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Successful marketers have started employing data-driven personas to supercharge their content, strategies and campaigns. This makes total sense based on the volume growth of generated data in recent years. Knowing your customers has become even more crucial for successfully marketing any product or service.

Data-driven personas are born when you supplement the traditional process of collecting information with digital activities, behaviors and attitudes. Click To Tweet

Traditional Personas

Traditional personas rely on research methods such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, surveys, and user testing, to collect data about their customers.

These are the most common questions these methods seek to answer:

  • What do customers need?
  • How do they envisage fulfilling that need?
  • What obstacles are impeding their need fulfillment?

The collected info is then used to build different personas, representing different types of users.

User experience (UX) design was among the first applications of personas, as UX designers needed to learn as much about their users as they could to design products based on their behavior and needs. The same goes for developers, who must empathize with users they will probably never meet.

The crossover between designing user experience and customer experience enabled marketers to use personas to develop marketing strategies and campaigns. With methods quite similar to those employed by UX practitioners, marketers use the customer-centric to attain their goals. However, traditional personas can’t always keep pace with all the emerging trends and changes in customer behavior in the digital era.

Common mistakes of traditional personas

The traditional approach has recently been exposed to criticism for three major flaws:

Being biased towards customer responses

Asking customers about what they did or what they think is undoubtedly a great way to collect insights, but if you rely too heavily on this method, it can easily lead to biased data. For example, users often report discovering a product or service through Google search, yet somehow fail to mention ads they saw that could have motivated them to do the search. In this case, personas undervalue adverts and overvalue search.

Being either too broad or too narrow to be useful

Placing emphasis on creating a ‘real’ user can often result in campaigns focused almost entirely on a single customer instead of representing a substantially broader group of customers. On the other hand, personas shouldn’t be too broad either, lacking identifiable features that are unique enough to actually provide value.

Not being actionable

You’ve created your persona and you proudly shared it with the world – but nothing happened – they ended up somewhere in the dark corners of a shared drive, stranded and forgotten. This is every researcher’s worst nightmare, especially if it occurs after a lengthy, rigorous and detailed investigative process.

Effective personas have to be actionable to function in the real world instead of pathetically collecting dust, which is exactly why your approach should go a step further.

Data-driven personas

Data-driven personas are born when you supplement the traditional process of collecting information with digital activities, behaviors and attitudes. These data nuggets come from different channels,  range of sources, including web analytics, digital surveys and panels (as GlobalWebIndex),  social listening tools (as Brandwatch), as well as social media insights (gathered from the social platforms themselves, naturally).

Solutions as these allow you to get scalable insights quite fast – you don’t have to wait for months for data to be gathered, but simply adjust parameters in each tool when you spot a new insight. Moreover, these tools update data in real time, meaning that you can iterate personas and keep them fresh as the marketplace changes.

The data-driven approach allows you to answer the following questions:

  • Where are your personas posting content?
  • What are your personas talking about right now?
  • How exactly are your personas researching new products/brands online?
  • What devices are used at each stage of the customer decision process?
  • What are their attitudes and in what ways are they influencing purchasing behavior?

The answers to these provide valuable insights for strategists to plan, publishers to come up with impeccable content and creatives to find inspiration. They also resolve the issues of traditional personas that we mentioned earlier, making them more objective, actionable and created with the real user in mind.

Personas are a useful, relevant tool for producing content that answers your customers’ questions, allowing for a positive effect on the bottom line by targeting the right audience at the right time. Yet, without digital insights that new tools provide, you can easily end up with the relics of a bygone age. Employing data-driven personas gives you precious, in-depth knowledge that strengthens your marketing efforts in the online realm.

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HiveMind Studios is a premier San Jose digital marketing company, with top-tier clients across the country.  Contact us to consult on your digital marketing strategies!



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