Understanding what your audience has in common is key to successful marketing.
It’s the foundation for unlocking a compelling story and creative that attracts more of the right customers.
In part one of this three-part series, I’m going to dig deep into one of the broadest topics in marketing – demographic segmentation.
You’ll learn how to segment your audience by variables such as age, income, and gender. I’ll then cover how to use this data to generate more targeted traffic and customers.
What is Demographic Segmentation?
Demographic segmentation is a method of defining segments of your audience by variables such as age, gender, household income, education, location and many other identifying factors.
This data can be easy to acquire, thanks to census data, analytics software and consumer insights. It’s also a great stepping stone to more granular data. A retail company, for example, can pull in deeper insights on their audience based on their demographic segments.
The only disadvantage to demographic segmentation is how broad it is. When building customer personas, it’s important to include insights on their interests, brand affinities, and consumer behavior.
We’ll cover these elements in parts two and three of this series. For now, let’s look at the types of demographic data you should be collecting to inform your marketing strategy.
5 Demographic Segmentation Variables (And What They’re For)
Here, we’ll break down each demographic variable, explaining what it is, how to collect it, and why it’s important.
It’s key to note that you should be aware of as many of these as possible, no matter your industry. If you’re growing a retail brand or a software company, demographic data will help you understand who you’re selling to.
Age is a quantifiable yet simple variable. It helps to segment your audiences into:
- Age groups (babies, children, adolescents, adults, middle-age, and seniors)
- Generation (baby boomers, generation X, Millennials, etc.)
By measuring the age of your audience, you can more accurately choose the language used in your marketing, as well as the channels you use to reach them. For example, millennials may be active and engaged on Instagram, whereas middle-aged audiences are more likely to be active on Facebook.
Without getting into the complexities of the topic, gender is categorized as male or female. Products and services may be promoted directly to men or women.
Gender is most useful when crafting the right message for your audience. You’ll use different language and buzzwords depending on the gender of your audience.
We’ll cover more sophisticated segments to help craft your marketing message later in this series.
Some products or services are targeted towards a particular professional segment. These include education (high school, college, bachelor’s degree, etc.) and occupation (doctor, sales executive, carpenter, etc.)
Value propositions will also have a different appeal depending on the market’s educational background. For example, self-development products (wellness, food, and drink) may be more appealing to those who graduated college.
The same goes for occupation. Salespeople need software to manage leads and hardware to free up their hands during conversations. Doctors need stethoscopes and other medical equipment.
The average annual income of your audience can greatly affect the pricing model of your offer. Luxury goods and services will be more attractive to affluent audiences than those living in lower-income neighborhoods.
By using income segmentation, you can effectively measure the buying power of your audience. You can sell different tiers of the same product based on the segments level of income. For example, airlines have three classes – economy, first class and business class.
As people enter relationships and get married, their needs change. Newly married individuals, for instance, are likely prioritizing their homes over holidays.
Needs and desires will also shift as families grow. Those with three children (toys, education) have different needs than those who have just had their first baby (baby food, diapers).
Geographic segmentation is where the location defines your audience. You can divide your market by city, state, country, region and even postal (ZIP) code.
Segmenting by geo is important for international brands, as needs will vary across different areas. Understanding cultural differences will also help you create a more compelling message for those regions.
It’s also effective for small businesses, allowing them to limit their reach to conserve budget. It’s also one of the easiest ways to segment your audience.
Tying demographics to behavior
You can use demographic data to understand how your audience consumes content and their purchasing behavior.
It’s your job to group demographics by behavior to yield insights on how they buy. For example, some common behaviors of teens include:
- They’re compelled to share content on social media
- They prefer real-time content
- They’re egocentric and care what other people think
By tying demographics to behavior, you can craft marketing that works in sync with how your audience operates.
Top Tools for Demographic Insights
Now you know the demographic variables for basic audience segmentation.
The question is, how do you capture this information?
The tools listed below all have their benefits. As we begin to get more sophisticated throughout this segmentation series, you’ll see the same tools applied to different approaches.
Demographic Tool #1: Customer Surveys
What better place to get customer insight than from your existing customers?
