Segmenting Your Target Audience

Segmenting your Target Audience

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Creating an effective digital marketing campaign today requires several factors, not the least of which is understanding your target audience. Most businesses have some concept of who their target audience is, but a general impression or vague description isn’t enough in this high-tech age of information in which we live. To better understand your target audience, one approach is to segment or divide them into separate sections based on specific details. The more you can pinpoint your potential customers, the more you know about them, the more you can tailor your marketing message to their particular needs and interests. But how does a small business go about market segmentation? It takes some time and attention, but you will find that the results are exceedingly worth the process.

Here's how to get started.

Take a close look at your current customers. As you browse through their profiles and purchasing history, look for similar attributes among your different customers. Are they around the same age? Even with a highly diverse group of customers, trends will begin to reveal themselves. When you segment your audience, you can use almost any commonality to define a group, so don’t hold back as you’re searching among them. Do your customers have a similar income level? Are they of a particular career or stage of family life? Take note of every shared feature you see among a handful or more of your customers – even if they seem to conflict with each other at first. The more you dig down into who your customers are, the more you will begin to see similarities between them. And the more segments you can identify, the more options you have later when you use those segments to develop your marketing plan.

A demographic and a target audience are not the same thing. A target audience is a broader, more inclusive group. Demographics are smaller, more highly defined groups within a target audience. You can even think of a target audience as a collection of demographics. Once you have defined your target audience, then sub-divide that audience into different demographics based on your observations of your current customers. An excellent place to start is segmentation based on geography. Where do the individuals in your target audience live? They might span the globe, or they might congregate around a specific bus stop. Whatever the case, look at your target audience in terms of where they are. Look for logical groupings of your audience, and then consider each group its own geographic demographic within your target audience.

Geographic segmentation is a good place to start, but don’t stop your process there. Plenty of other demographic breakdowns will be beneficial to your marketing campaign. Think about some of the most common demographic measurements to define segments in your target audience. Look at the age or ages of most of your customers. Look also at their average income and level of education. Another typical demographic is gender, as well as family size.  These features are helpful when examining and defining sections within your target audience.

While looking at different demographic information, notice the social channels your customers most often use. Are they Facebook-friendly? Do they have an intense Instagram passion? Or perhaps your customers are looking to reach other businesses via LinkedIn. The channels where you can find your current customers are likely the channels where you can find your future customers.

People often say: “It isn’t what’s on the outside that matters, but what’s on the inside.” The outside is undoubtedly important for segmenting your target audience, but it’s not all there is to understand your audience. It’s crucial when evaluating your audience to look at what is on the inside as well. These attributes are called psychographic qualities. You might also hear them referred to as lifestyle qualities. They include things like values, personality traits, lifestyle, and “AOIs” (Activities, Interests, and Opinions).

Behavioral segmentation is another way to look at your audience. Though the term sounds like it might apply to general behavior tendencies, it refers to a specific set of behaviors – how customers act or their expectations regarding a product or service and its purchase. You might find it helpful to segment your audience according to the benefits they expect from your product, how loyal they are to your brand, how ready they are to make a purchase, or even what occasion has prompted them to make a purchase. What is their past purchasing history, how did they make those purchases, and by what means? All of these insights will help you as you develop your marketing plan.

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It's Time to Strategize

Once you have your market segments defined, it’s time to strategize the best ways to reach each section. The better you know each component, the more detailed and personalized you can make your marketing efforts. Through this process, you may even find that you are not reaching a segment of the market you previously thought you were targeting. Often companies find new features of the market they can target with their marketing efforts after segmenting their current customers.

With target market segmentation, you will have a more robust understanding of your customers, potential customers, and how to reach them better. Our next post will look at exactly how to put your segmentation data to use when designing a marketing campaign. For now, though, work on defining the segments that best represent your current pool of customers.

Have you used market segmentation in the past? What segments were most helpful for you to define?

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