How to implement personas in your CRM strategy

Engage customers in the appropriate channel with the appropriate message with a proper persona strategy in place

Personas drive customer experience design and help you make the right channel investment. They enhance and support the marketers ability to effectively tailor communications. At a time of increasingly complex customer engagement, nothing is more important to your marketing strategy than building personas. With a proper persona strategy in place, you will be better prepared to engage customers in the appropriate channel with the appropriate message.

Meet the expert
Kyle Henderick
Sr Director, Client Services

As Senior Director of Client Services, Kyle is responsible for helping major clients implement new programs, processes, and data-driven strategies to create campaigns that drive revenue. With a passion for technology implementation and a background in database, email, web, and social media marketing, Kyle turns his real-world experience into actionable tactics that help clients see incremental revenue, subscriber engagement, and customer retention. A lover of all things Chicago, when Kyle is not reading up on latest marketing practices or focusing on improving client programs, he can be found enjoying the city’s great restaurants or wearing his heart on his sleeve while rooting for all Chicago-based sports teams. A curious individual willing to try any and every food that does not include raw onions, he is always looking for exciting dining options and new adventures around the city.


What are personas?

Personas are characters created to represent the different user types that might use a brand, site or product in a similar way. Essentially, what they can help you do as an organization is understand your customer base in a way that is rich and meaningful as well as drive customer relevance.

Personas help you to:

1. Drive customer experience design

  • You want to make sure you are talking to people in the way they want to be spoken to so they are paying attention to what you are saying.

2. Make the right channel investment

  • Personas help you to understand what channels you should be communicating your messages through.

3. Build a relevant messaging architecture

  • Makes it easier for you to tailor your communications more effectively.

How do you work personas into your strategy?

At the beginning of any persona strategy, you need to make sure that your organization is aligned and ready to invest. There will be additional strategy, creative and possibly technology required to support a persona strategy. You then need to think about data aggregation with your customer file as well as possibly overlaying a data file from a third party so that you can do the correct analysis to bring your personas to life. Various methodologies can be utilized to support a persona build with cluster solution being very popular.

By using select data elements, you can pinpoint key motivators and determine what makes the audience different. Once these elements are built, you can then start to score your database with the personas and build out the communication architecture. From there, you begin to test and optimize your messaging and approach.


What is needed to build personas?

The key component for marketers is to understand their goals, and what it is they want to achieve from their marketing strategy. Any brand can build personas as long as they have a customer data file. Overlaying that customer data with third party data is an added benefit to getting into the mindset and understanding of your customer personas. Additionally, the use of consumer research or additional third party survey data can enhance customer insights that allow you to better understand purchase and brand motivation.


How do you target personas?

You need to build a CRM strategy. It really boils down to three steps:

  1. Analyze purchase behavior and channel engagement by segment for strategies that will increase channel profitability.
  2. Version your marketing communications by key persona segments so that they are relevant and timely
  3. Create targeted and triggered marketing campaigns for each relevant persona segment for things such as onboarding, cross-sell, upsell and repeat purchase.

Building this CRM strategy up front and monitoring it over time will help you drive customer relevancy, greater return on investment and optimize your messaging strategy.


Any key challenges you’ve seen in implementing personas?

Adoption is a challenge, if you have employees that have been in the company for a long time it can be difficult to embrace change. Resources and funding are usually required to support messaging and technology strategies. While personas can allow you to capitalize low-hanging fruit from a targeting and messaging perspective, you may need to scale back the number of personas you target and create a phased approach to deployment and testing.


How long does it take to build personas?

Essentially it takes approximately 6-8 weeks to build personas and the strategy that goes along with them. It is contingent around getting the right data in place.

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