By emailing surveys to your customers, you’ll capture accurate data on your audience at scale. You rely less on inferred data and more on quantified insights from your existing customer base.
First, select a tool. Here are two to get you started:
- Google Forms: Simple to use. Head to Google Drive, create a new form and use the drag-and-drop features to build your form.
- Typeform: Offers a free package with more advanced professional features. A streamlined design with a linear, non-distracting experience.
With a platform in place, you need to ask the right questions. Because you’re collecting quantitative data (data at scale), you should ask broad questions:
- What is your age?
- What is your annual income?
- What is your marital status?
- What industry do you work in?
Make sure you offer multiple-choice questions within set ranges. The choices for age can include “18 to 25,” “26 to 35” and so on.
Looking to generate more granular insights on your customers? We’ll be covering qualitative insights in part 2 of this series.
Demographic Tool #2: Google Analytics Audience Insights
While useful when uncovering traffic sources and your most popular web pages, Google Analytics (GA) also provides insights on those users. Just be aware that much of this data is inferred based on cookies or device-level information. This means that it may not be as accurate as other sources. For example, a family computer may have cookies of searches from teenage kids and parents, or you may have lent your phone to a friend to quickly look something up. Depending on the level of accuracy you need, GA insights may be good enough, but you need to consider that when making strategic decisions.
Open GA and open Audience > Demographics > Overview. This will provide you a snapshot of basic demographic insight on your audience.
Head down a level into the Age and Gender reports, where you can compare age segments with your most popular pages.
To do this, click on the “Secondary dimension” drop-down at the top of the table, and type “Page.” Select “Page” or “Landing Page” depending on the type of insight you’re looking to yield.
You can also get deeper insights on geographical segmentation. Head to Geo > Location to see reporting on where your visitors are coming from:
Bonus Tool #3: PersonaBuilder
I wanted to give a quick shout-out to our tool, PersonaBuilder.
Based on US consumer data that has been validated from a host of sources, you can gather more granular demographic data on your audience. The insights are also quite precise since they are matched to an individual on the backend.
For example, if you’re attracting “engaged millennial moms with young children,” you can uncover deeper demographic insights:
US consumer insight drives this data, meaning you’ll get the most accurate snapshot of your audience possible.
How to Grow Traffic using Demographic Segmentation
Now you know which demographic variables to measure and how to collect segmentation data.
It’s time to put that insight to work.
In this guide, I’ll show you how to use demographic data to increase the number of visitors to your website, landing pages, and marketing. In parts two and three, you’ll learn segmentation techniques to convert that traffic into conversions and revenue.
Growth Tactic #1: Creating an Engaging Marketing Message
Understanding the demographics of your customers will help you attract more of them.
You need a marketing message that resonates with them. Without one, it won’t matter what channel you choose to promote your business.
First, understand the trends and buzzwords that resonate with your audience. You’ll get away with writing OMG and using emojis for a millennial audience but may fall flat with baby boomers.
Write your copy like people talk. A natural, conversational style will make your marketing message easy to understand. In other words, you should write the way your customers talk.
Monitor the news for relevant events. Jump on topics that link to your products and services in a way that adds further educational or entertainment value. Social ads can be an effective platform to promote a timely message quickly.
Does your marketing message address an emotion, such as fear or exclusivity? Apply the “So what?” test. Read your copy and if it’s not clear why the reader should take action, try again.
Finally, build credibility to establish trust. You can do this with testimonials, company logos, and review scores.
An effective way to do this is with user-generated content. Find social media posts from customers using your products and feature them on your social profiles and website. Ecommerce company Beardbrand do this by featuring Instagram posts on their front page.
Do this at scale with a tool like Olapic. This tool allows you to collect content from the social web and extend it to your emails, paid ads and offline marketing channels.
Growth Tactic #2: Social Media Advertising That Works
Social media targeting has grown in sophistication rapidly over recent years.
Now you understand your audience demographics; you can send highly-targeted social ads to attract them. Today, we’ll cover the Facebook ad platform.
To create a new audience, head to Ads Manager, click the menu in the top-right and, under Assets, click “Audiences:”
Click the “Create Audience” drop-down and select “Saved Audience.” Give it a meaningful name, such as “US Women Between 25 and 40.” You guessed it; we’ll be targeting women in the US who are between the age of 25 and 40.
