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How to use buyer personas to enhance email marketing campaigns

Looking to take your email marketing to the next level? Learn how to use personas to create highly targeted and effective email campaigns that resonate with your customers.
16 Min Read    |   April 16, 2024

Table Of Contents

    Many people have expected emails to go out of use with the rise of instant messaging platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Slack. Contrary to this opinion, there are still about 4 billion daily email users in the world.

    And this number is expected to reach 4.6 billion by 2025.

    This just proves that emails are still one of the most effective channels of communication.

    Over the years, email marketers have used emails to send product advertisements, newsletters, and promotions in a bid to boost sales, generate leads, and connect with customers. However, with the rise in competition and overflowing inboxes, it's getting harder to create campaigns that speak directly to your audience's needs and interests.

    You can employ buyer personas to use your customer data and enhance your email marketing campaigns with highly targeted messages.

    Personas are an extremely valuable tool used in marketing that can also be leveraged for email marketing to get valuable insights into your customers. It will help you identify the ideal audience for your email marketing campaigns and deliver the content that is most useful and relevant for them.

    Why do you need buyer personas for email marketing?

    A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customers. You can use various online tools and services to create personas for your business.

    Personas have been widely used by marketers and software designers to understand their target audience, increase customer base, and give customers a great consumer experience.

    When it comes to email marketing, email marketing personas can help you identify your target audience, develop tailored email content, and execute effective email campaigns. They can help inform every aspect of email marketing strategy, including design, copy writing, choice of content and segmentation.

    In a nutshell, they have the ability to convert those who casually signed up for those newsletters into paying customers.

    But then again, statistics speak louder than words in marketing.

    Take a look at some of these stats about email marketing and personalization that we have compiled for you:

    • More than 347 billion emails are sent and received globally each day.
    • Litmus reports that 60% of e-commerce, retail, and consumer goods and services companies are personalizing emails based on past purchases, as compared to 38% in 2019.
    • Similarly, personalizing your emails using personas increases click-through rate (CTR) by 14% and conversion rates by 10%.
    • 75% of marketing professionals have achieved increased client engagement with personalized emails.
    • According to a study by Content Marketing Institute, 81% of B2B marketers use email newsletters as their preferred form of content marketing.

    It is obvious that personas and the personalization that comes along with it is crucial for the growth of your business and the success of your email marketing strategies.

    Data sources for creating personas

    Now that you have understood the value of using buyer personas in your email campaigns, it is time to create them.

    But wait.

    Before you start this process (of course way more tedious if you do it manually), you need to identify your data sources. You must also collect the information that you will be using to develop personas for your email marketing.

    Data sources for creating personas

    There are two types of data sources you can use:

    • Demographic data
    • Psychographic data

    Both the data sources hold different weightage in terms of B2C and B2B businesses and clients. However, gather all the information you can about your customers.

    Every bit of information is important when it comes to understanding your audience and creating buyer personas for email.

    1. Demographic data

    As the title suggests, basic demographic data includes the age, gender, location, income, employment status, marital status, and other details about your existing customer base.

    The 21st century is literally the age of data. You can find or infer simple customer details like the ones mentioned above, sometimes in aggregate form, quite easily. This data is readily available and often does not require physical interaction with your clients.

    Google Analytics, CRM data, and Customer support data are some of the resources you can use to get the demographic details of your customers.

    a. Google Analytics

    Numero uno, of course, is Google Analytics.

    Google Analytics is your best bet for finding key demographic information about your website visitors and app users.

    With the introduction of GA4 (yay or nay?), you will get a summary about your target audience.

    Along with events. Lots of events.

    Use Google Analytics to explore your best performing age group, gender, location, language, as well as the technology they use. The tech bit will help you optimize your emails for different device types.

    You can also use filters to segment your audience according to your needs. It's not set in stone that you have to create just one buyer persona for all your email marketing activities.

    Segment your customer data and use it to create various hyper-focused customer personas.

    b. Customer Relationship Management

    A customer relationship management (CRM) database will give you in-depth knowledge about your customers.

