Raising ROI by Targeting the Right Personas and Optimizing Content and Experience Design

Shift the curve for your marketing and promotions ROI by targeting the right personas and optimizing content and experience design

As a marketer, one of your primary goals is to maximize the return on investment (ROI) from your marketing and promotions spend, even as you sustain and deepen the emotional connection your customers have with your brand. To achieve this, it's crucial to target the right personas with a propensity to engage with your brand and optimize your content and experience design for them. This approach allows you to deliver personalized and relevant experiences that resonate with your target customers, leading to increased engagement, brand love, and higher ROI. 

Marketers are increasingly broadening their focus beyond developing great advertising campaigns to building memorable and emotionally engaging experiences. Digitization of the customer’s path to purchase has enabled greater personalization of the content they consume. Increasingly this is via owned and earned media rather than paid media, as brands build 1:1 relationships and leverage 1st party data to drive more effective journey orchestration that serves up the right content, at the right time, via the right channels to drive engagement, loyalty, and brand advocacy. Moreover, as brands race to enhance their 1st party data, they are looking to optimize the ways they establish relationships directly with customers and keep them engaged through the right content-based experiences. Whether through ecommerce, digital shopper marketing, loyalty programs, social influencer campaigns, or other content-based experiences in the home, on the go, or in the store, these investments are a critical part of your marketing mix.

In an earlier blog, I gave a shout out to the “Moveable Middle” growth framework that MMA Global has developed, backed up by experiments with its members. This is highly relevant as you look to optimize your marketing and promotions and one of the reasons why I’m excited to be acting as a CX subject matter expert with MMA Global. The ROAS for media campaigns is highest when you target your campaign spending to audiences with a propensity to engage with your brand that aren’t already promoters. Taking this a step further, when you better coordinate your investments in content-based experiences along the customer journey with your paid media campaigns and tap into better insights to deliver the right experience for your “Moveable Middle”, the ROI of your overall marketing spend across paid, owned, and earned media will be highest.

 So, what opportunities should you focus on and where should you start to deliver value most quickly? And how can you develop true data-driven approaches to designing and optimizing content-based experiences?

To begin with, identifying the right personas is essential. A persona represents a fictional character that is a segment of your target audience. By understanding the characteristics, needs, preferences, behaviors, and emotions of your personas, you can tailor your experience design and activation efforts to engage them more effectively. Conducting thorough market research and leveraging advanced analytics can help you identify the personas with a propensity to engage with your brand so that you can coordinate your brand and CX investments in a way that optimizes both brand love and customer lifetime value.

You will need to get beyond more qualitative and siloed approaches that most companies typically use when they invest in personas. To make your CX investments more actionable and scalable, you will need to turn your personas into a larger number of micro-segments that you can find through the right combination of 1st and 3rd party data, and invest in a journey-orchestration platform like Optimove that enables you to drive continuous experimentation at scale for how to combine the right content with the right calls to action through the right channels across your micro-segments. By focusing on micro-segments, you will bring a persona-based approach closer to 1:1 personalization and better manage the costs of complexity to scale your content investments better, faster, and cheaper. And for this to be most effective, you will need an ability to track these micro-segments’ propensity to engage with your brand, and to tailor your efforts to them based on a steady stream of customer insights.

Once you have identified the target personas and micro-segments, the next step is to optimize your content and experience design to resonate with them. Start by developing a deep understanding of their pain points, motivations, and aspirations. Craft compelling messages and storytelling that address their needs and desires and align your brand positioning with their values.  To make these insights most valuable, you should also ground them in a deep understanding of your customers’ unconscious thoughts and feelings about your brand, and how they feel interacting with you along their journey. This will allow you to make your personas much more valuable as a design tool, while also enabling you to track whether the experiences you are delivering are congruent with the emotions you are looking to evoke along the customer journey. For more on these leading practices, see my blog series for Reimagining Insights here that I’ve been collaborating on with Lou Carbone from Experience Engineering.

Shifting the curve for your marketing and promotions ROI while creating a flywheel for growth requires a “both and” approach that combines creativity with analytics, insights with action. Leveraging data and analytics is crucial for optimizing your content and experience design, especially when paired together with great marketing that evokes a deeper emotional connection with your brand. By harnessing customer data and analytics that bring together your experience (X) and operational (O) data, you can gain valuable insights about how your target personas interact with your brand across various touchpoints and how this makes them feel. This data-driven approach enables you to refine your marketing strategies, personalize your messaging, and deliver the right content to the right personas at the right time. Additionally, implementing marketing automation and AI-powered recommendation engines can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your content delivery, ensuring that each interaction is tailored to the individual needs of your target personas. For more on these topics, please see my three-part video interview with Greg Kihlstrom from GK5A here titled “Are we really ready for an AI-driven customer experience?”

In addition to personalization, it's essential to optimize the overall experience design across all touchpoints. Ensure that your website, mobile app, social media platforms, and other customer-facing channels provide a seamless and intuitive experience. Conduct user testing, gather a steady stream of customer listening signals from platforms like Qualtrics, and iterate on your experience design to eliminate any friction points and create a delightful user experience. Investing in user experience (UX) design and user interface (UI) optimization not only enhances customer satisfaction but also improves conversion rates and ROI.

Continuous testing, monitoring, and optimization are crucial to ensure that your marketing efforts remain aligned with the evolving needs and preferences of your target personas. Leverage A/B testing, user feedback, and analytics to identify areas for improvement and iterate on your strategies. By adopting an agile and iterative approach, you can adapt quickly to changes in the market, optimize your campaigns in real-time, and continuously raise your ROI.

In conclusion, raising the ROI from your marketing and promotions spend requires targeting the right personas with a propensity to engage with your brand (your “Moveable Middle”) and optimizing your content and experience design to deliver personalized and memorable experiences for them. By understanding your target personas, leveraging data and analytics, optimizing the overall experience design, adopting marketing technology, and continuously testing and optimizing your strategies, you can maximize your ROI and drive accelerated growth.

In future blogs in this series, I’ll dive into other opportunities to accelerate top-line growth through higher customer retention, category engagement, and willingness to pay.  I’ll also address how to make these investments self-funding via cost savings in areas such as research and testing, vendor rationalization, and reducing customer service costs.

I hope this blog sparked some great ideas for you! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to discuss these opportunities further.