Let’s Get Personal – How Persona-Based Email Marketing Leads To More Opens and Conversions

buyer persona
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Email marketing is one of the most popular forms of communication from businesses to consumers. It’s estimated that 87% of businesses use email marketing over other forms like social media, display, or PPC according to Larry Kim, founder of WordStream. The great news here is that email marketing is clearly a cost-effective way to reach consumers, but what happens when the inbox is overflowing with promotional emails from all of these businesses taking the same strategy?

Consumers tune out the noise and filter the literal thousands of emails to a promotions folder in their inbox, meaning your product or service goes unnoticed – lost in the sea of email campaigns. But how is it that some companies remain so successful in email marketing and how can you compete? The answer is delivering content that stands out above the rest. Content that has value. Content that relates to the consumer. The one sure-fire way you’ll be able to achieve this is by creating a consumer persona that identifies who your consumer truly is. So let’s dive into why personas are quintessential to email marketing and how you can create them yourself!

What Is A Persona?

A persona is essentially a fictitious person meant to represent a segment of customers that takes all of the information compiled from a target market for your product or service and brings that to life. Beyond the target market demographics, a persona provides more specific information to help identify who your consumer really is and what their needs are.

Target Market vs. Persona

From your target market, you should be able to create multiple segments with one persona to represent each. The more specific you can get in these segmented personas, the easier it will be to write to their needs, and the more successful you’ll be able to create relevant, valuable content that will capture their attention. Most importantly, personas allow you to keep customers engaged, acquire new customers, and improve conversion rates. One study by MarketingSherpa found that implementing a persona strategy to email campaigns can result in a 7% conversion rate. That’s huge!

Let’s Get Started – Implementing Personas

So now that we have a solid understanding of what a persona is and why it matters in the success of email marketing, let’s dive into how we can create and implement them for your product or service to get your emails noticed and most importantly – convert customers.

  1. Do Your Research: Before you even begin creating your beautiful email template or start writing copy, do the research. Ensure you have enough quality information to create a few effective personas. You want to know what goals your customers have, what motivates and frustrates them. You also want to identify the tone of voice that resonates with your personas before you get to writing.
  2. Strategic Segmentation: Personas give you the opportunity to personalize your messaging and value proposition to your consumer, but that won’t work if you haven’t segmented your database. The further you can segment your list, the more detailed and relevant you can be in your emails. This is how you grab the attention and engagement you’re looking for in the swamped inbox.
  3. Become A Copy Master: Compelling and relatable copy is key to a successful email marketing campaign and getting more opens. By researching your personas and segmenting your database, you should be able to write to the individual’s needs and provide an intriguing solution. If you’re having trouble transitioning from a copy apprentice to a copy master, utilize writing tools like Grammarly, StateOfWriting, or MyWritingWay to leverage better copywriting skills.
  4. Emphasize The Action in Your CTA: By now as a marketer, you’ve probably had the importance of the CTA drilled into your head. But are they relaying your message effectively and more specifically, are they compelling your personas to take action? Ask yourself – what does your persona want and how can you hook them? Get specific and don’t leave your consumer wondering what to make of the information provided in your email. Creating personas will allow you to identify the best call to action for that segment – i.e. a tech-savvy millennial may not resonate with a “Call Now” CTA, but rather a “Schedule Online” CTA.

Now that you’ve dialed in your personas and know who you’re trying to reach, the messaging should become clear for how you’ll deliver the solution to their needs. Don’t be afraid to get specific. In fact, the more specific you get, the easier it will be to implement the steps of an effective email marketing campaign, stand out in the inbox, and increase conversions!

“5 Ways to Create Super-Effective Emails with Buyer Personas.” WordStream, 13 Dec. 2018, www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/01/31/email-marketing-with-buyer-personas.

Carter, Grace. “5 Ways to Align Marketing Campaign to Your Personas.” UXPressia Blog, 14 Mar. 2019, uxpressia.com/blog/5-ways-align-marketing-campaign-personas.

“Create a Website.” Quicksprout, 18 Apr. 2019, www.quicksprout.com/customer-persona/.

Kim, Larry. “Video: The New Way of Email Marketing.” Stukent, www.stukent.com/expert-sessions/the-new-way-of-email-marketing/.

Larson, Jeff, and Stuart Draper. Digital Marketing Essentials. Mimic Pro Bundle.

Lee, Kevan. “The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Marketing Personas: Buffer.” Buffer Marketing Library, Buffer Social Blog, 30 Nov. 2018, buffer.com/library/marketing-personas-beginners-guide.

The Data Dilemma: How To Reach Consumers and Gain Their Trust in Online Advertising

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Business Ethics has become an oxymoron. We can look back at companies like Enron and scrutinize their shady accounting practices that ultimately left thousands of people unemployed in its collapse as a case study of business ethics. Surely we can grow and learn from ethical scandals, and develop checks and balances to prevent future corruption and harm, right? Perhaps so, but in the fast pace boom of tech companies, data collection, and digital advertising, we’re seeing a new set of complex ethical dilemmas surface at an unprecedented pace. And more are yet to be uncovered. It’s difficult to keep up with and truly understand the implications of something that is constantly developing and changing every day, and unfortunately companies like Facebook took advantage of that. Now that we’ve had a glimpse behind the curtain after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and we’re working towards privacy protection, it’s time to assess if this new(ish) method of online advertising is truly dangerous for society.

On a scale of one to five, five being high “2016 rigged election” threat, I would rank our current position at a 3.5. Frankly, there is still too much uncertainty and lack of transparency for me to confidently say that these companies will operate more ethically after the Cambridge scandal. Post-Cambridge, rather than seeing companies like Facebook be more transparent about how their data collection and use their algorithms, the fear is that it could mean less transparency in policy shifts, particularly for marketers interested in using Facebook as an ad network to reach consumers. Why? Simply because they can and not enough people outside of the tech bubble truly understand how to operate in the hot commodity of data. The likely argument is that transparency puts intellectual property at risk, but when you’re facing as much mistrust as these leaders are, there must be checks and balances to regain consumer trust.

However, in all of this negativity, I am an opportunist and believe that there are still methods to conduct ethical online marketing to reach your consumer and it’s up to the rest of us to speak louder and influence through ethical marketing behaviors. So, how do we find the fine line between awareness and annoyance? How do we get in front of target consumers most likely to buy, without overstepping and giving off a creepy impression of always watching?

Do Your Research

One of the cornerstones of any successful marketing campaign is understanding the segment or target audience of your product or service. Get to know your audience and their shopping behaviors. This will allow you to be present in the right time while not overstepping and becoming the creepy omnipresent online marketing we’ve seen lately.


There’s always time to course-correct, receive feedback, and ensure the data gathered for targeted advertising isn’t breaching consumer privacy as you try to reach your target audience. Never work in auto-pilot mode. Assess your strategies at every step of your campaign and implement consumer protection policies.

Be Transparent

A great way to make sure you’re keeping in check and self-regulating is by being transparent with the consumer and how you’re intending to protect them. Share privacy policies and let the consumer decide how and when they want to share info with you and how you get your data.

Be Authentic

If you truly believe in your product or service, do your market research, and develop a marketing communications plan, you don’t have to use deceptive or manipulating language to sway consumers. Tap into your consumer base with testimonials and build trust without cutting corners or spreading misinformation.

Tell the Brand Story

Everyone has a story to tell, what is yours? Tying into transparency and authenticity, streamline those characteristics into a killer story about the brand that is consistent across all online ad channels for recognition.

Stay Proactive

Digital advertising and pretty much anything in the online universe is moving faster than any of us can keep up with right now. Rules and regulations are constantly shifting, and so are the perceptions of privacy as a culture. We’re building this plane as we’re taking flight, so stay on top of how these shifts affect your business.

Understand Third Parties

Even if you’re proud to say your business isn’t actively participating in big data collecting and sales, using third party sites still runs the risk of them collecting data unbeknownst to you. Know who you’re working with and research software that helps prevent this.

Don’t Cut Corners & Focus on Your End Goal

Tying into authenticity and telling your story, there are many opportunities in online advertising to “cheat the system” so to speak. Some have established consequences like “keyword stuffing” in search engine optimization, others are only in the process of being established. If you build your business on sup par or murky standards, it will inevitably catch up to you as we’ve seen with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Is that how you want to showcase your hard work in the end?

Jumpsix. “Ethical Issues in Digital Marketing.” JumpSIX Marketing, 29 July 2019, jumpsixmarketing.com/ethical-digital-marketing-part-1-issues/.

Samuel, Alexandra. “The Shady Data-Gathering Tactics Used by Cambridge Analytica Were an Open Secret to Online Marketers. I Know, Because I Was One.” The Verge, The Verge, 25 Mar. 2018, www.theverge.com/2018/3/25/17161726/facebook-cambridge-analytica-data-online-marketers.

Shewan, Dan. “Ethical Marketing: 5 Examples of Companies with a Conscience.” WordStream, 28 Nov. 2018, www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/09/20/ethical-marketing.

Steimer, Sarah. “The Murky Ethics of Data Gathering in a Post-Cambridge Analytica World.” American Marketing Association, 5 Jan. 2018, www.ama.org/marketing-news/the-murky-ethics-of-data-gathering-in-a-post-cambridge-analytica-world/.