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How to Psychologically Segment Audiences to Better Connect Via Email

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 23 Feb, 2018
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Every day, we instinctively change our communication styles to fit our audience

That bawdy joke? You’re never going to tell it in the presence of your buttoned-up in-laws. Instead, you’ll wait until you’re surrounded by old friends.

Why? It comes down to intuition. As children, we begin to understand that no two people communicate the same way. Yet by the time we hit adulthood, we seem to forget that fact, especially when it comes to corporate communications and marketing.

Instead of lumping together all our prospects and customers, we would be much better off if we focused on connecting with them on the basis of their personalities. In other words, we should speak their language, not try to force them to learn ours.

Authors Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram dived headfirst into this topic in the book “5 Voices: How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone You Lead,” arguing that personality typing is the missing link among brands striving to create trust and bonds with users. Their premise holds plenty of water. While one person might like a data-focused bulleted list, another might prefer a rousing case study or short story.

Whether you’re sending an email laced with academic prose or a more informal one featuring slang, colloquialisms, emojis, and gifs, you have to speak the language of the recipient. In both cases, the core information doesn’t have to change; it’s the delivery mechanism based on personality that makes the difference.

And it all begins by knowing your audience on a deeper level.

Want to Grab Attention? Pay Attention

When you focus on psychology and semantics with your communications, you focus completely on the end user.

Planning to blast out an email a day for a year with fun facts about your company to your hottest prospects? You'll just make it clear that you have no interest in listening. And if that’s the case, how will people believe that you can help them solve their problems?

Similarly, using trite phrases like “I guarantee” or “big savings” hurt your messaging because they’re self-serving and transparently salesy. In their place, insert content in a voice that sounds and feels familiar to the user. That voice could be highly casual, or it might take an official tone. The goal is to determine how readers need to interact with your brand to feel positive about your company.

Of course, this requires you to focus on connections based on where customers are in the sales process. A client closer to the top of the funnel needs to feel a tight relationship with your company; a client who knows you well expects you to build upon the common ground you’ve already established.

At the same time, you have to fulfill customers’ emotional needs and motivators. When you do, you’ll find that it’s simpler to foster deeper and deeper connections, boosting brand loyalty as well as lifetime sales.

Feel like this is counterintuitive to what you’ve been taught? You’ve probably been locked in a competitor-obsessed mindset. Shake it off to reap benefits like Amazon enjoys. Its Amazon Web Services hosting platform is worth billions because it was responsive to consumer needs.

Similarly, Amazon Prime has revolutionized the delivery industry, moving from one-day to same-day delivery to meet shoppers’ demands. No doubt Amazon's developers studied the psychological needs of their user base well before making these revolutionary changes.

You can, too, if you’re ready to see positive outcomes.

How Psychological Profiling Sets a Clear Advantage

Let’s talk lead generation for a moment. No company feels it has enough leads, but far too many send automated email sequences that never seem to convert. Their problem doesn’t lie in the email, but in incorrect segmentation.

Our firm sends thousands of emails per week on behalf of clients. It would be easy for them to sound and feel automated, but they don’t. Segmenting recipients by industry and title helps us speak to readers' individual concerns and challenges.

By presenting solutions to unique problems, we regularly see click-through rates at twice the national average. This dovetails with Experian statistics that indicate personalized promotional communications tend to enjoy higher unique clicks by 27 percent and increased open rates by 11 percent.

To put it simply, if you send out 10,000 emails a week and your competitor sends only 1,000, you might think you're winning. But if your competitor's conversion rate is two or three times higher than yours, they're gaining more customers with fewer resources — putting them in the lead.

Utilize the Power of Psychology to Craft Effective Emails

Want to start bringing in leads through higher-quality emails? Start with these three steps:

Segment audience members by title, not just industry

It’s routine for organizations to blast emails to all people within an industry, but that’s a big mistake. Instead, opt to segment target readers by job titles and skills. After all, if a CMO wants to move on from his current company, he's more likely to choose a CMO position in an unrelated industry than a CTO position in a related industry so that he can leverage his experience and credentials.

Sending a series of emails to C-level titles? Keep in mind that they probably won’t want the same information delivery system. The CEO, usually a right-brained visionary, will interpret and internalize an email far differently from an analytically driven, left-brained CFO.

Create audition demographic sections by age and generation

Millennial leaders are taking CEO positions at rapid rates, but they can struggle when faced with communications better geared toward Generation X or Baby Boomer C-suite counterparts. What’s the issue? They tend to lead by consensus, transparency, and equality. At the same time, they might not have the patience for longer, storyteller-style emails because they’re true digital natives.

Consequently, you might want to generate not only title segments, but also generational ones. That way, you won’t have the challenge of trying to write one piece of communications content for two very different executives who happen to share the same title.

Use language that shows you’ve listened

Have you ever spoken with someone who feels the need to keep interrupting with potential solutions — without actually understanding your core problem? After five minutes, you feel not just unheard, but also frustrated. The last thing you want is to be seen as a know-it-all.

Taking a psychologically segmented approach to emails and other marketing pieces forces you to focus on your customer’s needs. And guess what? They’ll know it and respond.

After all, buyers are a whole lot savvier than they used to be. They’ll put their money toward companies that listen, even if the organizations are less qualified on paper than others.

You might be new to this method of using psychology to increase your customer service through communications venues, but it will become second nature if you practice it regularly. Do a few tests and see how rich your discussions — and your revenue streams — become when you take a fresh perspective.

Did your latest segmented campaign blow your expectations out of the water? Do you have horror stories about failed email blasts? Tell us about them in the comments.

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