8 Steps to Amazing Website Segmentation Success

Target audience segmentationIn a previous blog post, I talked about the dangers of over-segmentation. Although I said segmentation is helpful, I didn’t elaborate on how segmentation should be done. Some readers even thought I was disparaging segmentation, which wasn’t my intent.

My previous post was aimed at helping marketers who have become over-enamoured with the promise of technology alone solving marketing optimization challenges.

Segmentation should indeed be a part of your conversion optimization strategy.

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Segmentation should be a part of your conversion optimization strategy
Allow me to elaborate today about how we see effective segmentation working.

What is segmentation for conversion optimization?

Though the discussion about segmentation is often about which tools to select, that misses the point. Instead, you should start by thinking about the problem segmentation is attempting to solve.

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Start by thinking about the problem segmentation is attempting to solve

Here’s the key: segmentation is all about Relevance.

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Here’s the key: segmentation is all about Relevance
Segmentation is nothing more than a tactic that can help you improve Relevance, one of the six factors in the LIFT Model.

How I Define Segmentation

In the context of conversion optimization, segmentation means putting structures in place to deliver appropriate messages to audiences with distinct needs and expectations.

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segmentation means putting structures in place to deliver appropriate messages to distinct audiences

The important bit in that definition is “distinct needs and expectations.” While there are tools that will target infinitesimally smaller segments based on small data hints and guesses, it can become spurious quickly, if it’s improperly tested.

There may be a potential difference in conversion rate between New York Times readers who research Mazda vehicles in Tennessee on sunny days (if any exist) and USA Today Volkswagen shoppers in Washington when it rains. But, how do you know that to be true? Is it a fact or an assumption?

You should test that!

Your prospects see the world differently than you do. AB test to find out what works for them.

Find out how your prospects perceive your message

The 8 Steps to Test Segmentation (and anything else too!)

Let’s look at how to create and test the most effective website segmentation in 8 steps.

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How to create and test the most effective website segmentation in 8 steps

First, observe

Web Analytics and segmentation tools are awesomely helpful here when they can look at big data, help you identify patterns, and give you fodder for hypothesis-creation. If you can pull in third-party data to gain richer insights into your prospects demographics, psychographics and behaviour, you’ll have even more patterns to observe. That’s the starting point.

Second, hypothesize

Once you’ve identified potential patterns in the data, you need to develop hypotheses about how those patterns could perform with your audience moving forward. Remember that past patterns can often be misleading or simply caused by data clumping. As any good stockbroker will tell you, “Past performance does not guarantee future performance.”

This is where a lot of mistakes are made in segmentation. If you assume patterns you’ve observed are stable without testing against a control group, you’re likely to make a major error.

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Don’t assume visitor segment patterns are stable without testing against a control group

Third, test

A controlled test involves more than just implementing the assumed segments and seeing if they “work.” You need to A/B test your segmentation hypotheses against a control group where segments are not in place.

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You need to A/B test your segmentation hypotheses against a control group

How to A/B test website segmentation

How to test website segmentation

  1. Select a representative sample of your visitors
  2. Create alternative segmentation hypotheses
  3. Select test groups randomly from your visitor sample
  4. Track conversions based on your most important goals
  5. Compare performance of each segmentation hypothesis

Fourth, analyze

How did the alternative hypotheses perform? Make sure you analyze the results based on metrics that lead to real business revenue. We recently ran a test where a variation that showed a 60% lift in clicks to the final step in the purchase process showed no different in revenue at all. Make sure you optimize for the right goals.

Fifth, infer

The advanced step in results analysis is to create inferences about the “Why” behind the test results. Why did a certain segment respond differently than another? In science, an inference is made when the cause behind a test result is unknowable or not practical to discover.

In science, an inference is like an educated guess about a cause.

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In science, an inference is like an educated guess about a cause

Here’s a helpful presentation from a middle school teacher that explains the difference between scientific observations and inferences.

Thinking about a website example, if you were to find that segmenting landing pages by a visitor’s stated hobby interest, you could make inferences about what those interests mean about the audience segments. You can’t directly measure why that’s the case. To get a direct observation about people’s interest, you’d need to directly survey or hook up every visitor in that test to an fMRI machine. Clearly, neither option would be practical or even possible in a statistically significant A/B test.

