In a post-pandemic world providing customers with phenomenal experiences has become more important than ever before. Brands not only need to be more empathetic and compassionate in the way they approach their existing customers and prospects but also need to provide them with seamless experiences across omnichannel, i.e. all the channels whether digital or physical.
B2B customer segmentation is the sophisticated art and science of dividing customers into specific groups or clusters. It allows them to have customized sales and marketing experiences.
Attempting to pull off a marketing strategy without any specific audience in mind is like trying to sail a ship without a radar. In such a situation marketers would be spending resources on the people who aren’t in the market to buy or aren’t qualified enough to buy what you have to offer.
According to Forrester, 35% of marketers say that they need to get their targeting strategies right.
Therefore, establishing a thoroughly vetted Target Account List (TAL) in their ABM strategies helps marketers dominate their B2B game.
Typically, the following three methods can be employed for the correct identification of the targeted accounts, when adopting an account-centric approach:
- Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
- Predictive Analytics and
- Behavioral Targeting
Popular Approaches to B2B Customer Segmentation
To segment their audience groups into the right clusters, marketers can leverage data from the targeting methods. They can also leverage more in-depth approaches.
Here are 6 approaches used by B2B marketers to create targeted audience groups:
a. Industry-Specific Segmentation
Targeting industry verticals is amongst the most common ways B2B brands approach their markets and is one of the most common.
Finance companies are more conservative and often focus on compliance issues.
Manufacturing companies typically care more about cost and time rather than value.
B2B companies in general, focus more on cost and time rather than value. Retailers are more concerned about maximizing loyalty to customer lifetime value, whereas software and technology companies are more focused on innovation and product adoption.
b. Company Size (employee size or annual revenue)
Mid-market companies typically face challenges that differ from mid and small-sized companies. Companies with different employee sizes or annual sizes have different buying committees, sales cycles, and decision processes.
Mid-market tech companies typically focus on productivity gains while enterprise-tech companies may focus on deeper investments in machine learning. A major focus area of the small business tech companies is on creating scale.
If you built N different segments, one needs to design N different experiences. Marketers need to segment their audiences into sample sizes that are too small for any meaningful performance data, so discussions about what size is the most effective may be difficult.
Effective segmentation is one where a handful of manageable key accounts can represent your best opportunity at hand. These segments can consist of the following segments:
- Customers who have purchased a product but not the other ones
- Customers who have visited three solution pages
- Customers who are in the healthcare industry
c. Specific Stages in the Buyers’ Journey
Marketers need to understand where their customers are in the individual buying stages. For example, the messages that you send to your customers at the awareness stage are very different from the messages that are sold to the accounts that have engaged with you for a while.
Designing pieces of content detailed to the buying stages of the customers helps in optimizing the website conversion rates.
For example, marketers can begin their advertising with a white paper that is focused on awareness and is industry-focused and can stretch it to the data sheets describing your value proposition (detailed to the engagement stage). For the final stage, a consideration-focused piece of content can be employed, such as an RFP checklist.
If one starts with customer, journey mapping one can double down a customer journey-focused segmentation strategy.
At the end of the day, buyers’ journey-specific targeting helps customers best reach their customers wherever they are at some definite stages in their buying cycles.
d. Employ TAL Management
Marketers need to manage their target account lists properly. It cannot be left in utter isolation and allowed to stale.
Your TAL can grow with the addition of more products or services. Learning more about your target accounts over a period of time helps weed out those accounts that haven’t proven to be a good fit. Employing the best of total TAL management practices ensures that a higher percentage of revenue comes from the target accounts.
e. Rely on the Intent Data
Intent-based targeting is the latest approach that can help you land up with many leads. As the average purchase cycle of the customers keeps on getting longer and longer, the marketers need to reach their target audience groups as early as possible. The interest can be captured when the target audience groups complete a form and when they show off-site intent.
Intent-based targeting offers the following advantages:
- One can build an audience around the target accounts
- One can share his audiences with his sales teams
- One can share the audience groups with the sales teams
- Ad campaigns based on certain high-value accounts can be launched, and
- Multichannel ABM plays can be launched
The marketers can further hone their messages by focusing on the intent of the keywords explicit to their niche.
f. Segment to Deliver Insights to Sales in Real-Time
Marketing should share real-time alerts with the sales team. This allows the sales team to immediately reach out to those accounts with one-to-one interactions.
Moreover, if the sales teams are aware of the key terms a particular account is surging on, their outreach can turn out to be even more effective.
The right segmentation is all about delivering timely and relevant experiences to the right audience groups at the right time. The right segmentation sends messages to your target audience that you understand their pain points better, feel their trouble, and have devised a competitive solution to offer. The power of the right segmentation transcends beyond amplifying the sales conversions. It also helps marketers plan and update their existing business models to suit the latest market conditions.
According to McKinsey and Co., more contextual, immersive, and relevant experiences can effectively increase the marketing spend by 10-30%.
Market segmentation budgets personalization and helps marketers immensely whether they are trying to land new business, extend opportunities with a current customer, or deepen the ties with an existing partner. The correct segmentation allows marketers to create resonable and targeted messaging that resonates with each type of relationship.
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