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In-App Engagement
Mobile Marketing

Best Practices of App User Segmentation

Deniz Taşyürek
November 28, 2022

When was the last time you got annoyed by an irrelevant app notification or e-mail for the 100th time? Although many marketers, app owners, and product managers are aware that irrelevant notifications are among the primary reasons for app uninstalls, why do we end up having them on our phones? One of the reasons is that they fail to segment users. If you need to enhance your mobile app marketing strategy, keep reading for the best practices of mobile app user segmentation.

What Is User Segmentation?

Let’s start with a broader question before we dive into the details of user segmentation: What is segmentation in marketing? It refers to the process of dividing the target audience into specific groups based on their shared characteristics. It is vital for all brands -mobile or not- to become successful by addressing the right people in the right manner. This is why companies use segmentation as an essential part of their marketing strategies.

To narrow down our focus, user segmentation simply means dividing users into groups based on similar traits. The real challenge starts there. Based on which similar traits should you divide the users to have the best results?

Why Is User Segmentation Important?

All customers/users cannot have exactly the same desires, habits, likes, and dislikes. Some early birds are getting up very early, some night owls are more active on mobile apps at night. Some like to share photos on Instagram better, some find joy in writing and posting tweets. Some might have installed your app for a specific feature, others might be using it for a totally different reason.

Target market segmentation, in general, and mobile user segmentation, in particular, are essential to understand and make use of these particularities. In other words, user segmentation is necessary for the success of mobile marketing campaigns. Segmentation helps your message reach a targeted, ready-to-react audience since you will be preparing the campaign according to their needs and wants.

User segmentation helps you understand the market better and adopt a competitive position accordingly.


What Are the Types of User Segmentation?

Returning back to the most challenging question, we need to think about how to categorize an app’s existing or prospective users to have functional user segments.  

There can be many different ways to divide the target audience into consumer segments; however, mainly, user segments can be created based on demographics, geography, location, psychographics, behaviors, technographics, culture, and motivations.

The most common types of user segmentation can be explained in detail as follows:

Demographic Segmentation

Demographic segmentation divides the market based on gender, age, income, marital status, occupation, etc.

It has to be the starting point of a user-based advertising segmentation strategy because these variables directly influence how you will market your app. However, it would be very limited on its own since it creates pretty broad categories.

Geographic Segmentation

The geographical approach to segmentation requires dividing the users based on country, state, city, even specific towns or counties.

The first thing to consider in relation to geographic segmentation is the countries where your mobile app is available. This information will help you decide in which languages you will communicate with your users. On top of that, you will be able to customize your messages according to the characteristics of specific regions.

Segmentation by Location

Locational segmentation is utilized by categorizing users based on their devices’ GPS signals. Similar to the first two user segmentation models, it helps you get to know your audience.

Psychographic Segmentation

Let’s assume that you just met someone and learned where they live, how old they are, what their occupation is, and which languages they speak. These are great but definitely insufficient to state that you really know them. You would probably need to know more about what they like and dislike, what kind of a person they are, what they value in life.

The same situation applies to your users too. It is never enough to know their location or demographics. At this point, psychographic segmentation of smartphone users enters the scene to make a categorization based on personal attitudes, values, interests, or personality traits.


Behavioral Segmentation

Behavioral segmentation requires going one step further of questioning who your users are and means asking what your users are doing. This is a deeper and more sophisticated approach to market segmentation strategy.

Mainly, this type of segmentation is based on actions or inactions, spending or usage habits, feature use, session frequency, and search history.

This might also be known as user status segmentation. User status segmentation is the process of identifying market segments based on their relation to a mobile app. It requires developing separate strategies for new arrivals, churned users, brand loyalists, etc. In other words, markets can be segmented into groups of non-users, prospective users, active and engaged users, ex-users, and so on.

Motivational Segmentation

When you start to ask the question “why,” this triggers an endless journey. Motivational segmentation stands at the deepest tip of the iceberg and gives you a great idea about why people do what they do.

The motivational approach helps you get a broad perspective, develop a solid creative strategy, and decide for which people your brand exists.

Technographic Segmentation

With the rise of digital technologies, it became necessary to widen our approach to the types of market segmentation. Simply, we should include users’ technological preferences while shaping our user profiles and personas for the sake of better targeting.

Thus, you must note that technographic user segments are created based on people’s preferred technologies, software, and mobile devices.

