StrategyPersonalizationOptimizing mass personalization with psychographic user journeys

Optimizing mass personalization with psychographic user journeys

Mass personalization campaigns are designed to build and enhance user engagement throughout the digital experience. Franklin Parrish explains how to deliver mass personalization using psychographic segmentation.

30-second summary:

  • Mass personalization is a brilliant tool to improve engagement, conversions, and loyalty through exceptional customer experiences
  • Psychographic segmentation is a way to segment audience groups based on shared characteristics, creating a unique user journey for each segment
  • Franklin Parrish, Senior Director, Brand, Marketing, and Creative Services at Kaiser Permanente, provides a repeatable guide to building mass personalization, using a case study of a Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic campaign

Franklin Parrish: Optimizing mass personalization with psychographic user journeysMass personalization is the process of creating a personalized experience for each consumer at scale. Companies can do this through targeted content, offers, and experiences that are relevant to their specific needs and interests.

Its key benefit is that it allows brands to create a more customized and tailored experience for each consumer, leading to increased engagement, conversions, and loyalty. Employing mass personalization through a psychographically-aligned, relevant user journey that intrigues and enlightens with a coherent storyline will drive users to an action onsite and build brand equity within the marketplace.

Psychographic segments allow businesses to group consumers together based on shared characteristics, interests, and needs. This makes it easier to target each group with relevant content. Mass personalization takes this one step further by creating a personalized user experience for each psychographic segment.

This article will take you through the theory and the practices of creating psychographic-based user journeys for your campaigns.

A guide to building mass personalization campaigns

I have broken down the process into repeatable steps with examples from our 2019-2021 Care on Demand campaign (hereafter referred to as “COD”, for brevity), designed to promote Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States’ (KPMAS’) telehealth capabilities during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.

1) Identify the core emotional needs of your target users

I have found that focusing on the emotional needs of your target audience segments is your best pathway to building messaging that intrigues your audience. It also casts the widest possible net of potential engagement as your messaging does not depend as much on demographics.

To do this, create your value propositions and messaging themes based on your target psychographic segments’ key emotional motivations, or “reverse-engineer” emotional benefits from your brand functional benefits, and validate.

Either is a good place to start provided you can validate your hypotheses.

At KPMAS, we surveyed our market to discover which Jungian archetypes were the most prevalent and built relevant value propositions.

For the COD campaign, we developed value propositions from the product attributes to create emotional benefits, which is fine for smaller marketing efforts.

Below are the results of the survey we ran to validate our segments for COD.

Figure 1 KPMAS COD psychographic archetypes for mass personalization
Figure 1 KPMAS COD psychographic archetypes for mass personalization

The survey helped gauge the presence and weight of the archetypes in the Mid-Atlantic market so we could message confidently message to each archetype.

I have known other brands to use enneagrams for their psychographic segmentation as well. I am not proposing to lock you into the Jungian framework, although I find it the most accessible and understood. Please see my LinkedIn article on the subject.

2) Build personas that flesh out these core needs

Personas, when grounded in psychographic value drivers, help you to humanize your target audience segments and understand their needs on a deeper level. By using personas, you can more easily empathize with your target and message accordingly.

The COD segments:

Figure 2 COD mass personalization personas
Figure 2 COD mass personalization personas

We took the extra step to align the COD personas with a Jungian archetype in case we wanted to speak to these segments about the brand more broadly.

3) Create mass personalization themes that speak to the audience’s value drivers

Messaging themes are positioning statements for each audience segment. These statements provide a strategic framework that helps keep individual content executions aligned.

Using the information from the personas and the messaging platforms, KPMAS developed the following “brand stories” that put the audience in the center of our messaging.

Table 1 COD value drivers and KPMAS brand stories
Table 1 COD value drivers and KPMAS brand stories

We also developed message maps that helped the creative team align the user’s messaging journey to a narrative plot line to drive engagement. The Message Map shows the audience the broken current world. It proposes the solution and educates the audience on how we would do it. Lastly, it shows what the world would look like if the user followed our recommendations.

Below is the Message Map for the “Data-Driven” segment:

Figure 3 COD "Data-Driven" Message Map
Figure 3 COD “Data-Driven” message map

4) Build a messaging framework to align everything

A messaging framework captures the emotional benefit and aligns the brand’s attributes and competencies as proof points. This document will help in content creation and inform website information architecture and content structure.

For example, one of the key attributes of Kaiser Permanente’s telehealth offerings is mail order pharmacy, where a patient or physician orders an automatically shipped prescription to the patient’s home. This attribute supported the Control, Flexibility, and Convenience value drivers.

Figure 4 COD Messaging Framework
Figure 4 COD messaging framework

5) Building look and feel

The KPMAS creative team built creative around care scenarios that would resonate with the target persona’s value drivers, then built a site architecture designed to pay off the message that initially intrigued the audience. We also leveraged member testimonials to apply social proof. This helped us visualize and understand the “happy state” of becoming a Kaiser Permanente member.