A recent WiderFunnel ]test for a client revealed interesting differences in segmentation conversion rates. We tested a single product landing page for a company with high brand awareness. The test strategy involved various landing page layouts as well as varying amounts of copywriting. The key difference between two of the pages was the form placement.

In one layout, the transaction form was above the fold in the right column. In an alternative variation, there was a button in that spot leading to the full form, which had been moved down the page below longer copywriting content.

Segmentation testing variations

Different segments respond better to different pages

It turned out that a specific traffic source from paid search traffic responded much better to the shorter copy version while the majority of visitors converted at a higher rate on the longer copy version.

Now that we have a data point showing this unique response, we can infer a reason behind that conversion rate difference. Perhaps the paid search target segment needed less convincing. More content for them was just a distraction. The great news is that this segment occurs on many websites, so we have a vast field of opportunities to validate this inference.

To be clear, a single test doesn’t prove this to be true. We’re making an inference that still needs to be validated.

What I’m talking about here is looking for the why behind the what. Don’t just be satisfied with finding a conversion rate lift. Aiming to understand the reason behind the result can lead to greater learning.

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Aiming to understand the reason behind the test result can lead to greater learning

Sixth, validate

Here’s another area where mistakes are made. Once you confirm the reason behind a result, you haven’t really learned any substantial principles until it’s validated. Until you’ve found a robust pattern, you know nothing about the reason behind the result.

Thinking about this landing page segmentation example, we can now validate that learning against other landing pages in the same company.

Seventh, theorize

But, we don’t have to stop there. Here’s where it gets exciting.

Looking at a series of similar tests in similar situations allows you to develop a theory about people and their responses. Theories are what lead you to robust scientific marketing learning and insight into how and why people act the way they do online.

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Theories are what lead you to robust scientific marketing learning and insight

Theories are great, but even a theory isn’t very useful until it is predictive.

Eighth, predict and test again

Now that you have a theory developed, you need to put it to the test. A robust theory is one that will predict outcomes.

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A robust theory is one that will predict outcomes.

If you can identify a user behaviour scenario that matches your theory, you can predict the outcomes using your theory. Every successful outcome that your theory predicts strengthens its validity, giving you a powerful strategic tool in your conversion optimization arsenal.

That’s our goal at Widerfunnel, to build the world’s largest database of tested learning and robust marketing theories that will continue to deliver huge continuous website improvement for our clients. Over and over and over.

What do you think?

What’s your experience with web segmentation? What segments are most important in your audience?

The post 8 Steps to Amazing Website Segmentation Success appeared first on WiderFunnel Marketing Conversion Optimization.


8 Steps to Amazing Website Segmentation Success


18 Mind-Blowing Landing Page Stats [Infographic]

Landing pages work.

They lift conversions, deliver more leads, drive more sales and return fantastic ROI.

Not convinced?

Our new infographic gives you 18 mind-blowing stats — proving that prioritizing your landing page program is a must for improving your digital marketing results.

Proof That Landing Pages Work [Infographic]


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18 Mind-Blowing Landing Page Stats [Infographic]


10 Lead Generation Landing Page Tips

At its core, lead generation is all about getting and keeping the attention of prospective leads. People respond well to things they like. Even though your ad got their attention and their click, it’s vitally important that they still like what they see after the click.

People also do what is comfortable and trustworthy. They avoid pain, angst and work. The more specifically your landing experience can speak their language and earn their trust, the more likely they will be to engage and convert.

The landing page is where you have the best chance to really impact your lead generation results because it’s completely under your control. Higher conversion rates translate directly into less cost for more leads. And best practices lead to best customers. Lead quality is a function of the user’s experience. It’s all within your control as a marketer. It’s not voodoo. It’s not a secret sauce. And it’s not rocket science.

10 Tips…

Here are ten tips that will help you create lead gen landing pages that will boost your conversion rates and reduce your cost per lead…

1. Set clear expectations at the top.

Way up at the tip top of your lead funnel (TOFU) lies an ad that sets expectations. If those expectations are unclear or misleading, everything else will collapse in an epic failure. You can check for this by looking at your campaign landing page’s bounce rate — the percentage of people who land and leave without engaging. If that number is high — say 40% or more — you should take a look at the expectations being set in your ads.

