10 Rules for Customer Segmentation: How to Market to Customers of All Sizes

Lauren Vaccarello, VP of Marketing for Box, has what seems to be an enviable position: marketing a product that anyone and everyone can use. Unfortunately, what at first glance seems as easy as shooting fish in a barrel is actually more complex. Here, Lauren outlines the 10 rules for successfully marketing to businesses of all sizes…without coming across like a beige couch!

Box, a cloud content management company, is a marketer’s dream: everyone can use our product — from small startups to Fortune 500, across all industries and within every department.

This “marketing dream,” however, turns out to be problematic. When everyone and anyone can use your product, your messaging and go-to-market strategy can often be the communications equivalent of a beige couch: it’s boring and it won’t stand out in the marketplace.

Fortunately, there are ways to solve for this by anchoring on customer segmentation and following these 10 rules:

1. Align with your sales organization

If we’re being honest here, we’d have to admit that at most companies, sales and marketing don’t regularly get together. But if you want to market to businesses of all sizes, you need to be in lockstep with sales. What are the goals of your sales organization across commercial and enterprise? Are you going after net new or upsell? What are the most important geos?

Both sales and marketing need to know what the targets are and set goals together as a unit.

2. set targets by segment

Your ARR pipeline isn’t just the responsibility of sales — it’s all go-to-market. So you need to look at your ARR target for the year and then break it down. How much do you want to come out from SMB, mid-market, and how much should come out of enterprise and from your target accounts? Then look at your data. Don’t look at blended averages; look at your sales cycle and pipeline coverage. Then you can assign — and agree upon — targets across sales, marketing, partners, channels, and alliances.

3. Assign segment leads in marketing

One of the first things you should do is make it someone’s job to ensure that a given segment is successful. Someone in your marketing team should be assigned to commercial (SMB), and another to field (enterprise). This doesn’t mean that this person is individually solely responsible for owning all the tactics, but they do have to own the strategy. Taking this simple step greatly increases your chances of success.

4. Build segment specific messaging

You can’t use the same content and messaging per segment. If you do, you’ll end up with a generic message in the market and you will miss.

Instead, sit down across small business and enterprise and think about who your ideal customer is. This should not be done by a bunch of marketers in a room. To identify ideal customers, do your research: talk to actual customers, engage with your customer success organization, look at the data.

When you’re building your strategy, you’re looking for customer proof points. At Box, we did a massive customer survey and held user groups, asking why folks chose Box…and why they didn’t. We looked across our business segments to understand buying triggers and what problems we solve.

5. Technology automation and programmatic marketing is key for SMB

It’s really hard to have high-touch interactions with huge markets, so building out your automation is key for small business.

You need to build out your tech stack with the best tools. Here are some tools that Box currently particularly likes:

  • Demandbase for reverse IP lookup
  • Radius for data accurancy
  • Radius or 6Sense for predictive analytics
  • Marketo Sales Insights to let sales know who’s interested
  • Optimizely for experimentation and personalization
  • Conductor for SEO
  • Intercom for app messaging
  • Engagio to build scale with messaging
  • Conversica for artificial intelligence for lead management

6. great trial experience

A great trial experience is vital. You’ll need to depend on your product organization to build this out, but here are keys to a great trial experience:

Prepopulate some data. Don’t welcome visitors with a blank slate. Identify the attributes of a customer who doesn’t leave, and bake that into the trial experience. Your trial should walk through actions that indicate product stickiness. Include in app messaging and tutorials to onboard and A/B test onboarding emails and behaviorally triggered emails.

7. nurture leads through the funnel

Lead nurturing goes beyond just email marketing. You need to think programmatically about onboarding.

If you really want to speed up time to close, you need to use technology to tie together all of your data (e.g. what emails prospects are interacting with, what content they’re using on your website, etc.).

And make sure that, as you’re onboarding and nurturing, you keep your sales organization
looped in. All marketing touchpoints interact with sales touch points so you need to look holistically at the full funnel to understand the end user perception.

8. High touch and highly targeted account-based everything for up market

When you target Fortune 500 and other high potential revenue customers, your tactics are going to be different, and need to be more account-based.

At Box, we really believe in this account-based-everything approach, and are about a year into targeting enterprise with this approach. We worked closely with our data scientists to understand the highest addressable market and what accounts to go after. Then we coordinated with sales to get their input on this list. By focusing on the data scientist/sales combined target list, we got an incremental uptick on our win rate.

With alignment between sales and data, we can pull in intense signals and predictive analytics to identify the most active accounts and make sure that we’re going after them right now.

There are account-based marketing plays across the board from net new leads to customers.
With net new, marketing’s job is to provide as much air cover as possible with tactics such as digital targeting, field marketing, and even direct mail. When you have low penetration into an account, identify your users and shoot for full penetration. With larger accounts, we’ve found that “hand-to-hand combat” activities are our most profitable.

9. Dealing with the overlap

News flash: everyone uses the internet. Small businesses aren’t the only ones clicking on ads. So when building out your digital marketing, what happens when you focus on just the low end of the market?

This is when web personalization comes in handy. Bucket your website visitors into three categories:

  • Customers
  • Prospects – Small business
  • Prospects – Enterprise

If you can identify 15% of the people coming to your website, those are the ones with dedicated IP addresses, thus larger companies. You can then tailor your messaging upmarket accordingly. Unknown visitors without dedicated IP addresses are smaller companies. So for your prospect version of your website, serve these visitors up small business messaging.

10. The role of marketing doesn't end at purchase

Marketing should play a role in driving net retention. This is a joint responsibility across sales, customer success, marketing, and product.

Onboarding and product engagement are crucial. The first 30 days are the most important for a customer and the health of that customer relationship. Identify high engagement and stickiness attributes and focus your content and messaging accordingly.

Think about the ongoing role of marketing. How do you create a month one and year one engagement plan? Getting people in the door is great, but how can you follow through and do your part to ensure happy customers?

Follow Lauren at @LaurenV for more great marketing insights.

Keep Learning

The Ultimate Guide to Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
What ASC 606 means for revenue recognition
Understanding material weakness in internal control for finance
SaaS pricing models: A comprehensive monetization guide