Market Segmentation Studies: 5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Efforts

Market segmentation studies are popular among the research community, but often times, organizations struggle to implement them effectively. Attitudinal segmentation studies are by nature rich in detailed information about each individual segment of the market. Researchers usually communicate the information from a segmentation study in a voluminous report due to the sheer amount of information these studies provide. This makes it tough for marketing and product development teams to understand and use the information. What can researchers do to help internal clients gain a more intimate understanding of the different segments of their market and put this information to work for them?

#1: Make the information digestible. A comprehensive PowerPoint deck is valuable for getting to know the segments in depth and answering specific questions about a target group, but it is not usually the best way to introduce a strategic profile of the market to internal stakeholders. We have found that a dashboard, which includes an overview of the segments and one or two slides of key characteristics of each segment, is useful for introducing the segments at a high-level before individual teams begin implementation plans. A graphically interesting, one-page summary, can serve as a reference for segmentation users.

#2: Score your customer base for targeted marketing. One of the deliverables of a segmentation study should be an algorithm based on a short list of variables you have available in your database to classify your current customers into appropriate segments. By scoring your database, the marketing team can send targeted marketing communications to individual segments, and customer service call center reps and relationship managers can tailor their approach by segment.

#3: Build a targeted database of prospects. In a similar vein, segmentation studies should also include an algorithm to score prospect lists based on variables available. These might include variables in consumer direct marketing lists or the Dun & Bradstreet database of businesses. This allows marketers, the sales team, and the call center sales team to tailor their messaging to prospects and achieve higher acquisition rates.

#4: Classify website visitors. The segmentation study should also produce a short list of questions that can be asked to classify individuals in future studies or elsewhere in the organization. Marketers can ask the short list of questions in the online sales process to classify site visitors in real-time and serve appropriate content, from marketing communications to specific product and service offerings. Classifying website visitors provides a powerful way to personalize a prospect’s experience on your website and has the potential to drive sales.

#5: Develop personas to represent typical customers in each segment. Personas go beyond statistics and provide internal teams a mental image of a “typical” buyer, often in the form of a story or a profile. This method of presenting information guides the development of products and services, and drives goal-based design decisions. Often times, internal teams develop personas without much direction, so the segmentation scheme adds a quantitative basis for the personas.

Market segmentation studies provide a great deal of strategic value to organizations, realizing that value requires researchers to go beyond reports and use creative approaches to make segmentations more actionable and accessible to their clients.