“Talk to your customers. Find out what they need. Don’t pay any attention to the competition. They’re not relevant to you.” — Joel Spolsky, creator of Trello.
Talking to your users
One of the most common pieces of advice you’ll hear from top marketers is that you need to talk to your users. Understanding your users’ needs and perceptions is key to building the product they want and maximizing activation and retention. After all, talking to users is one of the core competencies of UX.
Another key reason for understanding your users as best you can is to target new users as effectively as possible. Understanding your audience is key to choosing the right channels and approaching potential users from the right angle. Especially in a B2B context where decision makers and actual users can often be different people with different priorities and senses of urgency.
While most marketers will agree that getting to know current and potential customers is vital, it is surprising how many companies do not properly use this information to create the most value.
The problem of broadcasting
The traditional way in which companies have communicated with potential customers for years is through broadcasting. And by broadcasting, I don’t mean radio or television, I mean broadcasting in the original sense of the word; by sending a single ‘broad’ message to a large, often mixed, audience.
This made a lot of sense back when marketing was all about billboards and TV ads and there wasn’t the ability to segment users and send customzied communications. However, the practice of sending one generic communication to an entire audience is still very common today.
“There is no sure path to success, but the surest path to failure is trying to please everyone.” — Tim Ferriss.
You’re probably familiar with the mantra, that by trying to please everyone, you risk watering your message down so much that you please no one. This is as true of marketing as anything else.
Chances are, your audience is made up of different people who are interested in your product for different reasons. Some might care about pricing, some about functionality and others about customer support. Sending one communication to everyone means that you either have to pack all pain triggers into one message, which is not really feasibly, or you need to focus on generic value propositions that likely won’t trigger people as effectively.
Of course, there are some general value propositions that might appeal to all of your users. And you might consider mixing up your ‘broadcast’ messages to hit all the pain points. However, if you’re serious about communicating with your audience properly and regularly, you would be much better off customizing your communications.
Segmenting your communications
There is a lot of data out there about the benefits of segmenting your communications. The most common studies have been done on email marketing, where both open and click rates have repeatedly been higher in personalized emails. Message customization can also go far beyond email, to translated blog articles, clever retargeting tactics, custom landing pages and careful social media targeting.
One of the main reasons that companies don’t segment their communications is because it seems like a lot of work that requires technical competences. Of course, segmenting your messaging is going to be more work than sending single broadcasts, but it is nowhere near as much as some people might expect.
Segmenting your audience doesn’t mean you need to create hundreds of segments with uniquely tailored messages (though it probably can’t hurt!). Even customizing your communications along general traits can go a long way.
At Recruitee, for example we know what the broad differentiating factors are amongst our audience. We know that startups, SMEs and corporates have different needs and preferences. We also know that the same goes for decision makers (usually stakeholders, hiring managers or finance people) and users (usually recruiters). Beyond that, there are also different needs if you look at different types of leads (IQLs, MQLs, SQLs, etc). Already, there are some obvious lines along which it makes sense to segment our messaging.
Nowadays, automating segmented communications is easier than ever thanks to tools like Customer.io, ConvertKit and Active Campaign. With these sort of tools, you can easily automate email communications on the basis of actions taken by the users. The best way to build a complex automated flow is to start with the broader strokes and then niche down as you go along. Just make sure you keep tings clean and scalable.
Tools and tactics aside, the key to segmenting your communications, is getting to know your audience inside out. Maybe you’ll find that even different users seem to want the same thing. If so, then great! If not, find out what their priorities are and use that information to create more value.
The reasoning is simple. How can you talk to your users if you don’t talk to your users?