Three Strategies for Better B-to-B Segmentation
B-to-B marketers could do a better job of segmenting prospects and customers if they focused on individual roles, needs and preferences rather than the basic demographics of a company, such as size, geography and industry, writes Laura Ramos, vice president of Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, in a recent best practices report for the research consultancy titled, Segmentation Versus Personas: Where Should B-to-B Marketers Start?
Ramos goes on to offer up the following three strategies for how B-to-B marketers can improve the quality of their segmentation practices:
1. Take both a top-down and a bottom-up approach. By looking at such factors as tech adoption, risk aversion and innovation tendencies at both the corporate (top) and buyer (bottom) levels of a company, marketers can develop a clearer picture of which prospects are motivated buyers and which are simply looking around. Individual decision makers also should be segmented by pain points and progression through the sales cycle to help marketers develop appropriate messaging strategies.
2. Combine quantitative data with qualitative study to determine not only who to market to, but how. “Delve deeper into prospect requirements and needs in exchange for handing out information like whitepapers or detailed product specs,” suggests Ramos. “A Web experience that asks potential buyers to select from a list of problems or concerns can help identify buyer motivations more accurately, as well as qualify their potential for sales follow-up.” “Soft” data also can come from interviews, internal data analysis and observational studies. It may be harder to extract, but the messaging insight it provides will be well worth the effort.
3. Base segmentation on the buyer, not the seller. “Firms should start by examining wins and losses in each of their current customer segments,” suggests Ramos, “identifying the roles that participate in the buying cycle and understanding what each of them wants to accomplish.” This data then can be used to refine scoring methods, better assess prospect roles and develop collateral that meets specific buyer needs. The best segmentation strategies are those that grow and change with the market rather than remaining stagnant.