Back in 2010 when I first got started with email marketing, I thought I knew what I was doing. I embedded a form on my site, offered something of value for free, and people opted into my list.
Overnight, I fancied myself a highly sophisticated email marketer. My list was growing steadily, I was converting prospects to customers, and my revenue steadily increased.
Damn, I’m so smart….or so I thought.
The problem I began having was that my email open rates (how many people opened my emails) started to decline.
Why did this happen? Because I was sending everybody on my list exactly the same stuff, without stopping to check in with them on what they were actually interested in.
Now that I have the benefit of hindsight, I can see that the huge mistake that I was making was that I wasn’t segmenting my list into groups of similar people.
The Power of Segmentation
If you are using your website to build a list of subscribers (prospects) and you aren’t segmenting them into groups, you are making a HUGE mistake. (If you aren’t yet even building a list, you are making an even bigger mistake!)
Assuming you want to create an engaged audience (and who would want a disengaged audience?), the reason segmenting your list is so important is that the only way to create engagement is to send out high quality content that is relevant to the wants, needs and desires of the people you are sending it to.
For example, if I was building a list by offering up a free training course on email marketing, some of the people on that list might be solo-preneurs just starting out, whereas others may be running a small company that is already doing email marketing and looking for ways to improve their results.
WHY IS SEGMENTATION IMPORTANT?
Do you think that both of these types of people (personas) would find value in exactly the same content?
Hardly. For the first group, they need the basics: how to set up and auto-responder, how to install a web form, etc…
If you sent basic information like this to the second group, what do you think would happen? You’d bore them to tears and they’d either unsubscribe or just ignore your emails.
The fastest way to kill your list is to send them content that is not relevant to their needs, wants, and desires.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T SEGMENT YOUR LIST?
When you don’t segment your list, you can’t send out content that is highly relevant and when your content is irrelevant, so are you.
Think about some of the lists you are on. Whose content do you value most? Why do you always open emails from these people?
Could it be that they seem to have a knack for always sending you content you find extremely helpful?
What do you do when their content ceases to be of value? At first, you probably just open fewer of the emails. Over time, if they don’t improve the relevancy of what they are sending you, chances are you are going to start regularly ignoring them, and, in the worst case (for them), you unsubscribe.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SEGMENTATION?
When you take the time to learn more about the needs, wants, and desires of your subscribers, and then send them ONLY content that fits with what they’ve told you about themselves, you are going to see all sorts of benefits.
First – and most obvious – is the fact that your open rates are going to remain higher than they would otherwise be. When you have high open rates, you have an engaged audience.
The next major benefit will be that your audience will have a much higher propensity to share you content on their social networks. As you might guess, the reason for this is simple: the more helpful your content is to your audience, the more likely they are going to want to share it with others.
In fact, if you really want to be a rock star, make your marketing content so good that people would want to pay you for it. This is something that New York Times best selling author Jay Baer outlines how to do in his new book, Youtility. (If you’d like to see how Jay made his book such a huge success, I suggest you read a post about Jay’s success that was recently published by past BrightIdeas podcast guest Michael Gass.)
The final major benefit is that a more engaged audience is much more likely to trust you, and with increased trust comes increased revenue.
Getting Started with Segmentation
Segmenting your list need not be difficult. In fact, if you follow a similar strategy to the one that I’m about to share with you, segmentation will actually be the natural by-product of your digital marketing strategy.
WHAT TO ASK FOR
The first step in segmenting your list is to determine your goals. In my case, I want to accomplish the following things:
- Increased engagement
- Increased social sharing
- Increased revenue
Once you know your goals, you need to make a list of the things you want to know about your subscribers. What makes them different? What are they most interested in? What can they afford? What type of business are they in?
As you might guess, when you begin to learn this much about the people on your list, you can start to send them content that is a lot more relevant to their individual needs…and when you do that, your open rates (and subsequent conversions) can only go up.
TO MAXIMIZE CONVERSIONS YOU NEED TWO TYPES OF DATA
In order to segment my list, I ask direct questions. I also pay very close attention to the behavior of my subscribers.
In fact, I probably place more value on my subscribers’ behavior (at least initially) than I do their answers to my questions. The reason I track behavior so closely is because I believe I can learn a lot about each person by paying attention to what they DO as opposed to what they SAY.
Whenever I ask a direct question, I am collecting external data. In my case, at the time of this writing, I ask my subscribers to answer the following four questions:
- What are you struggling with most?
