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Beyond Demographics: Types of Advanced Audience Segmentation That Drive Measurable Engagement

Thank whichever guru you believe in for Marketing Automation, and the slack it affords marketers. Most commonly, we use Marketing Automation for engaging and nurturing leads. This can be achieved with drip campaigns, and behavioural-trigger notification for them to take action. Mail Merge is another heaven-sent feature. The opportunity to include every, single recipient’s name in the subject and the first line of your email is a no-fail conversion-clincher…

Or is it?

The truth isn’t just that Marketing Automation can go a lot further; it’s also that it needs to go a lot further. You’ve called them by their first name, but the rest of your email is humdrum, been-there-done-that, and it’s not personal at all. Genuinely unique content requires more. Specifically, it requires explicit segmentation, beyond demographics, to know customers, understand what they want, and speak directly to their needs.

Marketing Segmentation Goes Beyond Demographics

Audience Segmentation is nothing new. Alas, it’s so not new that it’s now the bare minimum; expected from marketing teams in any industry. It involves separating and grouping a business’s marketing audience into subgroups, based on different characteristics they possess and the attributes they share. You already know what it is, everybody is at it. It works and the statistics speak for themselves.

76% of consumers expect a business to be aware of their preferences.


Demographics are the original, most common form of audience segmentation. Why wouldn’t they be? They separate different people based on their core attributes such as age, location, and sex, to name a few. But today, this isn’t the be-all and end-all of segmentation. It’s not enough to generalise and separate based on something as trivial as where they are from or how old they are. This doesn’t result in personalisation, it’s educated guesswork. Your customers deserve better.

Your business deserves better. Proper personalisation of outreach and marketing content is critical to future success.

Type 1: Segmentation Based On Psychographics

Where demographic data points tell us who is buying something, psychographic data points tell us why those people are buying it. Psychographic data can be used by any business to assume motivations that drive their audiences’ buying behaviours. Companies who conduct this kind of research most often look into customer values, lifestyles, class status, opinions, beliefs, and everyday activities.

Demographic Profile

  • Male
  • 25 to 30
  • Single
  • No Children
  • Income ~$25,000
  • Lives in the city

Psychographic Profile

  • Social
  • Cares About Appearance
  • Keen Cyclist & Footballer
  • Plenty of Spare Time
  • Young Professional; Career-Driven
  • Enjoys Holidays

Psychographic allows marketers to turn up the personalisation of their outreach by a couple of notches. Useful, clean data segmented evenly enables them to talk in their customer’s language on an emotional level, to fully understand how a product works for and is used by them, and to focus on the features which are most appealing to them. It gives them a better idea of where a product fits into their lives, empowering them to hone their messaging towards this.

How? Psychographic segmentation requires analysis of an audience’s different behaviours before splitting them up. It uses qualitative research conducted through voluntary resources such as surveys, interviews, and quizzes to uncover other, specific data points about each participant. The questions can cover any amount of industry-dependent topics. For example, B2B companies tend to focus on jobs-to-be done and customer development questions. These lines of question help explain how to fit a product into Ideal Customer Profile’s (ICP) daily work, and how their product can accelerate results.

Remember. There’s a fine line between precise personalisation and a downright breach of privacy. Obviously, you should only ever collect a user’s data with their permission, but you should also make sure what you are asking from them isn’t too personal and invasive. For this reason, it can be challenging to obtain psychographic data. A good idea is to offer interest-specific, useful, freemium content in return for their cooperation, or exclusive early-access for a product or recently-developed function.

Type 2: Segmentation Based On Value To A Customer

Interest-based segmentation looks specifically at the type of content that prospects, leads, and existing customers consume. It’s segmentation specifically designed to push those users further down the funnel, by offering nothing but value and expertise as they search for their product. For example, if one of our prospects signed up to our mailing list because they downloaded our cold-emailing eBook, then we can put them in a group of people who are interested in cold emailing.

Just because a prospect is reading your content doesn’t mean they’re going to buy your product.

The above statement is very true. But the whole process of value-based selling is based on understanding and reinforcing the reasons why my product is useful to a prospect. If I take note that they’re downloading my cold emailing guides, then they will probably be interested in more cold emailing content such as my subject line blog posts; my ‘how to find any email address’ walkthrough. 

Eventually, marketers can scale this outreach and push prospects further down the funnel further by offering them a sales-led demo of their product. Their reward is a visualised, malleable output gained from their input. Going forward, they are able to send mass emails at scale, before analysing their performance and optimising their performance for better reply rates.

Type 3: Segmentation Based On Value To A Business

Value-based segmentation is a segmentation strategy that places prospects, leads, and customers in groups based on how much value they can provide to a business. Normally I wouldn’t consider this a particularly personalisation-driving segmentation technique. But, after what the pandemic has done to the business world, it’s about to be the difference between effective and ineffective segmentation moving forward.

Purchasing power just became so unpredictable. The way the pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns affected different businesses in different industries is entirely anomalous. For example, most eCommerce outlets have thrived, but travel companies have been brought to their knees. Selling businesses need to recognise this and get on top of it, segmenting their customers based on how they have been affected. Then, they can offer personalised, empathetic content and offers to help their customers.

How? Businesses need to employ a conversational customer experience. Don’t sit and wait for a cancellation request; reach out to your customers with any transactional questions or sales pitches that might relate to them. Show concern, empathy, fellowship, and a sincere desire to help them in their time of need. Stay one step ahead, and you won’t fall behind.

Put companies in brackets based on how hard they have hit. If they’ve suffered, they might be more prone to take advantage of discount offers. If they’re thriving, they might be ready for upselling of similar products.

Type 4: Segmentation Based On Engagement

The final lesson in our Advanced Segmentation class is to have an audience segment based on how it engages with a brand. It’s a subset of psychographic segmentation, and it considers how prospects, leads, and existing customers engage with a brand across a spectrum of platforms. It’s social media, it’s open rates, it’s click-throughs, and it’s which specific devices they use to consume their content.

Three main factors drive engagement: 
Relevance, Frequency, Call-to-Action.

If you already know that your prospect isn’t opening your emails, there’s no need wasting time by sending them seven more follow-up emails. Contrarily, you might notice that a prospect regularly opens your emails but doesn’t respond. It can be worth putting them in a high engagement group who are open to follow-ups or might require a different line of outreach.

Personalisation is A/B testing of subject lines to find the correct one that unlocks their open. It’s tailor-made offers teased in those subject lines to increase their engagement and chances of conversion. It’s sending email outreach at the optimal time for them to open it. It’s sending it the right amount of times, so you don’t overwhelm or underwhelm your recipient.

How? Engagement segments can be made based on email tracking results tracking every interaction. Usually, this involves employing software that inserts tiny tracking pixels into emails. When these tracking pixels are opened, it sends a download request to the tracking client’s servers. This is counted as a view. From that, users can see who, when, and which device their content has been opened on.

Remember. I’m only explicitly referring to email in this example because that’s why my niche lies. Email is the most traditional form of marketing outreach, sure. As we step into the new year, we see more and more platforms come to the stage, such as live chats, social media, and internal community platforms. We must track these interactions too and maintain a personalised experience across each of those different channels.

Audience segmentation goes way beyond demographics. It looks at buyer motivations and situations. It looks into what they want so you can give them what they want. It’s the key to growth today.

So let’s get growing.

George Rowlands

George is the Content Strategy Lead at NetHunt CRM. Writing is his thing. He shines a spotlight on tech and B2B industries, covering a range of topics from productivity to sales strategies and customer relations. He bridges the gap between data and creative content with flare.

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