Let’s start with locations. You can be as broad or specific as you like. Location variables include:
- Address radius
- ZIP code
- Designated market area (DMA)
- State and Region
Next, define the age and gender of your audience. Per our audience name above, we’ll select 25 to 40 and “Women.”
Finally, there’s “Detailed Targeting.” With this variable, you can get specific with targeting – including interests and psychographic segmentation.
You’ll learn more about this in part two of this series. For now, here are the granular demographic variables you can target:
If you’ve done your homework, you should know most (if not all) of this information. In our example, we’ll select “college grad” under Education and “$100,000 – 124,999” under Income:
Click the “Create Audience” button, and you’re finished. You now have a custom audience based on a demographic segment of your customer base.
Your next task is to create a tailored message that attracts them. Remember to follow the principles in the previous tactic to boost CTR and drive as much traffic as possible.
Growth Tactic #3: Supercharge Audience Growth with Educational and Entertaining Content
While demographic data is useful when analyzing past trends, it’s important to keep an eye on the future. Which is where content marketing comes in.
By creating educational and entertaining content, you can generate more awareness higher up the funnel while address new and upcoming trends.
Furthermore, you’ll be able to create content for specific customer segments. Creating the right content will attract the best customers while keeping your content marketing efforts organized.
First, let’s look at potential content formats:
- Articles: Provide how-to advice (hairstyles, DIY projects) or stories (customer success, influencer marketing content).
- Video: Tap into the power of YouTube storytelling. Show people how to use your products.
- Social media: Work within the context of each platform. Create beautiful photography on Instagram, share infographics on Pinterest, and shoot live video on Facebook.
- Influencer marketing: Collaborate on content with social media influencers. Get them to post product placements or tell an emotionally-driven story for your brand.
No matter what form your content takes, there are several boxes it must tick. Here’s a simple five-step checklist for your content creation efforts:
- It must be valuable: Does your content teach your audience something new? Will they come away feeling empowered to execute on what they learned?
- It should entertain: Share a polarizing opinion or tell an emotionally-driven story.
- Use visuals: Back your content up with imagery, such as photography of your lessons in action, infographics and illustrations.
- Optimize for search: What keywords are you looking to target? Make sure your content is optimized to rank in the search engines.
- Know who it’s for: Which segment of your audience is this aimed towards? In later steps, you’ll create more effective content tailored to your audience’s passions, challenges, and needs.
Content Case Study: Mr. Porter
Mr. Porter is the menswear arm of retail brand Net-a-Porter. They sell high-end clothing for men by a range of designers and third-party brands.
However, thanks to their content strategy, they’ve positioned themselves away from “retail” and into “men’s style brand.”
This positioning is all thanks to their blog, titled “The Journal.” As soon as you land on the editorial page, the layout is much like an online magazine:
According to BuzzSumo, their highest-performing content all feature celebrities, actors and sports icons:
These articles showcase the lives, beliefs and style philosophy of each celebrity. They’re giving their audience a peek into their daily lives.
So, how do they do it?
First, they wrap their content in a beautiful design. Branding and visual aesthetics matter more than ever for an ecommerce brand. You must be consistent across every point of communication.
Furthermore, they use bespoke photography. In the Lenny Kravitz example, they include cool photos of the man posing in various styles in poses:
Mr. Porter can then use these assets for social media, expanding the reach of their content.
What’s impressive is how they tie the content to their products. They don’t take pictures of celebrities wearing “just anything.” They match them with a style that suits them best, ensuring their products look great on the artists.
Finally, the content itself is very engaging. The Lenny Kravitz example runs at 2,800 words, which might seem like a lot of content to assimilate. But it provides stories and insights on the man that many may not be aware of.
And, with a headline like “How Mr. Lenny Kravitz Keeps His Cool,” it’s hard to ignore.
As you can see, demographic segmentation of your customers can benefit every part of your marketing.
From the channels you engage with, to the content and message your broadcast. Understanding the characteristics that make up your audience will lead to more targeted traffic and, of course, higher conversion rates.
In part two of this customer segmentation series, you’ll learn all about how to 10x your conversions using the power of psychographic segmentation.