Why Is Audience Segmentation Important

audience-segmentationDefining Audience Segmentation

Audience segmentation, also called market segmentation, is an important aspect of creating an effective sales or marketing strategy.  Most basically, it is about finding better customers.  In past decades, marketing has generally been directed at mass audiences, sending the same message to all potential customers.  Audience segmentation works to divide your target audience into groups that have similar interests or buying behavior.

By dividing your audience into segments and crafting marketing messages targeted to each segment, you are able to reach each customer with marketing that is relevant to him or her.  If your potential customer feels that your message is not relevant to them, you will most likely be ignored.

Segmentation also helps you build a better relationship with your potential customers because people are more likely to respond positively to messages they feel are directed to them personally.  The more targeted your message, the more likely it becomes that your customer will engage with you.

With time, segmenting can also help you uncover potential market opportunities you might have otherwise missed, allowing you to create products and services better tailored around the specific needs and interests of your various customer segments.

What this means is that in today’s world, sending out a generic or mass message is no longer worth your time and could even end up costing you business. When you send out a mass-message that a customer has zero interest in, not only will you be ignored, but your customer may also see you as incompetent or uncaring.

What you want to do instead is give your customers information that is directly relevant to their personal needs and known buying behavior. If you do this correctly, segmenting your audience can yield a substantial increase in response and engagement and, consequently, rates of conversion.

The most crucial aspect of implementing b2b marketing audience segmentation effectively is coming to understand what types of information each segment likes to consume and how each segment likes to consume it.  With this information, you can create and target messages using the forms of media most in line with a segment’s purchasing behavior.  For instance, if you know that a particular segment likes their content via videos, you’ll want to provide them links to your YouTube channel.  Similarly, if you know an audience segment prefers to read text, you send them text in the form of emails, blogs or white papers according to that audience segmentation.

The overall goal of audience or market segmentation is to avoid sending irrelevant messages to unreceptive customers.  By understanding that different people (and different businesses) have different needs and media-consumption preferences, you can set up a marketing strategy that operates more efficiently and much more effectively.

B2B Marketing Automation Implementation Best Practices

So now you that you have purchased a marketing automation platform you are ready to implement and it’s not as simple as you were led to believe.   As an outsourced sales and marketing company we have already helped to implement several platforms (as well as implementing our own) and helped companies with several stalled implementations. Here are some best practices in marketing and sales automation because,  as one vendor recently told us,  ‘we can sell them the car but we can’t drive it for them’.  Here are some basic tips and some best practices to help you avoid some headaches and to learn from our mistakes and success. If you have not checked out what these platforms can do here is a quick overview from Pardot 5 Minute Overview of Marketing Automation and this post will make a whole lot more sense.


Think about your Content in a Different Way


The whole point of a marketing automation platform is to drive more business in a more effective way.  This starts with how you are speaking with your buyer.  If your content is still all about your product – tech sheets, features and benefits etc. its -time to think about being customer centric rather than product centric.”  Your drip campaigns will drive more business if you talk to your customers about their problems and their needs.  You may need to look at the “voice” of your messages and refine your language a bit.  As a starting point look at how may time you talk about “Our’ product, “our” team vs.   “your” needs, “your” business and “your” customers.  Stop being product centric and start being customer centric. Here is a series of blogs on how to shift your content approach and get sales and marketing on the same page.

Organize your Content Ahead of Time  

For a marketing automation platform to run effectively it helps to do two things with your content.  First you should isolate all your webcasts,  white papers, blogs, videos on individual website pages. This allows you to easily understand what your customer specifics needs are which in turn allows you to score your leads more effectively as you track their digital interest.  Secondly, it really helps to also create landing pages that offers your customer content for all three stages of their buying cycle so you can track when your buyers are moving from educating themselves (kicking the tires) to being ready to buy (e.g looking at pricing or testimonials).  Gabriel Sales has created an easy to use sales content management technology – Gabriel Sales Digital Demand Center™ that can help you do this in a matter of weeks. The image on the right is an example of one of those lead scoring features.

Involve Sales and Invest the Time Integrating with your CRM

What we have found is that even a basic integration can take an IT professional too much time.  Most of the marketing automation platforms we have seen have huge volume of really cool features and bells and whistles so you can tend to over design before you know how you want to use them. Ultimately this is about empowering your sales team and recognizing your IT teams expertise is not sales.  Probably one of the biggest bottle necks we have seen is that IT folks get proprietary and a project that they thought would take weeks can take a developer three months or more . The challenges are not with the system’s API or stability; they were with our client’s requirements, process definitions and prioritization. Like most development work that starts “easy” it quickly gets complex when they don’t understand the underlying business processes. Unfortunately as the time line  expands it ends up being sales and marketing that are on the hook for results and not the developers. Salesforce.com has been the easiest integration for all the platforms we have seen.

