Data-Driven Personas: Fuel Your Digital Marketing Strategy with Data

Data-Driven Personas: Fuel Your Digital Marketing Strategy with Data

Do you really know your audience?

Personalization. Customer Experience. Omni-channel. It’s easy to get lost in marketing lingo and buzzwords. Regardless of how sophisticated and technical digital marketing can seem, the easiest strategy to adopt is to provide engaging content that has a clear understanding of who they are and what makes them different. This allows you to engage based on their needs, concerns and limitations. Designing and developing content around a persona is a great way to produce creative that resonates with your target audience, whether they are prospective students, donors, parents, influencers or partners.

Here at Converge, we use a quantitative and qualitative approach to better understand your target audiences and develop the right messaging to address their main questions and concerns. Starting with a thorough understanding of your audience segments allows you to accurately select channels, ad formats, creative, and points of differentiation to support your marketing campaigns.

We recognize that you most likely have a limited budget and are strapped for resources, so allocating funds for audience research can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve created an innovative, cost-effective approach to developing comprehensive profiles of your target audiences to improve your enrollment marketing outcomes: meet the Data-Driven Persona.

What is a Persona?

The typical persona is a collection of largely anecdotal qualitative characteristics and traits, and is collected through discussions with faculty, or in interviews with current and former students. While they offer a good platform to develop creative and messaging, they lack the quantitative elements that enables an enhanced level of insight into the distinctions across various prospective audiences. It would also be inefficient and difficult to base results on interviews and surveys alone due to the sheer amount of interview that would need to be completed.

Data-Driven Personas for Higher Education

The basis of the Data-Driven Persona, and one of the components that sets it apart from other personas, is that we start with the institution’s own data. This allows us to learn from what has already occurred and identify differentiators between the general applicant pool, applicants who were selected and enrolled, and applicants who were selected and declined.

We then create distinct groups based on a number of demographic and geographic attributes. These distinct groupings of people similar characteristics (“clusters”) are the basis of our persona. Through the analysis of the defining and differentiating attributes, we begin to develop an understanding of the people in those groups, and ultimately, a profile of who they are, their needs, concerns, and requests.

The data that separates the groups allows us to see the distinction and appreciate the nuances between the groups. For example, “career advancement” for one group (Next Level Natalie) may mean getting the key business skills for promotion from analyst to manager, and for another (Established Anthony), it may be a worldly business perspective to reinvigorate a plateauing career.

We enhance and validate the profile with surveys and interviews to develop an incredibly rich understanding of what makes each audience segment special.. By aligning our your numerous value propositions to the specific concerns and needs of each cluster in our messaging, we able to better engage with each audience group. The potential to engage with your audience is much higher when the message is more relevant to them and addresses their objectives and obstacles.

For Next Level Natalie, the messaging may focus more on ROI, and how much time it will take to recoup tuition costs. The message to Establish Anthony may be more around the immediate time commitment of the program and balancing the work-home priorities with degree completion.. Developing differentiated communications and messaging for each of these groups will greatly enhance their engagement as it much more targeted and relevant. These types of details and nuances can be gained from building data-driven personas.

After developing the data-driven personas, you’re probably wondering how and where to apply this new insight and understanding of your audience and how it impacts your digital marketing strategy. Deciding which platform to engage with the audience groups, and the timing of the engagements, is the next step. In the next blog, we will discuss the platforms selected and what goes into those decisions.

Take Your Digital Strategy to the Next Level with Data

There is an abundance of available data and information that you can use to inform your marketing strategy. Data-Driven Personas make use of your most important available data sets to provide a deeper understanding of your target audiences and, ultimately, inform your approach to reaching these users across the most relevant marketing channels.

Just beginning your journey with data-driven digital marketing? We recently wrote a piece on how colleges and universities can leverage third-party data in program marketing to spark ideas.

Have your data sets organized? Interested in leveraging them to build your own Data-Driven Personas? Reach out and let us know. We would welcome a discussion around your current approach to personas and digital marketing, and how we can help take your efforts to the next level.

About the Author

GiaPhu reads data like a book, with an eye for detail and an understanding of what it really means. As the Data Analytics Director, he helps clients optimize yield on their marketing spend and harness data to create solutions. A New York native with a decorated history in consulting, technology, data analytics and more, GiaPhu combines his expertise with his confident, can-do attitude to lead the analytics charge alongside new and next innovation at Converge.

GiaPhu Dao
GiaPhu Dao
August 31, 2018