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, NYTimes.com and Boston.com recently inked deals with Tacoda Systems, a behavioral marketing leader.

NYTimes.com drives over 12 million unique monthly visitors, and Boston.com 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.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.

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