Americans who use storage spaces are just random citizens who want to dump spare junk somewhere and forget it, right? Wrong, says Jennifer Stamper, the interactive marketing manager at Salt Lake City-based Extra Space Storage (ESS).
There are four kinds of storage space users.
First, there’s tall, dark and handsome Disney character “Gaston.” He’s a logical, fast-paced reserved-space holder who is competitive, direct and goal-oriented.
“Will Ferrell” is spontaneous about getting his spot. He’s fast, emotional and lives in the moment, so Stamper
can persuade him with a good deal or a promotion.
Logical “Mr. Spock” takes his time and is methodical about making his storage space decision.
Then there’s “Mother Teresa,” who is slow like Spock, but is humanistic and emotional, which means ESS customer reviews may sway her.
These personas were the thrust of the ESS content marketing effort Stamper helped begin in October 2013 by hiring Redwood City, Calif.-based StrongView. The vendor, which has since merged with Belgium-based Selligent, built the ESS mobile site and helped optimize the email program.
The emails with the four personas created by Melissa Burdon, ESS marketing optimization director, were converting 50 percent more customers by April 2014 than they had the year before with the non-persona messaging.
That brand perspective demonstrates what HubSpot asserts: That marketers need personas because they help brands find where their best customers are and target them with relevant content, as well as helping guide product and service development so marketers can help customers “reach their goals and overcome their challenges.”
Target Marketing reached out to brands including ESS, vendors and consultants who all said the same thing — using personas aids in marketing efforts.
Stamper says the persona-based messaging is helping ESS continue to convert the Gastons, Ferrells, Spocks and Mother Teresas of the United States.
“The personas have helped us remain agile and speak to all different personality types and drive different purchasing behaviors while having one experience,” she says. “When we build out our pages and emails, we make sure we have specific elements that speak to each of the different personas in our sales funnel, because we know each persona will have different drivers for converting. We work to create these unique experiences in one so we’re giving each persona the ideal purchasing experience for them.”
“We took behavioral data and cross-tabbed it with the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator to identify four distinct personas that represent our different customers,” Stamper says.
She explains that ESS used vendors to help create the personas and deploy the content marketing.
That’s where the agreement about how to create personas ends.
The thought leaders Target Marketing contacted for this cover story agree that personas are essential to marketing, but their opinions about the necessary level of human involvement in interpreting the data vary widely.
“The most important comment on personas is that marketers should not fall in love with them,” says Richard H. Levey, a New York-based trade writer. “Personas can be great internal shorthand for initial attempts at addressing groups of consumers, but there’s a very real risk of a marketer getting so wrapped up in what the models show characteristics should be that the marketer ends up ignoring expressed consumer behavior or preferences.”
However, Chris Wareham, senior director of product management at Adobe Analytics, thinks machine-learning can get it right. Marketers just have to use the tool correctly.