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Marketing Segmentation: Turning Web Visitors Into Customers

April 20, 2015

Every day I walk by Starbucks on the way to work and debate stopping for a green tea lemonade or holding off for a free, healthier glass of water. Typically, I pass up Starbucks and head into the office. But I’ve stopped at Starbucks three times in the past week.

Why? They hooked me back in with a successful birthday trigger promotion.

But had Starbucks known that one free drink would lead to two more paid drinks, I’m sure they would have sent me a coupon weeks ago. I’m sure they’d send me one every month if this pattern kept repeating itself. But they didn’t have the data to support that insight.

Fortunately, you — innovator of e-commerce, creator of campaigns — have access to loads of information that can allow you to put the correct messaging and the correct offers in front of your website visitors to incentivize purchases. You can control the path to purchase, create a larger funnel for your website and guide customers through it all the way to checkout.

Visitors to Customers Funnel

Segment Your Visitors

There’s no better way to get a response from your audience than by speaking directly to each person who interacts with your site. Of course, it’s a challenge to speak to hundreds of people each day individually, let alone thousands or tens of thousands.

That’s why segmenting visitors is so important. If Starbucks knew I was at the bottom of the purchase funnel, awaiting something to finish pushing me through, they would have acted immediately. Knowing the behavior of a user who is just about to purchase — but looking for the slightest incentive — can allow you to trigger more purchases every day with smart promotions.

When we talk about segmenting visitors, we’re talking about grouping together like-minded visitors, or visitors who behave in a similar way. Segmentations can be based on any number of variables. Users who are new to the website can be one segment, as can users who visited a certain important page or users who have previously purchased.

Most email service providers will give you the ability to create groups of users based on activity, whether it’s purchasing a product, hitting a page or filling out a form. If your email provider integrates with your e-commerce data, customer purchase history becomes another way your users can be segmented. Users who have purchased in the past are often more likely to purchase in the future.

If you’re looking to create segments of users to advertise to via Google AdWords, URLs are a great way to group users. If you know a certain page on your site is a top generator of a certain action, whether it’s a purchase or the filling out of a lead form, let that URL be a segmentation point for you.

Executing on Segmentation

Once you’ve identified the most desirable groups of users visiting your site, start to create unique messaging that makes sense for the group you’re targeting.

The barrier to purchase is going to differ for every website. Price and significance of investment often determine how quickly a shopper will purchase something.

For example, if your product has a high price point and typically takes multiple touches before a user converts, new users should be presented with a different message than those who have already purchased in the past. Segmenting for new users may involve sending them to a page that speaks to your unique differentiator. If you identify a demographic that you know your product will resonate with, make your unique differentiator clear in the messaging to that demographic.

When segmenting for new visitors, you may not get a lot of immediate interactions, but you’re growing your funnel. And once a user is in your funnel you can begin to adapt the messaging to move them down.

Messaging for those who have already made a purchase or are at least familiar with your brand is going to be totally separate from messaging you’re using to introduce users.

I recently received an email from a website at which I’ve previously made two or three purchases. They weren’t trying to introduce me to the brand or let me know what they do, because I already have a relationship with them. The message they sent me was: “There’s something special going on today.” I was intrigued and opened the email to find a 20%-off code that expired at midnight. They likely targeted everyone who made a purchase within a certain period of time and sent discount codes they knew were more likely to be used.

Email isn’t the only way to trigger behavior based on segmentation. When users visit a site, pop-up modals are another effective way of offering deals or asking for email sign-ups based on user behavior. You may trigger a pop-up modal that offers a promo code to return visitors or asks for the email address of new visitors.

Basically, anything you can do with segmentation follows the same principle: Get the right message in front of the right user at the right time. There are endless tools and tactics you can use to execute on that plan. Be sure to explore them, brainstorm and be creative about what messages you need to get across to which users.

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