10 ways to segment your audience to meet the growing demand for personalization

The times they are a-changin’. Bob Dylan may have first shared that anthem with the world in 1963, but the message couldn’t hold more true today in the world of B2B marketing. Among the many revolutions those of us in this space face today, the trend toward personalization is among the most prevalent.

The Personalization Revolution Has Arrived

We now live in a hyper-personalized world. For marketers, this means it’s all about getting the right message to the right person at the right time on the right channel. In turn, that means that mass marketing is out and targeted marketing is in, which of course creates its own set of challenges.

For instance, serving specific prospects or customers targeted information at the right time and on the right channel based on their distinct profiles and preferences sounds like a fantastic model, but how do you actually deliver on that goal? That’s where things can get tricky. But they don’t have to be so difficult.

Creating the desired personalized, value-add model does require a new approach, but with the right technology and strategy in place, it’s actually quite attainable.

In terms of technology, a marketing automation platform integrated with a CRM system can help you keep track of vital customer information, including defining characteristics, preferences and engagement history. In terms of strategy, considering how you can take a multi-channel approach is certainly important since different customers will prefer different channels. But perhaps the most important piece of all is how you segment your lists (and this is also something with which the appropriate marketing technology can help).

Why Audience Segmentation Matters

Let’s say you have several different messages you want to use to target prospects — one for decision-makers and one for decision influencers, one about an event in New York and one about an event in Atlanta, etc. How do you know which message is right for which prospect? In addition to differentiating people based on more static characteristics like influence level and location, you also need to consider dynamic characteristics like stage in the buyer’s journey, since someone who has just entered the sales cycle will require a different, higher level message than someone who is further down the funnel. Manually combing through your lists and handpicking the people who fit into the desired buckets is simply not a viable strategy.

Enter audience segmentation. Segmenting your lists of prospects and customers based on key characteristics can help you deliver on the goal of personalized outreach by making it easy to engage with only a specific group of people for whom a very tailored message is relevant.

Best of all, by making it easy for you to drive more personalized outreach, this type of segmentation adds value for your target prospects or customers, since you can ensure any messages they receive will be tailored to their unique needs at any given time. In turn, these value-add messages should help increase engagement and keep moving prospects further down the funnel.

Top Tips to Improve Your Segmentation

So if personalization is the route to improved customer engagement and segmentation is the route to personalization, how can you improve your segmentation tactics?

We recommend breaking down users by a variety of different segments, as how you target people might differ from one campaign to the next based on your goals. Additionally, the more segments you can create, the more targeted you can be.

Collecting data and then segmenting users based on the following 10 characteristics is a good place to start:

5 Static Characteristics

First, we have five static characteristics. While these may in fact change over time, the pace of change for any individual is likely to be on the slower side. As such, these static characteristics tend to create a bit broader categories than the dynamic characteristics listed below.

  1. Location
  2. Function
  3. Role Level
  4. Industry
  5. Company size

5 Dynamic Characteristics

Second, we have dynamic characteristics, which tend to change far more quickly for any individual than the static characteristics listed above and create much more specific groups of people. Segmenting with these dynamic characteristics gives that extra boost toward intelligent, personalized engagement.

  1. Purchase History (e.g. customers who purchased product X)
  2. Indicated Preferences (e.g. preferred channel, frequency and/or timing for outreach)
  3. Previous Interactions (e.g. frequency or amount of interactions, passive vs. active interactions, channels of interaction)
  4. Personal History (e.g. any personal interests or related accounts of note, such as people who are also active Twitter users)
  5. Stage in Buyer’s Journey

Parting Advice: Think Beyond Email Lists

When we talk about segmentation, our minds tend to shoot straight to email lists. Email campaigns are a great place to start with list segmentation, but it’s time to think beyond just that one channel. Remember: Multi-channel marketing is a key ingredient for success today, and that means you need to think about how you can segment audiences on other channels to drive more personalized experiences there as well. For example, consider a targeted social campaign or dynamic CTAs on your website. With modern marketing technology and the amount of data collected today, the possibilities are endless.