Consumers are bombarded with advertisements and social media content virtually every second during their day. With advancement in technology, it is no longer about billboard ads or newspaper headlines, we are talking about mobile marketing, we are talking about Facebook ads, we are talking about online exclusives- and often, these are all happening simultaneously. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to browse through a website and not be presented with some form of advertisement.
It has been estimated that modern consumers are exposed to approximately 5,000 different advertisement and branding messages on a daily basis! In order to deal with the overwhelming amount of simulation, the human brain has to resort to selective attention as a coping mechanism. Selective attention– that is also, known as “spotlight” attention was first developed by William James. The theory of selective attention posits that when a person faces an abundance of stimuli, they will selectively focus their attention on the information that is most important to them (based on their current needs and goals) thus rejecting irrelevant information. You know those incredibly cheesy reunion scenes when the male lead finally spots his love interest in HD while the rest of the crowd is a blur?
That’s selective attention.
So, what does selective attention have to do with segmentation? Modern consumers resort to selective attention almost as second nature. As a marketer, if you want your content to make it inside the consumer’s spotlight, you need to know who your consumers are and figure out what it is that draws their attention.
Segmentation allows you to do is group your consumers by similar needs and profiles, and then build strategies to better communicate and engage with each group. There are endless categories you can group your consumers into. Google Analytics, one of the most common and widely used tracking engine allow you to segment your web visitors by 10 characteristics. We will group these characteristics into three big bundles: geographic location, on-site behaviour, and off-site behaviour.
Off-site behaviour- Where did you come from?
Description: similar to how knowing someone background can tell you a lot about a person- knowing the journey that your customer took to get to you, not only give you an insight into what it is that they desire, but it also allow you to estimate at which stage of the sales funnel they are at. Furthermore, it also allows you to evaluate how successful your various marketing channels are. For instance, “a traffic from Facebook ads will primarily be first time visitors who are likely to be window shopping”. Whereas traffic from your competitors’ websites are most likely to be prospect at the evaluation stage.
Segmentation In-Action: this form of segmentation using traffic source can be done by inserting a UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) code into your URL – the UTM code the source, medium and campaign name of the traffic. This code enables “Google Analytics to tell you where searchers came from as well as what campaign directed them to you”.
Where UTM tracking get really interesting is when you use it to track offline campaigns– radio ads, TV commercial, newspaper coupons, you name it! You can create fake URLs for each of your campaigns which all can be redirect to your main page, however, each URL have a unique UTM code. Thanks to the tracking ability of the embedded UTM code , you can tell which campaign the visitor came from depending on the URL that they used. This method not only allows you to (1) track the success of each campaigns at driving customer engagement, (2) observe how visitors from each campaigns behave differently, it also (3) saves you the trouble of creating numerous custom webpages and tracking analytics for each campaigns! (The marketing student in me is currently jumping up and down from joy and excitement right now. Personally, I think that this is the most beautiful marriage between old fashion marketing and technology that I have ever witnessed!)
On-site behaviour- What are you doing?
Description: on-site behavioural targeting segment your web visitors based on how they engage with the content on your website. Remember our article on behaviour and contextual targeting? Yup, this is precisely that- observing your visitors on-site behaviour by tracking their cookies. The reasoning behind this type of segmentation is the belief that depending on the content the visitor is attending to (through heatmap, mouse placement, and viewing duration), we can determine what information they are seeking for (remember, selective attention?)
Segmentation In-Action: this implementation of this form of segmentation is done through the use of behavioural targeting tools. Google Analytics, provides basic information like which page the visitor clicked on, and how long they were on it. However, if you want to get more specific and technical with heatmaps and mouse movement, there are numerous B2B personalization engines which includes such tracking tools in their services.
Location- Where are you at?
Description: segmentation by geographic location is by far the simplest and also the most popular method of segmentation. You are probably thinking to yourself, well, what exactly can we get from the geographic location of the visitor? Sure, the country of where the IP address of your visitor is from doesn’t sound quite as sexy as looking through their heatmaps, but, there is still a lot that you can get out of this form of segmentation. Firstly, language! Nothing screams “WE CARE ABOUT YOU!”, like a website that is written in language of your visitor (just make sure you don’t rely on Google Translator). Secondly, cultural differences. Thirdly, lifestyle differences. You get the gist.
Segmentation In-Action: the geographic location of your web visitor is available through Google Analytics. For this form of segmentation, the technology is rather simple (which is reason behind its popularity), the tricky part is creating engaging personalize content. If you are going to use location as segment, play close attention to culture. If done right, you can appeal to your visitor by speaking to their nationalist and cultural background, if done carelessly, you can run the risk of being seen as culturally ignorant, or worse, insensitive.
Which one should I choose?
As we have mentioned above, the three that we have mentioned are just a few out of numerous ways you could segment your customer. There isn’t really one way of segmentation that is better than the other. It all comes down to the scale of your organization and the depth of visitor’s information that you could get your hands on.
Although, there is technically no wrong way to segment, there are certainly foolish ways you can segment. Make meaningful groups! Remember, the whole point of segmentation is so that you could engage your visitors more efficiently and effectively. Therefore, don’t segments your visitors into five thousand groups, thinking that it would allow for more personalization- that is a waste of time and effort!