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Are All Your Customers Named Melissa? Segment your Audience

Learn the basics about audience segmentation for both consumer and business to business websites.

“Awesome!”

Imagine a 16-year old girl named Melissa visits your shoes website and imagine that this is what she exclaims while on your site. Your website is exactly what she was looking for.

Imagine now that Melissa has a twin sister, Mandy, and the two couldn’t be more different from one another. Whereas Melissa is obsessed with fashion and style, Mandy is an athlete, health-conscious and interested in saving the world.

Now, when Mandy visits your website, are you going to make her scream, “Awesome!” as well?

Many websites focus on their products. However, the problem with this approach is that often the website treats all visitors the same, uniform way. As Melissa and Mandy can attest, though, even though they both fit the same demographic, they are vastly different in their personalities, attitudes, beliefs, friends, lifestyles and spending habits. What makes Melissa want to make a purchase from a website is vastly different from Mandy.

What can you do to ensure that your website converts both Melissa and Mandy? Or alternatively that it single-mindedly converts one of them?

The answer is “audience segmentation.”

What is audience segmentation? It is the categorization of your different prospective customers, and what this enables you to do is to treat each type of person in a customized way that resonates directly with who he/she is as an individual. The same principle applies to business-to-business (B2B) websites, where you would be treating different types of companies in different ways accordingly.

Audience segmentation is a valuable marketing strategy and can differentiate you from the competition. Although treating everyone the same way may work some of the time, it is just about guaranteed that many prospective customers leave a website because it doesn’t resonate with them even though the “products” serve their needs.

Audience segmentation is easy to do, once you put yourself in your customers’ shoes. To implement audience segmentation in your website, explore the following segmentation options:

Consumer Website

  • Profession – A nurse may look for a comfortable shoe, given that she’s on her feet all day. A marketing manager may be looking for understated sophistication in her shoes.
  • Personality Type – Melissa wants to know what’s in it for her. How are these shoes going to make her friends scream? Whereas Mandy is more humanistic, and needs to understand what the shoe company stands for.
  • Life Stage – You can imagine that a high school kid such as Melissa or Mandy is going to be a different type of shopper than a married woman with three small children.
  • Purpose – Melissa is into stylish shoes that match her outfit, whereas Mandy is into athletic shoes with the most cutting-edge technology.
  • Geography – Melissa and Mandy are in Washington state, and so are interested in shoes that can withstand the weather. Someone in Arizona would want to account for the comparatively hot temperatures.
  • Exclusivity (VIP, Premium, etc.) – Melissa loves to purchase premium goods that give her a sense of exclusivity, whereas Mandy sees no reason to pay extra.

B2B Website

  • Industry – Client needs can be quite different between healthcare and software firms, or between government agencies and the private sector.
  • Size – Large enterprises have different needs and more complex purchasing processes than small businesses.
  • Geography – Companies in downtown Manhattan have different needs than those in rural areas.
  • Corporate Culture – Certain companies are buttoned down and conservative, whereas others are more innovative and willing to take risks.
  • Corporate Level – Is the product for CEOs, or middle managers, or any organizational level?

Of your many options, it’s important to decide which specific audience segments you will target. Once you have defined the segments, architect your website around these segments. Build content that serves their needs, interests and objectives, and write copy that resonates specifically with this audience.

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