Data-driven Personas: Take Digital Marketing Strategies to the Next Level

You wonder how best to target the different audiences of your company, where to pick them up in their online journey and what could inspire them?

Customer first

The truth is that you never know your customers or potential customers well enough. In our digital age with ever-changing buzzwords, new innovations and trends, you can quickly lose track. Additionally, thinking about which of the numerous trends are relevant and targeting your audience can be challenging.

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That’s where Data-Driven Personas comes in – they help you understand your customers better, stay on the ball and align your brand identity and marketing activities to their needs.

Personas are fictitious personalities that are defined by the real characteristics of the various user groups. They reflect demographic and geographical information, (online) behavioral patterns, needs, fears and goals of the different user segments. This makes Personas representative of different target groups.


14 06 19 Persona article
Current example of a Persona (Graphic: netseffect – photo in the graphic of Brooke Gagle on Unsplash)

Traditional Persona vs. Data-driven persona

Individual interviews, focus groups and surveys of customers or employees often still form the basis of traditional personas. These methods usually involve an enormous amount of work and time and involve various difficulties. Especially during the interviews it is difficult to select suitable participants who represent all user groups.

Furthermore, this method often leads to ignoring important information. Nevertheless, the traditional methods can provide valuable qualitative insights. That is why they are also used in the development of the Data-Driven Personas. However, they are more of a supplement to check information obtained from the data or to eliminate the last ambiguity.

The development of Data-Driven Personas starts with the data that already exists in the company. These can come from the company’s own analysis tools, customer management systems and other sources. Based on existing data, user groups with similar characteristics are created.

These groups are classified according to geographic and demographic characteristics or to certain (buying) behavioral patterns. For very large volumes of data, cluster analysis is often used, the aim of which is the detection of similarity structures. The various groups thus form the basis of the Data-Driven Personas. A further analysis of the individual groups makes it possible to develop an understanding of the different target groups as well as to identify patterns of behavior, differentiation points and abnormalities.

In order to refine the Data-Driven Personas, it is possible to work with third-party data. Social monitoring tools, market research institutes and digital forums support this. For example, market research institutes such as YouGov Profiles can compare characteristics of the selected target group with characteristics of the total population, which means that even more knowledge about the characteristics of the target groups can be obtained in a very short time.

Using social monitoring tools, trends can be identified quickly and you can find out what the various target groups are talking about, how they communicate and what moves them. These tools enable fast, valid insights and data updates in near real time.

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Using the Data-Driven Personas

Ideally, appropriate landing pages are developed for the different personas, the right forms of communication are chosen and the targeting of campaigns is aligned to the respective online behavior patterns and interests. They thus accompany all process steps – from brainstorming to the conception of marketing measures.

This makes the different target groups tangible and the customer needs are present throughout the process. Thus, the Data-Driven Personas themselves are also seen as a process, because to stay up-to-date, they must be supplied with the latest data again and again and insights from campaigning should be reflected, among other things in the personas.

Data is King

How valuable the data-based insights are, is shown very clearly in a blog post by Lorna Keane at Webindex. Here are ten successful campaigns of large brands presented, the recipe for success lies in the data.

When the Data-Driven Personas are updated on a regular basis, you can be perfectly attuned to ever-changing user behavior and never lose sight of customer needs.

Thus, the development and use of Data-Driven Personas is a real recipe for success, because Data is King.

About the author: Patricia Daschner works as a Junior Consultant Digital Analytics & BI at netzeffekt GmbH.

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