How to Segment App Users

How can you divide users to match your business goals? There are numerous attributes that you can use to this end. Here are some rules of thumb to remember when segmenting your users:

  • Know your users: Who are your users? Where do they come from/which acquisition channels do they come from? Why do they use your app? How do they use your app? What are their pain points, and how does your app solve their problems? You should learn as much as you can about your current users and how they are using your app. In other words, you can utilize demographical, psychographic, or motivational segmentation models to get to know your audience in the best way possible.
  • Don’t segment too much: Apply the three-adjective rule. Communication expert Frank Luby says, “If you need more than three adjectives, or three dimensions, to define your initial segments, you may be overthinking and over-engineering the effort.” So, analyze thoroughly but in an organized manner so that you will be able to make use of this segmentation.
  • Set clear and prioritized goals: After identifying simple segments, define a goal for each group. These goals will guide your whole communication strategy. Thus, you need to ensure that they are actionable, measurable, and valuable.
  • Test and optimize: Segmentation is an ongoing process because there might be flaws in your initial segmentation and also because users are dynamic. While kicking off your strategic roadmap, you might ask yourself: Which group contains the fastest-growing segment of internet users? Planning ahead is always great, for sure. Nevertheless, this does not mean that you will use the same segmentation for years. Always test to see if your segmentation works. Make optimizations by revisiting your approach and keeping an eye on the changes in habits, demographics, motivations, trends. Testing is essential to refine your strategy to reach your business goals.

User Segment Examples

How do you identify a user segment? The best way to get started is to investigate as many examples as possible, especially belonging to the other apps from the same category as yours. Hence, let’s look at some examples of user segments you can use for different app categories.

Shopping App User Segment

There might be some users who only shop when you offer them discounts and coupons. You can detect them by looking at their behavior and see that they never purchased anything at full price but purchased once or several times when they have coupons or discounts.

While targeting this segment, it is a good idea to offer some discounts even when you do not have a general campaign available for all users. You can send this segment push notifications for coupons and award them to engage them.

Video User Segment

Some people engage with an app for a TV show to discuss the show, search for the cast, etc. while the actual show is going on. You can determine this group by looking at the time they are interacting with the app or the time they are interacting with a particular piece of content.

After you have your segment, you can send push notifications to alert that their show is starting, etc.

News App User Segment

Some news app users would like to receive news updates immediately. By looking at the frequency of engagement or the number of different locations they engage with your app during the day, you can segment these users.

It is a good idea to ask for feedback from these users since they frequently visit your app. You can utilize in-app messages or in-app stories to this end.

New Users Segment

New arrivals are very critical because their first encounters with your app determine whether they will keep visiting or uninstall.

You can create a segment of users who have just launched your app for the first time or users who have downloaded your app but haven’t launched it yet. You can send a welcome notification, show them the value of your app, or offer special awards, discounts, etc.

Make your best to onboard them in the greatest way possible.


What Is a Heavy User Segment?

Being able to diversify the characteristics of people who are attracted to your app is great. Nevertheless, this is not the case most of the time. Instead, marketers need to define their core audience, which might also be called heavy users.

According to Market Business News, “Heavy users are consumers that marketing efforts focus on because they represent a major proportion of a product’s sales. Typically, they make up about one-third of the consumers of a product or service. However, that one-third represents almost two-thirds of all sales revenue.”

This is the tricky part of segmentation marketing. Heavy users are great to ensure the sustainability of sales. Yet, the downside to adopting a heavy-user-focused segmentation plan might be the inability to widen the horizon and to acquire new users. Also, when a user segment is underserved, your competition might make an effort to attract them.

While thinking about a marketing strategy for different segments, keep in mind that each app product has its own context and requirements.

How to Communicate with Different User Segments

Marketing efforts based on segmentation increase the likelihood of completion of tasks on your app. However, segmentation alone may not bring the best result. You need to figure out what your message will be for different user segments and how you will deliver it for a segmentation strategy to be successful.

One of the best ways to deliver your message to the segment you created is by using in-app stories. You can integrate and customize stories to make the in-app experience personalized, enhance user engagement rates, and eventually trigger purchase decisions. Check Storyly out to learn how you can deliver your message to segments.


To lead your marketing campaigns in the right direction, serve your users at the best level, and reach your business goals efficiently, you need to segment your users. Although it depends on your app’s vertical and its target audience, you should keep an eye on the users and provide them with the value they are looking for.

Deniz Taşyürek

Content & Brand Marketing Strategist at Storyly. Writes about mobile user behavior, user engagement, and retention. A genuine Potterhead. She also loves succulents, cats, and aerial yoga.

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