Using personas to dramatically improve email marketing results

If your email marketing results are still lagging after you’ve put in quite some effort, you might want to take a look at personas. For those who are not familiar with personas: they represent different user types based on psychological data. Lets take these four types of personas (the part in parentheses shows the way they behave).
The four personas
– Competitive (logical and fast)
– Spontaneous (emotional and fast)
– Humanistic (emotional and slow)
– Methodical (logical and slow)
By the way, these four types are not just limited to marketing. They are just anywhere and everywhere. Remember the Sex and the city series? All four main characters were based on one of the four types:

If you know the series, then you understand how the personas are created.
If not, no worries: I will explain the four types briefly. It is possible to make a lot more personas in online / email marketing, but we’ll stick to these basic four in this post.
The four basic personas explained
A competitive persona is someone driven by curiosity and likes to see the big picture. A clear goal helps as well, as does honesty. Compared to the other types, the competitive persona is the hardest to sell to, but also a loyal customer when treated right.
The spontaneous persona is more influenced by environment. Trends and friends have their effect on their choices and actions. Immediate rewards for actions are key for this persona, and they are most often sold by word of mouth. In comparison, negative reviews or friends’ experiences may turn them away from buying a product.
Humanistic personas likes to see the human and helping side of you as a company: how will you help them with your product, and how have you helped others? They like a more personal approach, insight into who you are and likes to be reassured. Compared to the other personas the humanistic ones think that their personal freedom is very important.
Lastly the methodical personas: they will read everything. They are more into features than actual benefits, but do not like stuffing: getting straight to the point with them helps a lot. They think logical so need a lot of details to form a decision. The personal approach is lost on them: a message with a bit of authority works better for them. Compared to the others they can be very skeptical about information, and need hard evidence on anything you have to offer.
How to apply these four personas to email marketing
The four personas will formulate questions in their head when they view your email campaigns: the methodical will ask why, the humanistic will ask who, the spontaneous asks why & when and the competitive will ask what. These questions can be translated into the way you present your email campaigns.
As an example, I’ll apply those questions to an email campaign sent by a fictional electronics company offering a new tv. This is what the email should contain, and what not:
– Clear CTA button.
– Basic info about the tv.
– Why is it the best tv, and why are you the best company to buy from?
– What can I achieve with this tv? (subject line sample: you’ll be the best couch potato in the hood!)
In terms of design, the email would look very basic and straightforward, with not too much info on the product or company, but a lot of advantages, winning features and ‘buy this tv so you can x’ slogans.
– Email would contain positive reviews of tv -and- company.
– Delivery information.
– How to select the best version of this tv for you.
– Details about customer / product support (maybe on-site installation) included.
– Let them put in a personal touch (personalized tv option: color of bezel, connection/feature options, tv stand options)
This email design would be quite like a review site: promoting what others say about the product, your customer service and delivery information.
– Email would involve details about the company (clear About Us section, not just a link).
– Emotions would be part of the copy, slogan and subject line. (subject line sample: buy this tv and you’ll feel awesome!)
– Company values as well as product review would be included in the email.
– Show certifications of the tv and industry organizations of which the company is part of.
For the humanistic persona, there would be a lot of ‘human’ detail in the email as well as emotional detail. Not a lot of info on the tv itself would be needed, however all the more info about the company and its people would be present in this email.
– Email would contain a lot of information about the product and about the company.
– Simple facts with little fluff, so bullet points, stats and such.
– Product warranty information, as well as guarantees on service.
– How does the ordering system work (next steps explained).
This email would contain the most information of all, all the way on the other end of the scale compared to the competitive persona. All the information should be presented in an orderly fashion, with clear links to even more data if possible.
The trouble is of course, how do you segment your list into these four persona types? A lot of behavioural data would be necessary, both from previous emails and from your website. One advantage of email marketing is that you can measure and track an awful lot when your email campaigns are executed right. The data gathered is a gold mine, literally. Used correctly it will make you a lot of money.
Have they or haven’t they clicked? How fast after delivery have they opened an email? How often do they open a single email? Have they ordered something through an email I’ve sent and if yes, which link did they click? All this and more will help in building persona target groups. It will take some time, but will be very rewarding in the end.
Because what one says they’ll do (their preferences) and what they actually do (behavioural data) are two totally different things. It’s time to act upon it!


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