12 Simple Ways to Segment Your Customer Base

In today’s cutthroat and overcrowded marketplace, the brands that ditch mass marketing techniques in favor of more relevant and individualized messaging will win. Just ask President Obama – his team of data scientists helped lead him to re-election in 2012 by amassing detailed voter segments based on demographic, financial and behavioral data.

Obama’s big data endeavor helped his camp raise $1 billion, target cross-channel ads and, according to Time Magazine, “create detailed models of swing-state voters that could be used to increase the effectiveness of everything from phone calls and door knocks to direct mailings and social media.”

Leading brands are taking this presidential approach to understanding and segmenting their audiences based on a number of influential, actionable attributes.

Here are 12 simple ways that you can segment your user database to nurture new and existing customer relationships.

Demographic Segmentation

Too many brands wait until the point of transaction to turn anonymous site visitors into known connections, or rely on inaccurate third-party data for demographic insights. Collecting basic information at site entry can go a long way in developing customer relationships and more effectively segmenting your user base:

Gender: I’ll be honest, I’ve never clicked on one of the ads for men’s Italian suits my favorite luxury brand insists on showing me as I surf the web. It may seem obvious, but keeping gender in mind when segmenting campaigns can have a significant impact on results and save you from wasting campaign dollars.

Birthday: Who doesn’t like to be remembered on their birthday? Virgin America keeps tabs on customers’ birthdays and sends them a 15% discount in honor of their special day.

Language: Language is the backbone of effective communication, but many brands overlook the opportunity to collect data around their customers’ preferred languages and segment their audiences accordingly.

Location: Thanks to the smartphone, marketers are now able to influence consumers’ real-time decisions by reaching them on-the-go. One of my favorite retail brands, Styles for Less, texts me special discounts that can only be redeemed at the store location in my hometown.

Behavioral Segmentation

Actions speak louder than words – and demographics. This age-old adage rings true for marketers, especially when consumer actions can be tied directly to shopping cart conversions and other KPIs. Businesses that successfully segment users based on their on-site behaviors are able to more effectively nurture customers at different stages in the purchase funnel:

Engagement: Users that actively and consistently engage by taking actions like leaving comments or writing reviews should be recognized and rewarded as brand advocates. 24 Hour Fitness takes note of club members that generate the most customer referrals via social sharing, and rewards this segment with thank you packages.

Site Rank: Gamification allows brands to assign value to specific actions and consumer signals, like registering or favoriting items, that ultimately impact KPIs. Ranking and segmenting users based on completion of these actions helps brands reward loyal customers while pinpointing those that need a little extra nurturing.

Purchase Abandonment: After recently searching Priceline for hotels in Napa and then abandoning cart, I received an email from the travel site reminding me of my Napa trip and offering me a selection of discounted wine tasting packages. This is a perfect example of a brand tailoring outreach based on consumer behavior.

Past Purchases: Brands can grow consumer relationships and repeat conversions by sending their existing customer base thank you notes, exclusive discounts and personalized add-ons. Existing customers can be further segmented, rewarded and nurtured based on frequency, number and volume of purchases.

Social Data Segmentation

Social networks house an incredible wealth of consumer data, which is consistently updated in real-time as users login and engage with their connections. By allowing visitors to your site or app to verify their identities using existing social accounts, your brand can request access to specific social data points that can be used to more strategically segment your audience:

Interests: Insight into consumers’ favorite brands, sports, TV shows and more enables you to reach consumers with highly relevant and influential messaging. For example, a clothing brand may discover that half of its audience loves country music, while the other likes pop. To promote the launch of its new footwear line, it could create two distinctly targeted campaigns with 2 very different spokespeople: Blake Shelton and Katy Perry.

Friends/Followers: A customer’s number of friends or followers across a given social network can be used to identify and nurture her as a potential brand advocate.

Education: Not only is education a helpful factor in determining economic standing, but it also makes it possible for brands to customize campaigns and content based on consumers’ alma maters – a strategy that can be leveraged by sports retailers, non-profit organizations, ticket vendors and more.

Relationship Status: The second I changed my Facebook relationship status to “engaged,” my timeline exploded with ads for wedding dresses and engagement rings. Relationships are indicative of life stages that can be used to reach the right audience with the right message at the right time.

With more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being created each day (IBM), there is an infinite number of ways to segment your audience – but these 12 are a great place to start. To learn more about how to gain a deeper understanding of your customers to more strategically segment your database, download our free guide, Marketers, Wake Up!

By Rachel Serpa