When first brainstorming for a marketing campaign, we tend to run on gut instinct and our past experience as to who the intended target customer is. But that knowledge can only get you so far – and a more analytical approach is required to unlock the true potential of your database-powered campaigns.

Why bother with customer profiles?

Creating customer profiles – or personas – of your ideal customers can offer invaluable insights into:

  • How and who to target your marketing campaigns
  • What ‘voice’ and design elements you should deploy to engage with each persona.
  • What problems do your potential customers face on a day-to-day basis that your product/service can help solve, and more.

And the key to unlocking the true identity of these personas? Your existing database.

Go directly to the source

Use your own data to profile and identify key personas. To build a persona consider the following criteria:

  • Are there commonalities in your database relating to your campaign that can be exploited?
  • Perhaps a pain shared by certain sized companies?
  • Different departments that share the same issues?
  • Typical customer characteristics that echo your campaign’s message?
  • Or specific geographical regions or types that reflect your planned mail-outs theme?

By analysing your existing database and creating personas you can then create segmented lists based on each persona type. From your lists, you can determine what type of customer (their job title, market sector, business size, etc.) will be most attracted to your products/services. Using this data, you can then uncover common themes that can be used to enhance your personas profiles.

Just as importantly, trends revealed in your lapsed customer list could show which customer types are not engaging with you; you can either choose to remove them from future campaigns – or better still, unearth why your messaging isn’t working for them and help you refocus your marketing strategy accordingly.

Focus on your data and what it tells you about your customers– and not what you and your team *think* are the right personas. Your customer profiles must be backed up by real-world data – not just gut instinct. Data profiling can uncover leads and avenues for your campaign that you may not have considered before. So it’s crucial to make sure that hard data inform your decisions.

Hire a data provider to help fill in the gaps

According to research, over 84% of businesses use both existing and new data to flesh out their databases. Bringing in a fresh pair of critical eyes by employing a data provider to analyse your existing database gives you all kinds of benefits when creating personas as they will:

  • Analyse your existing customers and campaign, and spot new angles that you may have missed – remember, it’s a reputable provider’s job to analyse customer records from across all industries on a daily basis.
  • Cross-reference your records with their own database, pulling in new and relevant leads for your intended campaign.
  • Offer a data cleansing service to boost your data quality, ensuring that your records are legally compliant and up to date.
  • Offer specific data packages tailored for A/B testing.

By stripping out bad data and updating and fleshing out existing entries, your sales team can benefit from a batch of new leads that will be bang on target. Thorough data analysis can also highlight potential customer profiles based on your past performance, as well as identify emerging persona trends that can be exploited by your campaign.

Find your persona focus

Having all this information can seem somewhat overwhelming, so it’s time to make sense of it all and identify how you’re going to best put it to good use. For personas to be really effective, it’s all down to the detail. You can flesh out personas in a number of ways but we suggest:


Identify three existing recent customers who best reflect a particular persona. Interview them (face-to-face or virtually) over 10-15 minutes about their business pains, how your product/service helped them if anyone else was involved in the purchasing process and more.

Contact lapsed customers

Find out what turned them off about your product/service; was it the product or your marketing campaign? The views of lapsed or disengaged customers could prove to be invaluable.


For a wider sampling, send out surveys to customers in your database (or post them on your site). Use the feedback to further feed into your persona creation programme. To increase response rates, offer incentives such as vouchers or giveaways to encourage people to take part.

Pulling your customer profiles together

Personas should be active tools within your business that both sales and marketing teams use, so to get the most out of them, they need to be tangible and memorable. You can achieve this by:

  • Adding a persona photo or illustration to put a human face to it.
  • Giving the persona a name – this helps your team to further identify the characteristics of this ideal customer and identify the persona during internal discussions
  • Including a company profile made up of the market sector, job role and business size.
  • Attributing values/goals- what matters to them in the workplace; what are they looking for, what do they need, what motivates and challenges them.

Some companies go as far as creating actual life-size cutouts of their personas to drive home that their customers are human, not just marketing targets…


Creating personas might take a little time but doing so offers invaluable insights into the mindsets of potential customers – see it as an investment into future campaign success.

They allow you to create targeted campaigns that will appeal to each persona, talking to them in their own language and appealing to their specific needs and wants, which in turn leads to sales success.

You don’t have to go it alone. Working with a data provider (including data cleansing companies) as an ally means they are able to offer expert advice and a fresh pair of eyes to drill down into your database, making the most of the data you already have AND topping it up where it’s needed. If you’d like to explore how to create customer profiles for your business, then get in touch.

Related Topics: Cleansing and analysis