3 Rules for Applying Personas to E-mail Marketing

Ian Lurie

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

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. 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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