    Suffice to say, the data provided will be much more advanced, granular and detailed than Google Analytics.

    A CRM software usually collects and stores information about your customers. It gives you much more than your normal customer demographics data like name, age, and gender. You will have access to email addresses, telephone numbers, social profiles, order history, contact history, average order value, and lead scoring. You can also discover their personality traits and lifestyle preferences.

    Again, a lot of information but it is only beneficial if collected and used wisely.

    c. Customer support

    It won't be wrong to say that your customer service department knows way more about your customers than any other department in the company.

    Rightly so, since they have to deal with numerous customers, complaints, queries, and doubts about your company's products and services. Not only on email, but on social media platforms, chat, and phones.

    Constantly.

    All worth it if it successfully solves their problems, right?

    That said, customer support has a lot of data about your buyers - both past and present. You can get records about past surveys, complaints, and services provided. It is easy to gather details like name, number, email address, company address, order histories, etc.

    Use this information to find repetitive behavioral patterns in your buyers. Furthermore, you can directly interview members of your customer support team to identify changes in buyer behavior.

    All the data that you have acquired from Google Analytics, CRM, and customer support can be used to build personas for email marketing.

    Start with what you have, study customer changes and trends, and further enhance and create email campaigns that convert.

    2. Psychographic data

    Psychographic data answers the why and how questions about your customers.

    It will help you figure out your customer's attitudes, preferences, personality, lifestyle, values, beliefs, interests, and social inclinations.

    It goes unsaid that this information used along with customer demographics can be crucial to the success of your email marketing campaigns.

    Sometimes, psychographic information has been proven to be a bigger game changer.

    It has helped many businesses develop a stronger bond with their customers and can help you do the same.

    Email responses, Reddit, and Quora are some of the sources you can use to collect the psychographic details of your customers.

    a. Email replies

    Out of the billions of emails that are sent out on a daily basis, a significantly lower proportion get responded to.

    Be as it may, email responses from customers help you unearth a mine of personal information. Hence, it is important to make sure that your subscribers get your emails and have an email address that they can reach out to.

    This means that you need to cut back on those no-reply emails. No-reply emails inhibit the two way communication that you need to build with your subscribers and decrease the click-through rate of your emails.

    You should always do the best you can to increase the chances of your emails being received.

    And answered.

    Include follow-up emails, questions, feedback, and surveys to nudge your subscribers into action.

    b. Reddit

    Reddit's Facebook page reads "from pets to parenting, there's a community for everybody on Reddit." Which probably means that there's probably a community for people interested and associated with your products and services somewhere.

    It's a network of more than 100,000 communities, so why not?

    You can definitely find great customer insights, content, stories, and discussions about the trending topics in your industry.

    By making a list of the keywords and topics relevant to your business and audience, you can discover customer psychographics like goals, challenges, and pain points on different subreddits.

    Here's an example.

    Imagine that there is a popular Reddit forum r/easyparenting, which gives easy parenting solutions to new parents. It can be about baby formula, clothes, toys, etc. An online fashion brand for toddlers can leverage these topics to build an impressive content marketing strategy.

    They can combine this information with Google Analytics data and create personalized email content for a number of customer segments.

    c. Quora

    Approximately 47 thousand questions are asked on Quora each day.

    Each question almost always has multiple answers.

    People ask questions that concern them and get a gazillion solutions for free. You see how this can be capitalized to understand what goes on in your customers' minds.

    Just like Reddit, you can use Quora to connect with your buyers and potential customers online. By typing in the keywords and topics about your industry, products, and services, you can further discover what is going on in the buyers' community.

    You can combine and use demographic and psychographic data simultaneously to build buyer personas. The more information you have about your customers, the better it will be for your email marketing efforts.

    Segmenting personas for email marketing - business type and industry considerations

    Take a breather and think before you start creating personas for your business. As an email marketer, you cannot create the same personas for different business types and industries.

    Why?

    Because the products/services offered are different, and the customers or people that they cater to are different. However, no matter the business type or industry, personas are bound to be useful in your email marketing campaigns.

