Segmentation is organizing your database by grouping together contacts and companies based on specific characteristics.
Everyone at your company can leverage segmentation.
Marketing can use it to determine outreach and to tailor communications. Your sales team can use it to prioritize the best-fit leads. Your service team can use segments to understand where they need to focus most and how they can provide the most relevant resources to customers.
At a higher level, segmentation can help you identify where to invest, maintain and evaluate in your customer base: Which segments are lower-performing but have high potential? Which segments are doing well? Which segments are doing poorly?
Once you know what segments are good and bad, you can then look at where they came from to determine how you can optimize your marketing and sales efforts to acquire more high-performing segments and less poor-performing ones.
How to Segment your Database
Segmentation occurs in your CRM, where your contacts are stored. In order to segment your database, certain data points need to be captured and associated with individual contacts.
There are multiple ways you can segment your database. Some of the most common include source channel, time, first-touch content, product, ideal customer profile and buyer persona.
Source channel is how a contact arrived on your site. Did they come in through organic? Were they a referral? Did they engage with a paid ad? Segmenting by how you acquired a contact can help you determine which areas of your marketing warrant further investment and which are less effective.
If you’re using a marketing analytics tool like HubSpot, source channel is easy to track and just needs to be associated with the contact record in your CRM.
When a contact engaged with your company, what was the first piece of content they interacted with? While source channel indicates how a customer was brought to your site, first-touch content is what they saw when they arrived.
In order to segment by first-touch content, you’ll need your marketing automation platform to be integrated with your CRM and set up property or field mappings between the two..
Segmenting by time can help you determine if there was a specific campaign or seasonal event that led to a contact’s conversion — and understand how contacts who converted through such events perform over time. Segmenting your customers by time can also give you insight into retention trends.
The time when a contact converted should be automatically recorded in your CRM.
If you have multiple products or multiple product tiers, segmenting your database by which one a contact is using can help your customer marketing team send contextually relevant communications.
Which product a customer purchased should be documented as part of the sales process when a deal closes.
Ideal customer profile (ICP)
An ICP is a hypothetical description of the type of company that realizes the most value from your product or service. In your CRM, this takes the form of groupings of companies based on shared characteristics that indicate their fit.
You’ll need to determine what characteristics are common amongst your successful customers in order to build your ICP. The most common factors to look at are company size, revenue and industry.
Once you know what those characteristics are, you’ll need to create a company property and automation that identifies companies in your database as the ICP they fit. Then you can send tailored communications based on the commonalities companies that fit your ICPs share and prioritize leads that work at those companies since they’ll be the best fit.
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of the people working at ICPs who are the best fit to engage in your marketing and sales process. Similar to your ICP, in your CRM buyer personas are identified based on specific contact characteristics. These typically include role in their organization, seniority and pain point.
Based on what those properties are, you can map contacts to the appropriate buyer persona and then segment by persona in order to tailor your outreach and communications.
How to Capture the Necessary Data for Segmentation
In order to map companies and contacts back to the appropriate ICP and buyer persona, you need to collect data about those necessary characteristics.
There are two primary ways to capture that information: forms and enrichment.
When someone is signing up for communications with your company or downloading a gated offer, you can ask them for the information you need using forms.
However, you shouldn’t ask them for every data point you could possibly use for segmentation the first time they convert on your site. To collect all the information you need without causing too much friction for site visitors, it’s best to use progressive forms, which will change which questions appear on each form a visitor fills out based on the information you still need to know about that contact.
Instead of asking contacts to give you information, you can also use a data enrichment tool that appends new and existing contact records with the data you need for segmentation.
For example, if someone gives you their company email address on a form, a data enrichment tool can associate that with a company domain and then automatically fill in company information in your CRM.
Enrichment tools can’t give you qualitative information like pain points and challenges, but by filling in all the quantitative data points, you can eliminate those form fields. This allows you to focus on more qualitative questions, which reduces friction when converting leads and improves the user experience for site visitors.
Once you have all that data, you can create reports around these segments to understand the health of your customer base. If you’re just getting started, looking at total revenue and customer lifetime value by segment will give you a lot of insights, but you can dig as deep as you want.
You can look at product usage by segment to understand who’s the most engaged with your product or service. You can look into support requests to see which segments have the most issues. You can use segmentation to identify which types of customers have the most issues related to billing and collections.
All of those factors help you understand what makes the most successful customer for your company and then you can use that knowledge to focus your customer acquisition on those high-performing segments.
Guido is Head of Product and Growth Strategy for New Breed. He specializes in running in-depth demand generation programs internally while assisting account managers in running them for our clients.