How Personas Can Boost Your Marketing Efforts

With budgets tight, selling association products and services can be a tough. Using personas to identify members and prospects and then leading them to services that really meet their needs can boost the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

With the pandemic touching every part of the economy, it’s crucial that marketing tactics target the right prospects and make them realize that an association’s products meet their needs. Creating the right personas and using the right lead generation can help associations achieve this, said Aimee Pagano, senior digital marketing advisor at HighRoad Solutions.

“It all starts with the persona,” Pagano said.

The persona can be fictitious—based on what you believe are the qualities of your ideal customer—or based on the characteristics of current members. “You are building a persona, whether that is a fictitious persona, or if it is really categorizing members into member segments,” Pagano said. “After that, every piece of information is going to further round out that persona.”

A good marketing automation system—or data intake process coupled with manual campaigns—can help associations fill out their persona details. The key is to understand what each persona craves and steer them toward learning, events, research, and other products that are a good fit. While associations can align current member data to personas, they can also find nonmember prospects by using small bits of free content.

“Lead generation is gating content behind a form. We call that a lead magnet,” Pagano said. She provided the example of a fictional persona called Mary, who is new to the association. “Mary would then download that [content] and the association would get her contact information and persona identifying information.”

Information like where Mary works and what she does, such as whether she’s a manager or not, could be required for Mary to get the free content and would provide information for your database. “You want that so you can send them into the right channel,” said Pagano.

The information would be used to slot Mary into a persona and provide her with the type of information that people fitting that persona typically want and need to better do their jobs. “If you were promoting a conference, you would map to that,” Pagano said. “There would be a nurture journey, where you send subsequent communications—maybe two or three—and give them more free content. The ultimate ask would be at the end: ‘You can get more great content like this at our conference.’”

Pagano said to always watch the data with campaigns like this. “It comes down to what your data is telling you,” she said. “If you run this campaign and see people are downloading one piece of content and going directly into registering, then you don’t need to add content to the campaign.”

As your industry changes the needs of people involved in it change, it’s important to keep personas and databases updated. “It’s not just set it and forget it,” Paganao said. “Once you categorize, then you’re setting up lists and fields and filters so that you’re creating those journeys based on the persona.”

While associations may have data in their system about prospects or members, just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to use it. Mobile phone numbers would fall into that category. “[Text messaging] gets attention because people open 98 percent of them, compared to email opens, which are 35 percent,” Pagano says. “Texting is not good for getting people to buy, but for providing information, if they’re already at a learning session or event.”

How has your association used persons to boost its marketing campaigns? Please share in the comments.

(nadia_bormotova/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a former editor at Associations Now. MORE

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