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How To Get Better At Defining Your Customers

We’re discussing how top businesses profile their customers and what you can learn from them.


As Marketers, we all use some basic profiling to know our customers. However, most of us don’t invest in defining which customer profiles are right for us and how to use these to our advantage.

In this session, we’re discussing how top businesses profile their customers and what you can learn from them.


Utkarsh: Hi Anshul!

Anshul: Hi

Utkarsh: Today I want to talk about how businesses can sustain and a lot of that has been discussed through how people define growth, some say that it’s the product, how well it’s connected with the users. That’s one reason that businesses stay relevant, Another reason is that you know a lot of people talk about that they are whatever they build, whatever services they provide. It’s very close-knit to what the customers want.

Like, think about Pepsi, people drink it to quench thirst. And that’s the biggest use case. So, a lot has been said and told about how businesses can stay relevant. I would want to know your views in terms of how businesses can actually stay relevant.

Anshul: Yeah, sure. So I think one of.. you answered the question yourself. I think it’s about matching what customers want. So I don’t think that there’s anyone particular part of the business that kind of defines it or that says that OK. This is the reason why customers are sticking with this business. I think it’s the entire experience that customer has with the business is what makes it them stay. So if you serve customers just ensure that you know who you are serving. Know your customers, know who you’re talking to, know you you are selling to and ensure that your offerings are relevant to their needs. And if that’s a match I don’t see why the businesses won’t be successful.

Utkarsh: So you mentioned about the experience that you know it’s very important to get the right experience for your customers. Can you unpack that for me, when you say ‘experience’ what does that actually mean? Does that mean like the purchasing behavior or that journey or it’s more?

Anshul: Yeah. So imagine a touchpoint for any business. Let’s say you and I work in the SaaS industry where a majority of our customers meet our brand for the first time on our website. And say a person who is exactly the kind of buyer that we want or that we attract would be a perfect customer for us lands on our website. What if I could directly send him a message that you know what ‘I see that you are highly interested in this. How about we have a conversation in 20 minutes. Are you free?’ If I say that what are the chances of me getting a conversion or getting that customer to talk versus say if a generic message greets him. So the way I see it, it’s about finding out who your customers are and offering them exactly what they need. And to be able to do that you need to understand your customer well. And I think that’s.. if that’s in place your businesses is definitely going to be a valuable one for the customers.

Utkarsh: Yeah. Another thing I think we should definitely talk about is the understanding part of the customers. And a lot of businesses I see that are not shooting in the dark in terms of how to build that connection with the customer or how to build that connection with the prospect. So what are your views in terms of, first of all, understanding customers and then how you can use that understanding to improve on everything you do as a business?

Anshul: So while every individual is different. You would see that if 1000 people interact with your business every day. You would find that there are some common traits amongst those thousand people and that’s what you have to leverage. The idea here is that since you can’t.. I think the ideal case scenario would be if you could talk to each of these customers in their own language in their own words if you could personalize it so well that each person is greeted in fact in the way they want or the way they like. However, if that’s not possible that’s not scalable. The key here is to understand what segments you serve to. Segments are basically a group of people that share a common attribute or that share a common characteristic. So for example, if we talk about our company we serve to a lot of companies, we serve a lot of marketers in various companies around the world. If you let’s say speak of Pepsi. As you’ve mentioned before, they could serve a lot of different segments a demographic that’s young that goes to college and you know that’s still studying that could be one segment. They also serve fairly middle-aged people who like to have a cold drink once in a while and that becomes their second segment and so on. The idea is if you can’t know everyone individually at least know who your segments are? What segments do you cater to? And then do the best you can for those individual segments.

Utkarsh: Yes. And let’s talk a little bit more about the segment side of things. So when you say ‘a segment’ as I understand about Pepsi example you’re taking demographic. You’re kind of pitching them in terms of whether they’re young, whether they’re old, And understanding their needs, understanding what connects them to the brand or the product they’re offering. What more cohorts or what more I would say segments which businesses should look into to distribute their audience and build a connection.

