We all want our marketing plans to maximize profits and build a loyal consumer base. The best way to do this? Know your audience and speak to their values, experiences, wants, and needs. Narrowing your audiences helps make this task much more manageable. Dividing potential audiences into consumer subgroups based on certain criterion, such as purchasing habits, geography, and demographics, is known as audience segmentation.
By segmenting audiences, you can find a group of like-minded potential customers that are a good fit for your company. In other words, having a well-defined audience results in a focused marketing plan that can best serve the needs of your consumers in the most resource-efficient way for your company.
Because you cannot create new market segments, only discover them, you need to evaluate your own limits as a company before you can effectively target your audiences. The size of your company, market needs, available resources, and your products are all factors to consider when finding your audience.
Trends in Audience Segmentation
Segmentation marketing is quickly moving toward hyper-segmentation, or one-to-one marketing, thanks to advances in technology. In short, companies with the right resources can now target individuals—as opposed to large crowds—with specific advertising based on available consumer data, such as someone’s age, gender, or spending habits. Marketing in this way requires data collection and interactive media to properly target and engage consumers. Analytic tools, such as Google Analytics and Crimson Hexagon, are popular options for collecting information on your consumers and audiences.
Social networking is reshaping online marketing; instead of a top-down (company-to-consumer) model, social networking is beginning to shift marketing paradigms to a bottom-up (consumer-to-company) or even a consumer-to-consumer model. This happens when consumers use social media to speak with each other and companies about their experiences as customers. Understanding how consumers interact with each other and companies online is key for optimizing your marketing plans.
Methods for Reaching Segmented Audiences
Every company has its own set of resources, products, and other variables to consider when approaching audience segmentation, so there is no single “correct” way to segment audiences and then market to them. Using a combination of approaches is usually the best way to effectively reach your audiences once you’ve identified them.
Frequent Guest/Buyer Programs
Rewarding repeat customers for their loyalty is a common marketing technique and helps you identify a base of consumers that heavily use your products. If you plan on using a type of rewards system, however, you need to be aware of drawbacks; it is an easily copied model that, in and of itself, cannot create loyalty. Studies in the hospitality market suggest that increasing the overall popularity of your brand is more important to creating brand loyalty than offering rewards programs alone. In other words, having a good corporate reputation and pre-existing relationships with customers is one of the best ways to ensure brand loyalty. These programs won’t create loyal customers, but they can reward them in a way that reinforces existing positive attitudes about your company.
Social networking sites are becoming vital for companies today to build their brand image and customer base. More and more, consumers search for information about businesses and their products online, oftentimes through reviews left by other consumers. Studies show that online customers change their spending habits more rapidly than offline shoppers, so managing your consumers on the Web is more important than ever for maintaining an online consumer base.
Consumers are usually more satisfied with greater quality, rather than quantity of, engagement online. So rather than spamming your customers, focus on providing them with positive, efficient experiences. One of the best ways to ensure your customers have a higher-quality experience on your social media business pages is to both 1.) make information about both your brand and its products easily accessible and 2.) enable customers to engage with each other in a positive manner. This will allow for well-informed and hopefully satisfactory interactions between customers, helping to create a stronger sense of online brand community.
Sponsorship is a great way for both large and small businesses to boost brand loyalty for certain audience members. Finding a cause or event that targeted audiences support—and then sponsoring it—is one way to associate your brand image with something important to your targeted audiences.
Say, for example, that a large company wants to build a stronger consumer base among white Americans over the age of 35; they might consider sponsoring a NASCAR driver. Viewers generally will associate a certain brand with a certain driver, so supporting a brand in turn means supporting their favorite driver. While small businesses likely can’t sponsor NASCAR drivers, they can sponsor local events to build a positive brand image in their local community.