Persona -lization and Behavioral Marketing

  |  November 5, 2004   |  Comments

Behavioral marketing has impressive advantages. Yet a piece of the puzzle is missing.

As a marketing vehicle, the Internet is multitalented. A strong suit is collecting and comparing considerable amounts of visitor data. Compared to other ad media, the Internet delivers more data about who our customers are and what they actually do, and does so more specifically and quickly than we ever dreamed possible.

Combine such data with the context of site content or a specific ad campaign, and you see accurate snapshots of customer behavior patterns that can be observed, tracked, and measured.

Behavioral marketing's promise is marketers can use this information to determine where to spend ad dollars for maximum return on investment (ROI). Behavioral marketing allows advertising to better segment and target audiences. Yet a critical piece of the puzzle is missing.

Although behavioral marketing offers an impressive advantage, it's the ad message that makes the difference in long-term ROI marketing efforts.

Crafting messages customers will respond to, through persona creation, is the missing piece of the behavioral marketing puzzle.

Demographics Don't Reveal Motivation

We're giddy about behavioral marketing's possibilities, and we're not alone. In a push to enhance advertising options, and recently inked deals with Tacoda Systems, a behavioral marketing leader. drives over 12 million unique monthly visitors, and drives 3.5 million. Each site serves up a virtual trove of rich demographic and behavioral information.

Those demographics don't tell the whole story. Underneath all these numbers is a wide array of needs and motivations. They may have little to do with a customer's age, gender, or income level. Keywords, internal search queries, clickstreams, average time spent on individual pages, and other Web analytics provide a clearer picture of those motivations and needs.

Visitors should be segmented by demographics and behavior, then targeted accordingly. This effectively answers the questions about where and how to advertise.

Persona creation takes this one step deeper by attempting to answer: Why do customers behaving this way? Once you understand behavior, you can begin to address what message each segment (or persona) is most likely to respond to.

People Aren't Numbers

Web technology is formidable when it comes to collecting numbers and data. Don't be blinded by the stats. When customers interact with a site or an online ad campaign, they engage in a voluntary relationship. Customers must be persuaded as individuals, not as average users or broad demographic segments.

Customers have individual needs and different reasons to buy. They're at different stages of the buying process. Their motivations, largely driven by their unique personalities, are diverse. To maximize ROI, a campaign must address and effectively persuade each of them.

The principle value of a persona-based message campaign is understanding each type of customer's approach to initiating relationships, gathering information, and approaching decision-making. Learn what type of language resonates with customers, what builds their confidence, how they prefer to obtain agreement and closure, and so on.

During the persona-creation process, the following data are collected and analyzed:

  • Demographics. These are customer attributes, such as age, gender, income, and buying cycle.

  • Pyschographics. What does the customer psychologically do in the buying process? Some data are determined by Web analytics, others information is extrapolated through customer interviews and product/service analysis.

  • Topographics. Topographic information (the situation, the marketplace, and the market position) is a combination of demographics and pyschographics. It shows the relationship between them, and how they affect the buying process. It's a window into customers' divergent needs and motivations.

The end result is a set of personas and persona groups that embody the entirety of the customer base. By targeting personas individually, you'll efficiently target an ad campaign.

Say you sell chocolate roses. You craft a single banner reading: "When you hand her a chocolate rose from Rose Emporium, she'll kiss you like you've never been kissed before."

You can conclude your male personas are enticed to click. But each might have different needs and motivations. Persuasive landing pages address those different needs.

Persona-lization Now

Behavioral marketing reminds me of "Minority Report," in which billboards are personalized to the passers-by. We can't effectively personalize messages for each unique impression. What we can do is personalize for personas. Speaking effectively to the three-dimensional nature of a strong persona maximizes marketing and advertising dollars.


Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is co-founder and chief marketing officer (CMO) of IdealSpot. He is co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times best-selling books Call to Action, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?, and Always Be Testing, and Buyer Legends. Bryan is a keynote speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as Gultaggen,, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others for the past 10 years. Bryan was named a winner of the Marketing Edge's Rising Stars Awards, recognized by eConsultancy members as one of the top 10 User Experience Gurus, selected as one of the inaugural iMedia Top 25 Marketers, and has been recognized as most influential in PPC, Social Selling, OmniChannel Retail. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of several venture capital backed companies such as Sightly, UserTesting, Monetate, ChatID, Nomi, and BazaarVoice. He works with his co-author and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at

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