Keep your Initial Drip Campaigns Simple

This is probably one of the biggest lessons we learned.  When we first started we came up with a very complex IF/ then workflow so if they opened this piece of content on a topic area we would send them another piece of content on topic area B and then if they didn’t open that we would send them content Z.  It was too much and just writing about it confuses me. What we found is about 80% of the value you are going to get from your initial drip campaigns is going to come from simply implementing them.  It takes time to learn a new software and the biggest value the software provided initially is simply keeping your brand and solution in front of your buyers over time so your reps don’t have to.  A simple five to seven touch campaign without any IF/then work flows was enough to get more deals flowing at less cost.  Don’t frustrate yourself.  You will quickly learn from your wins. If you are a smaller company, as a best practice, we recommend that you start by talking to your sales reps about their sales process and simply take that sales process map and create your initial drip campaigns for about three target markets.


Tap your vendors (and other vendors) knowledge centers

This industry is not that old.  Eloqua, Pardot and Marketo (to name a few) all have fantastic knowledge centers that can teach you the basics of lead scoring and nurturing etc. Our vendor Pardot has been a huge help but we have also found both Marketo and Eloqua’s knowledge centers to be valuable as well.  Obviously as an outsourced sales and marketing company we also recommend that you strongly consider working with an organization like ours.  We have the advantage of having worked in the space across multiple enterprises so we have made a great deal of the mistakes already so you don’t need to.


We hope this blog has been helpful.  Marketing Automation is a relatively new concept for most marketing teams and we have found that once you start to gain some momentum you will quickly realize that it’s clearly how business will be done for the next decade. We are just at the beginning of a new paradigm starting with marketing automation and then,  as we are quickly discovering, if your marketing automation implementation is done correctly this will  drift towards sales automation.  Ultimately this will begin to drive more deals fast at less cost.  We are experiencing some fantastic initial success reducing cost of sales percentages for both ourselves and our clients. The learning curve is exponential. So have fun.


If you have not checked out what these platforms can do here is a quick overview from Pardot 5 Minute Overview of Marketing Automation. If you have a stalled with your marketing automation implementation or if you would like to know more about best practices in marketing and sales automation, feel free to contact us for a quick consultative call.

B2B Lead Generation Fundamentals – Soft vs. Hard

lead generationB2B sales companies have come up with a variety of ways to generate more leads, and building a successful campaign requires that companies carefully and strategically choose a method that addresses their specific goals.  As an outsourced sales,  outsourced lead generation company and outsourced marketing firm this is part of our series to educate customers not experienced in sales and marketing with some of the B2B Lead Generation Fundamentals to help them make an informed decision about lead generation outsourcing.  This blog discusses the differences between hard and soft lead generation methods, as well as when each is appropriate for use.

The first thing to do when coming up with a lead generation strategy is to clearly articulate you goals. These should be both quantitative and qualitative. How many leads are you trying to get? What kind of sales to you need to generate?  Who is the audience you are trying to focus on? How early or late in the sales cycle do you want your leads to be? What are you willing to pay for a lead?

These questions are important to ask because how you choose to generate leads will affect the number and quality of your leads.  Soft strategies tend to generate large numbers, while harder strategies tend to generate a higher quality.

Lead Generation: The Soft Offer

Soft offers pull in high numbers with an incentive that has very little perceived risk.  If you use a sweepstakes type strategy, and offer free tickets to the Super Bowl, you are likely to get an unprecedented number of respondents.  However, most of these leads are likely to care more about football than your product or service, and few will convert to qualified leads.  One example of a soft offer that we have seen work is gift cards or a free iPad.  As an outsourced lead generation company we have found that this is sometimes a great way to generate a quick opt in database..

This method should be used when companies are looking to get leads earlier in the sales cycle.  It also requires more time to weed through the large numbers to find qualified leads.  This approach is best when trying to jump-start your sales or create a lot of activity.

Lead Generation: The Hard Offer

Hard offers produce fewer respondents, but the leads that are generated are much more likely to be qualified.  By offering something that has a slightly higher risk, or involves some type of commitment, you are likely talking to someone much further along in his or her sales cycle.  Hard offers can include invitations to webinars, an audit, a consultation, etc.

Use hard offers when you want to target prospects further into the buying cycle, or do not have the time to weed through large numbers looking to qualify.  The leads you generate with hard offers are much more likely to convert to closed deals, so take this into consideration when engaging with them.

When it comes deciding which method will be most effective for your company, knowing who you are talking to is key — A hard offer is appropriate if trying to target buying executives, while you might want to try a soft offer if you want to talk to marketing teams.  Figure out the type of lead you want and determine what is valuable to this type of person. If you can make your offer appealing to your desired leads’ interests, your campaign is likely to be successful.

Gabriel Sales has over 12 years of experience as an outsourced lead generation company. For more B2B lead generation fundamentals please feel free to visit our Blogs on Sales and Content Basics.