3 Steps to Operationalizing Tactical Segmentation

Feb 14, 2012

Vya Staff

Companies are often challenged with applying market insights gained from tactical segmentation. But once target segments have been identified, how do you maximize segmentation within your marketing promotions strategy?

For those who might benefit from a quick refresher, market segmentation is the process of targeting different customer groups based upon similar sets of characteristics or demographic data, such as income and asset class or insights gleaned from customer behavior and channel usage. Marketers often have access to a gold mine of customer data, but it can sometimes be challenging to use this data effectively. Here we offer three quick steps to help you operationalize segmentation.social-network-iStock-000016124263XSmall_thumb

1. Make the message relevant

Once customer segments have been identified, the next step is to design relevant communications. Segment-based insights can be used to develop customer communications that are relevant to each segment. The more you understand about each segment’s characteristics, the better you can tailor marketing messages to the unique drivers and needs your segment-based audiences. Ideally, the marketing message should vary by segment, based on the available demographic data and where each segment group falls in the sales cycle. Within a marketing promotions strategy, segmentation data should ultimately be used to move customer and prospect segments to a desired action or outcome over time. Whether the end-goal is sharing information, lead nurturing, customer acquisition, new sale or upsell, here are a few quick guidelines for designing effective and relevant communications: 

- Develop different messaging/campaign strategies for each tactical customer segment. Consider not only the message, but also the softer brand elements and colors used in communications as well as the format (or channel) that will be most effective at reaching your target segment.

- Include a call-to-action that is relevant to where the customer falls in the buying cycle. This is a critical step that can derail even the best segmentation strategy if missed. Including content that is relevant for where the customer falls in the sales cycle is just as important as making sure the message ‘fits’.

- Consider the end-goal. If the customer is still in the information-gathering phase, a soft sell might be the best strategy. Continuity campaigns catering to the information-gathering needs of segments early in the sales cycle are an effective lead nurturing approach.

- Remember that market segmentation is not limited to outbound campaign activities and also applies to your product positioning and branding strategies. Consider applying segmentation insights to channels such as collateral materials and your public website by providing content specific to each customer segment or group.


2. Gain sales alignment through pre-sales communications

Educate sales about the importance of relevant communication at the segment level to assure their communication is in sync with segmentation. As a part of your standard pre-sales process, review the materials and campaigns targeted to each segment with sales prior to launch. To further automate segment-based communication, consider configuring target segment lists within your marketing resource management (MRM) system and enlisting your sales force’s participation in customizing messages for each segment.


3. Measure and adjust

As with any campaign, tracking campaigns and measuring progress is key. Once campaigns and materials are issued by segment, the opportunities to gather new insights for future campaigns that can be applied at the segment level are numerous. Track your progress with campaigns by segment – with measures such as open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribes, for example – and continually adjust and refine your messaging to be as relevant and targeted at the segment level as possible. You can also use A/B testing to identify the most effective messages by segment over time. Additionally, as customers are segmented based on their stage in the sales funnel, the more effective continuity and drip campaigns become because the type of communication can gradually change as the prospect progresses through the sales cycle.


Concluding thoughts

Segment-based communication can be a powerful tool for nurturing customers towards a desired action or outcome over time. Along with making communications relevant to each customer segment, don’t forget to consider where the customer falls in the sales funnel and to craft your messages accordingly. The vehicle of communication along with soft brand elements such as colors and layout should be measured over time to help refine and improve segment-based communication.

We hope you’ve found some helpful ideas in this blog for operationalizing segmentation within your organization. What are some of the most successful ways you’ve used segmentation?

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