3 Steps to Applying Your Personas to Segmentation

Targeting and Personalization


You have spent months creating your list of personas. You’ve given them all names and painstakingly vivid (and hopefully, useful and relevant) details, such as how large the team is that they manage, or how often they are on a plane. The question is, what comes next? How do you actually humanize these personas, find them in the marketplace, and target them appropriately?

The answer lies in using technology to create segments, and tailor your marketing to each persona by assigning it a segment. Segmentation is the practice of dividing your database into identifiable groups for the purpose of tailoring your marketing and communication to your target audiences.

Here are 3 steps to mastering a personalized approach to marketing, all stemming from the research and work you did as you developed personas.

1. Map Personas to Segments

Most B2B companies have a set of personas usually developed by product marketing teams to understand and add context to the buyer. A persona can be very detailed, containing information on his purchasing authority, pain points, and motivators. However, to be able to target personas and make personas actionable, you need to map them to the data you have in your engagement platform. Here are some examples of important attributes of your personas and the corresponding data field you can reference:

Persona Maps

This exercise will also shed light on opportunities to enrich the data you already possess. One way to get more information directly from your website visitors is to use progressive profiling, a technique where each time someone comes to your website, she sees a different form, with each form asking for incrementally more/new information. Progressive profiling not only provides your sales and marketing teams with more information to target and tailor their approach but also results in higher conversion rates with shorter forms. Additionally, consider using data enrichment vendors to gather inferred information such as tech stack used by companies, or other firmographic data.

2. Score Segments Based on Attributes

Once you know how to identify your personas in your database, the next step is to develop a scoring methodology. It’s crucial to consider not only demographic attributes but also behavioral attributes.

Here are some commonly used attributes:

  • Demographic: industry, company size, geography and seniority level
  • Behavioral: website engagement, event attendance, and webinar registrations

For example, your decision-maker personas may be more inclined to download content assets focused on driving ROI compared to your practitioner personas, who may be more interested in content on day-to-day productivity. Hence, downloading those content pieces should be scored higher than others if you want your sales team to prioritize decision-makers. Personas who are later in the buying cycle should also be scored higher based on their actions- for example, requesting product demos.

Many engagement marketing platforms have the capabilities for setting robust and complex scoring systems. At Marketo, for behavioral scoring, we start by determining the buying stage as well as the investment needed for certain interactions (e.g. reading a blog post vs. attending an event), before we decide on a score

3. Apply Your Segments and Scoring to Marketing Programs

With all the setup processes behind you, it is time to start targeting and engaging your customers and prospects with relevant information. Here are some channels that you can tailor your messaging to reach your target audiences:

  • Email marketing: a great way to make personalization happen at scale is through dynamic content. Marketing automation platforms, like Marketo, enable users to easily set up segmentations and tailor emails to the chosen segments within a single program.
  • Content syndication: Today, marketers are able to layer intent data on top of attributes like job title and company name. New technologies in this space look for an increase in research on your product and signal when and what customers want to hear. This enables marketers to increase relevance, drive more engagement, and ultimately generate more conversions.
  • Display advertising: Targeting audiences through Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and several other advertising channels have become more and more precise in the recent years. Marketers are now able to target by granular firmographic and behavioral data, as well as measure the results accurately.

Segmenting, like personas, will be unique to your business and will depend on your industry, company function, and prospects. It is important to remember that personas and segmentation go hand-in-hand. The latter should stem from the former. So, even if there are different individuals or teams working on each, they need to be working together. Following this structured and systematic approach will foster greater alignment, higher quality leads and an integrated approach to marketing.

Have you encountered any challenges creating personas or segments? What strategies have you used in the past? I’d love to hear about your strategies in the comments.