Persona Based Marketing, Segments and Real Time Personalization – connecting the dots

May 26, 2015 Boaz Grinvald

We all want to sell more, faster and ideally larger deals. To do so we work hard to improve our marketing and sales cycles, removing obstacles and offering better tools to our teams to communicate the value to potential buyers. Persona Based Marketing, Segments and Real Time Personalization are all closely related and in some cases overlapping areas which help businesses achieve just that – more tailored marketing and sales funnels that deliver better results. In this post we will provide a quick introduction to these tactics so you can make educated decisions on how to move forward with any of them.

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So what is Persona Based Marketing?

Persona Based Marketing is a technique for businesses to analyze and put together major buyer profiles to be able to better relate to their key buyers. Using Persona Based Marketing organizations get to know better their buyers, how they like to purchase, what are the ways to connect and communicate to them, and what they think about your products.

Persona Based Marketing is focused on answering questions such as:

  • Who is the customer?
  • How do customers make buying decisions?
  • What do buyers like most about our products/services?
  • What type of information customers prefer during the buying cycle?
  • What are the best ways to communicate with prospects and/or existing customers?

Key benefits of Persona Based Marketing are:

  • Deeper understanding of your buyers
  • Improved sales and marketing results
  • Better structure for marketing and sales decisions, from product decisions to priorities

Potential downsides:

  • This is a manual process that is time consuming to go through and maintain
  • Since this is focused on creating buyer “typecasts” there is a risk of overlooking certain buyer types
  • Eventually grouping buyers into segments/categories is better than not knowing your audience at all, but is not as good as individual personalization

Let’s talk Segments

Buyer Segmentation is similar to Persona Based Marketing in the sense that as a business you are looking at groups/sub-categories of your audience but instead of building a personality profile these tactic is grouping behaviors.

So for example as a business we can group and handle all marketing and sales communications geared toward different buyer groups in the same way, that should be more personalized then treating all buyers equally. Sample segments can be based on online behaviors, lead source or product interest:

  • First time visitors to the Website
  • Blog visitors that read 2 posts or more
  • All online prospects that are identified as Financial Services employees
  • All prospects that expressed interest in product line A vs. product line B
  • Leads that came from a specific tradeshow
  • Existing customers that have the potential for additional purchases or upgrades

Key benefits of Segments are pretty much the same ones as Persona Based Marketing:

  • Deeper understanding of your buyers
  • Improved sales and marketing results
  • Better structure for marketing and sales decisions, from product decisions to priorities

Potential downsides:

  • This is also a manual process that requires structured follow up and analysis of your success with each segment
  • Since this is focused on creating audience “typecasts” there is a risk of overlooking parts of your audience or placing different buyers in the same “bucket”
  • Eventually grouping buyers into segments/categories is better than not knowing your audience at all, but is not as good as individual personalization

Last but not least… Real-time Personalization

Real-time Personalization helps businesses deliver a more personal online experience based on Segments, Buyer Personas (Mainly for known leads/prospects) or individual profiling. The benefits of real-time personalization are clear – when you communicate to an individual and respond to their exact needs you have a better shot at establishing a business relationship. According to HubSpot Calls-to-action targeted to the user performed 42% better than calls to action that were generic. Obviously the more personalized interaction you can deliver the better the results, so Buyer Personas and Segments are not as good as Individual Personalization.

The best possible Real-time personalization targets individuals based on online real-time analysis of parameters such as:

  • Content consumed
  • Individual behaviors such as time on page or past visits information
  • Crowd behavior (“Visitors such as this one responded well to an offer to see Video A”)

Key benefits of Real-Time personalization are:

  • Improved sales and marketing results
  • Higher ROI on your Buyer Persona / Segments / Personalization efforts
  • Deeper audience analytics, especially when practicing Individual Personalization, which is not bound by Segments or Personas

Potential downsides:

  • Segments / Personas based Personalization requires ongoing analysis and tuning as the base categories are manually generated and require follow up
  • As with any technology deployments this needs to be well planned

To learn more on how real time personalization complements marketing automation see  HubSpot Customers Integrate BrightInfo for Automated Personalization to Anonymous Visitors

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