Anshul: OK. So I think the way I want to answer this question is I don’t think there is no one segment that I can tell you which will be relevant for all the businesses around the world. There’s not even a single segment that I can tell you which would be relevant for most businesses around the world. It’s not true that segments are going to be common. It can be, it definitely can be. But not necessarily. So I think you have to know like every business that they have different segments you have to know yours. And businesses don’t decide that this is the segment that you know they are serving. They can decide that this is a market or this is a segment that they want to approach to. But they don’t decide what to segment they’re currently serving. They discover, they figured – ‘OK these are my customers right now and this is where they’re from and this is what they do. Most of them are from this background etc.’ So you discover these segments and the way to do that let’s say if you haven’t done this exercise at all and if you’re unaware of this. The way to do that would be to have a key or have an objective in mind. Ask yourself what do you plan to do – is the next objective is to you will need to increase the sign-up rate on your free trial form or is the next objective that a lot of people who have not discovered your platform yet and you want to be able to do that. If you have that.. if you have the objective clear you will be able to map out what steps do you need to take in order to achieve that objective and while in this process you will end up speaking to yourself or asking yourself questions that are – okay, who’s my audience and how can I better reach them? Which will result in you discovering that OK this is the set that you want to reach out to and they share these common traits? And this is where they usually hang out so this is where I can reach out to them etc..

Utkarsh: It was very interesting that you mention that businesses don’t create segments they discover it. And I would want to talk more about that. How does the discovering phase look like? So there are a lot of people who belong from different industries and maybe the idea of discovering the right segment. I mean if there is a term called the right segment and how do you define that? How do you define the approach of finding the segment which is right for your business is correct or not? So how do you go about those things? How do you go about ensuring that whatever you’re doing is the correct way of doing things?

Anshul: I think the number one thing should be that you should have an objective in mind you have a goal that you want to achieve. And with that you start your research you initiate your analysis and you know you go on to let’s say for example if you want to get more and more people to learn about this new feature that you have just added to your kitty. You could promote that feature in various different ways you could talk about it to customers that are power users and then you can also try to re-engage their disengaged customers, basis that. Now when I say power users and disengaged customers I’m actually talking about two different segments. And the reason why I’m speaking of these in the stumps is that my objective is to find out or is to promote this new feature where I would definitely look at it from the point of view as to who is using it and who’s not using the other features in this area. This could be very different for let’s say something that you do. Maybe one of the tasks that you may have recently, your approach could differ from mine and the two of us are talking about the same people. So yeah I think that’s one definite thing that you should have in mind.

Utkarsh: So I would want to know that it’s great that you mention feedback as one component of creating a great segment and you talked about viability in terms of how actionable that segment is in terms of reaching out to them. What are the areas you can basically ensure that you know that message is communicated to those guys? Now third thing is that you know a lot of people look into the behavioral side of things in terms of what your user or visitor is doing on the website or the app which you have created. And how to factor in that property in terms of defining a segment.

Anshul: So I think the more context that you have about the user it can be context such as what age group does they belong to what’s their gender etc. to anything such as what was their behavior on your website. Whatever context that you have if you can use it that can make a segment even more powerful and even more laser-focused. I think it’s definitely a good point. This also brings me to this next point where I would want to add to how to identify if the segments that you have discovered are actually good or not. So apart from them being sizable like if they have you know not a very small number of people they have a good number of people and you’re able to reach out to them. It should also be you know if you have discovered two or three segments it should also be very different from one another. Otherwise, it cannot be that just one small trait is different. Okay. But you know these should be identifiably very different.

Utkarsh: So there shouldn’t be substantial overlap between different segments.

Anshul: Ideally there shouldn’t be substantial overlap. Now one of the things that can help you do that is if you have more data especially behavior data because what a customer reveals by simply being on your website is something that they probably won’t be able to reveal on a form. If one of your value proposition attracts them more they will read more about it. And if you are if you have the capability to capture that and then utilize that data well yeah that’s a perfect way to go about it.

