How to Use Email Marketing to Develop Customer Personas

Business owners and marketers use a wide range of tactics to grow their lead lists and secure more sales. Despite the different strategies, there’s one that runs parallel through every company you can possibly imagine.

They spend time learning about their target audience.

Customers are the driving force behind every company. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, you’re going to have a hard time growing. Luckily, it’s easier than ever before to get to know potential customers through buyer personas.

What are Buyer Personas?

Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your target audience. They are, in essence, an information sheet that shows the demographics, interests, and habits of visitors. If used effectively, they can help you create content, offers, and products.

For example, an online pet store would have different personas depending on the type of animals the customer owns. There would be a persona sheet for people that own reptiles, birds, cats, and more.

This information is used to personalize experiences for each user both on and off-site. When you talk about personalization and customer personas, you have to talk about email marketing.

Email is one of the best ways to build rapport with your customers. On average, email campaigns have a return on investment of 4,440%, making this strategy essential for businesses of all sizes. Marketing teams quickly discovered that they can use email to learn more about their customers.

Today, our goal is to show you several ways you can develop accurate customer personas using your email marketing campaign. We will start from the point a customer decides to sign up and make our way to some strategies you can use to fine-tune your personas over time.

Allow Self-Segmenting on Signup Forms

Subscribers usually fill out a form to join an email list. Instead of simply asking for a name and email address, you can add optional questions that allow users to self-segment.

When we say self-segment, we mean they can tell you what kind of content they want to receive, which you can use for building personas. Let’s go back to the pet store example we mentioned earlier.

If the pet shop team wanted to develop their customer personas, they could ask on the signup form what kind of animals the subscriber owns. If a user says they own cats, the marketing team can take their future actions and behavior and apply it as a data set towards their cat owner persona sheet.

Believe it or not, in the United States, 90.1% of people 15 years old and up use email. This statistic shows that there is a vast pool of email users. If you want to develop actionable customer personas, you should know a little bit about your customers from the moment they sign up.

You can see more targeted results by creating custom forms for specific landing pages and blog posts. So, the pet company might create a unique signup form for their cat-themed blog posts. If a user signs up through one of these forms, they have effectively self-segmented.

Share and Test Relevant Content

Once a visitor becomes a subscriber, it’s your job to deliver on your value proposition. Because you added optional questions to your subscription form, it’s easier to start sharing relevant content and offers.

A whopping 70% of consumers prefer to get to know businesses through their content. If your goal is to boost engagement and conversions, consider sending blog posts and downloadable content to users that connect to their preferences.

If you include optional questions on your form, you’ll have an easier time determining which type of content and offers you should send to each user. For example, if someone subscribes from one of your product pages, sending a 25% discount for that item immediately after the signup could result in an increased open and conversion rate.

You can take the results of your campaign and create an A/B test. An A/B test is an experiment where a marketing team will take a campaign and make a slight change to the copy, images, and offers, just to name a few things. Next, the offer variants are split up and sent out to the same segment.

The goal is to find which version works best at getting people to open their email and engage with your brand. Let’s say you have two identical offers, but decide to change the subject line for an A/B test. If your new subject line gets more conversions, ask yourself why this change occurred.

In many cases, these changes are identifiers that you can use to strengthen your buyer personas. Look for opportunities to resolve pain points and help users reach their goals through your emails. As you start to see positive results, you’ll have the chance to reinforce your personas with concrete customer data.

Ask for Engagement

Consumers are not likely to tell you what they need from your company unless you ask. You may get some cues from their signup form and on-site behavior, but the best way to truly understand your audience is to ask them how you can help.

The key to getting people to engage with your feedback-centric emails is to focus on your value proposition and your audience’s needs. Instead of asking if users like the content you’re sending out, ask what kind of articles they would like to see in the future.

This question encourages the subscriber to think about their pain points and how your product helps them reach their goals. They may mention industry-specific issues that you haven’t covered on your company blog during this line of thinking.

You can use this information to develop your buyer personas and content marketing strategy. For instance, if you have a website that offers gardening products and advice, you may want to ask subscribers what kind of supplies they need that are not available on your website. It’s also important to find out what kind of problems these people are having on their gardening journey.

When you ask targeted questions, you have a much better chance at getting actionable feedback and enhancing audience personas. We suggest sending out at around one feedback email per quarter. Keep it short and sweet, and you can expect stronger results.

Review Your Email Analytics

Finally, we want to explain how reviewing your email analytics during or after a campaign can help you understand your subscribers. There are several numbers you should explore when digging through your email marketing metrics.

Key performance indicators include:

  • Open rate
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Deliverability

These four figures can provide a wealth of information about your campaigns’ effectiveness, which you can use to improve your buyer personas. Let’s say you start a campaign where you want to reach a specific segment of your audience.

By the end of your campaign, you see that your click-through rate is down 25%, and unsubscribers are up 40%. This situation is a clear sign that the campaign didn’t resonate with your audience. Take this information back to your persona sheets and make adjustments.

Factors like deliverability are essential too. You may be surprised to learn that 21% of emails don’t make it to the intended subscriber. It could get kicked back to the sender (you) or go to the recipient’s spam folder. Either way, consumers are far less likely to engage with emails that go to spam, and there’s a 100% chance they won’t read your message if they don’t receive it.

If you don’t mind your deliverability rate, you may experience skewed results, which can corrupt your buyer persona data. But if you keep all of these factors in mind, you’ll begin to fine-tune your email marketing campaigns based on how subscribers engage with your emails.

Back to You

Developing buyer personas isn’t something that happens overnight. You should spend plenty of time engaging with your audience from the moment they land on your website. Use these opportunities to learn about your visitors and design email marketing campaigns that put your value proposition on display and keep customers interested in your brand.

Your persona sheets will likely change drastically year over year. There’s nothing wrong with these changes as long as you’re continuously seeing positive feedback and engagement and learning about your subscribers.

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Author: Syed Balkhi

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