Targeting email and webpage content accurately to specific audiences increases your effectiveness as an email marketer. That’s why successful marketers have traditionally started communication campaigns by dividing a large audience into smaller, uniquely identifiable segments based on geographic, demographic, psychographic, behavioral and other characteristics.
All these terms describe types of differentiators historically used to divide large audiences into smaller subsets. Geographic and behavioral segmentation are nearly self-explanatory; demographic and psychographic segmentation, though slightly more sophisticated, aren’t overly complex either.
Broadly speaking, demographics speak to observable and measurable traits, while psychographics focus on beliefs, attitudes, and ideals that might not be readily observable. Whereas demographics look at a person’s ethnicity, income or social status, psychographics looks for the connection between thought and action.
Effective segmentation creates smaller groups that are differentiated from one another, substantial enough to be targeted, accessible by the chosen medium, and cohesive for enough time to be tested and for results to be acted upon. The best segmentation strategies help achieve marketing goals. Traditional segmentation might fall into the following categories:
With demographic segmentation, you look at what you can easily see about a customer to determine “who” the customer is. Much of this information is readily available thanks in part to the US Census, which asks many of the questions and collects data relevant to these key demographic metrics:
- Life cycle stage
- Marital status
- Number of children
- Education level
- Home ownership
- Political affiliation
- Religious affiliation
There are many other ways to define segmentation and these methods often vary by industry; for example, the health industry may be interested in unhealthy behaviors to target customers to whom they’ll promote healthier lifestyles, while the motorcycle industry could be interested in how customers describe their personality traits so as to inform their advertising. The segments described above are general guidelines and you may form your own segmentation structure based on your audience and mission.
Additionally, different measurement tools may define segments differently. Google Analytics collects information on many segmentation data points including things like a website visitor’s screen size, Internet browser, the referrer and of course page views, time on page and much more. Any of these parameters can and should be used for segmentation and subsequent testing.
By clicking on the “reporting” tab you’ll be presented with several different segments you can choose from. By choosing one and clicking “test,” you can see the percent of matching users and sessions. You can even make your own segment based on the filters you choose – with up to 1,000 segments per account! You can use these filters to help differentiate between high-converting segments and those less likely to convert.
Focus your energies on high-traffic, high-converting pages. By using Google’s Reverse Goal Path tool, you can examine the three steps in the user journey that came before goal completion, giving you an idea about which pages to prioritize. Look at those pages visited most often by converting customers to shape future campaigns by channel, source/medium, referrer and much more.
Google’s key segmentation filters include:
So what do you do with all this segmentation? Use it to inform your A/B testing strategies for webpages. Consider using Google Optimize to make testing more productive. According to Google, “By running experiments in Optimize, you can test new website designs, layouts and content with a subset of your visitors… with real-world users (for) results that are simple to read and understand.”
You can also use segmentation to improve email targeting and messaging. Most modern email platforms offer automated A/B testing tools for subject lines, content, CTAs and more. By segmenting these tests, you’ll gain deeper insight into behaviors between and across segments. For example, you may recognize new acquisition opportunities and confirm which tactics drive engagement among target groups. Segmentation, coupled with testing, enables you to further hone your segmentation strategy to improve your email marketing performance.
Aim the Message, Hit the Target
was written by me, Greg Norton – also known as webzenkai. I’ve got more than two decades’ experience building effective websites and powerful email campaigns that yield results. Feel free to contact me regarding this article or anything else you find on this website.