2. Use specific, targeted landing pages & messaging.

This is a bit of an extension of #1 above. Your ad should be complemented with specific, targeted landing page messaging that matches the ad. The first thing a user sees on the landing page should immediately reinforce why they clicked through. Keep in mind, they didn’t ponder your ad and debate its merits before clicking. They just impulsively charged forward, gave you less than two seconds of attention, and judged whether you were worthy or not. Since average conversion rates are under 5%, it’s safe to assume that 95% of the time, people don’t extend their click into much more. If you’re specific with your landing message, you will engage 60-80% of your visitors.

3. Find out why.

Tips 1 & 2 help put your ad and landing message on the same page — no pun intended. But once you’ve reinforced that they’re in the right place, you can now try and get more precise and find out why. Digging for user intent helps you learn a little bit about them so that you can make your message about you more specific to their precise reason for visiting. This is a form of segmentation. You’re getting your visitors to put themselves into more specific groups so that your offer is more relevant and appealing to them. When something is more relevant and appealing, it is much more likely to result in conversion. Cha-ching!

4. Stay on message with their need.

It’s not about you. It’s not about you. It’s not about you. The less your landing page is about you and the more it’s about them, the more you will engage and convert. Focus on benefits, not on features. Frame everything through those specific lenses you uncovered with segmentation. If they said they work for a small business, target your message to small businesses. Stay on message with their need. Don’t wander or you’ll encourage them to wander off. And exits are the opposites of conversions.


5. Keep the hoop-jumping to a minimum

You’re looking for a lead, right? That probably means you need a form filled out. The shorter the form, the higher the likelihood that it will be completed. Keep the hoop- jumping to a minimum too. For every question you add, or hoop you hold up, ask yourself and your organization if you are willing to trade your need for their lead. If the answer is ‘yes’, then by all means ask the question. If not, be easy and be successful.

6. Keep the gorilla 100% focused on the banana.

Many lead-gen offers trade something for the lead — maybe a white paper, a coupon, an offer code, etc. That’s the banana. Your visitor is the gorilla. As long as you keep the banana right under the gorilla’s nose, he doesn’t notice much else. But the second he loses the scent of that banana, he’s susceptible to distraction. Staying positive, means keeping the gorilla 100% focused on the banana. Don’t let anything come between the two. Even your form button should reference the banana — ‘get white paper’ will catch a lot more gorillas than ‘submit’.

7. Practice “fair exchange.”

Tip #6 spoke to keeping the offer right under the nose of the visitor. This one’s about making sure that what you’re offering and what you’re asking for in a lead gen form are of similar value. People are willing to do more for things they want more. So if you’re trading the greatest thing since sliced bread for a lead, you can probably ask for a lot in return. But if your offering is a white paper or coupon, odds are you’re going to find a far less receptive audience for your long form or legalese. If your requirements are proportionate to your offer, you will be more successful and generate more leads.

8. Reduce distraction, increase clarity.

Distraction is public enemy number one for lead generation. Your landing page or conversion path should be a laser-focused, message specific oasis — far outside of the rattle & hum of the web, or even your website. Navigation is a distraction. Tangential messages are recipes for disaster. Keeping your user experience narrow, clear and concise will keep visitors more engaged and make them more likely to convert. Clarity is your friend.


9. Think beyond the landing page.

Headline, sub-headline, bullets, form, button…the typical landing page can be so boring. Lead generation landing pages don’t have to be cookie-cutter — you, yes YOU — are too good to have a boring landing page. You should experiment with different types of experiences…experiences that are contextual relevant, highly seductive and deeply engaging. Take, for example, conversion paths….sets of pages that take the content typically squeezed on one landing page and divide it up over several pages. Instead of one massive page appealing to all people, conversion paths use segmentation (tip #3) to get people into smaller groups that can then be succinctly messaged to take action. Think in terms of short, punchy, targeted pages of laser-focused content. Each page requires mere seconds of attention that increases user desire and moves them to click again. Conversion paths are a great way to provide your visitors with a better digital experience.

