Most marketers agree that segmenting audiences is an intuitive practice that yields undeniable results. Commonly this is seen in advertising campaigns where audiences are selected by demographic factors like location, age range, or gender. As with most common practices in marketing, the difference between the good and the great is how well they understand and implement its nuance. The saying goes: a novice knows what to do, a journeyman knows how to do it, and only a master understands why. In this article, we explore some of the “why, what, and how” of psychographic segmentation.

The Why: Psychology of Personalized Experiences

Humans are social creatures by nature, literally; it’s in our biology. We are communal creatures sorting the world into ours and theirs, friend and foe, safe and unsafe. It’s in our nature to trust the familiar and, by extension, trust that which seems to be like us. It’s the same instinct that makes us want our “usual” server at a restaurant or feel embarrassed to forget a coworker’s name. We are social. We want to belong.

As marketers, our goal is to impress on our chosen audience the idea “this company gets me.” We want to create comradery with them. In our ideal case, prospects see our products and think, “it’s like this was custom-made, just for me.” We aspire to brands like Apple, with lines of people willing to wait hours for our newest release, or Forbes’ whose authority over definitive content goes largely unopposed.

The pinnacle of marketing is a buyer’s desperate desire to be part of our culture. It’s a bad look when we’re begging to be a part of theirs.

Regardless of who is a part of whose culture, the buyer must feel connected to our brand, our messaging, and our content. “Marketing that attempts to connect with everyone connects to no one,” this means being specific and personal. Great marketing teams are careful to single-out an audience for whom their service is a perfect fit, then personalize the customer journey.

Psychographic segmentation focuses on the latter, “personalizing the customer journey.”

For more about identifying a target audience, check out our article on personas: Do You Know Who You’re Talking To?

The What: Personalized Lead Nurture With Psychographic Segmentation

We’ve discussed before how demographic attributes are foundational when building personas and identifying markets. When it comes to lead nurture, however, demographic segmentation quickly breaks down. Selecting the right audience allows us to target the right people, but nurture needs to be more personal. Effective nurture requires observing and measuring how each individual responds to our messaging.

Psychographic attributes measure behavior, inferring interest and views from that behavior, including held values, political beliefs, perceptions of brand, and how a message resonates. Psychographic attributes are far more challenging to collect than their demographic counterparts and are, in turn, far more challenging to develop campaigns around. They are, however, far more personal and practical in the current marketing landscape.

The How: Marketing Automation Decreases Funnel Leaks

As we’ve discussed, buyers gravitate toward companies whose messaging reflects their own values, beliefs, and perceptions. What converts one lead will often nix another. Historically, marketers have run A/B tests to find what converts “the most,” and the rest are counted as a loss. But there’s a better way.

With marketing automation tools, we can attain those powerful psychographic insights and immediately put them to work. For example, a recent campaign we ran for a client had two audience targets. We knew that one of our audiences was “gritty” and another more “professional.”

We tested a theory that one audience may respond better to Rich Text Only marketing emails rather than the full HTML versions our client had been running exclusively up to that point. The results were fascinating. After our very first send, we noted the “gritty” audience responded in an overwhelmingly positive way to the Rich Text nurture email, and our clickthrough rates tripled from that same message in an HTML form. However, our “professional” audience showed a massive 85% drop in engagement.

Using profile and behavioral segmentation, we built the mechanics of this division into all nurture campaigns going forward, ensuring that subscribers are on the correct path based on their demographic and psychographic traits. We are now maximizing results in both audience segments, and using marketing automation (Act-On Software in this use case), we were able to automate these campaigns without the need to manage lists or individual sends going forward.

We launched two very successful (and very different) campaigns to these audiences. The campaigns performed 800% higher than those tried by a previous agency.

Additionally, by translating all psychographic and behavioral markers into a lead score formula, we configured an automated alert system for the sales team. Anytime there’s a spike in interest level from a lead, or a lead reaches the set threshold, our client’s sales team is pinged, thus accelerating the progress of MQLs through their marketing funnel.

Demographic segmentation is useful, but it’s a very 1950’s way of thinking about marketing. Marketing in a global world requires knowing your audience and knowing when to act; otherwise, they’ll fall for the next company vying for their consideration. With the array of marketing technologies that exist in the world today, we can leverage powerful insight to know what resonates with our audience without expensive focus groups or market research. Measuring and interpreting the data correctly is key to reading audience signals, and marketing automation technology gives us the ability to segment these data signals and build incredibly powerful marketing campaigns.