    Segmenting personas for email marketing

    Here are a few tips you can use when creating and implementing persona driven email marketing campaigns for each industry:

    Business-to-consumer (B2C) businesses:

    As a B2C business, you generally cater to different audiences. Thus, you will need to develop personas across multiple segments for truly effective marketing.

    For example, a sports brand like Nike has different departments like the men's department, women's department, and children's department. So each department would have different personas depending on who and what they are marketing.

    Business-to-business (B2B) businesses:

    A B2B business caters to other businesses. They are widely different from B2C businesses. Hence, the personas created for each will be different as well.

    You will have to create specific personas for the different people in a company. There will be personas for the people in-charge of researching your products, those that use it, those that communicate with the sales people, and above all those who have the final say over the purchase decision.

    Non-profit organizations:

    Non-profit organizations mainly raise capital and boost donations for different social causes. It's not a business in any ordinary sense, but can definitely be equated to one.

    The organization calling out for donations can be equated to the seller while the donors can be equated to the buyers. Personas can be created for these buyers to narrow down on those most likely to donate to your organization.

    Educational institutions:

    You can apply the same logic here that you applied to non-profit organizations.

    Schools, colleges, coaching centers, or any other type of educational institutions that impart knowledge can use personas. You can use it to find potential candidates that you want to hire as teachers and instructors as well as attract students who would be an ideal fit for your institution.

    Brick-and-mortar stores:

    Brick-and-mortar stores refers to retail stores that customers can visit in person, as compared to online stores.

    In this case, you will probably know your customers personally as opposed to online businesses where you don't know who you're selling to. This makes it easier to get psychographic data. However, it will be hard to obtain their email address and contact information unless you explicitly ask for it.

    How to create personas for email marketing campaigns

    Once you are done collecting data, it is time to move on to the actual process of creating personas for email marketing.

    The amount of data collected is bound to be a little scary.

    Don't worry. Just follow these steps to create high-quality personas that can be used to build your email campaigns.

    How to create personas for email marketing campaigns

    Step 1. Identify your target audience

    Before you begin creating personas for emails, you need to identify the customer segments you want to focus on. Again, you can create different personas to meet different objectives.

    To begin with, it's advisable to take a look at your demographic data (Google Analytics, CRM, and customer support data). This will give you a good starting point, wherein you can find similarities and differences in your customers.

    Some of the metrics that you can focus on can be:

    • Age: People in marketing usually segment their audience based on the generation or year in which they were born. For example, into Millennials and Gen Z. You can do the same in email marketing since the email habits of different generations will vary. Some might use emails more than others while some might not use them at all.
    • Gender: According to Statista, more women than men use emails as a form of online communication. Similarly, women are more likely to respond to your emails than men. So it makes sense to take these gender habits and differences into consideration.
    • Location: Customers from different locations will interact with your products/services differently. If you have an online business, Google Analytics can give you insights about where some of your most prominent users come from. You will also get an idea about the devices and platforms they have used to reach you.
    • Employment and marital status: The employment and marital status of your customers has a big impact on their shopping habits. Singles with high income might be free in their spendings but the same individuals when married and with two children might not.

    Step 2. Discover customer motivations

    If you want to sell a product and increase the number of your customers, you need to know what drives them to do what they do. Furthermore, understanding the motivations of your target audience will allow you to create effective personas.

    After segmenting your audience based on demographic factors, move on to the psychographic information you have gathered. Try to understand why, how, and when people interact with your business.

    To do this, ask yourself and the people around you these questions:

    • How did people find out about our business?
    • Why did they choose to buy our products/services?
    • When did they buy our products/services?
    • Did they already know about our company?
    • Do they have a purchase history?
    • How did our products/services help them?

    It is a great practice to include these questions and their answers in the buyer persona creation process. Although time consuming, it is well worth the trouble.

    Step 3. Learn about the job customers are trying to get done

    In line with step 2, having an idea about the job or function that your customers are trying to get done while using your product or service is also important.

    Nobody will buy things just because.

