Personas are a powerful tool; 93% of companies who reported exceeding their lead and revenue goals segment their database by buyer persona.1 If your agency isn’t regularly using personas to help clients meet and exceed their customer acquisition and retention goals, now is the time to start. Let’s begin with what personas are, how they benefit your clients, and how they are created. Then, we can delve into how your agency can set clients up for success through personas.
What is a persona?
A persona is a fictional character that represents a distinct segment of a brand’s audience. The persona embodies that segment’s demographic and psychographic characteristics, behaviors, motivations, and purchase patterns. Brands typically have a number of different personas that represent various customer segments. A well-constructed persona helps brands and their agencies better understand their target audience, allowing them to create products, customer experiences, and marketing messages that resonate. Many brands give their personas names to help humanize their target audience.
Pro tip: Personas are NOT customer profiles. Profiles are focused on the “what”: What are the consumers buying, or how are they interacting with your clients. Personas take it one step further and focus on the “why.” They add in lifestyle, attitudinal, and product purchasing trends that will help support creative messaging and strategy that entices customers to buy.
What are the benefits?
Brands frequently use personas in their marketing strategy to tailor messaging to different audience segments and they often turn to their agencies for assistance. Agencies help brands analyze their audience data to create personas, develop strategies to engage each one, and implement these strategies across channels – like building unique landing pages, email creatives, display ads, and messaging catered to each persona. Research has shown that brands using personas can increase their website effectiveness 2-5 times, improve conversion rates by 10% and grow sales leads by 124%.2
How are personas created?
Personas are modeled on qualitative and quantitative data. Many brands solicit help from their agencies to create personas using information gleaned from preference centers, polls, web behavior, email activity, purchase history, and more. While this type of first-party data is a great start, it’s often not enough to create a true 360-degree view of a brand’s customer. In order to further enhance the accuracy of each persona, agencies can use third-party data to overlay against their clients’ first-party data. Using third-party data to fill in the gaps of your clients’ customer file, means an understanding of customer makeup, motivations and purchase behavior. Advanced modeling through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) techniques is an efficient and effective way to build accurate personas. While some companies are still analyzing small segments of their audiences to try and understand their attributes, tech-savvy agencies are taking advantage of advanced techniques to better hone in on their clients’ ideal customers.
This is a sample of a hybrid persona – a combination of an individual’s consumer profile with their business profile in Data Axle’s proprietary B2C Link dataset.
Our pro tip – name your client’s personas! Get in the habit of talking about them like they are real people.
Three ways agencies can set clients up for success through personas:
Did you know that companies using advanced personalization report a $20 return for every $1 spent?3 Agencies can use personas to craft marketing communications that are customized to each of their clients’ audience segments. Ensuring that email, display, and website copy all adhere to the messaging, created specifically for each persona can drive more conversions and increase your clients’ marketing ROI.
Case study: Square 2 Marketing helps a manufacturing client find success through personalized content
Marketing agency Square 2 Marketing wanted to help a manufacturing client drive more traffic to their website, and of course, increase conversions. The agency started by researching and creating personas for the manufacturer. From there, they developed an editorial calendar with messaging created for each of their personas’ pain points and written to address the awareness, consideration, and decision stages of their buyer’s journey. They also redesigned the company’s website and updated their messaging to consider different search terms used by each persona and the type of content that would appeal to them.
The results: Web visits for the client increased by over 1,000% within the first two months, new customer acquisitions grew by 1,300%, and the client closed a $1 million deal that originated from the site.4
Seventy-four percent of customers report feeling frustrated when website content is not personalized,5 and 70% of millennials are frustrated with brands sending irrelevant emails.6 Personas help clients know where their audience is in the buyer’s journey. Making sure content is personalized for each persona, at the stage they’re currently in, will keep them engaged and help push them along the buyer’s journey and through conversion. Using personas in combination with behavioral data (e.g., email opens and clicks, display ad conversions, browsing history, etc.), third-party data (e.g. demographic and psychographic insights) to guide content creation will allow agencies to help clients exceed their marketing goals.
Case study: Sagefrog and an Electronic Health Record (EHR) client use personas to increase conversions
EHR companies have strict rules and regulations that can make marketing difficult. When an EHR company turned to their agency for help increasing leads and conversions, the first thing they did was create 3 personas for the EHR company:
They then focused on creating and promoting persona-based content like blogs and webinar summaries as well as premium assets such as infographics, case studies, and whitepapers. They also created a lead nurture program highlighting content that caters to each persona.
The results: A whopping 164% increase in web visitors and a 600% increase in leads year-over-year.7
According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, when consumers received ads based on their activity on a site (and the advertiser was transparent about why they received the ad), the revenue from the advertised product grew by 38%.8 Consumers want to be marketed to, but they want the deals and offers they see to be relevant to who they are as a person. Agencies can help clients spark interest in their services and offerings by using personas as an omnichannel lead generation tool. Digital marketing, i.e. social media, emails and display ads, can be crafted and targeted to a specific persona to increase inbound leads.
Case study: Denamico integrates personas into a clients’ inbound marketing program
The client came to Denamico with their key buyer personas already identified. The agency then developed ways to target and attract their key buyer personas (restaurant owners and auto repair shop owners).
The agency then followed up with strategies for website improvements, content creation, conversion optimization, marketing automation, email marketing, social media engagement, and search engine ranking opportunities all created with these key personas in mind. These moving parts came together to create a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy, with personas at its heart.
The results: Over the first 19 months, the number of the client’s inbound leads increased by 625%.9
Not only do personas help agencies save time by improving efficiencies in creating and targeting content, but they also allow agencies to make smarter decisions for their clients and budget better as they invest in new channels and technology.
Learn how agencies are using data and analytics capabilities to drive new business, improve client tenure, and stay ahead of a fiercely competitive marketplace by meeting high client expectations:
As Content Marketing Manager, Natasia is responsible for helping strategize, produce and execute Data Axle's content. With a passion for writing and an enthusiasm for data management and technology, Natasia creates content that is designed to deliver nuggets of wisdom to help brands and individuals elevate their data governance policies. A native New Yorker, when Natasia is not at work she can be found enjoying New York’s food scene, at one of NYC’s many museums, or at one of the city’s many parks with her two teacup yorkies.