Segmentation is Magical but no Mystery

Breaking up your customer and prospect contacts, your mailing list, by attribute — that’s segmentation. It allows us to craft and tailor messages that will resonate better with the audience. Imagine that you are the VP of Sales for a mid-sized manufacturer. You received a promotional email about an expense tracking app. Think about how you would react to these headlines: 

  • ExpenseApp — ERP Integrated, Mobile, Ready for Your Team
  • ExpenseApp — Gets Expenses Done So You Can Keep Going

They both reflect the product well. But as the VP of Sales, you’re less worried about how it works with your accounting system. Your job is to grow revenue, after all.  

But both of these headlines have their place. We can sell ExpenseApp to accountants and sales leaders. They would find it useful, but for different reasons. Leading with the wrong idea will likely cost you. 

Sellers and marketers use the same tactics

Sales and marketing achieve similar goals through different mediums. An experienced salesperson knows that they will present the product differently to different buyers. They know this because their success depends on it. And, sellers have a distinct advantage for crafting personal messages — they work with people one-on-one.  

For marketers, this is a more significant challenge. That’s because marketing is mass-communication. Marketing is about connecting with potential buyers — both ones you know and buyers that you have yet to meet. Then they build ideas about a product or service. Finally, it’s about getting the buyer to take action.  

Without tools and a plan, it’s chaos. So, marketers often use a tool called “buyer personas.” These are fictional people that stand in for a segment. For example, if you’re selling software to design engineers, your persona might look like this: 

  • Age: 30-40
  • Company: New product manufacturer, contract engineering firm, startup, consumer packed goods manufacturer
  • Education: Degree in industrial design, architecture, graphic design, mechanical engineering, marketing, or electrical engineering
  • Job Title: Designer, design manager, design engineer, prototype specialist, experience specialist, product development
  • Role: Designer or Engineer or Developer
  • Interests: user experience, design thinking, creativity, ideation, technology trends, new phones, product reviews, new products
  • Career: At least five years in the field and two years leading a team — has decision-making authority

This mental picture of a buyer helps your marketing team understand their audience. Firms typically have more than one persona. So, their marketing team can create messages that speak to those different targeted groups, just like salespeople do. Or, just as The Marketing Heaven does, they can present the message on social media and then provide it with visibility through numerous likes or subscribers, thus reaching the target audience. 

The magic is targeting a message — the mystery is making a list

We love the idea of creating targeted messaging. Segmentation is the promise of CRM and marketing automation come to life. But there’s a problem, and it’s in our data. We usually don’t have enough data or the right kinds. 

What’s enough data?

Segmentation relies on data, so do buyer personas. Attributes are descriptive data points about our contacts. Take a look at your CRM contact record — how many of them have anything more than the name, company, address, phone, and email filled out? How about your account records — how many have more than a name, address, and phone number? Building a segmented list from nothing is impossible. 

When you build a buyer persona, it’s important to tie back as many factors as possible to data. For example: 

  • Company type could be a line-of-business field on the account record
  • Title and job role will likely be on your contact
  • Age and interests come from advertising data sources

What’s the right kind of data?

Sure, if you sat down and started going through your thousands of contacts, it would be. And you’d probably make a bunch of mistakes. We don’t recommend it. We recommend designing your account, contact, and deal forms to help you get the information you need.  

Start by leaning on color-coding or required fields. These communicate the importance of the information. Establish a business process that encourages data entry in these fields. To keep track of it, we can lean on the system. Most CRMs have a “last modified date” on every record. Look for items where that date is in the last thirty days, and where any of your persona fields are empty. Use these views to coach better behaviors and compliance. 

When you build a buyer persona for segmentation, it’s important to tie back as many factors as possible to data. For example: 

Sounds like a lot of work

Sure, if you sat down and started going through your thousands of contacts, it would be. And you’d probably make a bunch of mistakes. We don’t recommend it. We recommend designing your account, contact, and deal forms to help you get the information you need.  

Start by leaning on color-coding or required fields. These communicate the importance of the information. Establish a business process that encourages data entry in these fields. To keep track of it, we can lean on the system. Most CRMs have a “last modified date” on every record. Look for items where that date is in the last thirty days, and where any of your persona fields are empty. Use these views to coach better behaviors and compliance. 

Segmentation’s no mystery, and maybe it’s not magical

Like all things, segmentation is about doing the work. As sales and marketing leaders, that means getting others to do it, too. Creating clear definitions for data, designing forms, and encouraging compliance are critical to getting it going. It’s not a mystery; it’s leadership. The messaging isn’t magical, either. That’s marketing doing what they do best, communicating. When they can do it to segments, they’re using the tools that leadership helped them get.  

Got a question?

Reach out. We’re always excited to talk about CRM adoption, process creation, and working through challenges leaders face. If you need us in a hurry, call 216.236.3836.

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At Focus Ten Solutions, we believe that good strategies reflect the values, intentions, and interests of the organization. We help our clients develop strategies by: