This is a guest post from Kevin McGrath at Beacon.
If you’re sending the same type of emails to everyone on your list, you’re missing a big opportunity.
Segmentation might sound complicated but, really, it’s just the process of separating your email list into several smaller groups for a more cohesive, personalized experience.
Why is segmentation important?
In the context of email marketing, the goal of segmentation is to be able to send more personalized emails to prospective customers.
Just to be clear, when we talk about personalization, we don’t mean a simple “Hi [first_name].” Instead, we mean sending relevant content that’s personalized to a person’s individual situation.
For example, if you run an ecommerce clothing store, it doesn’t really make sense to send male clothing recommendations to those who buy female clothes, and vice versa. Instead, you can segment your marketing list based on gender.
This way, your customers are more likely to get product recommendations that they’ll find useful.
When done correctly, a segmented email list will lead to better engagement and higher conversion rates.
The traditional way to segment prospects is based on demographics—like in our ecommerce example. But that doesn’t always work, particularly when you’re selling to other businesses.
Imagine you run a company that sells financial management software. A 35-year-old female in London and a 58-year-old male in Texas are both as likely to show interest in your product for their respective businesses. In other words, segmenting them based on age, gender, or location might not be as fruitful.
In this situation, it makes more sense to segment your audience based on buyer awareness.
As detailed in the book Great Leads, buyer awareness can be measured on a scale from unaware to very aware.
Very aware people are almost ready to buy your product—they only need a small nudge in the right direction.
On the other hand, unaware people have never heard of your product and will need some education before they’re ready to buy. The goal is to move prospects from one end of the scale to the other.
If you send emails based on buyer awareness, then you’re more likely to hit a nerve with the recipient and get a positive response, which will move people along the awareness scale.
To get started with segmentation, you’ll need two things:
- The prospect’s email address
- A rough idea of where that prospect sits on the awareness scale
Since interactions with potential customers can often be brief, it’s important that you get this information as efficiently as possible. For that reason, we’re going to use lead magnets.
Using lead magnets for segmentation
A lead magnet is a piece of content that someone swaps for their email address—like an ebook, for example.
The content a prospect consumes is a good indicator of their awareness. If your lead magnet is about a complicated topic then it’ll appeal more to people at the “very aware” end of the scale. Beginner-style content will appeal to those who are “unaware.”
The lead magnet approach is perfect for us because we’re getting a person’s contact information AND a sense of where they are on the awareness scale.
Here’s what that segmentation might look like for a business that sells personal finance software:
|Prospect’s Email Address||Lead Magnet Downloaded||Segment|
|firstname.lastname@example.org||Beginner’s Guide To Bookkeeping||Unaware|
|email@example.com||Taking Your Finances Paperless||Problem Aware|
|firstname.lastname@example.org||Digital Tax Return Guidebook||Solution Aware|
|email@example.com||Optimizing Your Workflow For Efficiency||Product Aware|
|firstname.lastname@example.org||How This Person Saved $20k In Tax With Our Software||Aware|
The key to this approach is having several lead magnets that’ll appeal to people with different stages of awareness.
Choosing the most appropriate lead magnet format
The number of different lead magnet formats is endless, as a lead magnet could be any piece of content that a person’s willing to swap their email address for.
There are, however, some lead magnet formats in particular that are easy to create and will act as a good indicator for a prospect’s state of awareness.
Ebooks are probably the most popular format of lead magnet, and with good reason. Because an ebook gives you lots of space to go into a good level of detail about a specific subject, it’s the perfect format for people who are at the “unaware” stage.
Providing a package of relevant content in a convenient, downloadable format will save prospective customers lots of research time, and it has the added benefit of setting you up as a thought leader in your industry.
A resource guide is a list of items that you recommend to help someone achieve a specific goal. These items could be apps, books, websites, or anything that someone can buy to make progress.
If a prospect downloads this lead magnet, then it’s a good indication that they’re “problem aware” but not “solution aware.”
A checklist is a list of practical tasks that a person can complete to achieve a larger goal. Since checklists require action by the person who downloaded them, they’re a good lead magnet format for people who are “solution aware.”
Workbooks are one step up from a checklist. They require more work and commitment to complete, so they’re a good lead magnet format for people who are “product aware.”
You can use the workbook to highlight how your product will become the solution to their problem.
Strategically placing your lead magnets
Once you create a lead magnet for each stage of awareness, you should place them strategically on your website to help maximize exposure to the most appropriate prospect.
Since “unaware” prospects are unlikely to be on your website, you may need to use some paid advertisement to reach them. If this is the case, then a dedicated landing page is the perfect way to present your lead magnet.
A landing page will focus the prospect’s attention on one particular action—in this case, downloading your ebook—so it’ll prevent them from getting distracted and not entering their email address.
Blog post content upgrade
Since most visitors arrive to blog posts via search engines, there’s a great opportunity to attract prospective customers at the “problem aware” stage. Content upgrades can help you to convert these anonymous visitors into prospects.
A content upgrade is a lead magnet that’s paired with an individual blog post. Since content upgrades are directly related to the content of the blog post, they can improve conversion rates by as much as 785%. Content upgrades are usually presented in the main body of a blog post.
The CTA is designed to look plain and simple, so people don’t think it’s an advertisement. Lead magnets like resource guides work particularly well as content upgrades.
The top area of a web page is probably the most visible location on your entire site. Placing a CTA in this location will maximise the number of times it’s seen by prospective customers, so it’s the perfect location for a “solution aware” lead magnet.
A checklist would work well in this location, as it’s the kind of practical content that would appeal to people who are revisiting your site to further assess the solutions that you offer.
As visitors move more into the “product aware” stage of the scale, it’s important that your lead magnet is positioned on web pages where people are doing detailed research about the solutions that your business offers—for example, a “features” page of a product website or a “case study” page of a services-oriented business.
An inline form is the perfect “no-nonsense” way of presenting a valuable lead magnet to the right person at the right time.
Lead magnets can help you collect email addresses and, when used correctly, can segment your audience. Plus, the content within the lead magnet can nurture prospects to the next stage of awareness.
Kevin has spent the past 15 years helping businesses to grow online. He is now the CEO of Beacon, a software company that helps people to generate more leads at higher conversion rates.