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Do You Segment? Boost Sales with Automation

Modern marketing is getting really complicated. You’ve got an arsenal of tactics at your disposal such as inbound, outbound, content, email, social media, SEO, PPC…

To make matters worse you can’t effectively spend your budget and market your business if you don’t measure the results.

Do you segment?

Segmenting your data enables you to measure your efforts with greater accuracy, and if exploited will result in increased sales for your business.

In this post I’ll run through how to measure and understand your traffic, score your leads and put your efforts in to chasing the prospects that are interested in what you offer.

I’ll show you how to implement marketing segmentation to prioritise your leads, enabling you to spend your time wisely and maximise your sales potential.

do-you-segment-boost-sales-with-automation

It’s really powerful stuff and yet it needn’t be overly complicated.

Inbound Marketing is Nothing without Outbound

A controversial statement perhaps, but Inbound Marketing is only half the story. Sales isn’t a dirty word, we all want selling to when it’s the right fit and time to do so.

You can create and promote the very best content in the world, but you still need to identify warm leads and nurture the relationship to the point of sale. In isolation content marketing isn’t enough, it’s not an end-to-end process.

Gartner Research showed some 70% of sales leads aren’t properly leveraged, and in many case they’re ignored all together.

Don’t burn your marketing budget on content marketing alone, because in isolation it isn’t enough to land sales. You need to compliment your content efforts with a strategy and process that maximises your return on investment.

That strategy starts with segmentation.

I’ll show you how to avoid information overload by structuring your lead data with three layers of segmentation.

Secondly I walk you through how to apply lead scoring to your data (the assumption being you have or are looking at implementing a lead scoring system).

Last but not the least, how to tailor messages based on your lead score data so that you’re delivering highly relevant messages that drive revenue – because let’s face it, businesses need sales to survive.

Let’s get started:

Demographics Aren’t Enough

With advancements in technology and the adoption of content marketing, access to information is free-flowing and choice is near unlimited. In recent years we’ve seen a significant shift where consumers, not marketers, are in control of what and how they want to consume, and when.

Consumers and their data are intertwined in a complicated network of segments and sub-segments. Furthermore, they rapidly move between these segments at their own discretion.

Marketers have traditionally relied on demographics for effective segmentation. As the digital world becomes ever more complex, demographics lose their usable edge and any advantage they may once have had. Slicing demographics in to ever smaller data sets only serves to increase the time and budget overheads on analysing the data.

Thankfully technology has evolved where we can now collect information about consumers that goes way beyond demographics. This new information gives us a much better indication of who will and who will not do business with us.

We have the technology, we can collect the data so let’s dig in and build something meaningful:

The 3 Layers of Segmentation

Segmentation can be complicated. In fact, much of the advice surrounding audience segmentation can overcomplicate matters still further.

To avoid data paralysis I’d advise sticking to these 3 key layers:

3-layers-of-segmentation

Don’t confuse simplicity with a lack of effectiveness. A three layer system does not mean you lose any fidelity in your data, in fact the trio of layers is more than enough to realise actionable insights.

Let’s take a dive into each of these layers and investigate what data you should be collecting, how you should collect it and how you can actually use it to make sales.

Layer 1: Our Old friend the Demographic

Also known as firmographics, demographics is what marketers have been using for the last century. Demographics identifies ‘who’ your buyer may be.

This is the simplest of the three layers and looks at identifiers such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Location
  • Income
  • Education

They literally form the barebones of a usable prospecting profile.

If you’re using Google Analytics you’ll already have access to this basic data – but in isolation it’s quite tricky to use to your advantage.

Take this 54 year old Male from the UK, he’s our example demographic profile:

lead-scoring-segmentation-prospect-profile1

Okay – but realistically how actionable is that?

Let’s build on it:

Layer 2: Psychographic aka the Persona

This is where we take an educated guess about psychological commonalities in our target audience. It goes well beyond that surface level demographics, the age, the income and so forth. It looks at common motivators and pain points that unify groups within our target market.

Groups your prospects and defines their personality by their:

  • Values
  • Attitudes
  • Interests
  • Lifestyle
  • Goals
  • Concerns
  • And how this relates to your product/service

This data isn’t as straightforward to collect as demographic data and it can’t always be directly attributed to a contact record. It’s tricky to make meaningful assumptions.

