Understanding Segmentation in Digital Marketing

segmentation for digital marketing
March 18, 2020

As a business owner, you know how important it is to meet the needs of your potential and existing customers. You are tasked with the role of narrating how your product or service can enhance their lives—this is what marketing is all about—and digital marketing isn’t any different. Digital marketing segmentation or niche marketing is one of the advantages of digital marketing as it enables businesses to create personalized and relevant messaging for different groups of customers.

Market segmentation can help you identify high-value customers so as to optimize your marketing budget by allocating resources toward the most profitable segments. This is especially useful for getting the most ROI for budget-constrained startups. Here’s all you need to know about marketing segmentation and how it can boost your sales figures and grow your business.

What is Marketing Segmentation?

Marketing segmentation simply categorizes your prospective customers into smaller groups. You can segment your prospective customers based on their: 

  • purchasing patterns 
  • interests 
  • geographic location 
  • age
  • income
  • gender, or any additional identifying markers.

If you own a business that sells pet supplies, for example, you could segment your customers into dog owners, cat owners, bird owners, snake owners, veterinary practices, and small general shops in your area. You could separate even further by age, gender, whether your targets live in an urban or suburban location, and more. 

Marketing segmentation is a great way of gaining relevant insights into the desires, dealbreakers, and preferences of paying customers and those who may be interested in your products and services.

As with most businesses, your products or services may have various benefits or appeal to multiple audiences. Marketing segmentation can help you better understand how people interact with your brand so you can improve your marketing efforts and tailor your messaging, promotions, and product offerings to specific groups of customers with similar needs, behaviors, and preferences. 

Why is Market Segmentation Important? 

Marketing segmentation isn’t just an interesting thought experiment. It allows you to better understand and target specific customer groups with personalized messages and experiences and is critical to a successful digital marketing strategy.  

With a strong marketing segmentation plan, you learn more about those purchasing your products and your potential customers. Market segmentation can also help you identify and exclude unprofitable segments, such as customers or leads who did not engage with the ads you displayed to a general audience.

To illustrate the importance of market segmentation, let’s continue with the example of the pet supply shop owner. The pet shop owner might run ads promoting generic pet supplies with pictures of happy cats and dogs but may miss out on valuable customer segments. However, they may discover interesting trends by analyzing their existing customer data.

For example, while the ad may not generate much interest from pet snake owners, those few snake owners who come in spend twice as much as any other pet owner. This data suggests that the pet shop should also attempt to attract more snake owners as they offer a good return on investment. While it is true that the ads were not targeted to this segment, this pet shop can create a snake owners market segment from the data gathered on snake owners and allocate some of its marketing budgets to attract similar customers. 

How to Conduct Segmentation Research

Defining your market is the first step in creating a successful marketing segmentation strategy. What separates your business or product from your competitors? Do you have a niche service, a higher-end offering, or offer increased speed or convenience? Once you’ve sorted out your offerings, use one (or more) of the following four types of marketing segmentation.

Geographic Segmentation 

Geographic segmentation is an effective way to group your customers based on where they live, which can provide valuable insights into their behaviors and preferences. For example, customers in coastal regions may be more interested in products and services related to outdoor activities, while those in mountainous areas may prefer items geared toward winter sports. By understanding these regional differences, you can tailor your marketing efforts to better meet the specific needs of each customer group and create more relevant and personalized experiences that drive long-term loyalty and growth.

Demographic Segmentation 

Demographic segmentation is a powerful tool that allows you to categorize both existing and potential customers based on data such as age, gender, income, education, job, and more. Among these demographic factors, age is one of the most commonly used segmentation types because people at different life stages tend to have distinct needs, preferences, and media consumption habits. By understanding these differences, you can tailor your marketing messages and offerings to better appeal to each age group and maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns. 

Psychographic Segmentation 

Psychographic segmentation allows you to group your target audience based on their interests, values, opinions, lifestyles, and other intrinsic traits. This approach can be particularly effective, as it allows you to identify and connect with customers who share similar mindsets and behaviors. For example, if you sell gym apparel, your ideal customer may be someone with an active lifestyle who values health and fitness. By using psychographic segmentation, you can create targeted marketing campaigns that speak directly to this audience and resonate with their unique motivations and goals. 

Behavioral and Product User Segmentation 

Behavioral segmentation is a valuable tool for understanding how your customers make purchasing decisions and interact with your brand. This approach is different from psychographic segmentation, as it focuses more on observable actions and behaviors rather than internal traits and values.

For instance, if you sell electronics, you may use behavioral segmentation to identify customers who make repeat purchases or who are likely to recommend your brand to others. By analyzing these behaviors, you can create targeted marketing campaigns that incentivize these actions to build brand loyalty and encourage customers to engage with your brand more frequently. 

The next step in this process is to research your potential market segments. You can do this in a few ways, so choose whatever method applies to your business. You could also look through your sales records for the previous year and ask the following questions to identify opportunities. 

  • What items or services were popular? 
  • What products or services had a high margin? 
  • Do any of these past purchasing patterns align with the information you found in your segmenting process, or are there gaps or disparities?

The final step is integrating your new marketing segmentation knowledge into your digital marketing strategy. Create a plan for ads that appeal to each of your segments and develop content that resonates with each market segment. Reviewing your market segmentation research a few times a year is also a good idea, as customer needs can change.

Segmentation in Research – Mistakes to Avoid

Focusing on one segment

While market segmentation can be a powerful tool for reaching your target audience, it’s important to remember that focusing too heavily on one segment can leave your business in a precarious position. For example, if you run a pet supplies store and decide to focus solely on snake owners because they tend to spend more per visit, you may end up neglecting other customers who are interested in different types of pets. This can ultimately harm your business by reducing your overall customer base and limiting your revenue streams.

Focusing solely on the size of the segment

Identifying a large market segment may seem like a promising opportunity, but that’s not always the case in terms of ROI. For example, the pet shop owner might realize that there is a significant population of pet-owning college students nearby. However, although this segment may be sizeable, the potential return on investment may not be worth pursuing. College students often have limited disposable income and may not be interested in buying high-end pet supplies.

Creating lots of insignificant segments

Addressing each individual consumer’s needs is not a practical approach. Over-segmentation may narrow down your potential client base into smaller groups without a sizeable ROI. With the pet shop example, over-segmentation may create a very specific group, such as urban middle-income 35-45-year-old snake owners who love cowboy hats. Although this group may purchase items, it is too small to have a substantial impact.

Ignoring the digital habits of your market segments

To effectively incorporate your market segments into your digital marketing strategy, it is crucial to identify the digital habits of your potential customers. While the initial marketing segmentation research helps determine your target audience, it should not be the end of your research. For instance, a pet supply store owner may need to explore LinkedIn or a related community website or blog to connect with their intended audience. On the other hand, snake owners may spend more time on a related social media group or page or on a paid membership community, so it’s a good idea to find and reach your customers where they can be found.

Enhance Customer Engagement Through Segmentation for Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a powerful way to grow your business and target your ideal audience with relevant and timely messages. A good digital marketing strategy doesn’t have to cost a lot and can give you a good ROI – when it’s done right. Marketing segmentation is one way to maximize your digital marketing efforts by ensuring that the right information is communicated to prospective and paying customers. 

Not sure how to navigate all the details of a solid digital marketing plan? We can help! Reach out to our team  to find out how we help businesses grow. At C1M, we operate a collaborative model, and our digital marketing specialists will work with you to meet and exceed your marketing goals.

Contact us today! 

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Market Segmentation and Your Digital Marketing Strategy
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