Utkarsh: And once you have all this understanding about the customer having this understanding about you know how you can reach out to them, what’s something that connects with them and everything. How do you use that? Like how do big businesses like you know the hotshots in the industry are using it?

Anshul: Yeah. So you can use it in many different ways. As I said you need to have that objective in mind very clear and very firm, right. Say you want to increase.. let’s say one of the objectives that you could be focusing on is that you want to increase the quality of the leads that you have. This means there could be a very targeted approach that you can take towards say lead qualification. If you identify a customer that’s on the website who is a customer that matches your ideal customer profile and you would definitely want the attention of that customer. You could even deliver a personalized message to them using various chat software or say in their experience somehow show them a way in which they can reach out to you directly and cut short the process that every other customer would normally have to go through. Now just by knowing a little bit about that person even if that person is right now on an anonymous profile. There are vendors out there that can use the IP address to figure out what company this anonymous profile is browsing from and what category what industry..

Utkarsh: Like Clearbit, which tells you about which industry this user is from.

Anshul: Yes. And if you use Clearbit, if you use Clearbit data to even let’s say approach people from a certain industry and treat them slightly differently than everyone else. You’re able to prioritize the quality leads more over the rest of them. And you’re able to capture their attention more, get their details faster and then you can also decide to act on it faster and so on. So the experience for that one individual is going to be so seamless that you know there’s this one component that’s sorted. So if you have a product that he likes he’ll have a good experience with you. I don’t see a reason why they won’t buy with you.

Utkarsh: Yeah. And I think you were also mentioning while we were discussing preparing this session you also mentioned the Segment example and how they use this..

Anshul: Yeah I recently saw this webinar hosted by segment.io and they, in fact, do this. It’s very interesting. They will identify if you are from a SaaS business which is their major customer base. They would tweak the website to show you the case studies that are from the SaaS businesses

Utkarsh: For personalization.

Anshul: They would personalize it just by knowing what industry you’re from. They don’t even need to know your name for this. They would ensure that you know when you sign up you are kind of.. not just you know you just don’t fill your email ID and let it be. They’ll navigate you to places where they are able to select a time slot and book a demo right away. So in your first experience on their website, they were able to just schedule a call with you. How great is that?

Utkarsh: So they’re basically giving you preferential experience just because you guys are the most important segment they cater to.

Anshul: Yeah

Utkarsh: But don’t you think it’s discriminatory. You’re not treating all leads as equal you’re ensuring one lead over the other.

Anshul: Well the idea here is that you will get to all of the leads one by one. And the idea is to find out as many segments that would cater to as many people as you can and then ensuring that the messaging that you have or the value proposition that you promote is all in line with their expectations. So yeah the idea is definitely that you reach out to more and more people. If you start with someone and you think that that’s discriminatory just don’t worry you will want to expand them.

Utkarsh: Yeah you’re just making sure that you’re reaching out to the right guys first.

Anshul: Yeah. Yeah.

Utkarsh: And then open the doors for everybody else.

Anshul: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s where in fact good traits of the segment would also help you. Like for example apart from the points, I mentioned before. If there is a segment that’s also very stable. So say you define a segment this year and you find they are a good buyer say individuals in the marketing technology space companies in the marketing technology space. Let’s say if that’s your target customer base and you see that even three years later that’s still relevant one year later. After that, it’s still relevant that means it’s a very stable segment and if you catch hold of one such segment it’s definitely you know it should get a higher priority than everything else because it does not just follow all the other traits but it’s also very stable. So you know if you invest your time into it it’s not like one year later all of that energy will just go away. It will continue to give you more and more benefits.

Utkarsh: So do these benefits and insights consolidate and like your understanding of customers improve over while you keep practicing these things. So I want to understand once you have that context in place and you very well understand your customer. How does this information or this insight factor into your experimentation cycle? Like how can you leverage all this information and run experiments on top of that?

