Successful marketing in the B2B space relies on segmenting and defining your business’s total addressable market. As decision making has evolved over time, it’s become more imperative that you not only target different companies based on varying criteria, but that you break down your audience into buyer personas based on their unique needs. It’s no longer reliable to market to B2B buyers using only surface-level buyer data.
Buyer Persona vs Market Persona
There are two levels of marketing segmentation. First is the way the market defines any given company. This includes common data such as industry, revenue, and employee size. But you must also consider the persona of your specific buyer: who they are, why they make purchase decisions, what challenges they have, and so on. Successful marketing segmentation requires you to develop both buyer personas and market personas.
Building a Marketing Segmentation Plan
Your goal with creating a defined marketing audience should be accessibility. There shouldn’t be a point in your campaigns when your team is unsure how to approach any given buyer set. One of the best ways to get started in marketing segmentation is to create an ideal customer profile (ICP) and enrich it with decisional data.
Ideal Customer Profile
According to Belighted, these are the steps to take in creating an ICP:
- Ask yourself what problem your business solves
- Research and identify your best customers
- Analyze customer feedback
- Define customer characteristics
- Optimize your brand and strategy
Ideally, you’ll be able to follow each one of these steps. However, it’s possible this process isn’t scalable given your resources or team size. If that’s the case, try to prioritize two main items: product needs and customer behavior. If you can understand how your product is used, why it’s used that way, and what your customers do without your product, you can get a pretty good understanding of your buyer persona.
You’ll also want to research and gather how and why your customers make decisions, so you can help influence and even guide them through the decision-making process. One way to gather decisional data is through sales interactions. Simply asking your sales team if there’s any commonality between purchase-ready clients can result in some actionable data, but there are other ways to gather this intel:
- Spend time personally going through the decision-making process for your solution.
- Ask the person at your company who would use your product why they would decide to seek a new solution.
- Read competitor reviews on G2 or Capterra about the customer journey.
Decisional data can be a bit of an intangible, but it’s extremely valuable once you have it. It’s not uncommon for there to be a lot of trial and error with this process as you’ll only understand concrete decision-making details over time.
Types of Marketing Segmentation
As stated previously, comprehensive buyer personas and market personas are both integral aspects of segmenting your audience. Both contain various ways to approach targeting your customers, and you’ll more than likely use a mixture of all of these in your campaigns. You’ll get the most ROI from your marketing efforts when you leverage various segments across multiple channels.
This type of segmentation relies on your ability to understand the makeup of the companies your customers work for. Firmographic segmentation gathers and leverages data points like industry, company size, and annual revenue. With firmographic data, for instance, you can identify specific needs that SMB companies might have versus larger enterprises.
Demographic segmentation divides your audience into personal data such as age, education, income, family size, gender, occupation, and nationality. Demographics can be challenging from a B2B marketing perspective because the people that buy your product can and will come from all walks of life. Keep in mind, however, that you only need to gather data you can actively leverage. If gender or income aren’t differentiators in the decision-making process then don’t worry about them. You’re only trying to get a snapshot of the personal composition of your buyer set.
Geographic segmentation can exist in your demographics or on its own. It creates different target customer groups based on geographical boundaries. Your ideal customers will have different needs, challenges, and interests based on their location. Understanding the climates and geographic regions of customer groups can help determine how to approach new business growth with that subset.
Behavioral segmentation breaks your market down by their behaviors and decision-making patterns such as product engagement and content consumption. Customers will have different patterns of researching the same product, and it’s extremely valuable to be able to engage with them at those peak moments of engagement. Segmenting your audience based on purchase trends enables for more personalized marketing campaigns because you can focus on serving your buyers the content they’re used to engaging with.
Psychographic segmentation leverages the psychological trends of your ideal customers by organizing them according to their opinions, personal interests, and lifestyles. Similar to demographics, this type of segmentation can be hard to achieve in B2B marketing because your audience composition is so vast. Unlike demographic segmentation, psychographics can follow social and media trends, which are a lot easier to leverage in a marketing campaign than someone’s nationality or gender.
Risks and Challenges
It’s fair to say that creating a fully fleshed out marketing segmentation plan isn’t easy. There are financial and time-based risks involved, because at the end of the day, you’re making educated guesses on what and who you think your buyers are. There’s a strong chance that you might not be correct. There are a lot of solutions out there that can help you segment your audience, but those cost money and might not be guaranteed to work.
You can mitigate the risks with a good segmentation roadmap for your team to follow. Try and ask yourself these questions:
- Is this segmentation measurable?
- Can this segment actually buy our product?
- Is our team able to access and leverage the buyer set easily?
- Do we have enough data for each segment?
If you can answer “yes” to each one of these questions, chances are your marketing segmentation is ready to go. It’s important to keep an open mind with this process, as you’ll find new data about your audience fairly often, sometimes daily. Be ready to change your segments and re-run campaigns with the net new data points you’ve uncovered.