By Jocelyn Johnson, Real Magnet

The average professional receives over 100 emails to their business address every single day. That’s a lot of email fighting for your prospects’ time, attention and budget. Studies show that 2/3rds to 3/4ths of those go unopened, meaning that unless your marketing messages manage to stand out in the crowd, they will likely be ignored.

To catch your prospects’ eye, harness the power of your recipient data and use it to create content that is more targeted, relevant and personalized to each individual member of your audience.

How can you deliver personalized content to thousands of individuals? Luckily, email marketing and marketing automation solutions offer many tools to help in this endeavor. One strategy that marketers can implement on their own is creating personas to better understand similarities among their audience members.

The term “persona” may sound unfamiliar, but it’s really just the latest term for what has always been Marketing 101:

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By understanding your audience’s roles and responsibilities, motivations and drivers, you can create more meaningful dialogue with them.

Here are four brief steps to developing effective personas.

Step One: Define Your Audience

Before you can create your unique personas, you must have a solid understanding of your customer and prospect base as a whole. Where do you see natural groupings or segments?

For example, an association has tiers of membership, let’s call them Silver, Gold and Platinum for simplicity’s sake. These 3 membership tiers are logical segments for creating personas. A company that sells products B-to-C, on the other hand, might want to consider demographics like location, age range, income, or gender to start breaking down their audience.

Once you have a firm understanding of who you target and sell to, you can start breaking down that pool into logical segments.

Step Two: Start Filling out Your Profiles

The goal is to create fleshed out profiles of your ideal purchasers or users. For example, for my company, Real Magnet, this may be a young woman, in her 30’s, who is a email marketing manager for an association. Or, it may be a middle-aged man, in his 50’s, who is the Vice President of IT for a software company who is looking to upgrade their email marketing solution.

Now, with these concepts in place, we can start thinking about what kind of content motivates or interests these types of people, and what kind of information they will need in order to influence a purchase.

Start figuring out who your segments are by crunching the data in your database system. Your data will help you identify where your meaningful groupings are and what kind of content motivates them.

Step Three: Document Your Personas

Keeping track of your personas could be as easy as creating a Word document, or an infographic that paints a picture of the types of prospects or customers who comprise that persona.

Don’t forget to ask yourself these two important questions: Is it meaningful? Is is manageable? Once you start getting personas that overlap, or that have too few members, you’ve probably gotten too specific and need to widen your lens a little bit.

Step Four: Put Your Personas to Work

Now that your personas are in place, you can tweak your content and messaging to be more meaningful to these subsets of your audience. How?

As we discussed earlier, Marketing Automation has several tools that can help you create and take advantage of your audience personas.

Here are three examples:

Lead Scoring. Lead scoring automatically follows your email and website visitors’ interactions with your content, giving your keen insight into their interests.

Dynamic content. This sophisticated tool allows you to create one campaign, but with sections of dynamically rendered content to target specific personas.

Segmentation. With a Marketing Automation segmentation campaign you can easily (and automatically) route your content to your personas based on the actions they take with previous content campaigns.

Want to learn more about developing audience personas? Download Real Magnet’s guide: A Marketer’s Guide to Creating Personas.

(Jocelyn Johnson is Director of Marketing, Real Magnet, a Capitol Communicator sponsor.)

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