How to Segment Your B2B Mailing Lists According to Buyer Personas

Before the terms “targeted” and “content” became inseparable in B2B marketing speak, marketing databases like executive mailing lists were typically segmented according to crude criteria like demographics and company profile only. Today, these segmentation methods are no longer up to the task of facilitating laser-precise content mapping with email and other marketing activities. B2B email marketers need more thorough segmentation techniques for mailing lists to match content and audience, generating prospects of the highest quality.

In the blog post “Six Smart Ways to Cut B2B Email Lists into Precise Segments for Targeted Campaigns,” we briefly discussed the idea of segmenting mailing lists using buyer personas. This post dives deeper into buyer personas and shows you how to do this method of slicing your mailing lists.

Buyer personas are categories of prospects based on certain unique characteristics they have, particularly their role in the buying process. These help us to better map our content to the right audience. As such, buyer personas can enhance our lead nurturing efforts to produce true qualified leads.

In B2B email marketing, keeping the content relevant to the recipients is showing better results than indiscriminate blasts. A study published by Jupiter Research reports that relevant emails produce 18 times more revenue than broadcast ones. A separate survey conducted by Aberdeen Group finds similar results with 14% improvement in click-through rates attributed to personalization while a SilverPop/DemandGen report reveals that lead nurturing emails have 4-10 times better response rates than stand-alone messages.

All these data clearly highlight the need for more precise and interactive ways to segment B2B contact databases such as C-level mailing lists. Buyer personas are excellent guidelines for dissection, and the following steps walk you through the process of coming up with these categories.

1. Identify key demographics. Each persona must have an ideal set of demographic attributes. For example, in segmenting C-level mailing lists, a specific persona such as a decision-maker, may be a VP of a certain division in a company with a given number of employees operating in a certain sector or market.

2. Look at psychographics. The next item to add in the buyer persona profile is psychographics. Information about contacts’ preferences, frustrations, pressures, concerns, etc. are valuable in coming up with accurate personas. Following the previous example, you should attach information on purchasing behavior to your decision-maker persona. Oftentimes, this type of data is available elsewhere in your organization or offered by some reputable mailing lists provider.

3. Determine their role in the buying process. So far, our example has mentioned one specific type of role in the buying process – decision-maker which is commonly found in C-level mailing lists. Other roles include initiator, influencer, buyer, and end-user – which are themselves ideal personas to consider as separate segments.

4. See which stage they are in the buying cycle. Apart from identifying the buying roles and responsibilities your contacts have, you also need to know which stage they are now in the buying cycle. Some might still be at the initial problem-identification phase of the process while others are already at the exploration phase.

5. Assign a descriptive label. Although the term “decision-maker” is already suggestive enough, you need to assign a label that can easily be identified by others in your organization as referring to the same thing. This also applies to the other personas you use to segment your mailing lists.

Now that you’ve segmented your mailing lists according to buyer personas, the next challenge is to find out which content is relevant for each. And this is one of the things that make B2B marketing both an art and a science.

Do you use buyer personas in your marketing campaigns? What characteristics did you consider for each persona?