- How much revenue does your business generate?
- What kind of business are you in?
- What do you want to learn about most?
When I have their answers, I have a much clearer idea of each of their needs, wants and desires.
The way that I collect this data is pretty straight forward. I put a web form under each video in my Conversion Tactics free training series.
Whenever a subscriber clicks a link, downloads a file or watches a video (etc), I track that activity. In other words, I pay very close attention to each subscriber’s behavior so that I can learn as much about them as possible. Armed with this data, I can actually adjust the frequency and type of messages I send to be better suited to their behavior. (I demonstrate this in a video later on in this post.)
Subscribers who are eager to watch everything unlock the next video right away; whereas subscribers that aren’t as engaged are reminded to take action several times, and then, as soon as they do act, the reminders stop.
This works so incredibly well that I often receive emails from new subscribers asking me how on earth I knew what actions they did (or didn’t) take!
(If you aren’t yet a subscriber and would like to see my marketing automation in action, become one now.)
OFFERING INCENTIVES IN TRADE FOR DATA
Not every subscriber is going to be willing to answer my questions and fill in a form on my site. Some will be in a hurry, some won’t yet trust me enough, some simply choose to remain more anonymous.
Regardless of their reasons, it’s just not practical to expect to get 100% of my subscribers to answer every question I ask. It is possible, however, to offer them additional incentives to get them to fill in my web forms.
For example, in video #1 of my Conversion Tactics video training series, I actually tell my viewers that I’m tracking how much of the video they watch, and if they watch it all, I will send them an additional bit of content that I know they will find extremely valuable. (I know the types of things that ALL my subscribers want because I carefully target my audience.)
In my case, because I use BrightIdeas.co as a platform to teach people about digital marketing strategy and marketing automation, the more transparent I am in my marketing funnel, the better my funnel actually works. The reason for this is that the vast majority of my subscribers are marketing consultants and they are looking to me to learn things that they can use to attract more clients for themselves – so much of what I’m “using on them” will actually work very well in their own funnels – and once they realize that, they become very engaged with my content.
TRACKING VIDEO ENGAGEMENT
Over the years, I have tested all sorts of ways to increase engagement with my audience. Of all of the things that I have tested, video is by far the most powerful tool for tracking engagement. There are several reasons why I think that video works so well in this regard.
First, when I put my face or voice on camera and then serve up that content to a new subscriber, they are going to be exponentially more engaged with me than if there were just reading a written post like this one. With video, they can see my face, hear my voice, watch my eyes and connect with me in ways that simply aren’t possible in a written post.
The other reason that I find video so powerful for tracking engagement is that I can actually track how much of my videos each subscriber watches and, depending on how much they watch, I can trigger additional automation to occur.
For example, in my funnel, if you watch 100% of each video (like I ask you to), then I’m going to send you the additional gifts that I promised you in each video. If you watch less then 100%, you don’t get the bonuses I talked about. If you click a link to watch a video and then don’t end up watching it, I treat you differently yet again.
In other words, by tracking how much of my videos you do or don’t watch, I can adjust the behavior of my automated campaigns.
Behavioral Marketing allows me to automatically adjust my marketing campaigns to match your behavior, creating a far more personalized experience with my brand.
MID-FUNNEL LEAD MAGNETS
A mid-funnel lead magnet is most often a free report that is offered to existing subscribers. Hubspot is among the best I have ever seen at doing this. The number of reports they offer for download to existing subscribers is nothing short of amazing.
Unlike the initial lead magnet whose goal was to capture the email address, a mid-funnel lead magnet’s goal is to tell me more about the things that my subscribers are interested in.
For example, if I offered up a free report on how B2B companies could generate more leads for their products and services, that would tell me quite a bit about what this subscriber is most interested in right now. Shortly after someone has downloaded this report, it would serve me when to send them to the sales page for The Best Buyer Formula (my training course on B2B lead generation).
Even if I didn’t have a product for sale to match that need, offering mid-funnel lead magnets is a very powerful tactic because people who are downloading a free report on lead generation (or whatever) are obviously quite interested in learning more about lead generation. If I didn’t have a product, I could either follow up with them to do some consulting, or – if I see that the report is downloaded often enough – I could create a product to match this need.
So rather than put up a web form that asks, “are you interested in learning more about lead generation?”, I could simply put up a form that said “enter you details to instantly receive a report on how to generate more leads”.