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I’m Stuart Nessel, VP of Business Development at Tactical (let’s connect on Linkedin!). In 2019 I was offered the opportunity to become the head of our sales organization. From this top-level view, I’ve had exposure to one of the most crucial benefits of a well-run team: collaboration between sales and marketing. It’s opened my eyes. With these departments working in tandem instead of isolated silos, they could suddenly accomplish new and great things. For many years I was just a soldier on the sales team. I would execute personal processes to find and close deals, never thinking about the broader ecosystem of sales and marketing, or how it worked; I just followed the program. And while there’s something to be said for the consistency of hitting quota, quarter after quarter, I never saw the big picture and how it could elevate my performance. I just hit my numbers, and life was good.

But it wasn’t great.

One of the most crucial benefits of a well-run team: collaboration between sales and marketing

My perspective has since changed. Now, I’m responsible for building and leading an entire sales organization. Quota is not a personal objective anymore. It’s a company one. This shift was both exciting and scary; I knew I needed a bigger, better plan to take us to the next level, but I couldn’t see all of the pieces myself. The good news is that I found out I’m not alone. I have an entire marketing team at my disposal. And collaborating with them in 2019 taught me an essential attribute:


With my sales expertise and their marketing plan aligned, we have a world of possibilities at our fingertips. I’m not just calling prospects; I’m targeting the right people with the right message at the right time. When our messaging aligns, we create synergistic, targeted content. Our customers hear consistent messaging from their first contact with us until I close their deals, and beyond. This alignment supports customer retention, higher sales win rates, and faster revenue growth.

There are Three Areas Where Sales and Marketing Alignment Are Critical to Success


If you have a great marketing team and a great sales team, you need to ensure they’re talking to each other. Weak organizations often don’t understand how different marketing and sales can be, so they don’t conceptualize how much reliance there is on their separate specialties.


Regular meetings, weekly or daily, improve communication, and promote creative solutions. I quickly learned that by communicating to the marketing team what our customers are responding to, they’re able to tailor their messaging for greater success. I share the pain-points I hear about from prospects and clients, and our marketers keep our strategy relevant. But I also want our clients to feel heard. I want them to feel like I have every solution in my back pocket. To do that, I need something to back up what I’m promising. By listening to the insights our marketing team pulls from data analysis and marketing automation tools, I better understand our customers before even getting them on the phone. Through thoughtful and timely marketing, we provide a tangible display of our abilities.


Success in one department breeds success in the other.


Sales and Marketing need to know about each other’s initiatives, from start to finish. That way, goals are aligned, and they work towards a shared purpose rather than being at odds.


The number one rule of goal-setting is to make sure they are:
  • Attainable 
  • Trackable
  • Measurable
And you need to ensure that the goals set for Sales and Marketing feed into one another.
Personally, I can count on about two conversions for every seven solid leads. But before I ever see them, those leads are fostered by the content our marketing team produces and publishes. To separate the wheat from the chaff, I need to see who is engaging, interested, and ready for our message. I supply our internal marketers with feedback on what’s working: what I’m able to leverage into the greatest success. By sharing that information and setting goals that align Sales and Marketing together, we build the foundation for successful campaigns.

If our sales goal for the quarter is to double the budget of our current deals, then our marketing should focus on our broad range of services and the channels where we already connect with clients. An example from our organization:

Many of our current clients are loyal to our email marketing services but are unaware that we are a full-service agency providing much more.

  • Consulting
  • Reporting
  • Analytics and Attribution
  • Content Development
  • Graphic Design
  • Process Development and Optimization
  • Market Research
  • Branding
So our marketing team needs to focus on creating a customer journey that explores these various services so that the sales team has an opening to expand deals.
On the other hand, if our sales goal is to sign $100,000 in new business each month, our marketers will focus on capturing new interest. They may choose to promote online video content, or engage with our existing leads through an interactive email campaign, or reach out to another company for a collaboration.
What if our sales goal is to sign five new deals in a specific sector? Then, our team focuses on promoting to marketers in that field and the services that interest them most.


Marketing can now put the plan into action with confidence that their efforts will be beneficial to sales metrics. The sales team knows that the marketing team has their back with new incoming leads.


When both departments launch initiatives, they need to be timed and aligned just right for optimizing incoming leads. When a lead graduates to MQL status (marketing-qualified lead), quick attention is required from the sales team for a high conversion rate. When MQLs are touched-on right away, the opportunity to set meetings and turn them into customers increases exponentially.
Remember to track your ROI and go over it as a group. Analyze the information you monitor and improve your strategies.

When MQLs are touched-on right away, the opportunity to set meetings and turn them into customers increases exponentially.

 Alignment at each step of marketing and sales initiatives allows the conversation to flow seamlessly from the hands of marketers into the care of sales experts. If you are a sales leader, I urge you: teach your marketing and sales teams to work together. This way, you will deliver a cohesive message to prospects and clients alike, build confidence in your people, and help you to achieve your sales goals.

If you are a sales leader, I urge you: teach your marketing and sales teams to work together.

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