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What is a persona?

Using personas for email campaigns has been shown to double open rates and increase click through rates by 5x, which is testimony to their usefulness. Interestingly enough, a persona could be defined as a personalization of a generalization.

By looking at individual customers, finding patterns among them, and grouping these customers based on their similarities, companies set the groundwork for a persona. The last step is simply going back to the individual after various groups have been defined. Creating one personality out of each group allows the interactions between a company and its target audience to become more personal. Instead of trying to cater to an average customer, personas allow for multiple types of customers to arise in order to account for the different interests, motivations and behaviors.

 

What’s the risk of skipping personas?

If you’re not using personas, then you’re doing it wrong, and there’s one all-encompassing reason why: unless you sell one version of one product, there’s probably no such thing as an ‘average customer.’ People have different needs, interests, motivations and aspirations. By having one marketing plan based on one generalization about what your customers are looking for, you would be sacrificing a lot of sales. For example, if you sell clothing and don’t account for the difference between a businessman, a hipster, and a fashionista when you send your “50% OFF SALE” email campaign, chances are your message won’t resonate with any of them. Personas are the best way of avoiding this situation by ensuring that your message reaches the average businessman and the average fashionista instead of just the average customer, whatever that may be.

How to get the information you  need to start…

Creating personas is not a matter of assumptions or guesses. To create a persona, it’s important to carry out interviews and other types of qualitative research. A survey filled out by actual customers will always tell you more about them than simply guessing what kind of person is buying your products. That’s why taking the time to create accurate personas is a worthy investment that will help you understand how to relate to your audience and build rapport from the moment they hear about your company and products.

Personas will include information about customers that tells you directly or indirectly how to reach them. Things such as their daily activities, why they choose one business over another (e.g. customer care vs quality of product), what sort of questions they tend to ask, as well as the usual demographic information. All of this data can be collected in various ways and tuned into as many personas as necessary. It’s important to remember that a persona requires generalization and personalization, both of which will determine the optimal level of personas for each company.

Why they’re important

The most obvious and equally important reason to create personas is precisely the role of personalization. Turning data into people helps bring numbers to life and turns summations into conversations (a mathematician’s dream indeed). By giving demographic data an individual name and face, marketers will understand patterns of behavior and preferences in a way that they can remember more easily. This also allows them to develop more empathy towards their customers which helps them adapt their message in a way that will be easily understood and accepted. This will help leads develop a good gut-feeling about the brand when it becomes time to purchase.

On a related note, personas allow for customization to take place. Websites, e-mail campaigns, landing pages, blog posts and offers can all be adapted to each persona, which will help leads find what they are looking for more easily. Objections and barriers to purchase can also be identified and tackled more easily. Overall this makes marketing more efficient and takes leads through the sales funnel more smoothly.

By making the target groups more consistently defined, leads will be qualified better instead of having them receive a message doesn’t suit their individual interests or motivations. Again, this is all because a persona is an individual that represents many people and connecting meaningfully with one means connecting meaningfully with all (or most) of them. So to recap:

  • Using personas in email campaigns can double open rates and quintuple click through rates.
  • Personas are created through research, not guesses or assumptions
  • Some characteristics of personas will tell you about your customers indirectly rather than directly
  • Using personas allows you to reach customers at a more individual level with pages, emails, offers, etc.