3 Rules for Applying Personas to E-mail Marketing

Ian Lurie Sep 28 2007

Last time we talked about how you apply personas to your overall internet marketing strategy. Now we’ll get a little more tactical, and use ’em where most folks forget: E-mail Marketing.

Follow these three rules:

  1. Design for convenience, for that persona. ‘Convenience’ means different things to different people. For me, it means messages I can easily scan and delete or act on. For someone else, it might mean all the information they need, right in the e-mail.
  2. Tailor every offer to that persona. Sending a 10% off deal to a persona who wants luxury at any cost won’t get you much.
  3. Refresh your memory. Every time you launch an e-mail campaign, review your personas. Otherwise you’re going to drift into what I call ‘coupon land’, where every e-mail starts with ‘20% Limited Time offer!!!!’ or some such. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad offer. Just make sure it’ll work for your audience.

And with that, a quick example that I received today:

Here’s an e-mail sent by TheNerds.net (yeah, yeah, laugh it up):

Email Newsletter Design

If they created accurate personas, they aren’t using them. They send me special offers on decidedly geeky items, like cables for my home-made hard drive enclosure. What are the odds that someone like me would be downloading images from every e-mail, the moment I receive that e-mail? Zero.

Now, look at the same e-mail, viewed in the preview pane of my e-mail software:

Email viewed from preview pane

Not exactly compelling, is it? If TheNerds.net created personas, they undoubtedly would figure out that we’re, well, nerds. As such, we like text e-mail, or at least e-mail we can scan very, very rapidly and then delete or read it. I’ll delete this e-mail every time.

To create an e-mail that really caters to The Nerd persona, they should have at least a line or two of plain old text that tells me why I want to read this e-mail. For instance:

Save $10 on Cables To Go Orders

And, they should have a subject line that’s more compelling than ‘Cables2Go’.

E-mail marketers, have mercy on us. Think about those personas before you click ‘send’.

Previous articles about Personas:
Creating Great Personas
The 4 Rules of Personas

tags : conversation marketing


  1. Stacy


    I was just talking with a client about this need. Not in terms of personas..um, per se…but which target market (persona) would gain the most revenue and starting email campaigns based on that target market.

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