What is audience segmentation?

Some people think everyone should be like them. For example, hashtags on Instagram proclaim #westcoastbestcoast (937K posts). But if everyone loved the United States’ west coast, we’d miss out on other gorgeous ocean views around the world. As audience segmentation shows, people are different in a million ways. And that’s a good thing!

That old saying is true today and always will be true: “It takes all kinds to make a world.” And as a marketer, it benefits you to appeal to different kinds of people.

Because there are so many types of people who might be interested in your product, it can be hard to pinpoint who they are. That’s where audience segmentation comes in. Audience segmentation is when you break your audience into smaller, more easily studied groups according to their shared traits.

Why is audience segmentation important?

Now more than ever, people don’t want to receive advertisements that have nothing to do with them. Even once a customer purchases a product from a company, they may not be interested in receiving promotional material related to other products the company sells.

For example, a homeowner might purchase a cleaning set from a company like Grove Collaborative (who sell Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products) but be completely uninterested in the same company’s promotions of Burt’s Bees body care products.

If Grove Collaborative is smart, it will figure this out quickly. From then on, the company will only send promotional material to that person (and others in the segment) that has to do with keeping a clean home.

In short, audience segmentation is important because it keeps your marketing efforts relevant. The more relevant an ad’s content, the more likely the customer is to purchase the advertised product.

Make it one of your marketing goals to create audience segments this year.

Beyond relevancy, benefits of segmented audiences include:

  • The ability to implement a targeted campaign strategy for every segment
  • Higher conversion rates
  • More meaningful connections with your target audience
  • More relevant advertisements and communication through tracking your customers’ buyer personas over time
  • The continued ability to meet and anticipate your customers’ varying needs
  • Equipping your PR team with enough information that it can anticipate and resolve any of your audience’s questions or concerns

In today’s ultra-competitive market, businesses need to know exactly who their customers are and what they want. Let’s take a look at the four types of audience segmentation that can help you stand out to your target audience.

What are some types of audience segmentation?

Demographic segmentation

The most basic type of audience segmentation, demographic segmentation focuses on grouping people according to demographic similarities. Demographics can include age, race, religion, gender, family size, education level, and more.

Behavioral segmentation

In behavioral segmentation, marketers study their customers’ decisions and online buying behaviors. Netflix, for example, follows up with people who take advantage of its free one-month trial and then cancel after the month ends. Sometimes Netflix offers another free month, displaying titles it knows the user enjoyed because it has studied that user’s watching behavior and can use it to win them back.

Psychographic segmentation

If you’re someone who’s intrigued by the mystery of what goes on in other peoples’ minds, you’ll enjoy digging into psychographic segmentation. This type of audience segmentation studies peoples’ inner characteristics — traits you can’t know from studying their external behavior. In psychographic segmentation, you study characteristics like your customers’ values, attitudes, likes, dislikes, beliefs, and priorities.

Geographic segmentation

This straightforward type of segmentation focuses on your customers’ geographic location. An easier type of information to obtain than psychographic or behavioral segmentation, geographic segmentation is crucial to any marketing strategy. People who live in Alaska will almost always be interested in purchasing sweaters, jackets, and coats. People in Florida probably won’t need those types of garments nearly as much — but they will always purchase swimwear.

What is a sub-audience?

A sub-audience is a segment of your customer base that has been grouped according to similar audience criteria.

Before you even begin with the four types of segmentation, you can create sub-audience groups based on characteristics like these:

  • Regular customers of your brick-and-mortar store
  • First-time visitors to your online site
  • Regular visitors to your online site
  • First-time customers (of your brick-and-mortar or your online site)
  • Regular online customers
  • Online customers earned from clicks on advertisements
  • Customers or visitors earned from CTAs on your website, marketing email, receipt, and so on

Several powerful programs can help you learn the above information about your customers and much more. Learn how to track user visits with Google Analytics. Dig deeper into your customers’ behavior with market segmentation software like Qualtrics or Sailthru.

You can also use polling software like PickFu to ask potential audience members directly which aspects of your product they like most, and why.

How can segmentation be improved?

Don’t just target one type of segmentation because it seems like it’ll be easiest. Instead, start broad with the intention of narrowing your focus.

Begin your audience segmentation by putting your customers into groups according to their demographics. Next, divide them into subgroups according to their geographic locations.

Further, divide those segments into groups that share behavioral similarities. And finally — you guessed it — tighten the specificity of your segments by splitting them into psychographically similar subgroups.

Don’t get so specific that you gather data that doesn’t matter, though. Take this type of segmentation:

  • Lives within 50 miles of a city
  • Is between 25-35 years of age
  • Makes most purchases from a mobile phone

It’s nitpicky and not likely to help you unless you want to individualize your marketing to the point where every single customer receives a customized advertisement. (Which is likely a waste of your time.)

Instead, use broad but meaningful strokes within your specific segmentation types (demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral).

  • Lives in a cold-weather area
  • Is between 20 and 40 years old
  • Purchases most products online

You’re likely to form larger subgroups with this information while still keeping your marketing relevant to the people in each segment.

The beauty of target audience segmentation is that the segmenting possibilities are endless. Use only those that truly benefit you. If you sell an online service where geographic segmentation might not matter much, then focus on a market segmentation that does.

What is a targeted message?

Once you have your customers segmented, you’ll find it’s much easier to send them targeted advertisements and messages. This is beneficial because you won’t just be throwing advertisements to the wind and hoping they catch someone’s attention.

So what, exactly, is a targeted message?

A targeted message is simply the personalized content you send to one of your audience segments.

A targeted message for mothers who live in cold-weather areas could be an email offering a discount on winter coats for kids.

If those mothers are further segmented based on whether they have two or more children, a buy one, get one free advertisement might gain more conversions.

Targeted messaging ensures that your communication with your customers stays relevant and helpful.

Frequently asked questions

What are the four types of market segmentation?

The four types of market segmentation are demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral.

What is the definition of audience segmentation?

Audience segmentation is the practice of breaking your audience into smaller, more easily studied groups according to their shared traits.

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