Segmenting your audiences

July 25, 2017

Display , Social Media ,


In its most basic form, segmentation is defined as ‘division into separate parts or sections’. As a digital agency, we think about segmentation from a marketing perspective.

To us, audience segmentation is the division of groups of people into sub-groups, based on similar characteristics, needs and/or wants. This is typically because people in each sub-group are more likely to exhibit the same behavioural patterns. This means that they will have equivalent levels of intent, driving them to a purchase or conversion.

People segmentation

Think of it this way – there’s no way any company would be able to target every single consumer. Nor would these companies want to, due to budget restrictions, effort level and many more reasons (not least that their product most likely is not ‘one size fits all’).

Segmentation allows businesses to target different categories of consumers with the most relevant messaging at the right time, therefore they’re more likely to purchase or convert. This, in turn, increases performance and reduces wasted ad spend.

It also provides a better user experience and a better brand exposure. We all know that there’s nothing more infuriating than being served an extremely generic ad for a product that you’re definitely not in the market for, and probably never will be.

Example of an extremely generic ad

Consumers are day by day, increasingly more aware of the growing presence of online ads. According to Gavin Mann, (Global Broadcast Lead, Accenture), “Consumers are increasingly willing to pay for blockers because too many ads are poorly targeted”.

11% of global internet users currently use an ad blocker. In the UK, that figure rises to 16% for the general population and even higher for some demographics.

Consequently, the ads need to personally speak to that one consumer and their specific needs, or you risk losing their already dwindling attention.

What are the benefits and best practices?

Persona building is fundamental to segmentation. Who is your target audience? What are their preferences? What other behaviours are they likely to engage in? As a result of being more targeted, your ads will have increased relevance and will ensure your content resonates with your potential customers (read: those with a high propensity to convert).

A study of over 93,000 calls-to-action (CTA) over a 12 month period found that CTR increased by 42% when using CTAs targeted to the user rather than a one size fits all CTA.

Big Orange Megaphone

When segmenting your audience, another great question to ask yourself is ‘What do my customers definitely not look like?’ Suppressions within targeting strategies can be really useful when you don’t quite know who you definitively should target, but you know who you categorically should not.

For example, if your product is a shampoo for Male hair loss, you’re definitely wasting time and money if you’re targeting 16-18 Females who like Nando’s and Little Mix concerts – extreme, but you would be surprised.

Drop down menu to include people of the same demographics

If you still don’t have a fairly solid idea of who your audience is, try the following tips to segment your audience for the first time:

  1. Acknowledge what your product actually does; what problem does it solve, what desire does it meet?
  2. Understanding your current customers, and the issue that has actually driven them to a purchase enables you to identify others who would require your product as a solution. Do they all share a common characteristic? Use this to find potential customers at scale.
  3. Isolate types/groups of people that your product would be suited to. Note down demographics, psychographics (interests, values, attitudes) and lastly behaviours.
  4. If you have a rough idea but are struggling to pinpoint the exact target audience, try narrowing your gaze. Rank each audience attribute in order of importance – prioritisation is key. If you’re selling Women’s designer coats that retail at over £500, you will want to exclude millennials who most likely do not have that sort of disposable income.
  5. Look at your competition – who are they targeting, and more importantly is what they’re doing working? There’s nothing wrong with taking advice from a rival, and better still, you may find there’s a certain audience that they are overlooking.

Once you’ve determined where your potential customers are hiding, you then need to focus your efforts on converting them into customers. At the end of the day, if, like us, you’re a performance agency, then any decision you make has to take your clients KPI’s firmly into consideration.

At Harvest, we employ a wide range of targeting techniques, platforms, and programmatic partners in order to acquire these new customers. Following a well-rounded, full-funnel, integrated approach is key. Audience segmentation is only the beginning, but it’s a great place to start.

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