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21 Jan 2014

Why Audience Segmenting May Be the Smartest Move You Make

January 21, 2014Content Strategy

Why Audience Segmenting May Be the Smartest Move You Make

About 58% of B2B marketers plan to boost their budget for content marketing in 2014, according to figures in the B2B Content Marketing Benchmark Study, compiled by Marketing Profs and The Content Marketing Institute. But with that budget increase, will these marketers simply pump out generic content across the board, or develop specific content for targeted audiences that will build leads and conversions?

All B2B content marketers, from SMBs to enterprise-level businesses, must learn how to best deliver targeted content to specific audiences. It’s more than just sending out a single Facebook update or a blog post, and expecting to resonate with all of your audiences. Understanding your customers, learning what drives their buying impulses, and delivering content that is relevant, contextual and appropriate will help to separate the content wheat from the chaff.

B2B Content Marketing Spend

B2B Content Marketing Spend

As a recent Vocus post rightly pointed out, specifically segmented content for different target groups is hardly a new concept in today’s content marketing world. “Segmentation is as old as car ads placed in magazines‚Ķ” the post read. Marketers may be selling a single product through a targeted campaign, but that creative strategy and execution will appear much differently when viewed by a millennial than by a baby boomer. That is, if you’re doing it right.

Audience segmenting will help any SMB or large company understand its customers by certain criteria. Check the basic data and segment by age, income, location, family size and interests. Then, create specific content on your website, social channels, email marketing campaigns and more to help drive more sales leads and conversions. Let’s dive in a little deeper into how this all works.

Shift Your Thinking

Content is really the substance of the conversations you’re having with your customers. And like conversations with your friends, not all of these conversations will be exactly the same. Like your friends, your customers have different needs and interests, with different spending patterns, different Internet habits, locations and income levels. Your content pieces have to address this wide interest range.

Shift your thinking and move closer to the mindset of a massive marketing machine like The Walt Disney Company. Sure, at its core, the company is a creator of animated features for mass consumption. But its ancillary products are driven by the core content, and that helps drive profits year after year.

Disney has a few main characters in its animated films. Those characters then get launched to different audiences in the form of dolls, toys, apparel, video games and gaming figures, books, DVD adaptations, licensed images on drinks, candy and other foods, and more. Some of these characters will resonate with different audiences at different times, and it’s in that moment when products get bought and conversions take place.

Audience Segmenting for Content Marketing StrategyThink about your content pieces as the main characters of your content. When you produce initial content that can be utilized in different segments to target audiences, then you’re on the track to increasing your lead generation, your potential revenues, your partnership opportunities and your bottom line.

Understand Your Audiences

Some marketers call the process of understanding their audience as finding their ‘personas'; others call it target demographics. They’re both right. SMBs and enterprise-level companies must first understand their customer audiences. How are they alike? How are they different? Do you know their purchasing habits? What communication tools and messaging practices do they like? For example, if your business sells a recreational vehicle for weekend adventures, you’ll certainly have a mix of customers and prospects of varying age, income and gender levels. Knowing details of these groups can help prepare the content strategy in advance of the work.

Some companies try to audit their content offerings quarterly, or even monthly. To do this at your own company, evaluate your best landing pages, check your social share analytics and examine your guest posts. Learning the backside of the numbers will help your team figure out in which direction the content should move for the remainder of the year.

Study the Numbers

Look at your analytics. With Google’s analytics tools, your team can create custom audience segments that provide an accurate snapshot of your site visitors and their activities on your site.

Which customers are checking particular types of content? Who’s downloading your freemium offers? Who’s reading your blog posts? Who’s commenting? Are your YouTube clips getting views? Who’s re-tweeting your announcements?

It’s important to check the numbers regularly and have keen insights into your content’s uses. You may find that your site visitors bypass your home page directly in favor or your blog site. Or some visitors will only more time on product specifications pages on your site.

This Hubspot blog post offers a useful method to create a particular audience segment within Google Analytics. By checking and comparing overall traffic by different audience segments, your team will be able have a far better understanding of the type of content needed for different audiences.

Target the Audience as You Develop the Content

Why-Audience-Segmenting-May-Be-the-Smartest-Move-You-Make-quote-fixWhere is your company today on creating, managing and strategizing your content stream? How deep is your analysis for different audience segments? Is your team producing content in a vacuum or are you shaping content to work best on specific channels for targeted audiences?

Companies should look to their marketing teams to be the chief content developers (or hire content marketing agency pros to do it). Yet to move the needle on site conversions with your content is a lot like managing the content process like a film director. There will be a lot of content parts (actors) to fit into different channels (scenes) to maximize the connection with particular audiences. But while fitting all the parts together, the director will still have to keep the entire production (overall messaging) in sight.

Let’s see how this might play out in a less dramatic, but realistic situation. Let’s assume that

SMB #1 has just finished a production run on its new and improved car vinyl interior spray. Sales launch is imminent. The marketing team must have a content/social plan in action, aimed at men and women car owners, ages 21-54. What can the team do to reach particular age, income, and gender audience segments in different parts of the country?

Let’s just brainstorm out some of the ways to segment audiences for different pieces of content (in no particular order):

  • Current Customers: Develop high-quality photo image content of the spray can to use on content for car sites (mostly men), Pinterest boards (to reach a predominately female segment), Instagram uploads (for a younger age group), as well as for possible use in email campaigns, print brochures and product PDFs.
  • Age-Interest: Shoot video footage of the spray in action; at car shops, upholstery shops and garages. Use different production and post-production techniques to target specific audiences – sharp, fast montage edits for a younger demographic, a narrative, functional form for an older car guy type; or perhaps a useful, service accented clip for key sales locations. Upload clips on YouTube, Vimeo, car sites, Vine, Instagram and elsewhere.
  • Age-Gender: Segment out your social media followers by age and/or gender with a particular contest to produce creative clips of the product in action, and offer cash and product rewards for their efforts.
  • New Customers: Write blog posts detailing the spray’s new formula, or create a stats-heavy infographic on the time and money Americans spend on their car.
  • Young Guys-Gals: Create clever memes and gifs for millennials, showing that your company shares humor, and offer discounts for best memes.

I’m sure there are more ways to creatively launch the product, but the list above should give you the right step forward to connect specific audiences with specific pieces of content.

For another look at how content can work in different environments for different audiences, check out this “Offsite Content Marketing Channels that Perform” blog post from David Gould, Creative Services Director at Vertical Measures. You’ll learn about the benefits of moving your content into new online streams.