Have you heard the expression “sell more by selling less?” Marketers have long used the process of segmentation to divide a marketplace into smaller parts and make messaging more definable, accessible, actionable, and profitable. Segmentation allows a seller to closely tailor their product to customers’ needs, desires, uses, and paying abilities. It also helps reduce media spend, retain customers and drive revenue growth. The modern customer is intelligent and unique, and their needs have grown beyond cookie-cutter marketing strategies that are generalized to the masses.
While developing a target market, you can segment customers based on a myriad of factors. Marketers relied on factors such as gender, age, or location for the last half-century, but modern methods of segmentation are worth researching and implementing to create valuable messaging.
It’s important to note that financial institutions should not overspecialize their target segments. By being too specific or narrow, you create too small of a segment and alienate customers that might have been interested. Your customer and member profiles can shift and adapt, so allowing your segments to change and evolve with the market is important.
Let's talk about a few modern-day approaches to segmentation.
Modern Segmentation Approaches
1. Life Stages
You don’t want your customers to feel misunderstood or unheard, and one of the best ways to solve this problem is by segmentation based on life stage. People have varying financial priorities and needs during the different stages of life: first job, starting a family, marriage, divorce, retirement. If a college student receives advice for a luxury car application, they’ll most likely be confused. Not all people follow a linear life stage path, so it is important to ask questions and speak to different scenarios within different periods of life.
At Prisma, we highlight the importance of contextualizing your marketing through technology and meeting your customers where they are in their life. Whether your customer is a recent college graduate or a middle-aged business owner, financial institutions can impart personalized and relevant advice, digital tools or educational resources that your customers will thank you for.
2. Technologists vs. Traditionalists
By better understanding the products and technologies that your customers and prospects are using, you can increase conversions and the quality of communication. Technographic segmentation is analyzing customer behavior through data analysis of the technologies they use. Whether customers are early or slow adopters of new technologies, it’s important to customize messaging for each group. By segmenting, you use your budget more effectively and are more likely to successfully cross-sell the advanced products that your organization offers.
3. Phases of the Customer Journey
All of your customers and members are in different phases of their journey with your institution. Some might be in the onboarding stage and some might be account holders of 30+ years. Each phase, and the people within them, needs different messaging. Marketing for new customers could include setup-related material like signing up for direct deposits, activating cards and exploring their online banking account.
On the other hand, long-time customers might be interested in wealth management services or new, modern tech banking products. It’s important to segment these customers so they receive high-quality customer service and take full advantage of your financial institution’s services for each journey phase they’re in.
4. Levels of Loyalty
Some of your customers are brand loyalists - they engage with your marketing efforts and aren’t making a switch anytime soon. However, there are prospects outside of your organization that lack deep organizational roots - they aren’t actively looking for a better offer, but will opt for one if given the opportunity.
The people more open to change will respond in a favorable way to marketing campaigns that advertise the benefits of your products and services. The brand loyalists deserve updates, offers about the latest upgrades or offers, and attentive customer service as well. Your organization will benefit from segmented marketing to appeal to both loyalists and those open to making a switch. This creates a favorable environment for both retaining long-term customers and attracting new ones.
5. Business Firmographics
For financial institutions that offer business banking, segmentation by firmographics is a useful approach. Marketing to businesses necessitates different identifiers, and you can think of a firmographics approach similar to how you would use a demographic approach for individuals.
A firmographic approach means segmenting your businesses under descriptive factors such as the company size and performance. Through this process, you gain knowledge on these types of businesses’ pain points and become the “expert” for a specific business segment.
Top-notch customer service and user experience are highly conducive to success. There are active steps you can take to ensure your customers are satisfied with your service - including a healthy number of surveys, check-ins or phone calls (no one enjoys an overload of contact!). Customer feedback is a helpful tool, and it can influence your messaging between segments.
Dissatisfied customers that leave negative reviews or voice their concerns via phone call or survey responses probably don’t want multiple emails about signing up for a credit card or a new mobile app feature. They have an issue with a product or service, so it’s productive to connect them to customer service and resolve the problem instead of overloading them with “Look how great this new feature is!”
For the satisfied segment of customers, it’s important to brief them on loyalty features, new tech products and how to get more out of their account. With both groups, customer service is key to boost loyalty and referrals. You want your customers to feel valued, but the two groups will find different messaging valuable.
Lastly, another important segmentation approach is interest-based marketing. Everyone has different hobbies and activities they enjoy, and your organization’s features can speak to them. There are going to be technology lovers, environmentally friendly customers, families or students with varying interests. You could have a group of customers that are avid travelers and would be interested in your credit card features. There is immense value in segmenting your customers by hobbies, activities and interests they enjoy to create a personalized, long-lasting customer relationship.
Segmentation is a powerful tool to target customers and make messaging more profitable. Today, customers are averse to the general, cookie-cutter marketing of the past, but using these modern approaches creates more valuable messaging.
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