now that you’ve got a solid understanding of what a buyer profile is and what creating one involves, you’re ready to move on to buyer personas. These are often the depictions of fictitious characters you see all the time portrayed in movies.
I’m thinking about a particular scene in the 2000 film, What Women Want. In the scene, a copywriter who can read the minds of females is workshopping an ad with his boss. She has a moment of inspiration when she thinks in fine detail about who the kind of person they’re targeting with the ad.
That’s the kind of detail you want in a buyer persona, but they usually go deeper than what’s portrayed by Mel Gibson.
Buyer personas usually have names and made up lives of their own. They are individuals representing groups of your audience. Their lives are filled with challenges your product would address, just as it does in the movie scene. As with buyer profiles, there are many buyer persona templates you can use to get you started in generating those complex characters.
Seeing the Big Picture in Segmenting Your Audience
Circling back to keyword segmentation, collectively, segmentation allows you to paint a more accurate picture of your buyers. And understanding buyers is a great way to generate customer loyalty. To cultivate that loyalty, you need to fully understand the journey(s) of your customers. In short, you need an improved buyer persona for your customers — everybody is using the same metrics.
Run-of-the-mill metrics and demographics such as age or gender aren’t going to cut it anymore if you want the best results. You need to hit your clients hard with your messaging in places where it matters, and keep it highly personalized.
To do this, you need to find out where your site’s traffic originates from so you can work your messaging magic. It all starts with segmentation.
If you’re implementing strategic ABM or ABM Lite, it might make sense to use more traditional methods of segmenting keywords. One optimal method would be to perform a cluster analysis. Using this method, you can plot data in Excel and see your segments graphed. It’s a great way to see your data in a visual manner.
You might be interested in performing a cluster analysis since if you don’t have many keywords in your target list, it doesn’t make sense to segment it using tools. Us marketers are budget-constrained enough as it is.
Using Tools to Enter Information Into Your Database
But if you do happen to have the resources, there are a wide selection of tools to help you segment your keywords. It makes entering this information into your database much easier.
One such helpful tool is Google Analytics. As it’s practically the gold standard in analytical tools, it has virtually any metric you can think of. You can view and segment keywords by whichever lens is closest to your business goals.
You can find the support for segmentation in Google Analytics by choosing to add a segment using the main Audience dashboard.
Google is helpful in other ways, as well. You can also use the segments you created in your database in Google AdWords. Using its keyword grouping option, you can optimize your PPC efforts. You can do this by creating top level—broad termed—keywords (“Shoes,” for example). After, you create smaller, more specific keywords (“Running shoes”). These are known as “second level” keywords. Many companies create additional levels of keywords that progressively gain specificity to make sure they’re targeting the right people with their ads.
Speaking of PPC, another tool that’s helpful for making the process of entering keyword segmentation data into your database easier would be the keyword research opportunities offered by Moz. If you create a keyword research chart segmented by search intent in Moz, you can gain an outlook on targeting and value. You can do this by making a table of terms measured by the frequency they’re searched for, the reason why, and how much those searches are worth—low, medium, or high value.
Whichever method you choose to use for segmenting your list, you can be sure you’ll find out or confirm who exactly you’re serving through analysis of keywords they search.
With that information, you can create or update a buyer profile. Using the profile you create, you can then make customer personas. After, enter this information into your database using tools to keep that data organized and optimized.
What all of this means is that keyword segmentation actually brings you one step closer to understanding your buyer.
But if thinking of starting this process or reading all these words ending in “—ographics” are making your head spin, don’t fret— we’re here to help. Just shoot us a message on our Drift chat and we’ll see how we can help your ABM campaign flourish.