Identifying and Engaging Your Most Valuable Audience Segments

Your audience is made up of a series of segments of audiences, all in a different place in their journey with your brand. From one-time visitors to the most loyal readers, each segment requires a different strategy for engagement and something different from your brand experience.

Your audience is made up of a series of segments of audiences, all in a different place in their journey with your brand. From one-time visitors to the most loyal readers, each segment requires a different strategy for engagement and something different from your brand experience.

To optimize your audience development strategies for 2020, you need to first identify these audience segments and then determine a plan for engaging with and growing each segment.

For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll use Google Analytics to create audience segments, as most readers will be familiar with and have access to the tool. There are, of course, more advanced tools like CDPs that will allow you to act even more strategically.

Note that when creating segments in Google Analytics you can typically look at a segment’s behavior for a maximum of 90 days. So for the purposes of analyzing these groups, we’ll be looking at them in terms of their behavior within a 90-day period.

Segmenting Your Online Audiences

This article overviews one way to segment your online audience into four categories. If this isn’t the right way for your brand, you can segment in a way that works for you. The lesson here is to develop your segments and then create a plan that prioritizes and engages each accordingly.

1. Drive-bys

Drive-bys visit your site once and likely won’t again, at least not for another few months. More than likely they stumbled onto your website through a Google search or a friend sharing a link on social media. They may or may not be in your target audience.

Find these users by creating a segment in Google Analytics and filtering by users who have exactly one session on your website. If your target audience is based on a geographic region, you can create two segments, one within that region and one without.

How to Engage Your Drive-bys

Drive-bys are the audience segment that is likely to be on the bottom of the totem pole in terms of priority, so your strategy for engaging them should be minimal. Monetize their visit with programmatic advertising, but invest little other efforts in engagement.

2. Passive Visitors

Passive visitors to your website are those who return to engage with your brand two or three times in a 90-day period. The fact that they have returned to your website after their initial visit suggests they might be within your target audience and should be engaged accordingly.

One way to identify your passive visitors is to create a segment in Google Analytics that filters users who have exactly or greater than two sessions on your website and more than 30 days since their last session. The second part of this criteria will eliminate your more frequent visitors — we’ll get to those soon.

How to Engage Your Passive Visitors

Passive visitors have much more value to your brand than the drive-by visitors. Based on their return to your website, they are more likely to be in your target audience and should be considered warm leads for your brand.

Keep passive visitors on clean, clutter-free website pages to avoid overwhelming their experience with advertising, if possible. You can do this by exporting audiences from your segments into DFP (Google’s ad platform). The ideal outcome is to secure their email address capture, so present these users with opportunities to sign-up for one of your weekly (or lower frequency) newsletters.

If you’re unable to capture an email address, happily settle for a social follow by targeting these users in DFP with ads driving to your social channels, or retarget these visitors on social media using the same process above.

3. Engaged Visitors

Highly engaged visitors are regularly engaging with your brand and are visiting your website at least once per month. Get excited because this is where your marketing strategies get fun.

When creating the segment in Google Analytics, filter by users who have exactly or greater than five sessions on your website. Based on our work with regional and niche publishers, these visitors are likely to be less than 10% of your total users, yet there’s a good chance they generate more than 40% of your website’s page views, making them an incredibly valuable audience segment.

How to Market to Your Engaged Visitors

These users are already engaged with your brand, so the next step is marketing more of your content to them and deepening their connection with it. If you do not have email addresses in your database for these users, your number-one goal should be to capture them. If you do have an email address, you should be using your email service provider to monitor their behavior with your emails and fine-tuning your content delivery based on their interests. For example, if they are recurringly visiting your food coverage, deliver them news about restaurant openings first or make sure they know about your upcoming food event.

Further engagement includes driving these readers back to your website with advertising on Facebook and Instagram. Consider experimenting with soft gates on popular pieces of content to force an email capture to read the articles. But keep their experience clean and clutter-free. This isn’t the audience you want to hit over the head with invasive or pop-up advertising. This audience is primed for a deeper relationship with your brand and your marketing actions can drive them to your site more frequently — or drive them away.

4. Loyalists

Loyalists visit your website at least 15 times over a quarter, which equates to visiting more than once per week. These folks are very likely to be on your email newsletter list or are highly engaged with your brand on social media. Based on what we see from our clients’ brands, loyalists may comprise less than 3% of your visitors but could be making up as much as 25% of your page views.

Create a final segment inside Google Analytics that filters by users who have exactly or greater than 15 sessions on your website. Remember you’ll be looking at these segments over a period of 90 days.

How to Market to Your Loyalists

Like your ‘engaged’ visitors, these individuals are already invested in the content you are sharing, and now your goal is to drive revenue from them.

If you have a metered paywall in place – or are considering putting one on your website – these users are the ones who will hit it. If you have a subscription product to sell, these users will feel the most inclined to support your brand financially.

A great way to extract more value out of these users is to get their feedback. As regular consumers of your content, they are more likely to share their time and their opinions. Whether you’re considering a new product launch or a shift in editorial coverage, this audience’s opinions will be valuable.

Two common ways to solicit feedback are through a traditional survey – typically sent via email (SurveyMonkey is easy to use for something like this) – or through a focus group. The latter especially allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the content they love, what kind of products they want from your brand, and most importantly what they would be willing to pay for.

Not All Audiences Are Created Equal

We know by now that not all audiences are created equal, so your engagement strategies shouldn’t be either. These high-level strategy suggestions are the beginning of engaging your various website audiences differently to make the most out of your time and marketing resources.

