Revisiting Personas: Why they matter in the age of personalization

“Persona” is in “personalization.” That’s obvious (and cheesy) I know, but most of us know by now that personas are incredibly helpful in informing teams who their main customer types are, their pain points, and their goals and desires. Most marketers have a history of using and targeting personas in campaigns and strategies. 

The more recent shift to behavior and data tracking was only made possible by big data and recent strides in AI technology. With our ability to collect, track, and analyze consumer behavior, are personas still relevant? Absolutely.

For a quick example: personas have emerging new motivations when disaster strikes. We’re currently living through a huge part of history. Future generations will study this period of COVID-19, currently punching nations everywhere in the gut. 

Doing personas the right way

Doing personas the right way gives your teams — all teams, not just marketing and sales — the information that enables them to empathize with your target market, and thereafter create truly effective campaigns, offers, content, and experiences relevant to your target market’s needs and motivations. 

More than ever, right now with the way things are unfolding, your content and outreach needs empathy. 

AI can only do so much, you still need to feed your machine learning platform with correct information. Your entire organization also needs this information. This is what personas do. 

  • Product and design teams need the persona brief for everything from huge aspects like features and competitor research, to smaller details like fonts and colors.
  • Sales and marketing teams need the persona brief for their strategies. 
  • Finance needs the persona brief for guidance on feasibility, pricing, and marketing investments
  • Customer service needs the persona for their reply templates and style and tone. 

You get it. Every team needs customer personas. 

Creating personas is like a litmus test on how well you know your customers and how well your products match them. 

Get really specific 

For the uninitiated, or those who have already eschewed personas, here’s a recap of the attributes you usually determine. The common denominator of each and all attributes? They’re specific and granular. 

  • Demographic – The needs and preferences of each demographic differ, either vastly or subtly, so your marketing for 25-35 year old men is different from your materials for 25-35 year old women, and so are your campaigns for 45-60 year old men, even though it’s the same gender. Likewise, there can be minute differences in your language for 45-50 year old men, as opposed to men in the 51-60 age bracket. 
  • Job Position / Role – This is where personas become people: they’re stay-at-home mothers, busy employees, small business owners, GenX, and so on. This is the “description” of your personas, and what they get up for every morning. 
  • Interest in product – Connected or related to their roles and current events, what do they want for their personal or professional life? What role will your product fill there? 

For example, you sell trips on chartered boats along Cabo San Lucas and the Riviera Maya. People are staying home to be safe, and they have more time to look at your content. They can’t go, but their minds are there, flying off to sunny places. So even if they can’t leave just yet, you can still entertain and educate them about places they can go later, when things are back to normal. In the meantime, you give them something nice to look forward to or reminisce about, to take their minds away from the current situation. 

  • Need for product – Connected and related to their interests and current events, what do they need? How well does your product answer that need? 
  • Location – If you have physical stores or local services, location has a big role in your personas. Even if you offered digital services, your language should be determined by this attribute. Local slang and local beliefs can endear you to your target audiences. 
  • Shopping habits / Financial ability – Doesn’t need to be explained. With attractive discounts, you can attract income levels lower than your usual personas and expand your customer base that way. Targeting higher income levels also means your product, marketing, and entire customer-facing content and services have to achieve a certain high standard. 

But limit your personas

Businesses used to have pages of their personas in their brand and style Guides. Pages upon pages describing their five personas. 

To truly understand your personas, limit them to two or three. Five is okay, but that’s already hard to keep track of in your head, and would unnecessarily eat more resources for targeted campaigns and strategies. 

Do your research

Research helps you narrow down your personas, correctly identifying shared behavior and motivations among your target customers, and creating a more accurate, umbrella personas. 

Customers don’t even need to tell you directly. Your target customers are all over the internet, making reviews on Amazon, asking and answering questions on Quora or Reddit, participating in hashtags on Twitter or groups and communities on Facebook. 

A persona is a combination or aggregation of those behaviors and motivations, so one or two personas should represent the larger group.

Truly understand what makes them tick. What makes them buy? 

