How User Segmentation Really Works in Content Marketing
Successful marketing is all about laser-targeting a niche and then making the most out of it with regard to engagement and profits.
If you’re like me, you’ve learned by now that holding up a mirror to people’s dreams, values, and desires is the one thing that will have people flocking to you a la the Pied Piper. That being said, I see a lot of marketers throw everything and the kitchen sink at the wall in the hopes that something will stick. That approach not only wastes time, but it wastes resources that could be used in more profitable ways.
User segmentation isn’t something that is alien in the marketing world. The big brands have this down to a T, and the little guys are just waking up to the power behind having a laser-focused strategy — laser-focused on user segmentation.
How does this work?
For some motivation, let’s turn to brands that are doing it right.
Mercedes-Benz, the famous German luxury car manufacturer, uses market segmentation to make sure that its content is seen by the people who have the money to purchase a high-end car and are primed to identify quality. Mercedes-Benz realizes how success, the desire for luxury, and the best of the best are prevalent within segments of Generation X and Y who number in the tens of millions in the United States. It locks into this target demographic by offering a vehicle with an affordable price point, creating a customer-brand relationship at a young age. As this demographic gets older, the car company slowly increases the prices of future models, knowing that this group — now customers — will keep buying Mercedes-Benz vehicles given their tendency to want to keep up with the Joneses.
Generation Benz, an online community created by the manufacturer, is a way to bring together similarly minded individuals and create an informal social media place, which also serves as a way to collect insights on current and future Benz fanboys.
On top of that, Mercedes has made sure that it dominated areas such as the Super Bowl as well as prime-time ad slots for maximum visibility in front of the aspirational group of Generation X and Y.
Thanks to its hard work, Mercedes Benz was able to achieve:
- More than a million views online of the new CLA model
- More than 300,000 models of the car built in its online portal
- A younger demographic (The average age of people who showed interest in the campaign was 46, an 11-year drop from the average age of people who showed interest in previous campaigns.)
- Highest number of visits to MBUSA.com compared to any other period in its history
- 82% conquest rate, which essentially means that it was able to convince a new niche of buyers to go for the CLA model
Developing a successful content marketing strategy is no different. You have to hone in in a surgical manner when it comes to your preferred client base in order to hit the jackpot.
While narrowing down your audience, you have to answer basic questions such as:
- Which age range should we target?
- Which cultural era did these people grow up in, when it comes to media and products?
- Which part of the world or country are these people most likely to live in?
- What motivates them to make a certain purchase?
- What price points are they most likely to go for without straining their wallets?
- What problem(s) are they looking to solve with this product or service?
- Can I relate to this market segment?
You must develop a clear strategy from the get-go, or you will fail. In addition, if you really don’t know which user segment to target, you may want to consider testing a few segments before singling one out. This will take some time, but it’s better than throwing money and energy on one niche only to find out months later that it’s a dud.
Do a simple Google search or rely on data-heavy apps such as Quora and Tapatalk to identify major forums where your audience or subjects may be discussed. Use the search functions in these apps and type in a few interests to see what types of questions people are asking, and the kind of help they are looking to get from other senior users.
Now let’s take a look at how to use user segmentation to get to the Promised Land:
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1. Use your brand voice to restate what user segments want and are looking for
From the moment that clients-to-be access your site, they should be able to see themselves. A landing page could highlight a series of questions they may be grappling with or a video that presents a simple solution to their problem (with the solution only partly visible).
If you are targeting two or more user segments, don’t forget to ask visitors to enter information about themselves before moving forward. Ask them a few questions to identify which segment they fall into (e.g., age, problem needing solution, geographic area). That way you can put them on a more effective journey within your site.
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2. Regardless of segmentation, maintain a focus on a streamlined and usable user experience
Information fatigue is something that’s common in today’s ADHD world. The last thing people want to see the moment they access your site is an avalanche of information that paralyzes them.
Simplicity is the best way to go with regard to segmentation, if not all of marketing. Keep your website clean, uncluttered and matter-of-fact, without compromising on important aspects such as design and interactive ability.
Should you want to share more information on the site, use “read more” hyperlinks as well as a content vault or hub that provides dozens of articles on their specific needs, safely tucked away at a discreet but prominent side of the website.
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3. Regularly find out how user segments are changing
If you build it, they will come, right? But how long will they stay? Identifying and attracting the right segment is just the beginning of your content marketing game; you now have to keep these people happy, sated, and engaged.
Ask them what they would like to see more of from your content, and what other problems they may have and are looking to have solved. You can secure this information via an email list that allows for feedback or blog posts that encourage comments and discussion.
In addition, continue to refine the user segments so you can hone in on an even more profitable sub-market, effectively weeding out poorly performing or non-responsive individuals in the bigger niche. Casting a wide net before you narrow it will help you become an expert in your field and the go-to guy online via recommendations by word-of-mouth or social media.
User segmentation is something akin to an art, mixed in with the ability to collect data, all the while being able to feel out people’s psychological motivations.
It is imperative that you get clear on what you want to achieve, the numbers you are looking to target, what your long-term segmentation goals are, and how to preemptively douse any fires you may encounter along the way.
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What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in user segmentation?
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute