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Using Personas for Email Marketing

Author's avatar By Kath Pay 05 Nov, 2013
Essential Essential topic

Blending personas and personalities to increase conversions in email marketing [Part 1]

It’s a well-known fact that some of the greatest results can be gained by combining personalisation and persuasive architecture to deliver what the customer wants.

In this 2 part post I will look at approaches to leverage 2 types of buyer personas to use to increase conversions within your email marketing programme.

When combining both of these buyer persona styles we’re ensuring that we deliver not only the copy, TOV, and offers/merchandise that our buyer wants and expects from us but we’re also delivering the experience that will enable them to convert according to their temperament.

So let’s look at the two different types of Buyer Personas. For clarity's sake, I’m labelling them differently to how they’re labelled elsewhere:

  • Persona: This addresses the motivation (i.e. what the buyer needs, what are their challenges and goals, what motivates them  etc)
  • Personality: This addresses their temperament (i.e what triggers they respond to, how they navigate, read and perform tasks etc)

In this post [Part 1] of this series, I’ll be addressing the Persona based upon motivation

For more general guidance on personas I recommend the Smart Insights Customer Persona Toolkit - it's  well worth a look to gain inspiration and direction for creating your own personas. Smart Insights have more guidance in creating personas in Dave’s post and Adele’s post.

The purpose of this post is to give examples of how to use personas within your email marketing programme. Whilst the concept of using Personas is still very much underutilised within websites, it is even more so within email marketing. However, when you combine personas and email together you will find that you have a very powerful team – giving you a wonderful way to target, segment and personalise offers, content and products.


So let’s look to see how a B2B brand and a B2C brand are using Persona’s within their email marketing programme.

B2C Case Study

Kevin Hillstrom has written a book on a case study of personas for a catalogue retailer, and it is recommended reading. Whilst I’m not addressing too much detail about these personas here (you can read that in the book), we’re going to look at how he was able to successfully use these personas to gain a significant uplift in sales by using email marketing.

Let's Meet Judy:judy

  • Average age = 51 to 67 years old.
  • An old-school marketing veteran.
  • Likes best sellers, merchandise that has always worked for her.
  • Likes sale events.  Email strategy could include sale events personalised for Judy.
  • Least likely to click-through and convert via email


  • Average age = 35 – 51 years old.
  • Most likely to click-through and convert via an email campaign, likes high email frequency (2-4x per week).
  • Wants to see new merchandise.
  • Email drives her to Google to find free shipping, % off promotions.  Email leads to searches … added expense.
  • Just give Jennifer free shipping, that’s what she is looking for.

...and Jasmine:jasmine

  • Average age = 19 – 35 years old.
  • Social / Local / Mobile.  Email is often viewed via iPhone / iPad.
  • Cannot afford expensive items, so make life easy for Jasmine, offer her inexpensive items via email campaigns.
  • Least valuable of the personas, not loyal.
  • Curate, tell Jasmine what to buy and why she should buy it.

By sending these personas the types of offers and deals via email, they’re personalising the experience for them and by combining Personas with merchandising personalisation they received a 20% increase in annual sales attributed to email marketing.

B2B Case Study - Hubspot:

Using their Persona template, Hubspot created their own personas and segmented their database according to these 3 main personas. They then achieved personalisation by sending the relevant information that was relevant to their personas’ goals and challenges.

Main Persona: Marketing Mary


Secondary Persona: Owner Ollie

ollieSecondary Persona: Enterprise Erin


By segmenting and sending relevant information to these personas via email, Hubspot gained an increase of 16% uplift in clickthrough's.


If you’d like to find out more about Hubspot are using personas, join Plan to Engage & Hubspot for a webinar "Email Marketing the Inbound Way" on Wednesday 6th November 2013. If you can’t attend, register and the webinar will be emailed to you afterwards.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of  "Blending personas and personalities to increase conversions in email marketing" where we will look at Personalities and how you can leverage this knowledge within your email marketing campaigns.

Author's avatar

By Kath Pay

Kath lives and breathes email marketing and devotes her time to developing customer-centric journeys using a holistic, multi-channel approach. Kath is internationally recognized as one the leading email marketing thought leaders and is CEO of Holistic Email Marketing. You can follow Kath on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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