This is content archived from our old website. Our new blog is Trendlines.

Discussion Paper: “Individualised segmentation”


Segmentation is the core of successfully engaging a target market.

Whether you are a new entrant to a market, an established company breaking into a new market, a disruptor, or an established market-leader seeking to entrench your position, without some understanding of how your new target market is segmented, any marketing and selling you do will be broad-brush at best. The result is a lower return on investment, effort and engagement.

This need no longer be the case with the opportunities now available through social target audience segmentation.

Intelligent, people-centric analytics help you gain leverage from the public data and interactions available in the social web, and let you seek out and define target audiences in detail.

More interestingly, the social web lets you discern the makeup of that audience as defined by the individuals themselves. A reliance on generalizations or playing to the average can now be discarded.

What’s more, you can take segmentation one step further, because you can refine to the precise sets of individuals – the names, locations, and perspectives of those with influence within those segments of interest – who can then be directly engaged through a marketing and engagement program. These influencers can help you amplify your brand specifically to the target market and segments you wish to reach.

We call this “individualised segmentation”, and it’s possible because of new technologies now available for analysing the social web.

Tracking digital footprints in the social web

Those active on the social web leave deep digital trails, indicating who they are, where they are, where they work, where they go, what they like, their views and opinions about brands, their experiences, aspirations, and their more prosaic demands and needs.

These individual digital footprints mark the beginning of understanding the makeup of the market and an indication of the size of the market opportunity.

This approach of research, identification, connection and analysis is of special benefit in new markets where (by definition) there is no existing or easily available database of customers or prospects, and certainly no existing connections or relationships. This opportunity applies equally to established companies in well-defined markets or regions seeking to enter new markets with new products or services.

In seeking out, and seeking to understand, new markets and to create individualized segmentation, the social web reveals natural networks based around people’s common interests.

Once these individual segments are identified, you can discover those with real influence in these interest-based networks, beyond the more obvious journalists, bloggers, celebrities, experts, or advisers.

Each interest area, whether it be fashion, music, sport, gaming, food, travel, fitness, animals or something else, will have a number of connected networks. Knowing the individuals to target within each segment will help you design an engagement and influence campaign that can return big dividends.

Social web activity analysis makes sense of those with influence who can’t be found on the mainstream radar, but who are nevertheless firmly in the centre of the zone of relevance.

A 2012 Nielsen report states that 92% of people were more likely to trust information from others they knew, with 70% more likely to trust posts shared online, considerably more than any other form of editorial, news, advertising, websites, emails or other referrals.

And with 65% of those learning more about products and brands through social and social referrals influencing 43% of purchases, it makes good business sense to engage and activate the influencers in the segments of interest to you. These people influence your target audience and market segment because they are of that audience and segment.

And in the age of content consumption, where information is power, influencers like to know about what is new and have a chance to try before anyone else.  It helps them maintain their influencer status.

The role of the individual influencer in segmentation

This combination of individual digital interactions and mapping creates a single picture of each social individual. And the individual is the key.

The individuals of interest and relevance will differ for each company wanting to enter a market or a new segment, to shore up a position or break out into a new one.

Every message and comment (which means every message that is publicly published) at the individual level is indexed against a specific brief, to provide a view into the social web against specific, relevant criteria.  Organizations no longer have to rely on a single, aggregated view of volume-based social data based on keywords.

Individual influencers within segments can therefore be defined by what people say about themselves, who engages with them when they talk about certain topics (and what’s shared, liked, replied to, commented on, retweeted, etc.), what their sentiment is, and what happens when they interact within their networks.

It is possible to track the reach of each individual’s influence through their first and second degree networks. Each individual’s areas of interest can in turn be rolled up by community, organization, industry, region or public commentary level, to create the hard data (not best assumptions) that are then plugged into an engagement programme and strategy.

And the “granularity” is now built into the segmentation: the segmentation is defined by many thousands of data points, all of which are known individually.

So what?

The question that must always be asked when planning a social web strategy, about any given data set, is: so what?

The answer here is that by mapping and creating social market segments, you can engage with influencers to share the latest news or to engage around new product or service offerings.

And you can prioritize the order in which you do this, concentrating first on those who have expressed a desire to engage or transact, and engaging with and nurturing those with large degrees of influence.

In all these scenarios, the returns are accelerated and increased because you’re confident that you’re talking with individuals who want to learn more, and who carry weight within their networks.

By linking a segmented market of individuals in the social web to existing internal marketing systems and processes, organizations close the gap between themselves and their markets and drive real, measurable value from the social web.

Breaking into Australia using “individualized segmentation”: one company’s story

A US-based food company decided to enter the Australian market in 2012 on the back of its earlier US success where word of mouth through social media engagement drove growth.

As a new market entrant, it had neither data on the Australian potential market nor insights into who had influence in its target market sector.

The answer was to look at digital segmentation based on the characteristics that defined the typical consumer, starting with terms used in the US and reviewing what this looked like in Australia over three months.

The result? Over 12 million pieces of social content to be analysed.

These data were segmented into the different ways those individuals were commenting.  Each person’s profile and each post were automatically analysed into natural networks and relationships, based on their unique dictionary and ontology.

What dropped from the data, insights and the analysis were the primary motivators for this new market and the differing segments within this market, including locations. This was then refined further to those most influential and relevant across the most important criteria and topics.

The company used these results to brief its agencies and to create its marketing, content and engagement plans. It engaged with the newly-identified influencers, learning, sharing samples, gaining feedback (used to gain product insights), providing value, content and information.

This launched and increased its share of voice in branded mentions, images, hashtags and drove purchasing demand in stores.

After just six months, product demand exceeds supply, and it commands branded mentions in social of over 55% in its category, holds a clear and differentiated position, and dominates its retail outlets and target market, all on a social-only budget and approach to its marketing.

Individuals, segmentation, success

New markets have always presented their special challenges. And historically marketing has always been about audiences – in other words, broad data sets.

The social web changes all that, not because of what it “is” but because of what it allows.

In effect, the social web has provided the opportunity to identify the individual segments and the analysis of those individuals within those segments through the “self-

segmentation” of these audiences. These audiences are naturally grouped by shared interests, location, influence, connections, propensity to buy, and so on. This ability to market to individuals within desired segments is highly valuable to those looking to enter new markets.

Using the social web to create this “individualized segmentation” also creates an implicit “action timetable”, in which you can create marketing programmes and strategies that can be sequenced to the right individuals at the right time with the right proposition of offer, all made for the right reason.

And the final result, the one that matters the most, is that the returns on investment, engagement and effort can all be maximized.

The latest in a series of insights from DIGIVIZER’s experts on making the social web work better for you.

Want to know more? Click here, email [email protected] or phone us on +61 404 432 700.

For a PDF of this paper click here.

This paper was first published in September 2013.

Emma Lo Russo: Emma is CEO and co-founder of DIGIVIZER.