Trone Research and Consulting
Category: Retail

Segmenting Home Internet Subscribers

Last Spring, Trone Research + Consulting in collaboration with Trone Brand Energy launched a national internet survey of home internet subscribers to find out how they understand their service, what activities they do online, what makes them frustrated and how they shop. The 980 respondents who completed the survey represented several classes of telecom providers—from the largest national home internet providers to much smaller regional providers.

Last month, we revisited this survey data to look at which service criteria has the biggest impact on subscriber loyalty or NPS® for the top four internet providers compared to other alternatives .

Ultimately, we found that subscribers to the top internet providers were looking for faster download speeds and responsive customer service while those who have service with an alternative provider were  more focused on reliability and a seamless internet experience. This month, we’d like to discuss differences in how people use the internet as the basis for behavioral segmentation. Specifically, which internet activities and beliefs distinguish different types of users.

Defining Three Behavioral Segments

We asked survey respondents how frequently they used their home internet for common daily activities such as emailing, surfing, shopping and even working from home. Four activities stood out—streaming videos, streaming music, listening to podcasts and online gaming. These, in conjunction with perceived home internet download speeds and service tier, yielded the three distinct streaming segments seen in the infographic below.

16% Heavy Streamers

Moderate Streamers

Casual Streamers

Prioritizing Your Marketing Strategy Around User Behaviors

Each of the three behavioral user segments has its own set of internet service beliefs and level of openness to switching providers. As an internet provider, you should strive to align your marketing efforts with these beliefs and the streaming habits of your customer base. In order to win over the different segments, you have to speak the language of what each group wants. 

As you develop your marketing initiatives, we recommend that you consider the following four strategies to increase the chances of expanding your selected segments.

  • Segment your service packages better—The objective here is to design an internet product or package to meet the needs of each segment. We want to enable the customer segments to “match” their internet streaming behavior with a solution that better serves their needs versus just promoting the speed of the service. Consider labeling the packages accordingly so users can identify with the product and know it is tailored to their needs. We need to move beyond basic to premium service classifications.

  • Target segments with digital media—Match your digital marketing strategy to the most frequent activities of your selected behavioral user segments. Consider meeting your customers where they need their internet to work hardest on a daily basis. In other words, deliver the right message at the right time.

  • Leverage your database to meet customer needs—Your existing customer database can provide valuable insight into the behavioral segments of your respective markets. Consider targeting your new “productized” packages and price points around households that best fit your selected behavioral segment.

  • Implement a proactive retention effort—Given poor NPS® scores across all three behavioral segments and the likelihood of switching providers, implement a customer satisfaction tracking program to monitor customer satisfaction levels. Be prepared to implement trigger-based programs to address customer churn before it happens.

Be sure to stay tuned for our final blog post revisiting our national home internet survey next month. If you would like to discuss these findings, please feel free to contact us directly.

Scott Layne

Scott Layne


Scott is a senior research practitioner with more than 25 years of experience with Top 50 market research firms such as Bellomy Research and M/A/R/C Research.

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He is a poised and respected industry leader with a proven track record of solving business problems for Fortune 500 companies. Scott’s extensive research experience spans consumer products and services in B2C and B2B industries, including telecom, utility, CPG, automotive, financial services, travel and leisure, retail, textile/apparel and pharmaceutical.

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Kimberly Ness

SVP, Insights & Marketing

With 25+ years of experience across research, branding and marketing, Kimberly has the unique ability to transform complicated data into a simple strategic plan that achieves results.

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She has led marketing efforts for global and national brands and has a specialty in animal health, working with brands like Zoetis, Boeringer Ingelheim and Mars Petcare. She is known as an industry thought leader and has been a featured speaker at Global Pet Expo, AAHA, CBI, Brakke Consulting and Fetch, a dvm360 conference.

Tom Minsel

Tom Minsel

PhD, Head of Research & Data Science

Tom is our PhD Statistician and master data miner with 25+ years in direct marketing, customer targeting, modeling and research design.

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His areas of expertise include statistics, applied and theoretical measurement, psychological research, survey research, summative and formative evaluation, SAS, sampling, trend analysis and generally all things analytics. Tom oversees more than 65 comprehensive studies each year to help clients better understand their customers.