Dividing up the B2B Pie: Why it’s Important to Segment Your Customers

Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Marketing [ 0 Comments ]

segmentation helps businesses understand their customersAre you operating under the impression that all of your customers are the same? If you are, you might end up getting burned in the end. One of the most important lessons learned from 2013 and the rise of big data analytics is the idea that customers, regardless of whether you operate primarily business-to-business or business-to-customer, are seeking a more personalized experience with companies. To this end, you have to understand your customers to a greater extent, looking at what sort of value they bring to your business, as well as their functional needs. This can go a long way to improve customer retention and increase loyalty.

Related: Marketing Automation: Are You Losing Profitable Leads?

​A Segmented Picture
OpenView Labs, a marketing firm with a focus on giving companies access to the customer insights, explained B2B companies should work on understanding their customers’ needs – identified through market research, customer interviews and a variety of other methods. It’s also important to identify the value they can offer your organizations, meaning what economic benefits they provide. To accurately recognize what your customers need and ultimately want from your business requires a heavy investment in research, which can sound scary, but really isn’t. There are channels that already exist that help promote an open dialog between your company and consumers to help establish a foundational idea of customer wants and needs.

  • Social media networks:
    Although many companies look at their digital communications channels as a one-way conversation between the business and prospective clients, one of the greatest benefits of sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is the fact that your customers want to interact and are more than willing to provide feedback. And there can be a lot of commentary, which means your organization needs to have the requisite personnel and software systems in place to aggregate and analyze the data as it comes in. Through this channel, you can develop customer profiles based on how frequently individuals utilize specific social networking sites, their level of influence – looking at the number of people who “like” or retweet a comment – and get a sense of their overarching feelings about your brand. In doing so, you can begin to see patterns and similarities among your various clients. The marketing blog Marketo also recommended linking a database of this information to existing CRM tools.

Related: Why Google Analytics is a Must-Have Tool for Small Businesses

  • Customer surveys:
    Getting to the root of your customers’ sentiments requires a bit of legwork. You can’t strictly use information gleaned from online sources to get a full portrait of what consumers are looking for from your business. Distributing surveys – whether through email following up a transaction or meeting, or as a popup when customers visit your website – allows you to ask questions that are important for your business and, more importantly, for consumers. This strategy gives you the opportunity to ask specifically about how well your business is meeting the expectations. For instance, you can pose a question, such as, “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a colleague?” with answers ranging from “very likely” to “very unlikely” to get a better idea of the extent to which your customers would become brand advocates.

Through this process, you’ll have a better chance of knowing what your customers want and be able to respond quickly. And a rapid reply is paramount given how rapidly customers interact with brands, especially online. According to a recent LivePerson report, customers will give companies a mere 76 seconds to provide help online before they give up and take their business elsewhere. Obviously, the margin for error is slim.

Related: Surprising Consumer Trends for 2014

Follow the Clues
At the same time, understanding your customers based on value can help develop segments to isolate groups through transactional data. With this information, you’ll have a clear strategy to help organize consumers by the types of products they tend to buy, their purchasing cycles or how frequently they make transactions, the industry they serve and any kind of customization they require with their purchases.

When your company understands consumers with greater degrees of specificity, you’ll have a better chance of differentiating your products and services and getting a leg up on the competition.

(Image via shutterstock.com)

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