How to Employ Segmentation to Improve Your Content Marketing

Evaluating your content marketing specifically for each audience segment will yield insights that a program-wide analysis won’t capture. Audience segmentation isn’t just good for reaching the right people with the right message. Done well, it can help you learn more about your audience.

Audience segmentation isn’t just good for reaching the right people with the right message. Done well, it can help you learn more about your audience. And learn more about how better to meet their needs.Your content marketing should be a part of that process.

  • First, if you are’t creating content specifically for different audience segments, please start doing so now.
  • Second, if you aren’t creating your audience segments based on their attributes and behavior, that’s another change you should make immediately. (“People who buy Product A from us” is not an effective audience segment.)

Assuming you do have useful audience segmentation in place, here’s how you can use it to learn more about your audience.

All Content Is Not Created Equal

Begin by evaluating your content marketing efforts on their own. Identify the 20% of your content that performs best and the 20% that performs worst. (We’ll come back to those bottom-of-the-barrel content elements in a bit.)

Your evaluation can be based on key performance metrics, running the gamut from page views to revenue generated. But you should include a range of process metrics and outcomes metrics.

We define process metrics as those data points, like page views, time on page, CTRs, etc., that can provide valuable insight into your audience’s interests, but don’t measure actual business performance. Outcomes metrics are those that relate to revenue generation, lead quality, lead volume, and so on.

You may be tempted to lean more heavily on outcomes metrics, if you have them. They are clearly more important in the long run. Page likes don’t pay the bills, after all. But our goal is to evaluate the health and effectiveness of our entire content marketing program. So, understanding how well we’re doing with early-stage prospects is important. The data points from early funnel activity are almost always going to be process oriented — content consumption, measures of engagement, micro-conversion numbers.

Cross-Referencing Your Results

With your raw performance information in-hand, look at these numbers again — broken down by audience segment. Here’s where you’ll see real value. If you can identify what content is resonating best with each audience segment, you can tailor programs to those audience segments, based on what they’re most interested in.

Rather than simply trying to double down on your best-performing content, you can provide content that performs best for each audience segment.

What About Your Underperforming Content?

You may also find that, rather than eliminating your less effective content, you can tailor it to a specific audience segment and have it perform much more effectively. This will likely require a deeper dive into whether any of the laggards are weak overall, despite being strong in one particular area.

Some of this work may require updates to your coding or your analytics reporting. Discuss what that investment is going to be with your tech team. Chances are, costs will be recouped quickly.

Once you get the hang of this approach, you’ll see benefits beyond your immediate results. This kind of deeper dive into your analytics data can help you evaluate information from disparate parts of your marketing efforts and yield insights that can impact your broader marketing effectiveness.

5 Effective Audience Segments for Digital Marketing

Too often, we talk to marketers whose idea of audience segmentation is not just limited, but terribly egocentric. You are, I’m sure, at least a few steps ahead of the worst offenders, but you may still be leaving opportunities unaddressed. Here are some new ways to think about your audience.

Hitting the Target Audience SegmentToo often, we talk to marketers whose idea of audience segmentation is not just limited, but terribly egocentric. By egocentric, I mean that they view their audience segments in terms of their own product or service lines: Segment 1 is the folks we sell this service to. Segment 2 is the folks we sell that service to.

You are, I’m sure, at least a few steps ahead of the worst offenders, but you may still be leaving opportunities unaddressed. Here are some new ways to think about your audience.

1. Industry

Industry considerations are probably the grand-daddy of all segmentation. Even folks who think egocentrically about their audience are smart enough to realize that their products are likely to be appealing in different ways to different audiences. The features are the same, but the benefits change depending on the industry’s needs.

You can capitalize on this by creating content that is industry-specific and highlights the benefits that are most pertinent to that industry’s most common needs. As with all of the segmentation examples we’re discussing, this can be implemented in some combination of your website landing pages, email marketing subscriptions and even speaking engagements, among other things.

2. Company Size

Just as different industries will have different needs, so will organizations of varying sizes. Again, you’ll want to focus on differentiation of benefits of your product or service. For example, your product’s ability to eliminate the need for more staff as business grows is likely to be more valuable to a large organization than a small one — saving a few hours a week isn’t going to change the head count in an organization where those savings are multiplied by only one employee. But if the multiplier is dozens of employees, that’s a different story.

3. Role

The CFO may be the decider-in-chief when it comes to adding products or services for accounting and compliance teams, but her interests will be quite different from those of an in-the-trenches accountant in the same organization. If she’s smart, she’ll let those accountants have their say in what tools they get to use for their tasks. If you’re smart, you’ll position your solutions differently to each role. For one group you might want to highlight how your solution makes their lives easier day-to-day. For the other, cost savings or consistency across the organization might be the pain point to address.

4. Past Purchase Behavior

You don’t interact with your close friends the same way you do with acquaintances or complete strangers, do you? So why wouldn’t you differentiate your marketing for new prospects, lapsed customers and key accounts?

Technology is getting all the press these days, but good solid relationships matter, too. Talking to your customers can help you understand typical paths as companies grow (or contract) and mature or morph into new businesses. With that understanding, you can pro-actively engage with customers who are starting down similar paths. There’s real magic in knowing what a client will need before he does!

5. Content Consumption Behavior

Technology again gets a starring role in the realm of content consumption behavior. Tracking what content is most popular in aggregate is fantastic; it guides you to create more content like it. But tracking individual preferences is powerful, too, since it can help you make content recommendations that are most relevant to that prospect’s needs — and most useful to you in helping them through the buyer’s journey.

Not all of these segmentation approaches will make sense for your business, but technology continues to make tracking behavior and segmentation easier than ever, so you should be revisiting these concepts on at least an annual basis. As your business changes so might the ways you drill down into your funnel to best meet your prospects’ needs.