I don’t know about you, but there are times when I log online and feel like I’m among friends. The articles are engaging, the discussions are lively, and the platform seems to be improving everyday. It truly is a blessing to be able to log on to Social Media and feel like you’re being led down the right path.
While this may be a welcome change from the usual corporate culture we’re all so accustomed to, it doesn’t mean that every piece of content shared on these platforms is created equal. Sure, there are many wonderful blogs out there, but just as many that are complete spam farms. We need to be careful not to let our guard down and assume that just because these are online communities that everyone is looking out for your best interests.
Let’s be honest, no one likes a spammer, but we also don’t want to be super tight-lipped about our businesses and miss out on opportunities because we’re too concerned about seeming ‘popular.’ So how can we find the sweet spot where we can engage with our target audience and not risk falling into the wrong category?
The answer is segmentation. Better known as ‘data-driven marketing,’ segmentation allows you to target specific groups of users based on interests, behaviors, and demographic information. If you’ve ever shopped at retail stores based on your zip code, you’ll know how incredibly effective segmentation can be.
This powerful mode of analysis allows you to group consumers into segments, and from there you can tailor your strategy towards achieving a greater degree of personalization and engagement.
Why Should You Segment Your Online Market?
Since the beginning of time, marketers have needed to segment their market to some extent to find the right audience for their brand. This is as true online as it is off-line. The only difference is that with the internet, we have the ability to segment even more finely.
If you’re reading this blog, I assume that you’re already somewhat familiar with digital marketing. In case you’re not, Marketing is basically making sure that everyone who encounters your brand or product remembers it fondly. This could mean creating compelling content that draws in and retains customers, or advertising on platforms that reach the most people. Either way, knowing who your target audience is and how to reach them is critical.
The most basic level of segmentation is geography. Do you want to target people in the UK, or people in France or Germany or Japan? These are all common questions, and the answer is normally based on which country the business is located in. This is because in most cases, the law requires companies to target audiences in the country where the ads are being served. So if you’re serving ads in the UK, you’ll need to ensure that you target audiences in the UK also.
Another essential part of any marketing plan is to measure the results of your efforts. Without proper measurement, we risk wasting vast amounts of money on poor-quality strategies that don’t produce the desired results. For this reason, it’s essential to take into account the various metrics and analyze what’s working and what’s not.
How To Divide Your Audience Into Segments
This is the fun part! Now that we know what segmentation is and why we should do it, let’s move on to how to actually carry out this analysis.
I’m a big believer in using a variety of methods to discover which ones work and which ones don’t. For this reason, I often suggest starting with a few keystrokes and then gradually expanding your research. After spending a few days analyzing a few of the simplest ways to discover your audience’s interests, you can move on to more complex methods. This is especially beneficial if you’re looking to target a specific group of people (i.e. Gen Z, Millennials, or a combination of both).
For the sake of this blog post, we’re going to keep things simple and use Google Trends data to discover some of the most significant factors that determine web interest. While much of what we’ll cover is likely already familiar to you, it never hurts to have a reminder. So let’s get started.
A quick Google Trends search will give you a broad overview of what people are searching for globally. When we compare this to the available market share for websites that specialize in a certain topic, we can get a sense of the general interest level. For example, if you’re an eCommerce store and you carry products related to luxury goods, you might discover that a lot of people are interested in searching for items that are luxury related. From there, you can use this to your advantage and promote your products.
One downside to this approach is that while it will give you a good snapshot of the general trends, it won’t always provide the most accurate picture. This is why I usually suggest combining this one data point with other information. Let’s say you’re a hair-care company and you want to expand your business to the UK. You could use online marketing to promote your business in the UK, measure the results, and then compare those to what people are searching for in the country you’re targeting. If your marketing seems to be working and you notice an increase in website traffic, you can be confident that your strategy is on the right track. Otherwise, you might want to consider re-evaluating your approach.
Demographics And Interests
Another useful source of information that can give us an insight into web interest is demographics. This will normally be presented in the form of a pie chart where each slice represents a demographic. For example, the pie chart below shows that males between the ages of 18 and 24 are an important audience for Fit Small Business. This can help you tailor your marketing strategy towards reaching the right audience at the right time. For instance, if you find that the majority of your clients are young women between the ages of 18 and 24, you could market to them during a time when they’re most active on social media.
As you can see in the example above, Fit Small Business targets millennial women. With so much potential for growth, you can bet that Amazon is already taking note of this trend. And if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you’ll need to do the same.
An extremely useful tool for understanding web interest is keyword spotting. Simply enter a keyword (or two) into the search bar and you’ll be presented with a list of relevant websites and blogs. Checking the top results for your chosen keywords can give you a good idea of the type of content that’s working and that’s worthwhile pursuing.
Once you have your list of keywords, you can use this to expand your research even further. If you discover that a certain blog post is particularly enticing and has a significant amount of web traffic, you can use this as a jumping-off point to learn more about the topic.
Depending on your business, you might also want to take a look at local search. If your business is local, you might want to consider taking advantage of the fact that users can enter an exact location when searching for local businesses. This can help you pinpoint users who are in the area and may be interested in your products or services.
Another aspect of local search that can be useful is reviews. If you carry out a quick web search for your chosen business, you’ll be presented with a variety of reviews. If you click on the average star rating, you’ll be taken to a page that displays all the reviews. If you see a lot of 5-star reviews but few 2-star reviews, this might indicate that your product or service lives up to peoples’ expectations but there’s still not much of a buzz about it. You can use this as a cue to change something about your offering or to try a new strategy. This is especially useful if you notice that most of your clients are coming from one city but the reviews seem to be coming from all over the place. This might mean that your advertising is working and you’re attracting people to your business from all over the place, but you still need to focus on increasing the number of reviews from your home city. On the other hand, if you notice that your reviews are mostly 5-star ratings and you’re getting lots of positive feedback, this might mean that people are generally happy to give you positive reviews as you seem to be delivering on what you promise. You can use this as a cue to continue marketing to this audience but perhaps switch your strategy to focus on increasing your home city reviews a bit more.