Regardless of whether I ask the question directly or indirectly, I’m still going to learn more about my subscriber and that is absolutely key to my being able to properly segment my list.
What To Do With Your Segments
Now that you have all this data about your subscribers, it’s critical that you put it to use, and there are plenty of ways to do this.
MANUAL FOLLOW UP
If you don’t yet have a library full of original content, the easiest and fastest way to leverage the knowledge you gain about each subscriber is to reach out and talk to them. When you engage in conversations like this, you are going to learn a great deal more about each subscriber, not to mention create a qualified sales opportunity.
One of my products is a mastermind group for marketing consultants and whenever I learn that a new subscriber is a consultant interested in growing their business, I make sure to give them the opportunity to go directly to my online calendar to book a time to speak with me about joining the mastermind group. This approach works very well because by the time they actually get on the phone with me, each of my prospects has already been exposed to quite a bit of my content. My close ratio for these calls is north of 70% and the call they book is often the very first time I have ever spoken to them.
One of my past guests, Forrest Walden, CEO of Iron Tribe Fitness, reports even better results than mine. In his case, when a prospect comes into the gym for a face-to-face consultation, his trainers are able to convert that prospect to a customer 98% of the time!
ADDITIONAL (AUTOMATED) FOLLOW UP SEQUENCES
Regardless of how much I know about some people, they might not be ready to buy something right now. This is something that I keep in mind whenever I’m building the follow up sequence that is triggered when a certain goal is achieved. (Downloading a free report is one example of such a goal.)
For example, if a subscriber clicks a link to register for a demo of Infusionsoft (the marketing automation software I use to create my funnels and run my business), I make sure that over the next few weeks they receive links to the many interviews that I have recorded with successful entrepreneurs who also use Infusionsoft in their business. That way, even if they don’t actually attend the demo, they are going to continue to receive helpful content from me for a few more weeks yet.
Remember, as Jay Baer suggests: make your content so good people would pay for it!
Regardless of the type of business you are in, at some point in time, you should give your prospects (subscribers) a chance to become a customer. When you segment in the way that I have explained above, you are exponentially increasing the odds that they will want to buy and I strongly encourage you to ensure that you regularly give them the opportunity to do so. Additional manual follow up, calendar appointments, and more automated follow up are just 3 examples of how you can do this.
- Segmenting your list into groups of people with similar needs, wants, and desires is absolutely critical to maximizing results
- When you segment your list, you will increase engagement, get more social shares, build trust and generate more revenue
- If you don’t segment your list, you will burn your list out over time and lose subscribers
- The type of information you need to collect will be determined by your goals
- There are two types of data to collect and track: external and internal
- External data is what subscribers tell you when filling out web forms
- Internal data is what they do (links clicked, videos watched, files downloaded, etc…)
- Offering additional incentives will significantly increase the amount of external data you collect
- Make extensive use of video to increase engagement and track how much of each video is viewed
- Offering mid-funnel lead magnets is another very powerful way to segment your list
- Once you have segmented your subscribers, ensure that you only send them content that is highly relevant to their needs, wants and desires.
- Whenever you collect more data, be sure to offer your subscribers an opportunity to do business with you
- When you send highly relevant content, your audience will be more engaged, they will share your content and you will make more money
- For maximum results, automate, automate, automate (or just hire an army to work 24×7, but that sounds pretty expensive to me)
A Behinds the Scenes Look at How I Segment in my Funnel
In the video below, I’m going to share with you version 3.0 of my marketing funnel. This funnel contains the sequence of follow up emails that I send after someone opts into the top of my funnel. My goal with this initial campaign is to learn as much as I can about the needs, wants, and desires of my new subscribers so that I can continue to send them content that will be as helpful as possible; ultimately leading to their choosing to purchase one of more of my products.
The video below is just under 15 minutes long and is an excerpt from the the last Bright Ideas Mastermind Elite monthly meeting (hence why you hear some other voices). If you’d like to apply to become a mastermind member, click here.
If you’d like to learn more about Infusionsoft (the software I used in this video), you can register to get access to an on-demand webinar here.
If you found this article on segmentation helpful, go and become a VIP for my new book on Digital Marketing. As important as segmentation is, it’s just one of the digital marketing strategies you need to implement to become a digital marketing maven (I cover the others in my book). Become a VIP today and you will receive 25% off the book on the day that it is released.