Your audience is unlikely to be a homogenous group who all share the same behaviors, needs, and desires, so segmenting into smaller groups is usually a good idea.
The problem is there are so many ways to segment audiences.
You can segment audiences by:
1) Demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, customer ‘type’ etc..)
2) Behavior (purchase habits, length of time/level of activity within the community etc..)
3) Geographics (region, country, city)
4) Psychographics (attitudes, beliefs, goals etc..)
This isn’t just a conceptual challenge, it relates to taxonomies and the member journeys you develop.
More frustratingly, there isn’t a single ‘best way’ to segment your community. It depends upon your goals, audiences, and technology.
But there are two rules to bear in mind.
1) Your segments have to be practical. There is no point developing segments if you can’t practically use them. This is the common problem with psychographic segments. You might have ‘Nervous Nick’ and ‘Angry Agatha’ as representatives of groups of people. But this doesn’t help you if you have no means of automatically identifying the ‘Nervous Nicks’ and ‘Angry Agathas’ from anybody else and developing unique experiences for them.
We waste a lot of time developing segments which are interesting, but have no practical value.
2) Your segments have to want different things. If the needs of your segments don’t differ much from one another, then there isn’t much point in segmenting them through that prism.
The most common segments we use in our consultant work are activity-based segments (i.e. the number of posts/visits a member has made in the past month) or ‘member-type’ based segments (i.e. reseller, customer, developer, partner etc…).
Both make it easy to segment members into unique groups by data we’ve collected (activity) or they’ve provided (member profiles). Then we can design unique experiences and journeys for each of them.
If it helps, we’ve created some simple templates and examples you can explore here.