Take a Fresh Look at Audience Segmentation, Reflective of Today's Consumer

With convenience hailed to be the defining principle of purchase over brand affinity, showing up at the right time has never been so important. Writing exclusively for ExchangeWire, Marie-Louise Dalton, marketing director, Hitwise, explains that the digital revolution has led to brands being able to engage personally at scale. As highlighted in their recent report, ‘5 Segmentation Strategies to Convert More Customers, this means that impressing today’s expectant customers requires taking a fresh, contemporary approach to the segmentation of audiences.  

Start with smarter segmentation

Audience segmentation predates digital; however, marketers now have the tools at their disposal to dissect their audience in much more creative ways. How you choose to slice and dice is the key to understanding who your best prospects are at any given moment. Demographic segmentation is a blunt instrument when oversimplified. A far more enlightened approach is to layer multiple factors simultaneously, which can reveal nuances that may completely change your approach to customer targeting.

Let’s take Nike as an example, as both men and women are equally likely to buy from Nike’s online store. However, when you break this audience down by gender and age, audience comparisons uncover several key distinctions. Nike’s largest audience of women are aged between 18-24; while its largest male audience are in a slightly older age bracket, 25-34. It is rich audience insight, such as this, that will reshape any brand’s marketing strategy to ensure it consists of a layered demographic approach in order to uncover nuances specific to each customer.

Another important distinction to make is between online and offline audiences. We might assume that bricks-and-mortar customers are more likely to be older and more conservative than their digital counterparts, but this is not always the case. In fact, they are rapidly migrating online for certain sectors. The fact is that until you conduct measurements to take in multiple variables, you simply won’t know; and the results might surprise you.

Prioritise data-rich segmentation

Deeper audience breakdowns, like that of Nike’s, provide valuable brand insight; but the next step is to utilise rich third-party data, and elevate audience profiles for more personalised strategies. Rather than developing content specifically based on the brand itself, segmenting via rich audience insight provides an offering to consumers that is rooted in both audience profiles, as well as online behaviour. Time Out’s readership, for example, is 359% more likely to search for ‘London weather’, and 138% more likely to look for travel websites, like TripAdvisor or Booking.com, than the online average. In branching out from the initial search, their data-rich segmentation allows Time Out to assess more accurately how their audience behaves online – from where they go for information, to how often, and in what numbers. Moving beyond simple demographics gives marketers the cutting edge in matching a message to the desired audience.

Streamline your search strategy

Utilising data in your search strategy brings you one step closer to effective personalisation in your search marketing. It’s one thing to know which audiences are likely to run a search on your product or service by volume; but what’s more valuable is to understand which of those segments is most likely to click and convert.

Context is important; and life stage related to financial fluidity is one of the safer assumptions that can be factored into what search terms to target for particular demographics. For example, teenage boys and teenage girls may both demonstrate a clear interest in the launch of the latest iPhone. However, very few teens are likely to earn enough from their weekend job to go out and buy one. In this case, it would make more sense to monitor the search behaviours of their close relations in the run-up to Christmas.

It is these insights that can be used to optimise paid search campaigns to target specific demographic segments. A scientific approach, coupled with a little lateral thinking, allows brands to cut out the guess work and drive the best results. Put simply, successful marketers will be judged by not only their ability to adapt to conditions, but also how they understand and anticipate the needs of the audience. To truly connect with people, every facet of marketing, from brand partnerships to search strategy, must be guided by rich customer insights and segmentation.