Figure 5 COD creative asset sample
Figure 5 COD creative asset sample

6) Mapping the user journey

Map out user psychographic pathways so that you can properly document the user’s journey and create relevant content and engagement devices. It is important to reinforce the user’s understanding and appreciation for the brand. Do this by delivering relevant information when the user is most interested. This user journey is based on the Curiosity Funnel. Here, the user is first intrigued which produces the click action.

Figure 6 The Curiosity Funnel
Figure 6 The curiosity funnel

Doing this will ensure that the user’s journey follows the plot of the story as laid out in the message map. In COD, KPMAS used both the Engagement message (problem statement) and the Value message (brand promise) for the digital assets to pique curiosity, then provided solutions and reinforcement on the website to enlighten and inspire. We created low-risk action events to drive engagement, e.g., video views and PDF downloads. The result was a journey designed to leave the user with a greater appreciation for the brand and the product.

7) Applying user journey to website Information Architecture (IA)

Aligning website IA to match the psychographic user pathways allows KPMAS to measure the impact of the entire user journey. By structuring our site as a collection of landing pages, each designed around the segment’s message map, we created a streamlined user experience. This built a relevant narrative to educate and inspire the audience to action.

Simply put—build content aligned to messaging themes and direct those thematic assets to their relevant landing pages.

With COD, KPMAS built a landing page for each of the audience segments and created introductory content aligned with the value driver. We then populated content in a hierarchy corresponding to the key proof points for each segment. Each page contained the same information, just in a different order.

Figure 7 COD Creative Mapping to Landing Page
Figure 7 COD creative mapping to a landing page

For COD, our home page top-level navigation comprised of segmented value statements, with our overall value statement in the hero image. This allowed the home page to serve as a summary of the information contained on the website should someone arrive at the home page through a direct channel.

Figure 8 COD Home Page
Figure 8 COD home page

8) The media component

None of the above-mentioned activities are worth anything if you cannot reach real people. The psychographic segments have demographic and behavioral markers that can help with media targeting.

In the figure below, the COD psychographic segments had key demographic markers that allowed us to translate psychographics into demographic segments. This aided in our initial targeting and refined and expanded our target with retargeting from paid media and website traffic.

Figure 9 Demographic Markers of COD Psychographic Segments
Figure 9 Demographic markers of COD psychographic personalization segments

Using these demographic markers, the media agency mapped out media consumption habits and audience segmentation concentration:

Figure 10 COD Segment Media Consumption Habits
Figure 10 COD segment media consumption habits
Figure 11 COD Segment Geographic Concentration
Figure 11 COD segment geographic concentration

Having this data allowed KPMAS to precisely target the audiences that we believed would be most receptive to our messaging and willing to engage.

This includes paid search—a great channel to reach prospects outside of your target audience. Using keywords that align with the psychographic value drivers can be effective, especially with non-branded terms.

Using paid search in this method produced a bounce rate of 37%, about half of the bounce rate of other paid channels in the COD campaign.

9) Campaign components and mass personalization performance

KPMAS used the following channels in our campaign: Digital display, digital video, email, branded content, social media (static/video), streaming audio, and connected screens (CTV/OTT). These were measured by the following campaign KPIs.

Digital engagement:

  • Programmatic Display: Average CTR was three times industry benchmark (.27% vs .08%)
  • Programmatic Video: Average CTR was .15%, nearly 2x benchmark
  • Native Content CTR: Average CTR was roughly 3x industry benchmark: (.23% vs .08%)
  • Email Top Open Rate: 23.05% Top CTR: 2.74%

Website engagement:

  • Average bounce rate: 70.61%
  • Desktop bounce rate: 57.49%
  • Average page/session: 2.84
  • Desktop: Generating 4.13 pages/session
  • Website Action goal rate: Campaign goal completion rate of 1.18%

Brand Lift

KPMAS conducts regular brand equity surveys that we call the Brand Pulse. This survey measures the recall of our advertisements and the effect of the messaging on message recallers. During the campaign:

  • Message recall increased by 10%
  • Average willingness to consider Kaiser Permanente as a health plan provider increased by 48% (27% to 40%) over the course of the campaign
  • In December 2020, 61% of recallers agreed that Kaiser Permanente had superior telehealth capabilities, a gap of sixteen points from those who did not recall an ad.

Mass personalization is the future of customer experience

Mass personalization is a methodology that is conceptually and technically possible even for brands with limited resources. Using these steps, building messaging that reflects your brand’s competencies, then finding the audience for which those messages will resonate can be a winning strategy to build brand equity or increase sales.

We all know how vital personalization will be to deliver exceptional customer journeys in 2023 and beyond. Now you have a framework to put it into action.


Franklin Parrish is currently the creative director and strategic marketing leader at Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic, supporting $6B in annual revenue. Franklin has more than 20 years of experience in brand marketing, advertising, and interactive design. His responsibilities include brand, marketing, and creative strategies and development, media buying, budgeting, and providing strategic direction and operational guidance for Kaiser Permanente’s marketing and advertising efforts to drive member growth to 1 million members.

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