How to Use Polling as a Segmentation Tool

Segmenting your market is as important as ever.  But if you’re only using basic demographics such as gender, age and geography to segment your market, then you are totally missing out. iStock_000009458297XSmall

What you want to be creating is “benefit-based” segments.  The market research pros call those psychographics — or behavioral based segments.  Those are a little harder to come by, but the work involved in getting those ironed out is totally worth it and will save you a ton of marketing budget dollars if you do it right.

Now that you are sufficiently motivated to get your audience segmented — what’s next?

Start poking around to see what the potential segments might be

Just because we’re taking the guerrilla route to creating some powerful market segments, doesn’t mean that we should forget the all powerful rules of a great market segments.

In case you missed that day in class, weren’t paying attention or were just sleeping while the professor was going over the definition of a good market segment, I’m going to review them here:

  1. Homogeneity –   This means that the individuals in this segment are the “same” and have common needs.  A simple example is men vs women.  Another psychographic example is planners vs procrastinators.
  2. Distinct –  Each segment is separate from other groups — another way I’ve learned it is that they are mutually exclusive.  Men are not women and planners are not procrastinators.
  3. Measurable –  You need to be able to COUNT it.  (in a lot of ways, this is the purpose of this post).
  4. Substantial –   It needs to be BIG ENOUGH to matter.  While a segment of one may be ok if that segment is a multi-million dollar customer account – it totally defeats the entire purpose of segmentation (to save money and effort) if you have to communicate uniquely to each individual member of your market segments.
  5. Responsive  –  Each of your segments needs to respond similarly to your message.  If you are selling 1-hour service to procrastinators, they should go for it.
  6. Reachable –   You do need to be able to reach them.  So if your primary marketing channel is online and your audience isn’t online – then they are NOT reachable.
  7. Profitable –   Let’s not forget that a segment has to be profitable to warrant your attention and resources.

I’ve seen several different versions of this – some shorter, some longer — but I think these should cover it.

This is where polling gets really helpful

To create standard demographic segments, you won’t need to do much more than run some reports off of your internal customer data.  But to get to the more powerful benefit based segmentation, you can use polls instead of surveys to help you define and get a handle on these seven characteristics of a good segment.

What is a poll and how can you use it to help you define segments

Polls are single question multiple choice surveys.  They are quick and easy and ideal for getting an idea about what matters to the audience taking the poll.

It’s important to note that polls are anonymous — that means that it will only give you proportion and will NOT tell you who is in your segment.  So the best way to use polls is to help you define what your segments might be, to see if they are substantial and reachable as well as responsive.

In other words – use polling to test your segmenting ideas and to generate potential segments that you can use in your marketing.

Here’s a short video on how you can start using polls inside of QuestionPro to start defining your market segments.

Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers and the President of Third Force, a strategic marketing firm. She's the marketing expert and book editor for Small Business Trends and a frequent contributor to AMEX Open Forum.

Posted in Best Practice

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