My family and I had just gotten home from church. It was hot and humid and I was late for a date with my “casual clothes”. I stayed in the car with my dad while Mom and my siblings rushed inside to escape the hot Alabama sun and heavy air.

As we headed inside, I stopped to investigate a really loud sound. Now, I’ve been accused of hearing voices, but I was 65% sure that was someone saying “HELP!” I turned to my dad to ask if he’d heard the sound. He was turning to me to ask the same. We walked back out into the driveway to take a glance around – only to hear it again!

We found our neighbor yelling out her kitchen window for help! We walked over and discovered her kitchen pipe had burst and she was trying to shut it off. After some struggle, a sprint across the street to grab a wrench, and a handful of towels later. We got the flooding under control.

Talk about right place, right time.

Our audience may not be in the middle of their house being flooded, but you never know! How do you know when’s the right time? Or where’s the right place?

By using competitive intelligence to create audience segments. Let’s get into it!

What is audience segmentation?

Audience segmentation is a process of dividing customers into groups with similar interests, needs, and behaviors. Their demographics and psychographic characteristics play a part too. It’s used to get a better understanding of the target audience, which in turn helps marketers understand who they’re targeting with their marketing efforts, in turn creating more effective marketing campaigns.

Sure, we can use market research to get the basics down, but you’ll quickly realize it’s harder to group individuals than expected. Your audience is a living, breathing entity. That’s why we need to overlay audience segmentation with competitive intelligence.

The intersection of audience segmentation and competitive intelligence

Competitive intelligence (CI) is an important part of audience segmentation, often overlooked entirely. But together they play a huge role in successful marketing campaigns. It’s a process that lets companies understand their competitors’ products and marketing strategies, and identify their own strengths and weaknesses.

When you create your target audience persona, you can cross-reference it with competitive data to see if the persona fits the target audience profile. If it does, you have now validated your persona and have a clear audience target for content creation. Focusing on these segments will not only open you up for using lookalike audiences later on but also gives you a clear target for your content creation efforts!

Competitive intelligence is the analysis of your competitors, getting info on competitors' pricing, products, services, business operations, and other activities. It also includes information about their suppliers and customers, external forces, and market sentiments.

You can use this information to make strategic decisions for your business such as:

  • More effective messaging – “John Doe is using competitor A, but is frustrated with X and Y. Let’s send John promotions that focus on those pains.”
  • Inciting purchases – “John purchased from competitor B. Let’s send him a case study comparing the results of B with our offer.”
  • Product creation – “X% of respondents said A was impossible to find in our industry. How can we fill this need?”
  • Product development – “X% of our respondents said they use our product at night. Let’s implement dark, mono, and sepia modes.”
  • Content creation – “A lot of our audience likes X and Y. Let’s reach out about a possible collaboration or a license to use their IP in a media campaign.”
  • Choosing influencers – “Multiple responses mentioned this thought leader as a source for information. Let’s reach out to him for a possible collab”

This list is just the beginning. As software and AI progress, the list of possibilities will only grow.

What different types of audience segments do entrepreneurs need to know about?

The goal of market segmentation is to identify and understand the different types of audience segments that are available in a given industry. Generally, we look at segmenting from a very limited window: demographic, psychographic, behavioral, geological, and transactional.

  • Demographic – What are the groups in your audience by age, gender, income, education, marital status, etc.?
  • Psychographic – What are your audience's likes, dislikes, needs, day-to-day life, attention-keepers, market awareness, etc.?
  • Behavioral – When is X used, in what environment, with or without others, self or shared with another person?
  • Geological – Where are they in the world, what’s going on, what language is spoken, what dialect, what slang, what politics, what economics, etc.?
  • Transactional – What do they purchase, what time of year, what time of day, in response to which marketing campaign, from which marketing channel, etc.?

Aside from those key non-negotiable segments, there are dozens of ways to categorize your audience, including these lesser-known ways:

  • Brand segmenting – This method is specifically for B2B and B2E companies. This applies segmentation to the brands’ values and demographics to deliver personalized communications.
  • Generational segments – Generational gaps exist in everyday life. There tend to be generation-wide shared characteristics, behaviors, and belief systems. It’s important to take these factors into account when speaking or writing to your audience.
  • Lifecycle segments – What is happening at this stage of their lives? Do they have young children and want to start a college fund? Are they about to retire? Have a baby? Get married? Graduate? By integrating yourself into more intimate moments in their life you effectively become “one of the family”.
  • Inclusivity segments – While there are many brands that overdo this, it’s possible to use data enrichment methods to segment your audience by sexual preference, pronouns, ethnicity, etc. This can help reiterate the brand mission, vision, and values. Tread lightly, consult with others and always be respectful.

Segmenting our audience puts us in a better position to relate to our audience on a one-to-one rather than a one-to-many level.

The benefits of audience segmentation for businesses

Beyond the community aspects of audience segmentation, some of the benefits of audience segmentation are:

  • Better marketing results – Audience segmentation is a great way to get better marketing results. It helps you target the right customers, who are more likely to convert.
  • Conversions – Audience segmentation helps your conversion rates. It’s possible to increase sales by targeting the right audience with the right message at the right time.
  • Competitive intel – Entrepreneurs can use competitive intelligence software to gain information and awareness of what their competitors are doing.
  • Easy implementation – Implementing an audience segmentation solution isn’t hard. Import data, create segments, set up automation rules, and guide your teams.

