The past ten years have witnessed a flurry of evolution in digital marketing. Instead of building up vague pictures of customer segments based on third-party research, we’re now able to target campaigns toward subscribers with specific attributes — and adapt our approaches in response to their behavior.
But even as yesterday’s “one-size-fits-all” campaigns have gone as extinct as cassette tapes and VCRs, many marketers remain committed to the outdated concept of customer segments — along with the fake, artificial personas that represent those segments.
These imaginary people — such as “Hanna the Homeowner” and “Matt the Marketing Director” — look and sound just as obsolete as the approach they stand for.
Now that we’re able to map adaptive journeys for individual subscribers, we simply don’t need personas anymore.
Here’s why it’s time to leave personas behind, as we step into the new world of individualized personalization.
Persona-based predictions aren’t all that precise by today’s standards.
Some of us have gotten so accustomed to relying on customer personas that we forget why we created them in the first place: to make actionable predictions about groups of customers about whom we had limited data. Although personas once helped us make reasonably accurate segmentation decisions, they’ve outlived their usefulness. In today’s world of one-to-one personalization, segment-based emails just don’t feel as personal as they used to.
Adaptive individual journey modeling makes personas a lot less useful.
Back in the early days of digital outreach, we had little choice but to segment our customer lists based on patchy datasets from previous quarters. While yesterday’s segments helped us send reasonably relevant content, this approach leaves us scrambling when customers’ interests and lifestyles suddenly change.
By contrast, today’s adaptive journey modeling tools — like those we’ve developed at Coherent Path — tailor each piece of content in response to every customer’s latest clicks. Segmentation simply isn’t precise enough to target each of your subscribers with such an individualized campaign, as the latest software can.
Individual personalization connects with real customers — not personas.
To understand why individualized targeting represents such a massive leap beyond segmentation, consider a real customer who you’ve placed under the “Hanna the Homeowner” persona — who suddenly sells her home and sets off on a backpacking trip across Europe.
One possible response is to cycle through your “most popular products” until you figure out which segment this customer now belongs in. But by then, she’ll probably be flagging your emails as spam — which means you’ve permanently lost her loyalty, and access to her inbox.
What if you never put this customer in a segment in the first place — because your software generates a one-of-a-kind campaign just for her?
By the time she sells her home and jumps on a plane, your algorithm has already predicted her change in lifestyle, and serves up product recommendations that feel magically on-point. Instead of losing her loyalty, you’ve forged a connection that’ll last a lifetime.
We’d love to help your brand take the next step beyond personas, and transform your existing subscriber list and content library into millions of individually tailored campaigns. It’s easier than you might think — and the results speak for themselves.