The point of personas is really empathy. And according to Dale Carnegie, empathy is influence. That’s right, you can influence your target customers to love you and choose you if they perceive you understand them. 

So you need to know your ideal customers, or it’s nigh impossible to create an effective production and marketing strategy, from branding to content, whether you use AI and e-commerce or traditional methods like sales people and billboards, newspapers and radio. 

Some consider personas to be outdated because personas are largely associated with segmentation, which is admittedly no longer the effective way to reach customers. 

Yes, personas segment your customers, but segmentation is not the point. It’s not about having segments and sending different messages/promos to each segment. 

It’s about understanding each persona to create effective strategies for each persona. 

What makes them tick? What makes them buy? Stay-at-home 30-40 year old moms might love bargains for this product, but would be suspicious of that product if it sells under a certain price. 

Personas also predict behavior. 

It’s this understanding, which AI data can augment, that helps you create effective strategies and deliver the right content in every part of the buyers’ journey.

Listen to what your customers and sales teams tell you

To start, the c-suite and the customer facing teams (sales, marketing, customer support/service) already have a strong sense of the personas, backed by data. 

But the real answers are in your customers. Try a moderated research session. Solicit feedback from your customers to confirm, update and continuously refine your personas. Even the smallest details can inspire your next campaign. 

Sales teams also know what sells at which periods, to whom. This is why it’s important that the sales and marketing teams are completely aligned instead of siloed. If you’re only starting out and can’t afford to do moderated research sessions yet, your sales teams can provide you the information to prime your persona pump. 

HubSpot has a simple tool that can help create a persona, but it only requires qualitative input. At Wrench, we can take customer data as the starting point for identifying personas. Either way, you can’t sharpen the identify of a persona without a starting point. 

Intelligent assumptions, competitor analysis and stakeholder interviews: these are low-cost ways to start off your personas, but it’s always best to speak to get the facts from your customer base. 

Steer clear of the mistakes of most companies who assume they know their customers and still keep using those assumptions to drive their marketing outreach. 

Don’t neglect user experience personas

Your target marketing personas out there, and your user experience personas are already on-site. They’ll either love you — or hate you if you don’t treat them right. 

Again, it’s all about empathy and predicting what each user experience persona would want and need from your site and channels. User experience personas help you deliver customer success. 

It’s one thing to sell/convert a lead, who becomes a customer, and it’s another to keep that customer for the long-term with a user experience they can rely on because you consistently deliver.

Dan Baird

You may also like
Why EQ in Marketing & Sales Is More Important Than Ever
Blog

Why EQ in Marketing & Sales Is More Important Than Ever

Emotional intelligence will and should always be present in sales and marketing, even more so with the implementation of artificial intelligence and martech. As long as we serve humans, we need human empathy to balance the AI biases and impersonality.
Read More
The Art of Using-Persuasion-Angles In Marketing & Sales
Blog

The Art of Using-Persuasion-Angles In Marketing & Sales

Persuasion angles are nothing new, but they are important when considering how to craft personalized messaging for marketing and sales outreach.
Read More
Optimizing Your Sales Pipeline During COVID-19
Blog

Optimizing Your Sales Pipeline During COVID-19

AI also traditionally relied on historical data to make predictions about the future. But we’re in a new world now; the past can only tell us about the past. Today’s AI and automation are equipped to start aggregating new data to begin to make accurate predictions/prescriptions.
Read More
How marketing and sales AI can make your brand more human
Blog

How marketing and sales AI can make your brand more human

AI helps us collect, build, and act on, a huge bank of emotion-related data. And personalization -- if it's going to be effective -- must invoke human emotion.
Read More
This is a Good Time to Revisit Your Value Proposition
Blog

This is a Good Time to Revisit Your Value Proposition

Depending on context, the value proposition a company has today — no matter how good — might need to change. Perhaps some your prospects have altered or changed their priorities? Does your value proposition still resonate with these new priorities?
Read More
Using AI to do business mid-crisis and beyond
Blog

