The who, what, where, when and why of segmentation marketing for nonprofits.

What are we talking about?
Segmentation! It’s the process of defining and subdividing a market into clearly identifiable buckets that have similar characteristics. Market segmentation-strategies are typically created on behavioral, demographic, psychographic and geographical differences.

Why is segmentation marketing important for nonprofits?
Segmentation can increase a nonprofit’s ability to connect directly with a specific group of supporters, which is truly valuable. Supporters aren’t all alike and you should never treat them like they are. Remember, it’s not about what you want to tell them, it’s about what will resonate with them; what they will really hear. Connecting with your supporters and giving them a more meaningful message will strengthen their connection to your organization and aid in their level of engagement with you. Another bonus of segmentation is that your supporters are less likely to suffer from email fatigue and hit the dreaded ‘unsubscribe’ button.

Who is doing this really well?
Have you ever received an email from an organization asking to attend an event AFTER you just signed up? We’ve all experienced this and thought, ‘wow, thanks for not recongizing who I am to your organization’! As an avid walker and runner, I get psyched when I receive great emails that recognize me as a participant and help explain to me the benefit of fundraising and what to expect at the event. National Kidney Foundation does a great job of sending me reminders and insipriation to fundraise and then closes the loop right after the Walk to say thank you and here is how you helped us with our mission. They even gave me the opportunity to express my opinion about the Walk or…better yet…give a little more.

Where should my organization start?
If you’re starting segmentation from the ground up, start simple. Segment your audience by how they are interacting with you, such as being an event participant, volunteer, donor or advocate. Other ways to segment include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Engagement factors
  • Donation/Fundraising amount
  • By geographic location

Be careful not to over-segment – just because a peer is doing it doesn’t mean you have to too! Remember: segmenting your list doesn’t mean your hiding information from your supporter. It just means it will be more specifically tailored for them and, in return, they will feel like you are paying attention to what they need from you.

When should I start segmentation?
Do your research first. Take time to understand ways that your audience wants to interact with you and then segment by those interactions accordingly. You will also need to fully develop the message you want to send to each segment before
your organization goes full fledged into segmented marketing. Once you have your messages, be sure they get your emails by going fully responsive. People read their email on mobile more than ever, so be prepared! For more info on responsive email, check out our blog series on responsive email.

How can I learn more?
Want more basic segmentation information? Find its various definitions, here.
More on nonprofit specific segmented communication, take a look at our Audit Your Segmentation blog and  this article by HubSpot, New Data Reveals How Nonprofits are Segmenting Their Communications.
For more info on testing, check out this blog, The Accessory to Make Your Email Pop, A/B Testing.