How do you segment Internet visitors so that you can later define target groups and positioning tactics for reaching them? By definition, marketing segmentation is the process of dividing the market into subgroups with common needs or characteristics. We know that customer segments will vary based on the product or service sold by your business. But there is a general starting point for Internet segmentation because Internet visitors are generally trying to accomplish a small group of goals. These goals provide the basis of marketing segmentation for this channel. : research, service, buy, and promote.
Based on that, here is my general Internet market segmentation starting point. Refine or expand this based on the specific needs of your business.
Internet researchers are looking to find information on your site about a product or service. They may want to ultimately use this information as the basis for a purchase decision, as information in a publication they produce, or as information for a job they will do themselves. Typically researchers are looking at price, product specifications, customer reviews, or ideas.
Service “Me”s are existing customers or prospects that are requesting some type of service. For existing customers this are usually items related to order status, returns, warranty claims, or contact information. Prospective customers can also be a Service Me if they require specific attention to help them with a purchasing decision.
Buyers are those visitors that are on your site with full intention to buy. Your job is to make sure they can complete this task with as few interruptions as possible. In other words, get out of their way. Buyers could include those with a shopping list already in hand, those that are reordering a supply of their last ordered product, or those who have completed research and decided to purchase from your brand.
Brand loyalists also fit in this segment. These are customers that have been satisfied with the quality of their purchase in the past and are choosing to be repeat buyers.
Activists, customers that want to promote your brand to others, are not a new customer segment in the marketing world. However, the Internet and the social aspects of Web 2.0 have expanded the number of activists because its easy to create content on the Internet. Activists will look for areas on your website to write product reviews or respond to blogs. They may also create content on public forums outside the control of your corporate domain.
I see activists and brand loyalists merging in one particular use scenario. That’s in the area of finding out “what’s new”. If you have a “what’s new” section of your web site, these twp groups will read that area to plan their next purchase. A great example of this is Apple customers looking for news on the latest iPhone, Mac, or iPod release. They loyalists want the item when its first releases while the activists want the product so they can be one of the first to write a review on it.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulmcdee/2806715569/