For example you can’t exactly ask the question “what’s your goal in life” on your contact form and expect to get a serious response from your website visitors.

Instead, your need to consolidate this type of data by creating audience personas for these groups of people based on common characteristics. I’ll show you what that looks like in just a minute.

Creating Effective Personas From Scratch

You’re probably thinking “so exactly how do I link this type of data then?” Depending on your company size and budget, there are several ways to achieve this.

You can undertake customer focus groups in the form of one-on-one interviews, surveys to consumers and internal interviews.

Internal interviews can be powerful when you talk to your sales and customer service teams. These frontline staff will unearth trinkets of valuable information about your existing and prospective customer base.

Here are some questions you can ask both your internal teams and consumers on your forms:

  • What’s their job role and function?
  • The problems do they face, what keeps them up at night?
  • Their professional aspirations?
  • Any publications they read?
  • Where do they spend time online?
  • Their preferred means and medium of research?
  • Their past experience of your product/service?
  • What problem do you solve for them?
  • What do they perceive as valuable?
  • Any common objections about your product/service?

Remember, the objective here is to identify patterns in your target audience, your ideal customer. Also consider the scale of your persona research, a single interview won’t reveal a pattern.

Who are your existing customers and what do they look like? Start there, it should be a sound basis on which to develop your psychographics.

Here’s our 54 year old, British male with his persona data added:

lead-scoring-segmentation-prospect-profile2

Now we’ve added that second layer we have a bit more context around who your consumer really is. It is however still a blurred picture.

Let’s add some clarity by adding audience behaviour:

Layer 3: The Enlightening Behavioural Data

The third layer is extremely important. Using behavioural data will enable you tap in to where the consumer is on their buying journey, and how to target them with messages that are in context and timely. When these elements align you’re in the sales sweet spot.

What does all this behavioural data look like?

We’re tracking so much ‘stuff’ to build this picture:

  • Website visits
  • Email opens and clicks
  • Social media interactions
  • Content downloads
  • Video plays
  • Offline interactions such as event attendees

These elements and more build a picture of how close a person is to pulling the trigger on a purchase.

Crucially, the buyer is still in control. They decide when it’s the right time, not you, but you can now better predict where they are in the decision process based on their behaviour. The data enables you to get in front of them when it matters – again, that sales sweet spot.

Now we know what behaviour data is, we need to collect it to populate and complete each prospects profile.

Data Collection: I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle.     

With all this behavioural information floating around how do we go about collecting it?

Marketing has evolved beyond mere analytics. Don’t get me wrong, Google Analytics (alternatives are available) is a powerful tool. It helps you see visitors in numbers, track their interactions, understand which pages and content perform (or don’t), and even track goals – but if you don’t gain a conversion what of all this data, all these visitors?

In comes marketing automation that enables you to aggregate this analytical data but dive several levels deeper and tie an individual contact to each and every interaction. What website pages did he or she visit, which emails did they open, which social channels drove them back to you and which of your products are they most interested in?

You can collect data by providing typically free, but genuinely useful content such as:

  • Studies and reports
  • Guides and whitepapers
  • Gated videos
  • Content extensions such as check-lists
  • Newsletter sign-ups
  • Competitions

… and much more.

Once you’ve collected a snip of information, such as a prospects name and email address, you can track and understand them.

This understanding shows you their journey through your site, interest in your emails and responses to your content on your own website and elsewhere. It’s really powerful (and interesting) information that highlights what they’re engaging with, when and why.

The behaviour data layer therefore looks at your prospects in a whole new light.

We’ve got our Demographics and Persona, now let’s add the acquired behavioural layer to our prospect.

lead-scoring-segmentation-prospect-profile3

That’s pretty comprehensive, useful information – right?

We now know a lot more about David.

We like David. He visited our website recently, and he spent quite some time browsing our product and pricing pages. Not only that he also downloaded our whitepaper on how to implement our product in his business.

That’s a pretty credible and strong indicator he’s looking to make a purchase.

We’re building a detailed picture of David, it’s clear he’s in research mode, so how do we make sure our competitors don’t snag him?

We implement the power of lead scoring!

Lead Scoring: Pinpoint Your Hottest Prospects

Leads are not created equal, lead scoring helps you pinpoint the hottest prospects.

I know what you’re thinking, I promised not to complicate things with too much information and bring on the cold sweats of data overload.

Fear not, we can automate this data to be aggregated in to actionable information.

