Persona Development: The Synergy of First and Third Party Data

With all the data that’s available to us, sometimes marketers experience a bit of what we call, a data overload. More specifically, we are sometimes too quick to turn to demographic appends or marketplace data as the “silver bullet” solution. While third party data plays an extremely valuable role in understanding the customer and prospect landscape, we have ultimately learned that it cannot replace the insights gleaned from breaking down and reviewing our own customer data. This being said, with the two sources working together, marketers can access a much more complete picture of their target audiences, and can use insight-driven analytics to best approach each segment with the right strategy.

Third party marketplace data greatly widens our knowledge of the customer landscape. It provides a more comprehensive overview of demographic, lifestyle and purchase preference or behavior that ultimately allows us to detect certain niche audiences we can acquire and retain as loyal customers. It also separates the good customer from the best customer. Like we discussed in the first two parts of this series, distinguishing the good from the best customers involves an understanding of the customer’s lifecycle with the brand. Is she actually connecting or engaging with campaigns? Does she eventually convert? Is she part of the right segment that’s attracted to the kind of brand we are? In addition to answering these questions, the lifecycle process also gives us insight into how we can transform a one-time interaction into a long term value relationship.

And so we come to the third part of our analysis, which really addresses the crux of the customer analytics phenomenon. We can now leverage the complete view of our data to assign values to each customer segment, and move into developing unique personas. With this data in a centralized source and all working to maximize the view of each customer, marketers can execute on more strategic and focused campaigns. Here’s how:

Let’s pose a hypothetical scenario for customer persona development – one that we have identified as a good customer group, but one that we can cultivate into a best customer. We’ll call the segment “Chic Society”, based on the third party demographic and lifestyle data we were able to gain about this particular niche. Chic Society households are very business and culturally oriented, and they generally do not have children. The average income is somewhere around $170,000, with an average age of each person in the household being 56. Chic Society has a high interest in activities like traveling, cycling, boating and sailing, and they are more than likely to own a luxury car, like a Cadillac or Lexus. Add all of this valuable third party data to an understanding of this segment’s past purchases, channel preferences and how long they’ve engaged with the brand, and you can now determine if this persona is one worth targeting more aggressively. If you’re a luxury cosmetics brand, for example, Chic Society can be (if they are not already) transformed into a best customer segment.

In this scenario, the combination of first and third party data, and not one source exclusively, is key to unveiling more complete insights. With analytics now functioning at their best, these customer profiles will guide strategies for media, content, creative and offer development – all that have a much better chance of engaging, retaining and creating a long term relationship.

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