How to use audience segments to improve your marketing strategy

Marketing segments are a uniquely powerful way to personalize your message without crossing the line. We want to avoid the “{{First_Name}}-in-ad” creepiness while still personalizing the message.

Solid segmentation can do everything from informing rebranding, to helping create irresistible ads written in the audience’s native language. There’s no limit to how this info can be used – just be ethical.

Here are some ideas and why they work. Each of these has a varying level of difficulty, so some technical knowledge may be needed:

  • Show ads with different ad models based on demographics (you look like me – I like you already).
  • Use a different tone of voice for different age demographics.
  • Send a targeted promotion to subscribers who previously engaged with similar content, products, or services.
  • Use affiliate marketing and partnerships to cross-promote related products to subscribers who engaged before.
  • Show your landing page in your audience’s native language (improves user experience, reducing bounce rates).
  • Show promotions related to the site your visitor has come from (related content, services, partnerships, case studies, workbooks, etc.).
  • Use psychographics to split your audience and send them to different landing pages that focus on different pain points.
  • Use localized storytelling to relate the concept to their region (e.g., reference local geography, culture, or political figures).
  • Trigger promotions at the times when your audience is most likely to be shopping online.
  • Present a special promotion to a repeat website visitor.

Again, there are so many ways to use this data. Please use it carefully, be transparent in your privacy policy, and always store this data in a safe environment.

Tools for audience segmenting

As a conversion content consultant and brand strategist, I have tested a fistful of standout software that can help you achieve audience segmenting.

Here are some of them:

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) – This is best for raw data, though compared to universal analytics, Google Analytics 4 has a few more segmenting capabilities. (Cost: free).

Segment – As the name might suggest, Segment is a customer data platform that excels at creating segments and unified views of your audience. (Cost: freemium, starts at $120/month, demo required for unified view plan).

Adobe Analytics – Most folks know Adobe for Photoshop and After Effects, Adobe also boasts a strong arm in the analytics and segmentation game. Not very beginner-friendly, but allows more control. (Cost: demo required, reported $500+. Large enterprises pay in excess of $100k/year).

HubSpot Analytics – I always end up on HubSpot’s blog for fact-checking (sometimes 2–3 times a day). As the number one free CRM, it makes sense that their software would also have strong analytics and segmenting capability too! (Cost: start free, starter plan at $50/2 users/month).

Constant Contact – Primarily an email marketing tool, the auto segmentation works better than any other. They also support heatmaps, manual segmenting, and click tracking, and will intelligently send emails to your list. (Cost: $0+/month).

Sprout Social*– For brands present on social media, Sprout Social’s social CRM, will help you gather data and segment your audience on social media, adding another angle to your data. (Cost: $89+ with a free trial).

*this is a dual-purpose tool and can be used for competitor research too!

Meta Pixel and Insights – Specifically for creating segments on Facebook and Instagram, this pixel will integrate into our websites, apps, and landing pages and cross-reference user interactions with Meta’s user data. (Cost: free with a Facebook page).

HotJar – If you want to see how users are interacting with your website and segment further based on use, HotJar is for you! (Cost: Start free, $39+/month).

Tools for competitor research

SimilarWeb – This is a freemium tool that will show you how your competitors are getting their traffic, social media, ads, or search result rankings. SimilarWeb lets you have a few free searches but will not show data for websites that get less than 5k page views per month.

SpyFu – Primarily a keyword research tool, SpyFu lets you can pull data on your competitors from a search ranking and Adword bidding perspective which will help you reverse engineer their advertising strategy.

SWOT Analysis – You’ll have to use some brain power for this one, a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a business analysis framework that lets you analyze your competitors.

Porter's 5 Forces – Yet another business analysis framework, you will be able to view your competitors from the lens of the five forces and analyze their business more objectively.

VidIQ – If your competitor uses YouTube or TikTok, visiting their profile on a desktop with VidIQ will display the search tags they use, how many times their video was engaged with and shared on social media, what keywords their channel ranks for and way more engagement metrics.

Keywords Everywhere – A free/less expensive alternative to VidIQ, you can view video tags and basic metrics. It is missing social media engagement data and channel insights, however.

Google Search*–Typing “” will show all indexed pages on their website, letting you see everything they’ve created on their website and where they can possibly be ranking. Pro tip: this works with social pages and branded URLs too!

*this is a million-purpose tool and can be used for audience research too.

Let’s recap

Competitive intelligence and audience segmentation are a match made in heaven. They each compliment and enrich the other.

By taking the time and effort to invest in creating informed segmentation, your business will not only be uniquely positioned to thrive but to start overtaking the market and building a community on a one-to-one basis at scale.

More segmented and targeted messages create an ecosystem of awareness, increased sales, lower acquisition costs, and word-of-mouth awesomeness without being creepy.

Like my work? Read more from me here.

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