October 8, 2020

Persona-Based Marketing: What Data you Need to Get Started

In today’s digital marketing landscape there are a lot of buzzwords. Persona-based marketing often falls in that category. Odds are you have heard of this marketing technique; since 2011 interest in persona- based marketing has grown by more than 5x. You may have even considered using persona-based marketing in your own digital efforts but didn’t pursue it because the barrier to entry is high. Why? Because it’s tough to know what data to include to start building personas. This is especially true if you have access to both data you have collected yourself and data from third parties. Here at Statwax we put together this quick guide to help you find the right balance between first and third party data for persona building.

What is first party data?

First party data is data that your company has collected directly from your customers or website. This data is crucial and will make up the bulk of the information for creating data-driven personas. As it is collected from your customers, this data will be stored in your CRM and will be used in the first step of building personas. 

What is third party data?

Third party data is useful because it can help identify attributes of your persona that you may not have access to in first party data. Some of these attributes include:

  • Household income
  • Household size
  • Psychographics


This data is most useful in crafting the description of each persona. It helps you feel like you “know” each persona.

There are a number of third party data vendors that can be used and we recommend shopping around to ensure you are getting accurate data for a reasonable price. 

For some companies first party data will be enough to build personas. However, if you have used your first party data and still feel like your personas are incomplete it’s time to acquire some third party data. 

Using data to build personas

The first step in the persona building process is clustering customers based on transactional data. This data will include total transactions, total revenue, items purchased and more. 

After clustering customers based on transactions you will immediately start to notice trends. These can include identifying who are your big spenders and who only purchases from your company once.

Once you have established your clusters you can begin to further analyze each set of data. This is where the rest of the data in your CRM comes into play. You can begin to look at different demographic breakdowns, location analysis, frequency of purchases and most common products purchased. Your CRM data will be very important in building personas, but will not be enough to make them fully useful for marketing campaigns. 

Additional data sources for persona building

To round out the personas, we turn to additional data sources such as website data and Google Analytics.

Your website data is important to the persona building process because it helps you further understand the customer journey for each persona. When analyzing website data you will want to focus on the journey each customer takes before a purchase. This includes the number of sessions, what days they visited your website and what source / medium lead them to your website. Using this data you will be able to identify the length of each persona’s journey, the steps they took along the way and what content on your website resonated with them.

Personas can be an effective tool for digital and SaaS marketing but can cross over to other aspects of your business. In digital marketing, personas can influence your ad spend and budget per platform. They can also allow you to tailor your ads to specific audiences so that ad copy and imagery resonates with your target audience. You will also be able to have very specific ad buys with companies that your personas are interested in. Personas can also be useful for your sales team and they can influence content on your website. 

In today’s digital world it sometimes feels like we have so much data and nothing to do with it. Now that you know what data is most important for building personas, your company can begin the process of creating accurate, data-driven personas that will improve your customers’ journey.

Need help building out your own personas? Reach out to our experts today.

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