How to Design Ad Campaigns that Resonate: Combining Intent and Personas

Maria Breaux
August 6, 2015

As we delve deeper into audience marketing and programmatic, we often talk about this ideal scenario of delivering the right message to the right person at the right moment. However, in that scenario, often times the focus on the “right message” gets buried. Acquiring data has become easier and more automated, but the same can’t be said for delivering a compelling experience to the customer. While tools like dynamic product ads improve the efficiency of creating millions of different versions of ads, they still don’t help marketers figure out the most important part: what’s the right hook that will convince your audience to pay attention. Figuring that out is still a very manual, creatively driven process.

In working with our clients, we’ve learned that developing the “right message” requires discipline and communication between the data analysis and creative parts of the organization. Here are three basic steps you should be taking:

Step 1: Know Your Audience; Use Personas

Knowing your audience starts with being able to paint a vivid picture of each customer – knowing their needs, their aspirations, and their goals. The best way to do this is ensuring you have accurate, compelling, and useful personas of your target audiences. The best personas are an amalgam of both qualitative and quantitative insights. The Nielsen Norman Group offers a great primer on developing data-driven personas.

Step 2: Categorize Your Intent Data

Once you start collecting intent data, it won’t be long before you find yourself being deluged by it. The challenge we face constantly is figuring out how to categorize data in the most useful ways.

There are two basic ways we start categorizing intent data – the first is based on signals that indicate how likely a user is to take an action, the second is signals that show how valuable that user might be. By mapping these segments, we can start to build a narrative of where they are in the buying cycle, and what messages might resonate with them.

Step 3: Think “Personal” Not “Programmatic”

In the equation of being in the right place at the right time with the right message. Having the right message is the most important part of that equation. Studies have shown that creative quality, not targeting or optimization, is the primary reason why brand campaigns succeed or fail.

However, developing “good” creative is easier said than done. The key takeaway is that while dynamic advertising will help operationally, simply rotating a never ending stream of images, copy and colors, to try to hit upon a “winning” combination will not deliver an ideal customer experience. It is essential that any design and copy template start by speaking the right language, is considerate of where your customers might be in the funnel, and takes into account the contexts where they’re going to encounter your ads.

By leveraging intent data with your existing understanding of your customers, you can start making your data work harder and smarter for you. Optimized targeting and compelling, customer-first creative is a powerful combination that will help you drive incremental results.

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