Email marketing continues to be an effective tactic in the industrial sector, and one reason is that marketers are becoming skilled at segmenting their audience. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all email promotions or newsletters. Today’s digitally sophisticated and busy technical professional, whose inbox overflows every day, has no time for emails there aren’t relevant to them.

There are three core reasons for segmenting your audience:

1. Not all customers are the same. Even if your company makes only one product, you likely have various types of customers for that product who have different reasons for buying. For example, you might have end users of the product whose motivation is to solve a problem. You also might have economic buyers who are concerned with return on investment in the purchase. Some buyers are motivated by your company’s reputation. Others by warranty or customer support. If your company has multiple product lines, the need for segmentation is that much greater.

2. Buyers are in different stages of their buy cycle. Buyers in the early needs awareness and research stages of their buy cycle have different informational needs than those ready to make a purchase decision. The former are looking for more general, educational information on how to solve their problem and which vendors and products are potential candidates, while the latter might be looking for technical specifications, policies, and pricing.

3. Your results will improve. It’s common knowledge that segmenting your audience can help you get better open and click rates on your email campaigns. Research from the email service provider MailChimp found that segmented campaigns produced 14% higher open rates than non-segmented campaigns and 55% higher clicks. The reason is relevance. Your audience will pay more attention to messages that are directed specifically toward their interests and needs.

Ways to Segment Your Audience
Unless you’re splitting your list in two in order to conduct A/B testing (which isn’t really segmenting, it’s testing various components of your campaign), you can segment your audience only based on information you have available in your database. Also, it’s only worth segmenting your audience if you can deliver highly relevant content to each segment you create—content marketing and audience segmentation go hand in hand.

So what type of information do you have on your audience that might help you create logical and effective segments? Here are just a few examples, listed from simple to more complex:

• Customers vs. prospects. This is likely the easiest segmentation to create, and their needs are clearly distinct from each other.
• Purchased products or expressed interest. Current customers can be segmented by which product(s) they’ve already purchased from your company. Prospects can be segmented by the product(s) they’ve inquired about.
• Location. Customers located in different geographic markets may different needs, especially if your products have any seasonality to them or have differences based on different specifications and standards used in different countries.
• Business demographics (sometimes called firmographics). Information such as industry (SIC Codes), organization type, number of employees, and other data might make useful segments for your company. You can purchase business demographics from third parties and have them appended to your lists.
• Buyer personas. You might create buyer personas describing the needs, influences, buying triggers, and other attributes to better understand the types of customers you have and then segment your contacts by persona.
• Stage of buy cycle. Is your audience conducting research, comparing vendors, or ready to make a purchasing decision?
• Online behavior. Segments based on what pages a prospect has visited, where they’ve registered, what they’ve clicked on or downloaded.

Several of these criteria for creating segments require your ability to track customers and prospects and collect information from them. For example, you can ask questions about their interests, needs, buying time frame, and other attributes using online registration forms or surveys. You would need marketing automation software to track their online behavior and add the data to their record. A good email marketing service provider will offer tools allowing you to create segmented lists based on information you have on a customer or prospect.

The more sophisticated you get in creating segments, the more personalized and relevant you can become in your marketing efforts to each segment. There’s likely a “segmentation sweet spot” for your company that is defined by a combination of your marketing goals and your segmentation capabilities. Find the spot that’s right for you, and you’ll achieve better results from your email and other marketing efforts.

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