Anshul: I think this information could not just be used to have better experimentation it can be used everywhere. The main reason why you run an experiment is for testing hypotheses, right? Your hypothesis can be even more refined because you know a little bit more about your segments and it could be tied to targeted to one particular segment. So you know you’re not just saying that on an average, does my theme one work better or theme two work better you can go into details and say alright maybe I have four visitors who have been with us or four users that have been with us for saying more than six months. I’d have a cleaner UI that uses more and more icons and less of the text and they’ll be able to navigate with it. In fact, I appreciate that and I would create a mode of my application that sort of handholds and will be targeted to the new users. You can obviously give a switch but you can automatically decide what customer base is that particular thing relevant to.

Utkarsh: So you talked about that you know defining that segment-defining their understanding which you have and running a test on top of it then ensuring the monitoring basically what these different segments are doing in the experiment. So once you have that information and a lot of businesses use VWO for that. In terms of setting a segment and then running tests on top of that and monitoring what they’re doing on the site. How will you ensure that you know once you have that data in place you’re basically capitalizing on that and you’re harvesting information and insights out of it?

Anshul: I think just by testing you would take care of all of that. So if you are always.. now, this is a new segment that you discovered right. It’s not something that you’ve been told or that you know or know it to be true. So one of the things that you’re doing with this segment is you’re also evaluating it. You’re figuring out if I approach this segment of visitors slightly differently. Does that make an impact or not? And that’s an important thing to figure out and when you do that what happens is you’re opening up a lot of personalization opportunities. And one byproduct of personalization is that you become more and more relevant for that one audience group. And yeah. So I think it just starts by you trying to understand your customer. And it goes on to make their experience more and more seamless on your website which was as you know at the start of the conversation was your goal with which you started.

Utkarsh: Yes. So let’s wrap it up by you know by asking you one question which is – What is something which the viewers can get started with in terms of defining segments like one segment which they should like readily go ahead and start monitoring.

Anshul: Alright. I think I would instead say that every one of us should go back and think of what is our next objective what are we doing next. Define that objective. And from there. Let’s take the next step. Let’s ask the next question. OK, I want to do this. How do I go about it. I wouldn’t worry about taking a segment back and trying to find out if that’s relevant for you or not. Because it’s very likely that it’s not relevant for you. It’s very likely that you’re going to discover something completely different for your business. So what I would tell our viewers is that you go back and define an objective what do you want to do next? And take it from there. I think just by asking the right questions and by trying to make their experience better you’re gonna figure out interesting segments and you’re gonna prioritize based on those segments the fact as we mentioned before and at the end of it one or two or more of these segments will be tested and verified and then you can reuse them in your future applications or future efforts.

Utkarsh: One thing which I would want to mention is that you know once you have defined an understanding about your customers you have defined that objective that you know what you want to do and how you’re gonna take things forward.

Utkarsh: Have a base ready of the audience that you want to reach out to. And there could be multiple ways to maybe understand that one is that.. I mean if I take my own example..

Anshul: Yeah. Yeah. There was as we were talking about this.

Utkarsh: Yeah. So let me take my own example and let’s say I do customer marketing here and there’s one feature which is visitor profiles which we’ve recently launched in session recordings. This basically tells our customers in terms of who are their returning visitors and different sessions which they have spent on the website and they make different session recordings for that and consolidated into one. Yeah, one thing so that you know everything about a returning visitor and how his experience or how his journey has been. So say if you want to promote that feature. What I’ll do basically is, first of all, define the number of users who are using recordings so that way I know that who are the people it would be easier to pitch this feature to versus where I would need to do more in terms of first of all explaining user recordings and then telling them what profiles are. And once I have that segment ready I can see where they’re more receptive. So maybe it’s intercom where I send them that notification where maybe it’s at the recording page where I should like you know maybe run a flow using Appcues and then like target them. So once I have these segments ready once I have that understanding that where I need to reach out to them and what I need to reach out to them with, is I think what makes your understanding of a customer better in terms of defining cohorts defining how you want to reach out to them.

Utkarsh: All right. So with that, I think I would want to end the session and you can check out more resources on segmentation. We have a bunch of them. We have recorded training videos on top of that. You can use all of that to define your segment in VWO and run more and more experiments and get amazing insights. Thank you.

Anshul: Thank you.

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