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These days, digital marketers strive for personalization at every level, especially with online ads. One of the best ways to deliver a more personalized experience is through segmentation. This strategy divides a relatively broad consumer base into sub-groups based on demographics, which can help you deliver the right messaging to the right potential shopper at the right time. The results are generally positive since personalized ads make consumers more likely to buy, which delivers a higher return on investment (ROI) for your brand.

But for small and medium-sized businesses, segmentation can seem like learning a new language. There are hundreds of ways to leverage your segments to maximize ad profitability, with some methods more successful than others. The first thing you can do is use a reliable analytics tool to gather important demographics about your core consumers and let it help you create powerful segments that reach the right audience. Here are some strategies to leverage your segments once they’re defined.

Use Messaging Based on a Customer’s Actions

Understanding how and where a consumer engages with your eCommerce store can provide valuable insights that you can use to create retargeted ads. Using AdRoll, you can set up basic URL segments defined by certain pages within your website. Let’s say you have a customer who only visited your homepage. You should retarget that customer using general branding and discounts to encourage them to come back and spend more time. On the other hand, if a customer makes it all the way to the shopping cart, that signals high intent, so you’ll want to use messaging that encourages them to complete their purchase.

Focus on the Number of Impressions

Impressions are the number of times a user has seen a certain ad. This important yet oft-overlook metric can give you a lot of clues about your audience, like age, income and other factors. AdRoll recommends creating “impression-based audiences” to further segment groups based on how many times they see a certain ad. You can change messaging and wording based on these factors so that consumers are shown messages that correlate with wherever they fall along the buyer’s journey.

Go Beyond Typical Demographics

In general, it’s vital to focus on the core characteristics of a segment — age, gender, income range, etc. — because they can clue you into important customer data that’s valuable to your marketing efforts. But don’t forget to look beyond those typical markers so that you can create an even more personalized experience for your user. You should also consider segmenting by job, behavior, life events, and interests. Remember that viral ad by Cracker Barrel that specifically targeted office managers? It worked.

Experiment With Look-alike Audiences

A look-alike audience is a segmented group of potential consumers based on the demographics of your current customer base. In other words, it’s a set of new customers who look and behave in ways very similar to your most loyal, existing ones. Springbot recently unveiled Audience Expander, an awesome new tool to help you create look-alike audiences that provide the most value. So, if you’ve already got a segmented customer base and target audience, you can use that information to double-down by targeting your ads to high-value new users.

Segment by New or Repeat Users

Speaking of new users, they’re almost always worthy of a little extra spend, since getting that first conversion is usually the biggest hurdle. Segmentation is an efficient way to attract new consumers and encourage them to make purchases, especially if you use the proper messaging. You’ll want to target repeat users with retargeted ads and present them with products or categories they’ve already interacted with in the past. On the other hand, new users are more likely to engage if they receive a welcome message or an introductory offer.

Segmenting Equals Successful Advertising

At the end of the day, you have to look at market segmenting not as an option but as a requisite for a successful online marketing campaign. With the help of tools like Springbot, you can target the right customers with marketing initiatives that are effective, personalized and good for your bottom line.