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I was reading Dee’s recent article in his customer segmentation series where he talked about how to segment your blog readers.
One of his main premises was the difference between a person who leaves a comment, or many comments and those who don’t. I agree with Dee that these are possible options for segmenting your blog readership, but I want to expand on his piece and give some examples of my own attempts to segment my readership over the years.
One of the key distinctions that must be discussed before looking at how to segment your blog readership, is the reason why you are aiming to do this in the first place.
In my case, and very likely your case too, we want to segment our readers so we can achieve the following goals –
The challenge is always how to find a way to commercialize a blog without diluting the value of the reason people come to the blog in the first place. Often the commercial intent can be blended with the content, so you can satisfy both needs, however segmentation can take this process even further, ensuring only those who are interested in certain types of content receive it, and those who are not, don’t.
To achieve this outcome you need to figure out the following –
I’ve always found it difficult to use only your blog content to accurately segment readers into different groups. Sometimes you just want to make sure as many people read your content as possible with no sales message, where at other times you want to make as many sales as possible, but not turn away readers who don’t want to buy.
The people who buy are a tiny percentage of your entire audience, so if you spend all day promoting to everyone, eventually you will lose your audience, unless you can find a way to bring in a continuous stream of new people who replace those you lose. Ideally we want to maximize both audience retention and growth, and maximize profit too.
Dee mentioned how I use text, audio podcasts and video on this blog and this is one way to segment my readership. This is true, but in terms of commercial intent (the goal of making money), I don’t segment my readership using these formats, this is merely an attempt to maximize the amount of people I can reach using different media.
That’s the same reason why I have brought on more writers to this blog. With more than ten people now contributing their unique ideas and experiences, Entrepreneurs-Journey.com has grown beyond me to point where I don’t feel like it is just “my” blog anymore.
We could segment our audience based on authors, or subject, or media format, or the time of day people read or what country they come from, and it would be great to know all this about my audience, but I’ll be honest with you, I found it way too difficult to figure out all this data and come out with methods to segment each group. It’s just too much and too difficult using the format of a blog. I feel it is always best to give all my content to all my readers.
That was until the day I made one change.
I added an email newsletter to my blog.
Many, many, many times I’ve been asked on coaching calls –
“Which content should I put in my newsletter and which for my blog?“
The distinction isn’t always clear to people since they are both content delivery mechanisms.
When I started my first newsletter I knew one thing: I was creating a newsletter to filter people into a group who were interested in one specific thing, so eventually I could sell them something.
Here’s a key difference between a blog and an email newsletter (at least in 99% of the cases). Blogs do not require a person opts-in. There is no action to take to read the content, you simply find it and consume it. An email newsletter or email list asks a person to “opt-in”, by presenting some kind of offer, a reason why and what they will receive in return.
You can blog away happily for a long time not worrying too much about the specific nature of your topic, as long as you stick to a specific area, and feel your way to a target market. When you start your newsletter, you have to decide the offer you are making, which very much dictates the type of subscriber your attract. This is in fact, the very first point of segmentation, taking a generic website visitor and turning them into a person who has expressed interest in a certain type of information.
That first filter is a powerful segmentation step. It tells you that someone is willing to join your list to get what you offer.
When I first brainstormed ideas for my email newsletter I considered two variables –
My decision was to launch a blog traffic tips newsletter, which was added to my blog when I did a redesign to include an opt-in form. My newsletter from that point forward was my first ever attempt at segmentation with commercial intent. I know had a readership and a list of “prospects”, people who had stuck their hand up to show interest in one specific topic.
This was very helpful when it came to deciding what content went where as well. From then on I wrote a series of weekly emails specifically related to blog traffic (in fact most of my articles about how to build a great blog went into my email list initially, not my blog), while my blog became a place to talk more about my experiences as an entrepreneur, including how my current businesses were going.
For me, email has always been a much easier tool to segment, even with just a basic autoresponder.
The ability to create multiple lists, so you can make different offers to create different segments. For example my list of people who want to make money with blogs is one list and those who want to learn more about membership sites is another. I have others for things like my coaching programs and even for sponsors who want to advertise on my blog.
This is an important segmentation tool, because you can use different lists for different levels. I have people on prospect lists (never purchased, but opted-in for free content) and customer lists (made a purchase). I can mail these lists individually, or pick and choose which ones I combine or even exclude.
One good way to use this tool is to mail your prospects special offers for your products, but exclude people who already have purchased those products. You can also choose to send affiliate promotions only to certain groups depending on what you are promoting and how valuable that list is to you (for example you may not want to promote affiliate products too heavily to your paying customers to keep them focused on your products).
Segmentation Based On Action
Another tool within AWeber allows you to segment based on an action, for example someone clicking a link in an email, or if they opened the email or not.
There are many ways to use this, but I primarily use it to reduce my unsubscribe rate when it comes to affiliate promotions. Affiliate promotions rarely interest your entire list, but for the segment that does show interest, you want to make sure they are mailed several times.
Often I email my entire prospect list an email related to a product, then segment the list into people who opened the email (usually around 10%-20%). I then send the segment the followup emails about that same product, for example when the closing deadline is coming soon. By doing this I don’t send multiple emails about the same launch to people who don’t want it.
I’ve also used this function to send a different email with a new subject line to the group who didn’t open the first email to see if I can get their attention. The email subject is such a critical variable when it comes to email marketing, so having this tool is like a “second chance” to mail about the same thing, without annoying the group who opened the first.
Segmentation Based on Location
One other nifty tool is the ability to mail only certain countries. I’ve emailed my Australian subscribers details about events in Australia, which excluded everyone else for obvious reasons. My Australian portion of my list is only about 10%, so being able to mail this group specifically is helpful, especially without annoying the rest of my peeps.
As you can know doubt tell, having an email autoresponder that allows you to control these different elements is pretty powerful. Don’t forget you also get statistics about all these actions too, so simply by taking the steps to segment your email lists you can learn a lot about your subscribers.
If you don’t already have an account, I strongly recommend you try out AWeber now. I’ve been using them for five years and I couldn’t have done what I do without my email list –
The main reason I focus my customer segmentation on email marketing and not my blog is that I find it much simpler that way. My blog isn’t the tool I use to segment people as much as it is the tool I use to capture attention initially.
I actually see my blog more like a magazine and database of training content. The writers here at Entrepreneurs-Journey.com give you daily training and insights into our businesses. If you want more from any of us, you can visit the respective site and join the email list if available. That’s the same for Entrepreneurs-Journey and my training. If you want to learn more about making money with blogs, then you opt-in for the Blog Profits Blueprint and are then exposed to further training about that subject as well as related promotions.
The one area where the blog itself is great for segmentation is Sponsored advertising. However most bloggers don’t take advantage of it.
CarAdvice.com.au (founded by my friend Alborz Fallah), only makes money from advertising, and a heck of a lot of it (millions a year now). They make so much because they segment the sponsors based on the content and charge a premium price for targeting. In fact their only monetization method is advertising, hence they’ve become very good at it.
For example Toyota might choose to place their banners only on the Toyota related content, or even sneakier, only on content about their competitor’s vehicles. By doing this they are ensured of having a very targeted reader for their advertisements.
If you have a product related blog, this kind of segmented sponsorship might be a great idea.
Segmentation is definitely powerful and I hope this article, and Dee’s ongoing series on customer segmentation, give you plenty of ideas for how to segment in your online business.
Don’t forget the two most important rules –