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A Visual Guide to B2B Marketing Segmentation

By Ryan Nicholson

May 31, 2018

About 9 minutes

Here's my quick visual guide to get you thinking about smarter marketing segmentation strategies.

Getting Beyond One-To-Many Messaging

If you're IBM, Apple, Amazon, or any company with a multimillion-dollar marketing and advertising budget, you may be able to afford putting your company message out to the widest audience possible.

Getting Beyond One-To-Many Messaging

Not all of us can afford the click spend and irrelevant conversions that broad audience targeting will bring.

So we have to be smarter about our targeting.

Instead of thinking about the message we want to get out to people, we have to think more about the people we want to see the message (and make sure that it's a message they care about).

Persona-Based Targeting

Establishing personas is important for this exercise. You'll want to identify who your most likely customers are.

Persona-Based Targeting

Once you've established who that first persona is, you'll want to think about your content and offers. What sales and marketing material do you already have in place that might be appealing to this persona? Where are the gaps in your content and offers? Consider the content and offers that would appeal to your selected persona at each stage of the buyer's journey.

But wait! You probably have more than one persona, right? We're going to need a better graphic. How about this next one?

Segmenting Multiple Personas and Multiple Messages

So we're starting to add a bit more complexity in this next graphic by thinking about all of your various personas and their associated content mapping.

Segmenting Multiple Personas and Multiple Messages

You may have some content and offers that appeal broadly to all of your personas. That's great. Let's explore what those are. In this day and age, the more you can build your marketing for the people you're trying to target, the more likely those messages will get their attention.

But we're not stopping here, are we?

Prioritizing Segmentation - ABM, List Targeting, Industry Targeting, and More

Here's where we take our previous graphic to the next level. Your ability to go deeper into this targeting will help make your marketing more appealing to your individual buyers. Why stop at just sets of personas with aligned content? Let's step it up and think about how we can further segment your audience. Give this a try:

Prioritizing Segmentation - ABM, List Targeting, Industry Targeting

Segmentation Will Better Align Marketing and Sales

When I go through segment build-outs with clients, this last part is what gets everyone excited. Focused segments can help the marketing team show the sales team where their efforts are going and what kind of successes they're having in each segment. 

Here are some segmentation types to consider.

Account-based Marketing Segmentation

Account-based marketing into tiered segments or individual organizations will help better align your sales and marketing efforts. Sales likely already has a target list of specific accounts that they're going after. Despite this, a client's marketing team will come to us saying something like, "We target companies with 500+ employees with over $50 million in revenue in the Northeast."

We can deliver leads to the sales team out of that pool, but why not help go after a very specific segment of companies in the sales team's top 10 or top 100 accounts? If a company or companies in one of the top segments is big enough, why not build specific campaigns targeting individual organizations?

Why Your Sales Team Loves ABM Segmentation

It's a daunting idea for a lot of marketers, but think about it: What will excite the sales team more? Getting a random lead from a company that they've never heard of (or dealt with in any way) out of that pool, or getting leads from one of their #1-10 targeted accounts?

Telemarketing Segmentation

Let's say you are doing a telemarketing campaign. Why limit yourself to phone calls? With features like list targeting on various advertising platforms (like on LinkedIn), you could serve ads to help promote your company and message only the people you're calling at the company. This kind of advertising could help make your calls a bit less cold.

Making Cold Calls Is Hard

Making cold calls is already hard. It's even harder if your company has very little brand recognition. Help out your inside sales team by investing in efforts that tell the world who you are. Google Display ads to increase brand awareness could be a good start.

Cold Conversion Lists

What do you do when you have a list of people who have engaged with you in the past but haven't progressed along from a first conversion? You should definitely be trying to get back in front of the valid contacts on this list. 

Quick Tip for Cold Conversion Targeting

Cold conversion email lists can even be added to advertising platforms like Google AdWords or LinkedIn Advertising. AdWords allows you to load email lists and create remarketing lists for search ads.

Dormant Leads

Almost every organization has lists of sales leads that they've had trouble re-engaging. We see this happen because of long sales cycles, less-than-rigorous follow-up practices, or consumer indecision, where a customer just isn't ready to buy for one reason or another. Especially in the last category, good leads can get ignored.

How to Target Dormant Lead Segments

Having a specific plan on how to nurture and progress this segment can help keep prospects from wandering off to your competition.

Consider running a targeted and relevant nurture email campaign with a good lead progression offer. This is also a segment where you could benefit from the email or ABM targeting abilities in LinkedIn Ads that allow you to upload lists for account and contact targeting.

Persona Segmentation

The path of least resistance when building out your content and offers is to build them generally, for a broad audience. This is especially true when marketing budgets are tight. The truth of the matter is, with generic content you tend to see pretty mediocre performance metrics.

Why Segment by Persona?

Even if you're just starting with your top persona, it's worth the investment to cater your content and offerings to a specific persona segment. People are much more likely to engage with content and offers that align with who they are and the work that they do. If all of your content and offers speak to the general business pains that your solutions solve, you're doing it wrong.

Industry Segmentation

Ah, good old industry segmentation. It's even better if you can combine Persona AND Industry segmentation. That way, you're simultaneously pursuing CFOs and presenting them with content and offers specific to their industry.

Why Segment by Industry?

The more specific you can drill down your segmentation, the better your content and offers will perform. It isn't always possible to target all of your personas in all of the industries you target if you have tight budgets or small lists, but there are ad platforms out there that let you build very specific audience targeting segments by title and industry. 

Geographic Segmentation

This isn't always possible, but consider ways to segment your audience and your messages based on the geography you're targeting. If you have enough people in a given geo, you can call out that geography in your messaging and imagery. 

My Experience With Geo Segmentation

A few years ago, I was running advertising for a tech company based in Texas. We were targeting Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Louisiana, and Mississippi. We were looking for ways to optimize the advertising, and since Texas was our largest geographic segment, we built Texas-specific landing pages and ad messaging. We saw our click-through rate nearly double and experienced a 5-10% jump in conversion rates with the Texas-focused landing pages.

Wrapping It Up — The Benefits of Segmentation

With well-built marketing segmentation and content/offer mapping, you will see increased click-through rates and conversion from your content and offers.

This does come with a cost if you decide to fully map out all of your personas, a content plan aligned with their customer journey, and a marketing/advertising plan to get your messages out to them. 

If you're skeptical or budget-conscious, start with one persona in one of your high- level segments and build out a simple top, middle, and bottom-of-funnel content map for them.

Think about the ways you can get your message in front of that audience through email, social, advertising, content syndication, your website, etc., and give it a test.

I've said this before, but it's worth saying again.

  • Stop B2B marketing as though your target audience is a company with business pains.

  • Market to them like they're people.

Build your personas, figure out how to segment further, and find the channels to best get your message in front of them. It'll make you a better marketer, and you'll have a much happier sales team. 

Tags: Lead Generation, Digital Advertising, Advanced Segmentation