Segmentation, i.e. dividing into sections to manage, is actively used in marketing activities as well as in many areas. It forms an important basis especially for processes such as measurement, reporting and analysis.
Segmentation allows customizing the customer experience and accurately identifying the needs of the target audience. Thanks to segmentation, which clusters the target audience according to their characteristics or needs, groups with similar reactions are formed. These groups, which facilitate both management and sales processes, have an important place in planning. In cases where only customer segmentation is made, groups with similar purchasing tendencies such as persona or mental model are created.
The segmentation recommended for B2B marketing is called commercial market segmentation. B2B market segmentation, which is more complex than the traditional market segmentation structure, is segmented with different headings. While standard customer segmentation is based on fundamental questions and customer preferences, B2B segmentation gives equal importance to companies’ goals and measurements.
What is Segmentation?
Segmentation can be explained as classification or segmentation. Segmentation is done at various stages in many different occupational groups and sectors. Since the purpose of segmentation is to manage easily by dividing, it can be defined based on the “divide and rule” policy.
From a different perspective, it can also look like a third-party brand positioning. As in brand positioning, customers are included in a certain group or category through their prominent features.
Data that needs to be managed is organized into small groups of similar data. Thus, targeting or analysis processes are accelerated and facilitated.
The data of the groups brought together due to their common characteristics creates a new symbolic value. Planning for the next step is based on these symbolic values.
Segmentation criteria may be different for each sector or even for each company. Therefore, it is not possible to make a general guideline. However, segment-specific criteria can be determined by making a segmentation that includes sectors or companies.
B2B Marketing and Segmentation
As in traditional marketing and B2C marketing, B2B marketing activities are carried out in line with certain goals. However, B2B marketing activities do not target end-users. For this reason, the segmentation criteria used in B2B marketing are very different.
B2B marketing aims for companies to continue their activities with a more corporate strategy. In this respect, elements aiming at company integrity such as corporate identity and corporate culture are at the forefront.
Covering most of the digital marketing channels, the most powerful tools of B2B marketing are SEO, ABM, content and social media marketing. While it is aimed to increase brand awareness with SEO marketing, customer loyalty is strengthened with content and social media marketing.
B2B companies are not established to bring innovation or difference to the market, they are established in line with the demands created in the market. Therefore, targeting and measurement processes have a more complex structure. One of the most important steps towards reducing this complexity is segmentation.
Segmentation, which provides important data in the process of brand management and brand positioning, is very important for B2B marketing strategies. In order for marketing activities to be perceived correctly by potential customers, the right strategies must be applied to the right target audience. Like the concept of “persona” created in digital marketing processes, segmentation also supports the correct implementation of strategies.
Customer groups with similar needs or purchasing behaviors are evaluated in the same segments. Thus, these groups respond similarly to the marketing activities offered.
Segmentation in the B2B market increases efficiency by enabling more focused use of resources. Segmentation study, which strategically sets sharper targets, allows marketing activities to better meet customer needs. Segmentation creates a supportive process in terms of building customer loyalty and providing personalized experience.
B2B Customer Segmentation
There is a more complex relationship between B2B companies and their corporate customers, sometimes outside of numeric data. Therefore, B2B customer segmentation reveals different company concepts for the two types of relationships. First, companies with only transactional and efficiency-based customer relationships, where there are more standard relationships. Second, companies that have relationships that are driven by standard relationships as well as different and more personal experiences.
When it comes to the standard customer relationship, segmentation is also implemented as a standard. The question in which area and why segmentation is needed determines the beginning of segmentation.
- The problem is determined.
- The solution is suggested.
- It is determined what kind of segmentation will solve the problem.
- Segments are determined.
- The process is started and the problem is resolved.
Segmentation with these steps is adopted as a due diligence approach. The problem in the main structure is determined and the structure is divided into parts to ensure that each part functions perfectly.
Another segmentation model used in B2B companies is defined as the structuring or development approach.
This approach is used in situations where customer relationships are more complex and require detailed study of customers or stakeholders.
The basis in this approach is not the needs of the other party, but the elements necessary for the development of the relationship. Relationships carried out in this direction are classified and analyzed.
Apart from these, the basic headings used for customer segmentation in B2B companies are “Market Segmentation” and “Costumer Segmentation”. These include the most basic segmentation criteria. The demands of the market and the needs of the customers are taken into account.
Benefits of Segmentation
Customer segmentation increases efficiency by enabling companies to focus on fixed or critical situations. This situation not only provides companies with a competitive advantage, but also guides them in crisis management or risk management processes.
Companies use many different analysis and business development methods to improve customer experiences by increasing their added value. Segmentation is also a proven development method.
Segmentation in B2B marketing accelerates processes for both companies and customers, and provides more precise and successful results. For this reason, segmentation has an important place in B2B marketing customer activities.
Fill, C., Fill, K.E. (2005). ‘ Business-to-Business Marketing Relationships, Systems and Communications’, Pearson Education Limited