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Multi-Segment Marketing Defined

Before we get to multi-segment marketing, let’s first define market segmentation. The Street says, “Market segmentation is the process of dividing prospective consumers into different groups depending on factors like demographics, behavior and various characteristics.” Harvard Business Review says it this way: “Segmenting, at its most basic, is the separation of a group of customers with different needs into subgroups of customers with similar needs and preferences.” 

Instead of mass marketing and broad messages that will likely fail to resonate with most of the large and diverse audience, market segmentation enables companies to discover a more precise target audience within a market to focus its marketing efforts. 

Multi-segment marketing, therefore, is the process of dividing a target market into multiple segments in order to target each of those segments with a different message or product. Companies use this type of marketing to sell the same product to different segments, customizing messaging and content to fit their specifically-defined wants and needs. Companies that sell multiple products may also use multi-segment marketing to divide their marketing strategies and efforts to appeal target audiences for each product line.

Related: Marketing Segmentation Strategies: Personalization Requires Alignment

Either way, the purpose of multi-segment marketing is to reach the right target market with the right messaging – messaging and content that appeals specifically to each market segment. 

What to Look for When Considering Segmenting Your Market

Your segment has to have enough potential that it is worth the investment to further segment it into multiple parts. Here are a few things to look for when determining if a market is ready for segmentation:

Size 

Segments that are too small will yield a smaller return. Even if you get 100% of the segment to respond, it will be too small to make a dent. Instead, each segment should be large enough to be profitable, understanding that it is highly unlikely you will achieve 100% in any segment.

Identifiable 

The purpose of segmenting is to hone in on certain consumer characteristics. Your segments must be distinct, identifiable based on certain criteria, and measurable.

Growth potential 

If your segments are stagnant with little promise of future growth, you will tap out quickly and have to look elsewhere. Identify segments where you have opportunities to grow your reach and you’ll get more long-term bang for your buck.

Reachability 

Before you think about segmenting a market, consider whether your company has the distribution and promotion channels needed to reach the target market(s). If so, go for it. If not, partner with the business to determine whether those channels can be expanded to reach them and if not, this market segment is not worth your time.

Affordability 

Some market segments, while tempting, simply aren’t cost-effective to go after. Make sure you’ve completed a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether the investment is worth it, keeping in mind some investments take time to reap their rewards. If the initial investment seems high for the short-term benefit, it’s important to keep going to see if it will pay off in other ways down the line.

Responsiveness 

Is your proposed target market(s) likely to respond to marketing messages? How do you know? You need data to understand their response history to similar marketing tactics. Do they like, follow and share similar messages already? Do they sign up for emails, blogs and promotions? 

Aligned

Your brand’s image, values and objectives are important. Your customer base is a reflection of these elements. Make sure the market you are wanting to segment aligns with who your company is and the type of customers you want to call yours.

Pros and Cons of Multi-Segment Marketing

Multi-segment marketing is beneficial in helping a company break down their target markets into more manageable chunks based on common characteristics. When divided properly, each segment will share similar traits, wants and needs, making it easier to reach them with the same marketing tactics. 

Related: How (and Why) to Nail the Market Segmentation Process

When companies can segment their markets into different categories, they can diversify and expand their portfolio of customers, avoiding dependence on only one market whose wants and needs may change. With multi-segment marketing, you are better able to withstand demand fluctuations in one segment because other segments may be trending upwards. In this way, you reduce your risk and will have the ability to own market share in multiple markets, giving you a competitive advantage.

All of these benefits come with a caveat: if multi-segment marketing isn’t done right, it can bring risks. A brand can be too diversified, losing its impact. It can also cause the brand to deviate from what makes it valuable. For instance, a luxury car brand risks losing its elite image if it begins to manufacture and market a budget model. While it may gain new cost-conscious customers, it could lose its affluent customer base.

You must also be careful not to spread your marketing department too thin when you engage in multi-segment marketing. It can be challenging to maintain multiple marketing strategies simultaneously. If you lack resources to appropriately market to each segment, you risk missing all markets. Marketing requires a constant flow of content and messaging, as well as fresh ideas and strategies. The more segments you target, the harder it will be to achieve this if you don’t have the proper capacity.

How to Segment Your Market

It’s one thing to say you want to segment your market; it’s quite another to actually do it. Today, marketers have technology on their side, giving them all kinds of consumer data to help make the segmentation process a bit easier and more reliable. If you are wondering where to start, start with your data.

Above all else, your data needs to be quality data you can trust. That means it needs to be clean, comprehensive and enriched so that it is operational. Because data comes from so many places, your data sources must share data with each other. All of the systems in your martech stack that contain customer data, such as your marketing automation platform (MAP) and customer relationship management system (CRM), must be connected.

Once your data is centralized and ready for use, you can look at the data to find commonalities that will provide segmentation clues. Be sure to identify the characteristics of your loyal customers first. If they are your best customers, you will want to target people like them. Understand what makes them tick – why, when, how and what they buy.

Next, begin segmenting your audience based on similar characteristics. You may discover a brand new niche to explore or identify unprofitable versus more profitable segments. You can segment your target audience by firmographics, demographics, geographies, psychographics, customer needs, or customer behavior. With multi-segment marketing, your goal is to discover several potential segments to target in different ways.

Before you go after each segment with distinctive campaigns, be sure you understand each segment’s value so you can prioritize spending. Your budget and marketing resources may not be able to run each campaign simultaneously, making it critical to rank each identified segment based on its importance to the business.

Multi-segment marketing gives companies a more reliable method to reach customers and potential customers with personalized content and messaging they are most likely to respond to in the desired way. Leverage technology to automate much of this process, as well as centralize and integrate your data. Once you get more familiar with the process and the benefits, it will become your go-to for all data-driven campaigns.