The ROI of persona building


by Gladys Ng

October 12, 2017

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In a recent study of companies that missed their revenue and lead goals, nearly three-quarters failed because they lacked a qualitative understanding of their personas. Conversely, companies that exceeded their revenue and lead goals were more likely to have analyzed the motivations of their consumers in detail.

This marked difference clearly highlights the importance of building highly detailed personas to meet marketing KPIs and drive sales. From the brand’s perspective, a persona embodies audience traits around which it can build hypotheses and then leverage for targeting and engagement. Such well-developed personas can contribute directly to increased revenue and lower costs.

How it works

Consider the case of a retail fashion brand that identified through data analysis “Sarah” as its “SuperStar” customer. Sarah, age 25 to 35, has an annual income between $60,000 and $75,000, and a purchase frequency of twice a month with an average purchase value of $200 to $300.

These are standard attributes. But what if the brand could further define Sarah as a persona with a propensity for discount offers and one more likely to respond to offers made during weekends? Clearly, this would be a more strategic persona definition that could lead to better ROI. Here are some of the ways:

Build once, target multiple times

Within a marketing automation framework, carefully crated personas save time and resources by enabling faster, more accurate targeting that ultimately results in higher conversion rates. In the preceding example, for instance, every time a discount is offered near a weekend, Sarah’s persona becomes a default target.

Target look-alikes

For customer acquisitions, well-defined personas represent a rich reference source for building “look-alikes,” which can be identified from the brand’s own databases and from third-party sources, such as paid media. In addition to optimizing channel costs, targeting look-alike profiles based on best-performing personas in combination with lead scoring can double or even triple the results of standard targeting.

Score leads more effectively

Behaviour personas in lead scoring enables a brand to qualify leads more effectively. For each behavior a persona demonstrates, a point is assigned. Throughout the buyer journey, points accumulate until the persona is identified as a qualified lead. Scoring leads based on personas helps to focus marketing efforts, balance the top-to-mid-funnel ratio, and drive conversions.

Create relevant individual audience experiences

More finely detailed personas enable brands to develop and implement customized audience engagements that offer richer, more relevant experiences for individuals that fall within the segment. Targeting based on personas has produced as much as a 14.5 percent increase in sales productivity.

Meeting the ROI expectations of persona building

The building highly detailed personas is obvious. When will you see a definitive ROI from doing it remains the question. As a key function of an integrated marketing automation platform, persona building should not be viewed in isolation. Rather, it must work alongside other marketing automation components to meet overall ROI expectations. Just as attribution has always been the marketer’s challenge, realizing the ROI of persona building is a marathon, not a sprint.

Tell us what you think

Would you like to share thoughts on using personas across marketing channels? How have you used personas to build or enhance rewarding customer experiences? Tell us what has and what hasn’t worked for you in your industry.

If you’d like to learn more how personas can boost ROI, contact us at [email protected].