Lead scoring automatically allocates points to your leads based on their behaviour and profile attributes. This allows sales teams to quickly sort leads in order of priority. It also allows marketing teams to nurture leads based on their score to either support the sales process, or warm them up to it.

Segmentation with marketing automation and lead scoring can finally tie the marketing and sales dots together, enabling both teams to work harmoniously.

It’s a revolution!

The 3 layers of segmentation we covered ensures we only target and nurture those leads that are ‘qualified to buy’.

The behaviour data helps us understand if the prospect engaged with the brand (their digital body language, if you will).

Let me show you my elegant lead scoring system that you can use as a template and apply to your own business:

An Elegant Actionable Scoring System

This simple yet elegant scoring system answers these two important questions:

  1. Is the prospect ready and qualified to buy?
  2. Is the prospect engaged with our brand?

 

Naturally we want a positive answer next to both of those questions to pursue a sale.

Let’s walk through an example and apply the scoring rules. Remember points are allocated based on lead attributes and actions.

My Lead Scoring Benchmark (and yes, you can use it!)

lead-scoring-benchmark-system

Freezing: let’s say your business operates only in the United Kingdom, then surely you don’t want to be chasing contacts based in France? Or someone might have visited a careers page. In such scenarios my scoring system would apply a -5 to that lead.

Cold: apply a cold score of -1 to people who have stopped interacting with you, for example they haven’t visited your website in the past 90 days.

Neutral: you want to weed out noise. Neutral scores aren’t actually applied, it just helps us mentally categorise what we can safely ignore such as visits to privacy pages.

Warm: can be used for those people who read your blogs and click on your social shares. These are warm signals because they’re engaging with your brand.

Hot: when a prospect is reading your product pages, or perhaps download a pricing brochure or similar.

Scorching: a combo score for multiple interactions. For example not only did a lead download your whitepaper, they also viewed your pricing and contact page, they also opened your last marketing email and visited the website three times in the past week. They’re scorching hot!

That’s the theory behind how the scoring work – let’s apply it to a real-world example:

A Real-world Example

Let’s say you’re a mid-sized software development and sales company operating your headquarters from the UK.

You have offices in London and New York, with sales teams spread throughout those regions. You offer tailored solutions, not off-the-shelf software. That makes you relatively expensive and so you need prospects with appropriately sized budgets.

Now the behavioural considerations, this is where the real power of segmentation and lead scoring kicks in.

Senior positions are often the decision makers and so naturally get a higher score. Lower level or unrelated job titles get a negative score.

Location is a major factor for you, you’re capable of selling in the UK and USA, with a bias towards London and New York respectively.

A lead whose budget is known and falls within your acceptable range gets a score boost, as does someone who downloaded your whitepaper on ‘software integration’.

You get the idea, build the picture!

Let’s look at what your profile scores:

lead-quality-lead-scoring

Remember David from earlier? He’s a scorcher!

David is one of the contacts that scored highly – he’s getting close to being an ideal customer and he’s very warm to us. We’ve collected enough information about him to feel confident passing his details over to the sales team.

Bravo!

Don’t Just Go for the Jugular

What about the people who aren’t quite as ready as David? You use the same data to create highly targeted marketing messages based on the same three layers of segmentation.

Perhaps you’ve a selection of warm prospects but they’re not yet red hot. The sales team jumping on these contacts would be premature at this stage, they’d likely scare off a fair chunk of them too.

Instead, each type of data can be used to understand the needs of the prospect and deliver timely information via email marketing.

Below are a few possible example messages for each layer of segmentation – the demographics, persona and behaviour layers.

lead-segmentation-and-targeted-messages

The Impact of Marketing Automation is Profound

Remember 70% of sales leads aren’t properly leveraged, and in many cases they’re ignored all together.

Don’t be one of those businesses that applies part of the process, but fails to capitalise on their marketing and realise true return on investment.

Great content is what drives people to you, to understand you and to engage with your brand. Measuring and collecting the data behind these engagements and interactions is key. Segmentation and lead scoring of this data, the leads, is what truly enables sales and drives revenue.

Ed Leake

Author: Ed Leake

Ed is the director of Midas Media and has served in the technology industry for just shy of twenty years. Ed believes in the constant development, improvement and the maturing of ideas. Outside of work Ed enjoys motorsport, yet more fresh coffee and doughnuts.