    Even Slime (which has taken over YouTube and has become a bona fide cultural phenomenon) has a function. It's fun to watch and a great stress reliever.

    However, in some cases the reasons might not be so apparent.

    In order to make sure that you hit the bull's eye, so to say, with your personas, it's mandatory that you know why consumers use your products and services. You can do the following to get this information:

    • Use Quora and Reddit to find product reviews, testimonials, and comments from your customers.
    • Try to get insights into why customers prefer your competitors over you.
    • Send follow-up emails and customer satisfaction surveys to buyers after product purchase.
    • Encourage two way communication between your company and buyers on social media.

    The data thus collected will enable you to further refine your persona and email marketing tactics. You can also share this information with the product development team.

    Step 4. Monitor customer pains and challenge

    The other side to finding out why customers buy your products is finding out why they don't buy your products.

    This will involve identifying and constantly monitoring their pains and challenges. To begin with, you need to jot down the problems and issues they have with your products and services.

    • Are they satisfied with what your business promises and delivers?
    • Are they unhappy with your product or do they hate the customer service that comes later?
    • Why do customers return your products?
    • Do they have a problem with your shipping and delivery rates?
    • Do they like the value your solution delivers in their life?

    Keeping track of these questions will further strengthen your personas for email marketing. You can capitalize on these points in your emails to hit them right where it hurts.

    Step 5. Build personas for your emails campaigns

    This will be the last step.

    Put together all the information that you have gathered and thoroughly examine it. Analyze it with your email marketing team and identify possible trends, behaviors, and patterns. You can put together your own personas or use various tools and templates like the one shown below.

    Persona template for email marketing

    And don't forget to give your personas names and valid descriptions so that they feel like real people.

    Better yet, just use Delve AI's persona creation platform to generate high-quality personas automatically (they come with names, descriptions, and all major attributes that you could ask for). With automatic persona generation platforms like Delve AI, you will often get 3-6 personas automatically.

    Which is great! You will get just those many more marketing ideas. Personas thus created will help you develop highly targeted email marketing campaigns that drives traffic and conversions.

    Uses of personas in email marketing

    There are many effective ways to use buyer personas in email marketing. Once you have created them, it is time to employ them and create email campaigns that drive traffic and conversions.

    Uses of personas for email marketing

    1. Create nurture tracks for each persona

    Personas come in handy when you want to create nurture tracks and segment your subscribers' list.

    Email nurture tracks are used in marketing to send out a series of emails based on your subscribers' habits and behaviors. The targeted email content helps guide the customers through the buying process.

    Start by segmenting your subscribers into different groups that represent different personas. Each group can be created to meet different marketing objectives. You can use customer journeys to nurture your leads and guide them in the right direction at the right time.

    2. Personalize your emails

    Millennials are frustrated with brands that send irrelevant emails. Hence, you must personalize your emails so that they don't end up in the spam folder and get ignored.

    You can personalize your emails and develop an email strategy around the personas you have created. Modify your emails accordingly and deliver personalized email content to each audience segment. Restructure every element of your email strategy such as the email design, copywriting, content, subject line, newsletter, email alerts, delivery time, and call to action according to persona goals, motivations, problems, and challenges.

    Take for example, a beauty brand that caters to women both young and old. The brand will obviously have personas belonging to different age groups.

    If they are targeting the persona of a working woman, they might have to create simple emails and deliver them at a time when they're free. However, if they are targeting teenagers, they will have to create something much more attractive.

    3. Deliver something new

    Out of all the emails you get from different companies, only those that have unique or out of the box subject lines and content get opened. Hence, the simplest way to get noticed in your subscribers' inbox is to be, well, weird.

    Along with distinctive and relevant.

    Take for instance, Andre Chaperon. He is an email marketer who writes email chains. Or, as he calls it, the "soap opera sequence." It's a series of "story-based" emails used to connect with prospects and communicate how one's ideas and products will add value in the life of said prospects.

    He always makes a point to include lengthy, open-ended questions that you are too flabbergasted to respond to.

