Without user personas, email marketing becomes impersonal and generic.

Our inboxes are flooded, and more emails keep pouring in. We can hardly keep up with the rising tide of newsletters, promotions, reminders, and updates, so most of them go unread, either gradually sinking deeper into our pile of unread messages, or heading straight to trash.

Given how many emails go unopened, you may be wondering if it’s worth your while to invest in email marketing campaigns. After all, if you’re not opening most of what comes your way, why would your leads open what you send to them?

It’s a smart question, but thankfully, there’s an easy answer: persona marketing. See, the problem with a lot of email marketing is that the people sending those emails aren’t paying attention to their audience. They’re sending the same thing to every contact, even though they know their list contains a variety of customers. Nor are they paying attention to user behavior. So, because they aren’t taking the time to understand what their users want, a lot of what they send misses the mark.

On the other hand, what if, when a contact received an email from your organization, they had a pretty good idea that it would contain relevant, valuable information? It’s unlikely they would unsubscribe from your list, mark you as spam, or move your emails directly to trash.

Persona marketing is how you make sure your content matches what your contacts need. Here’s how.

Avoid blasting your entire list with every email send.

One reason email marketing campaigns often to awry is that those running them send out too many untargeted email blasts. They don’t segment their lists, they just send the same thing to everyone.

Now, let’s say a travel company has split their audience into four personas: a) Family Vacationers, b) Retirees, c) Honeymooners, d) Backpackers. They send four emails a week, and although they mix up the content of these emails to appeal to each of these personas, the emails go out to the entire list every time. This means that, while every persona receives four emails a week, only 25% of that content is relevant to their needs.

How long would you keep opening an email if it only had a 25% chance of being relevant to you? My guess is: not long.

Now, what if you segmented those lists and sent only one email a week to each group, but made sure that the emails you sent out matched the user’s interests, as defined by their marketing persona? Now each contact only receives one email a week (substantially relieving their inbox), and they know that when that email arrives, it will be targeted toward their interests.

Target emails based on user behavior.

Now, the above example is most relevant for newsletters, where contacts have signed up for your emails and have maybe even given you some information to tell you who they are and what persona they belong to. But what if you’re sending out a different kind of workflow based on their website behavior?

This is what downloadable content and email automation software can help you with. Continuing with our travel agency example: your visitors come to your website, and navigate to pages that contain travel packages based on their personas. Maybe you have a travel guide on each page for users to download. When they do so, they submit their email address, and that enters them into your marketing workflow.

Now, you’ve timed your marketing workflow to send an email within an hour of your new contact downloading their travel guide, then a second email three days later, a third email a week later, a fourth and fifth email each timed a week apart, and a sixth and final email to go out a month after that. If your contact opens emails quickly and engages in more activity on your site, you have mechanisms in place to speed up the timing of your workflow, but in general, you’re trying to time the flow so that the client won’t forget you, but also doesn’t feel pressured.

However, it’s not just the timing you can adjust. You can also send different materials based on the travel guide they downloaded or the pages the visited on your site. Maybe they’re planning a backpacking trip for their honeymoon, so they download your backpacking guide but browse packages on your honeymoon page. It makes sense to send them materials for both these personas. But a retiree package will be a waste of their time, and won’t get you any closer to landing a sale.

Direct your efforts toward high-potential leads.

Without personas, many companies waste a lot of time chasing down cold leads. Maybe they were only browsing options and have no immediate plans to buy a vacation package. Or maybe they’re interested, but don’t have the budget. Or maybe they got so tired of seeing your emails about family package trips, they decided to look elsewhere.

If you’re trying to close sales, you know that information is your best friend. The less you know about your new lead, the more difficult it will be for you to hit upon the offer that catches their interest. But, if you can identify their buyer persona, you can warm that lead more quickly, which will reduce the time it takes you to close a sale. You’ll spend less energy chasing leads who aren’t interested in your offer, and more time with contacts with the potential to close.

Custom workflows respect your users by valuing their attention.

Of course, it’s not just your time you’re saving. None of us what to waste our time warding off sales people who are offering us deals we don’t want. However, when a company uses persona marketing to offer me deals on products I want, it’s a game changer.

Your customer’s attention is precious. If you waste it with untargeted offers, they will walk away—and be justified in doing so. Respect everyone’s time by including user personas in your marketing workflows.

Published 12/18/18 by Laura Lynch