Recent years have seen a clear shift from outbound marketing. Full-blast messages now have a firm place in email trash folders, customers are craving personalized experiences – and they get frustrated when they don’t get them. In fact, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations.

Does your website show little user engagement? Are you failing to customize the buying journey? Does your customer experience show major disconnects? Diving deep into the strategies to tailor effective personalized messaging can help you uncover the perks of inbound marketing and significantly improve the performance of your campaigns. And there’s no better way to start than with behavior and demographic splits.

How do you find segments that work for your business?

Before rolling up your sleeves and getting started, you need to make sure you pick the right approach. The first choice is top-down segmentation – dividing your customers into sensible groups based on your industry expertise. You can do this by filtering your customer database appropriately.  The second option is bottom-up, meaning that you create your segments based on patterns in your existing database or design immediate marketing based on events such as page views. As the latter requires both substantial amounts of data and statistical expertise, small businesses usually go for the top-down approach.

Either way, collecting data on your audience is fundamental. Demographic and behavioral data is perhaps the easiest to access – and it also caters for very effective segments. Actually, marketers consider behavior (44%), location (42%), and age as the three most commonly used criteria for segmentation, with behavior seen as the most effective method by 91% of marketers.

Behavior entails attitudes, responses, and product knowledge and usage. It can also include specific actions, usually revealed through website cookies or by monitoring buying patterns. Let’s say you run an organic food ecommerce business: If a customer buys gluten-free products, you can use this insight when reaching out with the next newsletter deal.

Demographics refers to age, address, education, job, income, and family size. Your business can collect this information through forms, when users complete orders, or even through chatbots. Famous fashion brands, including Chanel and Gucci, use demographics to tailor their campaigns. For example, they offer more formal and elegant styles to older and wealthier individuals.

Using technology to gain a competitive advantage

But just one or the other isn’t enough. You know your customers but maybe you aren’t reaching out at the right moment – or your timing is perfect but you’re lacking some basic information. That’s why it’s important to combine behavior and demographic splits. For example, MoneySupermarket, a price comparison site, launched successful hybrid segmentation, combining life stage, demographics, customer needs, attitudes, and behaviors. The company taps into 700 different data points, from enquiry forms to page visits.

Does that seem like immense effort? Well, that’s where technology comes to the rescue. Providers like or Drift enable easy monitoring and chatting with visitors on your website. To simplify deep segmentation practices, you can use tools such as Salesforce Pardot. Like Google Analytics, it lets you follow the actions of a specific customer, but it adds the powerful capability to use triggers in case of certain events. For example, if a prospect spends a few minutes on your pricing site, you can immediately send an email that explains your packages in closer detail or notify a Salesperson to contact the prospect.

You can also use the platform to advance progressive profiling. By gradually collecting demographic and behavior information, you can fill in customer profiles over time without scaring them off. Business-to-business companies usually do it through smart forms on their landing sites that only show fields prospects haven’t filled in yet, while business-to-consumer companies tend to use strategies such as inquiring about birthdays to identify age.

Don’t forget to measure and optimize

The only way to guarantee the ROI of your campaigns is through constant monitoring and optimization. Always try to identify opportunities for improvement, for example by benchmarking against the industry standards. According to CampaignMonitor, you should be aiming towards an email open rate of 15-25% and a click-through rate of at least 2.5%.

You could also experiment with A/B testing. Whether it’s content, offers, or different subject lines and calls to action, you can compare different segments and see which shows the highest levels of engagement. Remember to look at the metrics that matter: Click-through rate is a good indicator of engagement, while session duration can show you to what extent visitors see your website as valuable.

If your marketing strategy was a birthday cake, then segmentation would mean ensuring that everyone gets the piece they want. And this may not be as difficult as you think; start with simple behavior and demographic splits and if needed, apply technology to work its magic.

Anthony Lamot is the CEO of DESelect.

Marketing segmentation stock photo by Jirsak/Shutterstock