With today’s proliferation of available channels for e-commerce, customers have significantly enjoyed more control over the buying process. Along with this development, the importance of multichannel marketing has also increased to engage customers better.
And with so many avenues for communicating marketing messages, successful multichannel campaigns need to factor in audience segmentation to make campaign content more targeted, and thus more effective. Tailoring specific messages to segmented audiences increases engagement, which is why audience segmentation has become a vital part of this marketing campaign.
This article aims to discuss the basics and key points of identifying your audience, and segmenting that identified audience for a more targeted message, as well as more chances for conversion.
Step #1: General Audience Segmentation
A key element in crafting a multichannel campaign is understanding that your target audience could be a broad group that can only be effectively reached by being divvied up into more homogenous groups. By identifying these groups, you can then tailor your program and messages for each segment. This will allow you to be more effective in utilizing programming, communication channels, and messages that you think are most relevant to each audience segment.
As discussed by “The Network,” a professional network that provides knowledge sharing and professional development in public sector communications, researching your target audience is at the heart of segmentation.
Looking into three perspectives—socio-demographics (who they are), their behavior (what they do), and their attitudes (how they think and feel)—you can have an idea of how you can subdivide your audience into smaller groups with a shared interest.
Step #2: Social Media Audience Segmentation
Creating and maintaining an active social media presence has become a crucial component of multichannel campaigns. Fortunately, existing marketing software and dashboards have made segmenting customers a lot easier by using tools that allow you to profile, monitor, and segment your audience.
When trying to segment your social media audience, it is important to keep in mind to try and reach people who are interested in your product or service, and then communicate your message to those identified people.
The Raven Blog, a leading resource site for Internet marketing agencies, notes that most social networks allow you to create lists to segment your audience. Google Plus, with its Google+ Circles, became the first large social network that made segmenting audiences both intuitive and fun. Depending on your followers, and how they interact with you, Google+ Circles allows you the option to, for example, add them to an “engaged,” or “super fans” circle.
Each social network has different filtering options. Understanding their functions can allow you to make lists, create groups, use the search function (for finding target audience, or for researching them), and use tags to be able to design a targeted message with an equally targeted reach.
Step #3: Creating Personas Based on Audience Segment
Citing Moz, an SEO consultancy company, personas are a method of marketing segmentation wherein a combination of qualitative and quantitative data is collected to build archetypes for members of the target audience. In essence, it is gathering data to come up with a predictive story about customers based on past behaviors and attributes.
One way to create reader personas is by using tools like fill-in-the blank forms, which is designed to elicit vital insights that help better understand audience segments. The questions to ask in these forms depend largely on how you decide to segment your target. Using software like HubSpot is a great way to guide you into understanding the basics of creating these personas, and how it translates to your multichannel marketing efforts.
From crafting the questions for the persona forms, to gathering the data from those forms, to creating and personalizing these personas, HubSpot serves as an extremely helpful tool during this step of audience segmentation.
Step #4: Understanding Best Channels to Find Your Audience
As you’re already getting wind of, audience segmentation for multichannel marketing entails an abundance of research, and choosing which channels to focus your marketing efforts on is no different. The number of online channels continues to grow, and it is vital that you get a grasp of identifying where your target audiences are.
Choosing which social network(s) that best works for your business means understanding the relationship between your target audience, and the different social networks. Facebook, considering its number of users, is the top choice to reach a broad network. Although the social giant’s growth slowed down, user engagement has increased, according to Pew Research Center.
That doesn’t mean that Facebook is the end-all answer when it comes to using social media. Pinterest and Instagram may work better for you if your business and your target audience are more visually inclined. In a similar way, if your business and targeted message is more appealing to so-called information junkies, then you might want to go the Twitter route.
Again, understanding your objectives and where your target audiences are should be at the center of your decision in determining which social media to use.
When deciding if blogs are the way to go to connect with your target audience, it is vital to make the determination that the content you put out is truly useful to your audience. You want to establish that the blog you use is both a knowledgeable and trustworthy resource, and one good way to achieve that is by making sure you’re focusing content on the things that provide value to your audience, and less about your products and what your company does.
Forums are a great way to get a sneak peek into the minds of the people—what questions they’re asking, and what problems they are having. There’s a forum for virtually everything, so it doesn’t matter what niche your business is, because there is a corner of the Internet that’s having some sort of discussion about it.
Steve Brodsky of online business blog The World Is My Office points out a couple of ways to connect with your target audience in forums. One way is by starting threads that comprehensively answer the common questions being asked in forums. Brodsky then says that by constantly replying to people who comment on the posts, he sprinkles links (when appropriate) not only to his site but to other sources as well—a technique he uses to avoid being identified as spam.
4. Mobile Apps
There are a few important questions to ask when deciding to point your Internet marketing efforts in the direction of mobile apps. A lot of businesses jump at the flawed idea of thinking they need an app because they want to keep up with the technology, without fully delving into just how much value a mobile app could add to their product.
As pointed out by Smart Insights, an integrated digital marketing online consultancy, there are basic metrics you need to track to understand the value of an app.
It is also important to consider if your target audience even has a smart phone. Once you determine that they do (through surveys or from online questionnaires), find out if they even use apps on their phones. Then, you need to understand if your idea translates to the mobile world.
One example of this, as pointed out by mobile design blog Tutsplus.com, is WebMD’s decision to port their content to mobile. Being that people are at doctor’s offices sitting around waiting for appointments, it makes sense for them to have the app that gives them medical information.
It’s important not get too caught up in the online marketing arms race so much that you discount the power of traditional offline marketing methods. There are ways to make both online and offline marketing work for you, and a great way to do that is by using part of your offline marketing to lead your audience to your online channel(s).
Newspaper ads, catalog mailings, as well as signs and banners remain effective ways of being visible to your customers. These serve as physical reminders of your existence, which you could easily use to link your audience to your online presence.
Setting up booths at expositions and trade shows can also boost customer relations with its more personal touch. While you’re at it, remember that giveaways at these events remain a common practice because they work to get your brand visibility out in the market.
Of course, there is no one proven formula for successful multichannel campaigns. What might’ve worked for one company doesn’t necessarily mean they will work for you. Make sure that you’re able to monitor your online marketing efforts by setting key performance indicators, so that you could adjust and fine-tune your campaign to focus on what works.
Along every step of the way, research is paramount—from identifying your audience, to segmenting them, to understanding which channels can effectively communicate the messages of your campaign, investing in time and resources for appropriate research is a huge part of a successful multichannel campaign.