Online Marketing: Segmentation (and why you put customers into groups)

Posted By: Dave Kopf
Post Date: 02/09/2017

CUSTOMERS AREN’T UNIFORM. The people coming to your dealership for rides, parts, accessories, gear and service represent a diverse group of people who possess a wide variety of ages, incomes, interests, preferences and needs.

Does your marketing reflect that?

For generations, businesses advertised in a scatter-shot fashion, running advertising across a variety of broad-reach media such as print, radio and television, and using advertising appeals and messaging that were equally broad. Expensive direct mail efforts were about as targeted as marketing could get.

Enter online marketing. Regardless of the online venue — advertising, social media, email — you can precisely pinpoint customers and give them the most relevant marketing messages. This lets you distribute emails with subject lines and pre-headers that appeal to specific customer groups. This lets you target your online advertising to specific groups. This helps you create promotions and campaigns to are highly specific to niches within your customers base.

Hold on.

In order to do all that, you first need to engage in market segmentation. You need to start thinking about the groups within your customer base. And you need to start thinking about the market groups which could become your customers.

An easy way to start is to sort your customers by general activity: Look at what you customers do. Are they street riders? Are they dirt riders? OK, go deeper than that. Who are your UTV riders? Who are your MX riders? Who are your adventure customers? How many of them head out for the afternoon? How many of them head out for the weekend? Which road riders are sportbike riders vs. cruisers? Who are daily commuters and who are your weekend riders? Which ones go on long trips?

Look at specific buying behaviors based on those general activities. For instance, do you have a lot of ATV riders who are also DIY-ers? Do you have a large number of sportbike riders who are fanatical about taking their bikes to your techs to schedule their maintenance plans? Asking theses sorts of questions and looking at your sales data for answers can give you an idea about your key marketing segments.

And, of course, you should look at all the classic demographic buckets: age, income and gender clearly help you segment your customers. If you have a large number of female road riders, that’s a segment marketing should target with customized appeals.

Once you have your key segments, you can start targeting your online marketing efforts.

For starters, your email marketing efforts must cater to those groups. General email campaigns should at least have targeted subject lines and pre-headers (more about that later). However, if you have clearly defined marketing segments, you should send those groups highly targeted email campaigns of their own. But let’s be clear: You control your email list. It’s easy to do some one-to-one segmenting. If you know recent “college grad Jane” bought a dual sport from you, or that “Joe the real estate agent” regularly brings his cruiser in for service, you can easily target them with unique, dedicated campaigns.

When it comes to reaching out to new customers as well as existing customers, web and social media marketing offer you powerful capabilities for targeted communications.

Consider Google AdWords. The two main types of AdWords advertising that can benefit a Dealer are Search Ads, which are the ads that appear at the top of Google search results, and Display Ads, which are the banner and text ads that appear on a network of more than 2 million websites and apps that carry Google advertising. In both cases, you can generate ads that target users based on keywords, location, whether or not they’ve visited your website before, and other important criteria.

Similarly, you can target advertising on social media, and Facebook in particular. Facebook offers similar tools, such as demographics, location and interests. Furthermore, Facebook advanced targeting tools help you target your advertising to users you might not have even considered before — “lookalike” audiences that Facebook can pull from its population of users.

But remember, none of this targeting can happen until you start segmenting your customers in depth to truly understand them. You must closely examine your customer data, email lists and, above all, sales data. You must start thinking about your customers’ general and specific buying behaviors, as well as their demographics, to get a picture of who your customers really are. (BTW, the results might surprise you). Then you can start developing and disseminating the highly target marketing campaigns that should drive increased revenues for each of those marketing constituent groups.


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