top of page

How To Use Database Segmentation to Stand Out

Marketing Segmentation for Nonprofit Organization

In it’s simplest form, database segmentation is the process of dividing up your data population into groups so you can isolate the group to best focus on, or the best tactics to attract particular groups. In this article, I offer essential points when using database segmentation practices and the impact benefits of implementing them in your organization.

The Essential Points of Database Segmentation

The act of segmenting your market is, on the surface, a relatively simple task that involves grouping like advocates – and potential supporters – with more of the same. A database is simply a storage repository for your information. In order to benefit from the database, you have to be able to use the insights derived from its use. And, using that data to market better is a big deal, right? Segmenting your data is essential in that goal.

How do you do that? Well, beyond just having the data in one place (or integrated nicely), it is important to utilize segmentation best practices. I recently read a white paper & an ebook from marketing automation providers which underscored some important items to consider when slicing and dicing your constituents data which prompted my thoughts on this topic.

Pulling it all together, here are the essential points you should consider when using segmentation practices:

  1. Seek the Best: Analyze your current best and most involved constituents to determine the population groups they belong to and what population segments they share. In order to be successful in attracting more donors or members, you must know what group or demographic characteristics characterize your ideal supporters in order to segment effectively.

  2. Focus on Interests: Prospective supporters expect relevant communication and will respond best when communications are directed at their individual interests.  Focus on what kinds of interests or behaviors do your best supporters have in common? Examine communications and backgrounds of your best donors or members to see what behavioral traits they have in common.

  3. Explicit and Implicit Data: Profiling your current customers to create and define your marketing segments can easily be done when you can capture information about your supporters through explicit or implicit means. Use the explicit information your members give you, like job title, age, or IP address. You can even get such data when a member fills out a form.

  4. Continuous Progressive Profiling: Constantly be gathering more information about your customers to determine some defining characteristics you can use to find new business. The fancy term for this is “progressive profiling“. But, it’s simply put an approach to gathering as much information as you can from your supporters every interaction that they have with your nonprofit. You can ask website visitors to fill out a form online to help you find where they might belong in a market segment. Make the form short and easy to fill out. Your inquiry can be progressive. Store information in a unique file and keep adding additional information with each contact. Using a sequence of short forms builds a more complete profile over time.

  5. Persona Behavior: Demographic information is very important. But, when used in concert with a specific set of “behaviors”, you can truly get down to the nitty gritty in segmentation. You can take that demographic information and then segment by a supporters digital body language: received messages, opened messages, visited a specific page, downloaded a piece of content, or submitted a certain form or forms.

  6. Website Visitor Tracking Segments: You can get information from implicit sources, such as web pages they visit or data from a visitor tracking tool. You can determine something about socio-economic status and personal concerns by analyzing visitor tracking data. You can take advantage of online tools designed to track and analyze traffic, or you can ask your supporters for information directly, such as gender, occupation or age.

  7. Data Relevance Checks: One thing that is for sure. Data management and curating the right data is critical for organizations of all sizes and types. Unfortunately, like most things in life, at some point there will be diminishing returns for the amount of data being collected. The data that you need today may not be the data you need tomorrow. As you add more data to your collection efforts, so be sure to stop collecting data that is no longer needed.

  8. Don’t overwork it! One word of caution, which is easier said than done. You do not want to overwork it. Simply put, this means keep it simple. There is a fine balance between gathering information for segmentation purposes and going overboard. You will know you are there when you find that some of your members or donors may ask for you to stop asking all the questions. Further, your staff may be taxed by the data they have collected or input. In other words, you may gather so much data that you won’t know where to begin analyzing it. The old adage of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” applies here.

When you have the right data on a suitable sample of your most targetable constituents you will see the value of using your database to provide a measurable impact on your communications and engagement.

Here are some impactful benefits in having a solid marketing automation technology to help:

  1. Ease of Repeating Process: With the ability to store the right data along with the right segmentation tools in place, your staff can begin to define donor or member segments with ease.

  2. Unlimited Variables: You are more prepared to create impactful marketing campaigns which target specific segments (or segments of segments) in order to zero in on new and returning constituents on a multitude of variables (behavior, demographics, personas).

  3. Relevant Insights Faster: Focusing a campaign on a tighter segmentation allows you to gauge the results of your campaign easily, so you can learn what works and what doesn’t for different segments of your persona population. Then, repeat the success over and over again.

  4. Smarter Campaigns: Better segmentation means smarter use of marketing dollars. The benefits include stronger supporter and prospect relationships, higher email open and click-through rates, increased contributions, and enhanced Return on Mission!

If you are interested in learning which marketing automation software technologies and which solutions may be best suited to help you in your database segmentation best practices, please contact us to see how. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Marketing Automation Software for Nonprofits


bottom of page