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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistWed, Oct 19, 2016 10 min read

How Inbound Marketing Drives Results With Ingenious List Segmentation

The More Personal Your Marketing, The Better Your Response; Inbound Marketing Gives You New Tools

Personalize With Inbound study conducted last year shows that "personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates, but 70% of brands fail to use them." The study also shows that "60% of marketers struggle to personalize content in real time, yet 77% believe real-time personalization is crucial."

Here are some more findings from the study. "Nearly three-fourths (74%) of online consumers get frustrated with websites when content (e.g., offers, ads, promotions) appears that has nothing to do with their interests." Also, "in-house marketers who are personalizing their web experiences and who are able to quantify the improvement see, on average, a 19% uplift in sales."

Now that we all agree personalization works, let’s talk about how inbound marketing and thoughtful marketing strategy enable us to look at our lists and segment our contact databases in a proactive way to deliver the personalized messages our prospects are looking for.

Think Like Your Prospects

When it comes to segmentation with an eye toward more personalized marketing, try to think like your prospects. This is hard, but you want to view your business through their eyes. How do they see themselves? We’ll talk about this in the next section, but rarely do prospects view themselves based on demographics. They typically view themselves based on the challenges they’re dealing with and the potential solutions you would provide.

Let’s agree that marketing is a P2P effort rather than B2B or B2C. People do business with people and real human beings are visiting your website. Since that’s the case, most people come to your site with some preconceived notions of what you do and how you can help them, even if those are inaccurate.

This should cause you to start rethinking your segmentation strategy to potentially include lists that address challenges your prospects are looking for help with. For example, we have a list for people who are all in on inbound and leads from inbound marketing, and we have lists for people who are simply looking for a digital agency to help them with a wider variety of issues. Our stories, messages and solutions are then tailored to these two different types of requirements.

Segment Based On Psychographics And Demographics

The demographics are easy. Marketers have been segmenting lists based on company size, number of employees, title, age and industry since the caveman. But using psychographics like personality type, attitudes, interests and lifestyle is becoming increasingly important as personalization of message produces better results.

Here is a great example from a recent Harvard Business Review article: "Parents who trust their kids to make their own tech decisions (whom I call “enablers”) tend to evaluate their tech purchases in terms of fun and entertainment value. Parents who focus on minimizing screen time (“limiters”) gravitate towards software and devices that support their kids’ literacy, math, and academic skills. Parents who actively guide and encourage their kids’ technology use typically look for purchases that offer a balance of fun and educational value, and that offer ways to engage and play as a family."

My example above also highlights our psychographic segmentation into “results-oriented” prospects and then the “support-oriented” prospects. Understanding these less obvious characteristics gives you a major advantage in creating the marketing messages, solutions and stories to help these people feel safe with your company. If you’re able to illustrate that you understand their deeper issues and desires, they get emotionally connected to your company and are more likely to buy from you.

Create Personalized Content, Not Just Personalized Delivery

However, understanding them and categorizing them is just the first step. Now you have to translate that into actual marketing tactics. One of the best ways to deploy more personalization and more segmentation into your marketing is to focus on your content.

In our two examples above, offering the “results-oriented” marketers an e-book that highlights the actually numbers associated with a few engagements and telling them the stories associated with the clients that had a results perspective for their marketing is going to be very powerful. But we’re also going to need stories and content to help the “support” people feel safe, too. Of course, those are different stories and different examples. This might also require different pages on our website, with different language, links and conversion points.

It’s also going to be in our best interest to continue that highly personal experience into the nurture phase of the marketing. Ongoing emails, new offers and programs to pull these people through the sales funnel all need to be related to their issues, challenges and desires. You should see how this extra effort complicates the deployment of the marketing tactics, but you should also see the power of how tailoring the message improves performance and results.

Create Personalized Experiences, Too

The_Inbound_Marketing_Experience.jpgPersonalizing content is a great place to start, but you actually want to create a personalized experience for your prospects. That experience might include special offers, unique lead nurturing campaigns, a slightly personalized sales process and unique opportunities that fit in with the psychographic components of the prospect’s persona.

To continue our example, prospects who are interested in the “support” aspect of an engagement might want to get to know their team in advance of making a decision, so providing them that opportunity during the sales process fits right in with what they’re concerned about. The “results” prospect might care more about the "how" than the "who." So for them we might have to schedule a more detailed walk-through of our plan, build and grow engagement phases.

Track And Test To Optimize The Results

All this sounds great and it’s a lot of theory. The key to this is understanding your baseline performance metrics and then making adjustments to improve performance, drive more conversions, produce more leads and close more new customers.

To do this, benchmark the performance of your current segmentation. Look at open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates for both marketing and sales stages, and then set some benchmark and performance expectations for the new segmentation strategy.

Now track the performance of the new segmentation along the same set of metrics. Give it a good 30 days before you start looking at the data, but 90 days is probably going to give you a better picture as to what’s working well, what’s doing OK and what’s not doing so well.

Finding places to drive lift in key inbound marketing metrics is hard, but list segmentation and personalizing the prospect’s experience is one of those places where the hard work pays off. It’s reported that 56% of customers say they’re more likely to buy from a personalized experience. This is pretty dramatic. Even if you realize only half of that, it’s worth the extra effort to segment your list into smaller segments and invest the time and energy to create more personalized marketing touches.

Square 2 Marketing – Inbound Results Start With ME!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.