f you don’t get this, you’re becoming expendable…
You don’t necessarily have to develop the technical ability to pull it off…
In fact, marketers and business people who understand principles and strategies will forever be more valuable than the people who can follow strategic direction to implement something on the technical and tactical level.
But if you fail to understand the basics of WHY you’d segment a market, and HOW to do it (on a strategic level), you’re just waiting for your marketing and business career to die a slow death of irrelevance.
I know, I know — it probably feels a bit dramatic. But this is definitely the direction marketing capabilities are going. If you don’t know how to use them, you risk falling behind.
With that said, let’s do this!
It’s Mailbox Monday. Which means today’s issue is inspired by your questions.
Here’s today’s question from the mailbox…
I’m a big BTMSinsiders fan, great stuff!
I’m wondering about audience segmentation. I work in marketing for a health technology company and my biggest challenge is to figure out how to communicate with our members on a more personalized level. For example, X% of my audience may be self-achievers and respond best to messaging that encourages them to achieve their health goals, or I might have X% that are direction-takers and respond best to doctor recommendations or published guidelines, still others may require social proofing to nudge them into action, etc.
How do you go about segmenting your audience and have you come across any published information I can reference to help support this personalization effort? In my opinion, the next step in healthcare is going beyond one-size-fits-all messaging and moving into more individual messaging.
A HUGE observation…
Re-read that last sentence.
“In my opinion, the next step in healthcare is going beyond one-size-fits-all messaging and moving into more individual messaging.”
Now, let’s make a slight edit and replace the word “healthcare” with “marketing.”
“In my opinion, the next step in marketing is going beyond one-size-fits-all messaging and moving into more individual messaging.”
That’s 100% correct.
And it’s not in the future. It’s now. And yesterday.
This is not an immediate change. Imagine a giant ship on the ocean that takes a long time and distance to turn. That’s what’s going on now. It’s been going on for years.
But more and more marketing is becoming segmented and customized to the prospect.
Why? BECAUSE IT WORKS!
Going back to basics…
The goal of any marketing message should be to invoke an immediate response in the reader of, “Oh my gosh, this is for me!”
— They have a problem, they’re looking (actively or passively) for a solution, and they see your message that promises a perfect fit…
— They are not quite happy with their current course, and you throw an opportunity in front of them that’s clearly a great fit for them and 10X as good as what they’re doing now…
— Or maybe they’re just going about their everyday life and you present a prediction that’s 100% relevant to some area of interest, and they can’t help but figure out the details of your prediction and how it will impact them…
In every case, your goal with your message is to invoke the reaction: “This is EXACTLY what I needed!”
(Note: The above list is based on The 3 Big-Idea Types from High-Velocity Copywriting, and encompass the big idea of nearly every successful advertisement or other selling message.)
WHAT BETTER WAY to ensure you have a fit — a problem, opportunity, or prediction that’s ultra-targeted to your reader — than completely understanding what segment of your market they fit in, and speaking directly to that?
If you know — using the emailed question — that someone buys your health technology because they’re a bio-hacker achievement seeker, how does that impact your message?
… Compared to — for example — if they’re an elderly person looking for a way to track their health to report to family or the doctor, including needing the ability to catch and report health emergencies as quick as possible?
How much different is your message for these two groups?!
If you want to maximize profitability, your answer should be DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT…
The big question: HOW to divide and serve your audience segments…
Let’s start, quickly, with the old ways. Before the internet and the level of tracking we have now, people WERE segmenting their audiences. It was just much harder.
You can segment based on demographic data. For example, gender, age, income, career, and so on. You can still do this. You can take your customer list to a list broker, and have them overlay data onto the list, then sort and analyze to your heart’s content.
You may find, for example, that your health tech overwhelmingly sells to college-educated people with incomes over $100,000. You may find that the majority of them are in certain professions or industry verticals.
This data has often been used for targeting. If you’re renting direct mail lists, matching them as closely as possible to your current customer base can be advantageous.
Today, much of the same kind of targeting can be repeated in online advertising platforms. They do have more restrictions and less transparency in this than they used to. However, it’s still within the realms of what you can do.
That said, I realize I’m currently talking about segmenting at a rather superficial level.
The next step would be…
Ryan Levesque’s Ask book (and method) is by far the best intro to how to do this.
You can, for example, simply ask your customers what challenges they face. Wording is important here, but if you ask about challenges they’ll typically tell you what they want to buy. (Using Ryan’s method to measure responsiveness, tied to those challenges.)
This is a quick way to get high-level segments on your audience.
There may be the people who buy for biohacking reasons. And the people who buy for elderly relatives. And the people who buy in response to a chronic medical condition. And so on…
The quickest, easiest way to start to understand your most important segments is to ask.
Once that is done, you can automate…
Creating segmentation paths…
This is the next level of the Ask method, but it can be pulled off in lots of other ways.
You could, as Ryan teaches, have a quiz funnel. Where people do a simple quiz, clicking a few buttons to indicate how to serve them best. Based on those button clicks, they get put into different segments. And from there, you can market based on segment.
Alternately, you can go all the way back to the online marketing classic, Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? That book presumed you understood that certain segments would show up at your website. (E.g. buyers and sellers arriving at eBay’s main site.) And you would create alternate paths into your materials based on those segments.
Done well, either of these can work. And by assigning segment designations to these users in whatever database you’re using, you can market to them later in a customized way.
Behavioral targeting and remarketing…
One of the biggest revolutions in online marketing in the last few years has been remarketing or retargeting. (Which sometimes mean different things in different circles, but I’m using them interchangeably here.)
Basically, when someone arrives at your website (or a specific page on your website), you track that, and later you show them customized content based on that.
The familiar example would be going to Amazon, viewing a product there, and later getting ads on Facebook or around the internet for that product.
Depending on the sophistication of your marketing department, you can do a lot with this.
But even the most rudimentary use of this tech can be highly valuable. For example, I run ads for The Copywriter’s Guide to Getting Paid to people who have visited my sites but who are not on the buyers list. Because such a high percentage of my audience is copywriters, this is a very effective campaign.
Finally, you can use this kind of behavioral tracking to force people into segments…
This is perhaps my favorite method, although I don’t do it as frequently as I’d like.
Once you know what your segments are, you could create specific content for them. This could be specific articles with a clear target. It could be a webinar that they have to register for. It could really be ANYTHING designed to get the click. You could even do it with links to other people’s content.
Once this content is created, you send out an email to your main email list, with the links set up to tag subscribers who click on the link.
So, you could have a segment called “biohacker.” And if you have a newsletter article on biohacking, or a webinar on a biohacking topic, or a link to the latest best-selling book on Amazon from a famous biohacker, all of those links could be set up to add the tag “biohacker” to all email recipients who click the link. Then, you can sort your list based on tags and send more relevant content to people based on what they’ve clicked in the past.
Not only that, most email service providers even have tools now where tagging an email address will trigger a campaign. So once someone clicks a biohacking link, they get a series of relevant emails to their segment. Whereas they’ll only occasionally see, for example, articles targeted to how your health tech can be used for the elderly, in the general company newsletter.
Possibilities are endless!
Marketing is becoming more and more customized.
Some consumers think this is intrusive, and resist it. But I believe that in the end, it delivers a better experience.
I, for one, don’t mind that most of the ads I see online are from my favorite online shops. I’d rather see that than something completely irrelevant to me.
It’s better for everybody.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,