    Many marketers are giving their own twist to email marketing. Everyone is doing something new. This makes it difficult to get noticed above your competitors. However, personas can be a valuable tool for the email team and allow you to develop emails extremely relevant to each subscriber.

    You won't be boring your audience with the same tricks and tactics while generating new leads.

    4. Use the lingo of your personas

    If you want to target the Chinese audience with your emails, you will have to reach out to them in Chinese. If it is the French market, you will have to use French. Similarly, if you want your content to resonate with teenagers, you will need to know modern slang.

    Point is, if you really want to connect with somebody, you must speak to them in the language that they use. This does not mean that your emails should not reflect your brand's voice. They must. Personas will help you find the right balance for your target group, right down to the email PS and subject line.

    5. Select relevant images

    Sometimes, images speak louder than words. Also, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.

    So it makes sense to incorporate graphics into your emails. However, adding attractive images haphazardly won't boost your conversion rates. The images you decide to include in your emails must serve a purpose and support the narrative of your content.

    Personas will help you select relevant images and graphics for your email campaigns. They will give you an idea about the type of images your customers will respond to as well as the type they will ignore.

    Using personas for B2C email marketing

    The most important aspect that should be looked into with personas for B2C businesses or B2C personas, are their values and goals. The customers' family and employment status might also reveal a lot about their way of life.

    B2C personas have different objectives and goals in life. As email marketers, you must focus on what drives them and take advantage of this information to group the people in your email list.

    You can also find ways to create effective marketing tactics to meet different buyer needs according to their buyer journey. If you use the data, your emails will be much more effective, relevant, and targeted.

    Here are some ways in which you can automate nurture tracks for personas in the ecommerce industry:

    • Create personalized emails for abandoned carts based on product category
    • Send product specific purchase confirmation emails with a "customers also bought..." link
    • Greetings email by product category and customer name

    Don't simply batch and blast emails to a general mailing list. Personalize.

    Using personas for B2B email marketing

    The B2B buyer process is significantly different from the B2C one. As discussed, it involves different people in each stage of the decision-making process. This is because your product or service will go through a series of critical assessments and endorsements across an organization.

    Accordingly, you will have to create multiple buyer personas for the different people in the organization.

    You should keep in mind the industry, job title, functions, and assets (white papers, infographics, pdfs) whenever you set up automated nurture tracks for B2B personas. Emails tailored in such a manner should address their goals, issues, and needs.

    When it comes to assets delivered via emails, you should try and provide customer case studies and testimonials to the decision making personas. Along with assets, humanize your emails by using subscribers' names and designations. This will build their trust in you as well your company.

    Conclusion:

    Conceptualizing and implementing a successful email campaign is tough work. However, incorporating personas in your email marketing campaigns can generate leads and drive sales for your company. Not only this, they are one of the best methods of using customer information in a manner that helps you create a well-defined email strategy.

    Bottom line is: you need personas in marketing, including email. Successfully segment the people on your email list into different groups based on your business goals and select the strategy you want to employ for each persona. This will drive traffic and growth besides helping you understand your target audience's purchasing habits.

    Whether you create content in the form of surveys, newsletters, or promotional emails, everything is bound to be successful!

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    What is an email marketing persona?

    An email marketing persona represents a specific section of your email marketing audience, or your subscribers. They can help you develop personalized email content (design, image, copy) and execute effective email marketing campaigns.

    How do I create personas for email marketing?

    These are five simple steps you can follow to create personas for email marketing:

    Step 1. Identify your target audience

    Step 2. Discover customer motivations

    Step 3. Learn about the job customers are trying to get done

    Step 4. Monitor customer pains and challenge

    Step 5. Build personas for your emails campaigns

    How to use personas in email marketing?

    You can use personas in email marketing to:

    • Create nurture tracks for each persona
    • Personalize your email subject lines, content, and CTA
    • Develop out of the box email marketing ideas
    • Use the language of your personas
    • Select relevant, attractive, and impactful images
    Create personas automatically from your Google Analytics data
    Gain a deeper understanding of your digital customers

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