As a core part of the Data HQ team since 2004, David is an expert at unravelling complex data and making sense of intricate client requirements.
Clever database segmentation can be the difference between campaign success and campaign failure. It’s a vital process in both b2b and b2c marketing, but especially so in b2b due to the specialist nature of the products and services, which are only relevant to specific professionals in specific roles.
Segmenting a business audience is also a lot different to segmenting a consumer audience. Demographics such as age, gender and hobbies may be useful to an extent in a b2b context, but this kind of data is more personal than professional – and collecting it is therefore becoming harder to justify from a GDPR perspective. But regardless of that, there are several more valuable criteria to segment your b2b contacts by.
Here they are:
If you offer several products and each one applies to distinct audiences, you’ll need to categorise your contacts accordingly. If you don’t, you can’t ensure relevance – which means you’ll target the wrong offerings to the wrong people.
Even if you do have a product that’s directly relevant to a contact, bombarding them with messaging for all products – relevant and irrelevant – is likely to put them off altogether.
For example, let’s say your main product is cloud hosting, but you have secondary offerings of cybersecurity, IT hardware leasing and business mobile handsets. You’ll have some contacts who are interested in just one of those products, and some who are interested in two, three or all four.
There are a few ways you can find out what each contact’s needs are:
- Examine their job title and department – this might shed some light and rule out several irrelevant products right away
- Ensure that your forms contain fields that gather the right information – such as what the contact’s interests are and which subjects they want to receive updates on
- Tracking where your inbound leads first signed up – for instance, did they enter your database by downloading a particular gated whitepaper?
2) Seniority level or job role
Is the contact a decision-maker within their organisation? Or is more likely that they’ll only be able to influence decision-making?
The approach you take with a decision-maker – from the overall tone of voice, the vocabulary, the frequency of contact – will be different to the approach you take with a lower-level contact who has limited influence.
Be careful not to get too bogged down in the semantics of job titles, because organisations can vary hugely in their structures and naming conventions. Some make all job titles sound as grandiose as possible, whereas others take a simpler, more down-to-Earth approach.
3) Industry or sector
Chances are that you’re already targeting certain industries, either because you’ve experienced success within those markets, or you know that your products are relevant to them.
Segmenting by industry ensures that you deliver precise messaging to each different market rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach. But that’s not all. Crucially, it also helps you target businesses within previously unexplored industries – and if you can gain a foothold within these new markets by creating campaigns that target them exclusively, you’ll be onto a winning combination.
4) Company size or revenue
It’s likely that a large enterprise and an SME will differ in their pain points and goals, so if you’re selling to business of all sizes, your messaging ought to reflect that.
The number of employees isn’t all you need to consider, though. Segment by revenue as well. For example, one 10-person SME might be aiming for £2m per year, whereas another company the exact same size could be going for £20m – and therefore they’ll have different objectives and different buying habits.
Companies’ revenue figures are usually available from sources such as Company House and DueDil – but this is a manual process if you’re doing it yourself, and much simpler and quicker with the help of an expert.
5) Geography or language
A company’s location can influence how you approach them, especially if you’re trying to win more business in their region or country. Here are two common examples:
- You know that you’ve already got the South East and the South West boxed off, so you want to focus on expanding in the North – with dedicated campaigns that have been created with northern businesses in mind.
- You’ve recently gained some ground in Sweden and now want to target the rest of the Scandinavian countries in a similar way, to see if you can replicate that initial success.
Once you’ve segmented your database by your target locations, you’ll be in a better position to start identifying patterns – such as how long the average customer journey lasts in one region or country compared to another, or which regions you’re particularly struggling in and need to rethink. All of this is valuable information that can inform your approaches to future campaigns.
As well as location, you’ve got to consider language. If you sell internationally and you have access to fluent translation by native speakers, that’s fantastic. But if you don’t have the luxury of translators, you’ll need to create ESOL-friendly variations of your marketing materials especially for your international audiences.
6) Behaviours and customer status
Examining your contacts’ actions and behaviours will tell you how interested each one is, and how close they are (or not) to converting. If you have the data, there are countless avenues you can go down and questions you can ask yourself. For example:
- Are they reading blogs about certain topics? Send them more of those, or closely related blogs
- Have they been looking at product pages? Get them in nurture workflows
- Are they looking at product pages but not filling in your forms? It’s time to present them with some case studies – or maybe reevaluate your form fields to see if you can simplify them
- Are they an existing customer whose product use or email open-rate is declining? Check in with them to check that everything is alright
7) Stage in the customer journey
Once a contact starts to move down the marketing funnel, they need to be nurtured towards purchase, with suitable content that helps them consider their options and work towards that final decision.
Having an overall view of who’s still at the top of the funnel (ToFu), who’s in the middle (MoFu) and who’s at the bottom (BoFu) will help you make sure that you’re producing content for everyone in your database and getting the most value from it – and you shouldn’t forget your existing customers, who you need to retain by showing them that you still care about them.
The contact’s stage in the customer journey shouldn’t dictate everything, though. If they first encountered your company via your blog, keep sending them relevant blogs regardless of whether they’re focused on the ‘Awareness’ stage, the ‘Consideration’ stage or the ‘Decision’ stage.
Ultimately, the overarching aim of your marketing campaigns is to create more MQLs for your sales team – so do what’s right for the customer.
Data HQ: The strategic approach to database management
Mining value from your database and driving ROI from your marketing efforts is time-consuming and difficult if you don’t have the expertise.
Segmentation is just one part of a much bigger picture, and for that reason, we provide strategic data solutions to give you a single, unified view of your database – ensuring that it remains clean, relevant and useful.
Contact us to find out more about our database services and how we can help you simplify your marketing processes.
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