Remember the customer research your business conducted years ago? It was probably reviewed with the team, provided some brief inspiration, and then filed away somewhere. You may not have seen it since.
How can you ensure your marketing team leverages customer segmentation research? The next step is to ensure it’s actionable and informs the customer experience you wish to improve or campaign around. Enter: personas and customer journey maps.
Personas and customer journey maps
Customer segmentation uses primary research to outline customer demographic information (e.g., age, gender, and socioeconomic status) and psychographic information (e.g., values, opinions, and personal preferences). The result of any good customer segmentation study is a collection of personas and journey maps that outline each customer segment’s wants, needs, expectations, and behaviors.
When done correctly (based on data), personas and journey maps are marketing gold. They demonstrate how each segment’s preferences and journeys are unique—helping your team to develop truly personalized experiences. And they show you exactly what your customers want from you at each stage of your relationship.
- What questions do they have when they first hear about you?
- What objections do you need to combat with segment A versus segment B?
- How does segment C describe the problem that your product solves?
This type of information empowers the marketing team to create unique strategies tailored to specific segments of your customer base. This targeted, segment-focused strategy can help your content rank better with SEO and win new traffic. It can help inform campaign targeting and retargeting based on your personas’ attributes. It can also provide insights into your internal processes, help you identify any false internal assumptions, and identify profitable opportunities for improvement.
Using segmentation to become customer-centric
Naturally, you want to make sure your business is getting the most out of your marketing budget. And while many businesses want to be customer-centric, it’s important to remember that not all of your customers fit into the same mold.
This is why segmentation is so important. By viewing your customer base as smaller, homogeneous groups, you’ll see the similarities and differences in what each group wants and needs from your brand.
This type of research should outline which downstream channels your customers use to find your products. It should detail the language they use when searching online—and the pain points your product can fix.
When you have this type of information at your fingertips, you can create marketing strategies that truly perform.
How else can you apply customer segmentation insights?
There are countless more ways that customer segmentation data and living personas can be applied in marketing. With reliable customer data, you can build a more effective overall marketing strategy.
- How frequently does your audience expect you to post?
- What do they expect from you on LinkedIn versus Facebook?
- Which segments will receive what types of content?
- What messages resonate with each segment?
- Which segments can remember ever clicking a display ad?
- Which are turned off by the hard sale of a landing page?
- What content does each segment need at each stage of their journey?
- Where should you publish content based on their preference?
- Which sites do your segments also visit so you can cross-promote content?
- What organizations are they active in? Would they link back to your site?
Example: applying customer segmentation insights
One of our clients, a flooring company, validated through customer segmentation that interior designers were highly influential to many key customers. If they wanted to sell more products, they needed to encourage interior designers to recommend their products over the competition.
Additional research showed this manufacturer that the interior designers in their audience often begin project planning on Pinterest and Google Images. As they get deeper into the project, they need specific details about the company’s flooring products so they can convey them to the client or installation crew.
Ultimately, the interior designer segment needed a seamless checkout process and a place to ask questions and get answers.
The client took those insights and ran with them. Today, their products all have strong alt text and beautiful imagery, helping them rank well in Google image searches and show up on Pinterest. They also highlighted product details that are important to interior designers on the website—and made this information easier to share.
To build on this in the future, the client is now considering a more effortless purchasing process with a live chat feature. This way, they can anticipate even more steps in this customer journey.
Use customer research to improve SEO
No modern marketing strategy would be complete without a plan to capture users through organic search. Customer segmentation lends directly to creating an effective SEO strategy.
When a new product launches, your marketing team likely already creates a multi-channel strategy including email, social, collateral, and/or advertisements that appeal to your audience. Another key component of this is digital content, designed to organically pull in new customers to your website.
The more you know what each customer segment is looking for—and the specific words they use when searching online—the more equipped your team will be to win new traffic. Customer segmentation research can help translate the language of each segment into key messaging and blog topics.
To be clear—you should not create a content calendar without customer segmentation data. Learn how each segment speaks about the things you provide, choose your keywords wisely, then speak back to them in their own language and watch your SEO performance grow.
Customer segmentation insights for internal processes
Beyond its impact on outbound marketing, customer segmentation research can help pinpoint internal issues and opportunities for improvement that affect your budget.
For example, we work on an ongoing basis with a subscription-based software company. When they noticed a sudden wave of cancellations, they decided to figure out why. We created a survey that gets sent out each time someone cancels. It asks them why they chose to do so and what could have prevented it.
This process has highlighted several external UX improvements but also internal data issues. Some of the cancellers did not actually want to cancel. Some needed to pause their subscriptions for a period of time. But because there was no way to do this online, they canceled and planned to re-subscribe in the future.
This gave our client insight they hadn’t had before. One, to improve the UX for customers who didn’t intend to cancel. And two, to adjust their forecasting around cancellations and churn rate to become more accurate for planning and reporting.
Keep your customer segmentation data up to date
We all know that information becomes dated as soon as it’s published. It isn’t enough to build these segment-focused strategies, then file your research away until you need it again. Just as your business grows and adapts, so do your customers.
Instead, create “living” persona profiles and journey maps that adapt to customer evolution. Track new data and evolve your customer documentation with your business. This helps your business continue to exceed customer expectations and clench more sales.
Persona data doesn’t just come from a once-a-year survey. Your website and CRM have endless insights ready to be gleaned and put to use. We’ve had great success creating comprehensive, multi-page dashboards that allow our clients to deep-dive into data in real time. Dashboards can house your website data and can integrate with your CRM. This makes it easy for your marketing and sales to have the same access to real-time information. That way, everyone interfacing with clients or planning strategy has personas and segmentation data at their fingertips.
Like most research, customer segmentation isn’t a one and done type thing. We recommend that you keep doing it, year after year, to ensure you know what your customers want, need, and expect. Staying ahead of this and making decisions because of it—that’s what makes an organization customer-centric.
If you’re ready to create data-driven, customer-centric strategies, let’s talk.