Using AI to do business mid-crisis and beyond

The brands that are doing the best marketing/outreach right now in the time of COVID-19 are those that understand their target audience’s fear and struggle, not just right now with the world turned upside down, but all the time.
Read More
Cold Calling is Not Dead
Blog

Cold Calling is Not Dead

At this time, while we’re all on limited contact with people, cold calls might be appreciated and come back in style, especially when it’s done right. Everyone’s craving contact -- yes, even introverts. The cold call just has to be done right.
Read More
Keeping the balance against AI biases
Blog

Keeping the balance against AI biases

Algorithms are only as good as the humans who create them. And humans can try, but can’t prevent, having their own biases. AI develops its own, which can lead to wrong decisions that can be disastrous if the humans who make them rely solely on AI data and don't balance the biases.
Read More
Marketing & Sales Beyond the Pandemic 101: Keep Building
Blog

Marketing & Sales Beyond the Pandemic 101: Keep Building

Crisis management is for achieving some modicum of stability amidst incredibly choppy waters. When it has no end in sight, adjusting replaces managing. We accept this new environment we need to work in (we have no choice), so we need to think about ways we can prepare to face it with competence now and later on.
Read More
COVID-19 Marketing: Goodwill Marketing is the Current Brand Marketing
Blog

COVID-19 Marketing: Goodwill Marketing is the Current Brand Marketing

For some companies, it's business as usual in some ways. But at the same time, it’s not at all business as usual at all. Crisis marketing has evolved to include goodwill marketing. There are delicate nuances marketers should consider and apply to their messaging.
Read More
Marketing in the Time of COVID-19
Blog

Marketing in the Time of COVID-19

How are you doing in your part of the world? How are your family and friends? How’s business going? You...
Read More
Revisiting Personas: Why they matter in the age of personalization
Blog

Revisiting Personas: Why they matter in the age of personalization

“Persona” is in “personalization.” That's obvious (and cheesy) I know, but most of us know by now that personas are...
Read More
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) 101
Blog

Personally Identifiable Information (PII) 101

Personally identifiable information, or PII, is self-explanatory and it’s nothing new. It hails from the age of mail-order catalogues and...
Read More
The rise of micro-moment: tiny moments, BIG impact
Blog

The rise of micro-moment: tiny moments, BIG impact

“Be quick, be there, be present.” That’s from Google, when they first coined “micro moments” in 2015. With the age...
Read More
Personalized marketing is omnichannel marketing
Blog

Personalized marketing is omnichannel marketing

Personalized marketing is omnichannel marketing. After all, your marketing strategy is not personalized at all if your customers have to...
Read More
The shift toward guarding customer data will boost influencer marketing
Blog

The shift toward guarding customer data will boost influencer marketing

The Cambridge Analytica scandal still makes people paranoid about Facebook, but marketers weren’t really surprised about it. We know how...
Read More
New tech makes account based marketing more achievable
Blog

New tech makes account based marketing more achievable

The marketing landscape is shifting in this new decade, thanks to marketers finally implementing martech (including AI) to adapt to customer demands and expectations. The same agility and intelligence we can utilize for hyper-personalization can be applied to account based marketing.
Read More
Customer Data 101—How to Collect and Use It in Lawful and Good Ways
Blog

Customer Data 101—How to Collect and Use It in Lawful and Good Ways

It’s projected that 2020 is the year marketers will finally stop being so scared that personalization is invasive, by making personalization impressive.
Read More
The marketing trend of the decade: insight-driven and customer-focused
Blog

The marketing trend of the decade: insight-driven and customer-focused

It’s hard or near impossible to plan for the future, especially with constant changes and updates to marketing innovation, but marketing leaders are always a good sounding board on giving insight and even predicting what would catch on sooner or later.
Read More
Is CRM finally ripe for disruption in 2020?
Blog

Is CRM finally ripe for disruption in 2020?

CRM can and should serve marketers on the challenge of attracting new prospects and keeping existing customers. The answer to that challenge is staying relevant and in step with customer preferences and expectations. 
Read More
1 2 3
Previous Post
Next Post

LEAVE A REPLY