Segmentation, segmentation, segmentation!

Search Engine Strategies (SES) in London is one of Europe’s leading industry events in digital marketing. In this blog post, I will share my thoughts on a notion I encountered in various talks this year: How can I cleverly group my audience to make digital marketing more efficient?

Segmentation, segmentation, segmentation!

Marty Weintraub of aimClear, one of the keynote speakers at this year’s SES in London, was very excited about new possibilities to target the “whole user” in a digital environment. Going passed simple metrics like "what did you type into the search engine?" or "what did you like on Facebook?," Marty passionately described how marketers can tap into new data to get to know their audience in ways that have never before been possible. While Marty talked mainly about organic strategies like content marketing and community management, he outlined a general theme that is also applicable to paid strategies: segmenting all your available data to get a better picture of your customers and their needs.

This, to me, was the most salient take-away from my attendance - and not just because of Marty’s incredibly persuasive early-morning enthusiasm. Let me give you a couple of examples of this mindset, courtesy of the great marketers that were presenting at this year’s SES London.

Tell me where you are, and I...

Mark Brill and Sri Sharman talked about how displaying ads on a smartphone or tablet is not just targeting a device, but a very specific situation. Marketers should think about the specific needs of their audience that stem from the choice of their device, the time they are using it and the location they are in. That’s exactly what Sri Sharman did when he was trying to increase mobile revenue for pizza chain “Papa John’s.” Who loves pizza? Well, everybody. But who can be convinced to order one this very instant? Well, people who are soon to be confronted with a decision about what to eat for lunch or dinner, people who are out and about, e.g. commuting back home (device and location) and are just very hungry (need). Target these dimensions, make your copy irresistible by testing words like “oozy,” “cheesy” and “juicy,” and your campaign will outperform even your best discount oriented ads. Basic needs trump price considerations.

Visitors, not just visits

Here’s another example of how creative segmentation can improve your digital revenue: You know how you use your tracking tool to differentiate visitors by medium, like search or marketing campaigns? That’s cool, but why not enrich this information with behavioural data that happens on your site? Yehoshua Coren, also known as the Analytics Ninja, showed us his approach to digital analytics in one of the conference’s last sessions.<br/>Yehoshua is a big fan of segmenting visitors by what behavior they are showing on your site. For example, use event tracking in Google Analytics to measure interactions with specific content on your site. Then you can compare e-commerce data (and hence potentials for additional revenue) not only based on where users come from, but what content they interacted with.

Let’s say you’ll find that users who click on the button that says “Bestsellers” ultimately have higher conversion rates and bigger basket sizes than users that navigate through your traditional sitemap. Why not display the bestseller button more prominently and include more products on the landingpage? Or, calculate the ratio between visitors on a product site and the unique purchases of that product (“look-to-book”-ratio). Push products with the most favorable ratio. (By the way, if you don’t want to implement event tracking, you can use custom variables to achieve the same.)

Where to go now?

So, what will I do with the insights from SES? Marketers don’t have to be like Marty Weintraub and literally befriend potential customers on Facebook in order to learn more about them. But they have fewer and fewer excuses not to use existing technology to aggregate more insights about customers and potential ones. Powerful information (that focuses more on whole visitors instead of just visits), such as:

is not only available, it’s useable or - to use a more fashionable word - actionable!

Of course, in the end it’s all about using this information in a creative and scalable way. That’s the big challenge for us marketers. It’s the question: How can we generate additional conversions that are beyond the short tail of the more obvious campaigns? Almost by definition there is no one-fits-all method that can generate additional revenue in your unique market and niche. But the fast improvements of the technology that is used to track different stages of the buying cycle in a digital environment - some of which have been discussed at SES London and I have outlined in this post - create exponentially more opportunities for creative and data-driven marketing. Use the power of meaningful segmentation to discover where your audience is, what they do and what they like.

This will enable you to write highly targeted copy - be it in an ad or on a website. Your customers will reward you with plenty of conversions!

Find more resources about SES London 2013 here: