How to Use Personas for Marketing Automation - dummies

How to Use Personas for Marketing Automation

By Mathew Sweezey

Personas can be a great way to segment your database for effective automated marketing. One person can easily have multiple personas. For example, a lead who is a VP can also be a decision maker and a lead in the early stage of a buying cycle. Every persona changes how you market to a person.

You should start off using buyer-stage personas. So you market to people based on where they are in the buying cycle instead of basing your marketing on their job title. If you want to use them both, run a few campaigns first so that you can see whether the additional work is worth the effort.

How to identify existing personas in your database

You might not have enough information to create personas when you first set up your marketing automation system. Do the following to identify personas in a database with limited behavioral information:

  • If you have a cold database, do some testing: You won’t know the interest-based persona of people in your database if they have no engagement. Set up special campaigns created to test different types of messages and content tailored to people at each stage. This will help you identify people’s personas based on their engagement.

  • Go fishing: Because people typically engage with emails that are relevant to their interests, you can send a series of emails with content targeted to a variety of interests. The people who engage in each type of content can be grouped into personas based on the content.

  • Use what you have: If you have data on the demographic persona of each person, start there. After you get people to engage, you can then switch to interest-based personas.

There are no “silver bullets.” If you think that you can have a 100 percent engagement by using a perfect segmentation and a perfect piece of content, you’ll be disappointed. You will have much better engagement rates, but you can never hit perfect because you cannot control all the other factors surrounding a person’s engagement. You are just stacking the odds in your favor for when all conditions are right.

How to reach out again to old leads

Segmenting your database by persona allows you to reach out with marketing campaigns and identify leads. If you create your segmentations and nurturing programs correctly, reaching out to leads happens consistently without your having to lift a finger, and it helps you to generate more leads from your existing database.

Here is an example of an automation rule for finding the leads and placing them on your nurturing campaign, with an automation rule identifying sales-ready leads and passing them to sales:


Use a single nurturing campaign to stay in front of leads you identify in your database. You can get more granular over time by breaking your campaign into many targeted campaigns for each buyer stage and persona, but a single campaign will suffice as a starting point.