Understanding in detail the context of a customer’s various interactions with your business is the first step to providing a deeper level of personalisation. Building personas using available information on your customers is vital to achieve this. A persona is a framework you pad out until you have a set of rules for each customer segment, and these personas can then be used across your business to guide marketing strategy.
It’s essential that any strategy begins with an understanding of your data. Before carrying out statistical analysis, consider your brand’s overall goals and the data touch points you have available to you. Most marketers are already using behavioural and transactional data sets in their digital marketing but it’s important to look beyond this for an all-encompassing view.
You need a marketing platform that can find your customer personas who are not discount driven. This means you can reduce the amount of price promotions sent to these groups, therefore increasing your margins.
According to Gartner, there are five research modalities that can offer significant value:
- Demographic – population data such as geography and income
- Psychographic – insight gathered by understanding opinions and attitudes
- Ethnographic – insight gained through observation of your customers
- Transactional – data acquired through your customer’s purchase history
- Behavioural – data captured through how people interact with your company via various digital channels
Within these key areas there is a wealth of useful, actionable insight that will bring a greater depth of knowledge about your customers.
Before you can build your personas, it’s important to action your data hypotheses within your digital marketing strategy by creating segments of customers. These should be based on key attributes that have been discovered as part of your customer analysis. It’s important that any outcome data is captured and fed back into your central data tool for further analysis and to measure the performance of each segment over time.
You don’t need to add expensive, custom analytics to get the benefit of defining specific persona segments for your customer base and tracking the performance of each persona over time. The trick is to define enough personas that create uniqueness, but not so many that analysing and tailoring your marketing messages is overwhelming.
You should be using a data solution that lets your personas develop and adapt over time. Personas change every second, so you need real-time and dynamic data, otherwise, all the work you have carefully done will be out of date in six months.
Companies who have spent a significant amount of time defining personas say having between eight and 16 is currently best practice. The best way of defining your segments is to initially focus on new, potential, loyal and lapsed customers. Don’t spend too much time fine-tuning the definitions, you can let the data tell you how to adjust your definitions to optimise your marketing as you go along. A good customer analytics tool will let you define and track your personas.
The best way to verify the hypotheses that informed your segmentation strategy is to build a testing program. Choose several variables that will have the most meaningful impact on the personalisation of your offering and feed this back into the segments to make them more coherent. Examples could include favoured channel, tone of communication, product affinity and frequency of communication.
Create and apply your personas
The implementation of a sound analysis and segmentation strategy will provide the foundation to start building out your personas. The steps detailed above should provide you with the knowledge to make objective rather than subjective statements about your customers and a feedback loop will allow you to continually verify your prognoses.
Any personas you create should be fluid and evolve over time as your understanding of their behaviour grows. Many loyal brand advocates are happy to provide further information, particularly if they are aware that it will be used to directly improve their customer experience. Customer service surveys, the capturing of stated preferences and product feedback following purchase can all be used to help further build persona models.
As your business continues to grow and adapt per strategy and market conditions it’s also essential that your personas are continually re-evaluated. A marketing platform needs to be able to handle these areas, and in the same instance provide next best offer and action depending on the customer history and predictive next move.
Interacting with data to create fully actionable segments that draw on all data points is an essential part of modern-day email marketing. Segmented profiles can be further refined via actionable dashboards, enabling the addition of market knowledge/learning to further enhance persona accuracy. These can then be dynamically managed and used to drive email interactions. All data is immediately available for segmentation and all segments are immediately available to campaigns. Segments can be static or dynamic depending on the marketer’s choice.
Marketing departments want to know their current campaign state within and across channels, effectiveness, conversion, brand loyalty, customers, social etc., and need a full analysis and reporting platform. The most advanced marketing platforms provide quality insights to define segments and scale through lookalike modelling. This enables marketers to always deliver the best content to the precise consumer in the right moment.