10. Test unique traffic streams.

The one and only way to know where you stand with many of the preceding tips is to test alternatives. There are no hard and fast rules to tell you exactly what you need to do for your market and your situation. In fact, even within your own reality, you’re likely to see wildly disparate user behaviors that make alternatives more successful in some cases and less successful in others. You need to be engaged in traffic source-specific testing of landing page alternatives. This isn’t as hard as it sounds and it’s the key to lifting your conversion rate and pummeling your lead cost. You need to try things. And you need to know — with statistical certainty — which things work in which situations.

More inspiration.

There you have it, ten tips for lead generation landing experiences. We’ve been blogging about lead generation landing page best practices for years. I encourage you to check out the below resources. We hope to educate, inspire & help you test and optimize your way to more conversions. Enjoy!

50 Landing Page Best Practices [SlideShare]

8 Lead Generation Landing Page Tips [SlideShare]

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10 Lead Generation Landing Page Tips


The case for user-driven segmentation on your web pages

Here’s another gem from the Internet Marketing book some of us are reading on the sales team.


Simply starting a sales pitch without understanding who your customer is or what they need will result in your alienation. Customers want to like and trust the one who is selling to them, but if there is no genuine interest or understanding, the customer is turned off.


This makes the case for segmentation experiences (we like to call ‘em ‘Conversion Paths’). Conversion paths that employ user-driven segmentation can be incredibly powerful for lifting conversions (via increased audience & need relevancy), as well as enhancing a visitor’s perception of your brand (via the ‘hey, these people really get me’ factor). For some background on conversion paths, you can check out:

  • How to use conversion paths for a better digital experience (a must read)
  • The anatomy of a conversion path (kicking it old school, circa 2007!)
  • Conversion paths versus landing pages (just a little rant)

Conversion paths = awesome visitor experiences & awesome marketing results. Try them out!


The case for user-driven segmentation on your web pages

[Survey] Digital Marketing in 2014: Benchmarks, Insights and Advice

The digital aspect of marketing continues to grow, and in fact, all marketing is digital for many organizations today. In this era of creating digital experiences, what practices are marketers using, how agile are they, and which ones are producing the best results?

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We invite you to take the survey, and in exchange for your input, you’ll be entered into a random draw to win an iPad Mini! Demand Metric will also send you a complimentary copy of the study benchmark report when it publishes in December, when the winner of the iPad Mini is announced.

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About Demand Metric

Demand Metric is a global marketing research & advisory firm serving a membership community of over 36,000 marketing professionals, CEOs, and business owners with advisory services, custom research & benchmarking reports, vendor studies, consulting methodologies, training, and a library of 500+ practical tools and templates.

See the article here: 

[Survey] Digital Marketing in 2014: Benchmarks, Insights and Advice


Make a connection with your online visitors

At ion, you’ll often find a team in the middle of a ‘book club’—reading a book and gathering once a week for group discussion.


Right now, the sales team is in the middle of “Internet Marketing” by Matt Bailey. It’s been a great refresher in some core online marketing concepts, and Matt is so knowledgeable and experienced that reading the book is almost as good as being a web developer in the late 90’s back when all this web stuff was really starting to take off.

We’ve stumbled on a few gems in the book that make us jump and up and down screaming, “Yes!” while giving each other the virtual high five. Matt is just a smart guy and it comes through in the book. Here’s one recent quote we loved:

When our information matches the needs of the visitor, there is a connection. Once the connection is made, the visitor will allow you more time and attention to make your case for their staying on the site. As the visitor senses an imminent answer to their questions, they will stay longer and click through to more pages.

We love this because:

  1. It’s common sense, right? But how often, as a visitor yourself, do you land on a page that doesn’t match your needs & expectation? I bet it’s pretty frequently, and I bet that it’s a disappointment (however slight) when it does.
  2. It makes the case for message match between the ad & landing page in all your advertising.

Get your visitors to give you more time and attention by presenting them with a highly relevant, specific page of content and a reason to convert. Relevancy says to the visitor, ‘you are in the right place, and we have something for you.’ Common sense, right?


Make a connection with your online visitors