Effective Persona Targeting in 2024: Meta and TikTok Tactics for D2C Marketers

February 6, 2024

Effective Persona Targeting in 2024:
Meta and TikTok Tactics for D2C Marketers

Persona Testing is an innovative digital marketing strategy that’s particularly useful for direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands. It’s the strategic process of creating fictional yet realistic user profiles or ‘personas’ that replicate various segments of your target market. These distinct personas integrate demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data to help you hone in on your most successful market segments. You can use these personas to target your marketing campaigns at your long-term customers to encourage repeat sales and find untapped customer demographics.

While implementing persona strategies may seem simple, the consequences of doing it wrong can silo you out of potential markets. However, the benefits to D2C brands of successful persona marketing campaigns make it well worth the effort.

Why Use Persona Testing Strategies

In 2024, understanding your end-user is more important than ever, and persona testing can be a crucial tool to connect your ads with your target audience. While it’s a complex process, it’s vital for efficiently predicting customer responses to products and campaigns. 

Persona-based testing involves analyzing extensive user data to gain insights into their subtle behavioral and preference nuances. You then use this data to create personas, which inform your creative content and how you deliver that content.

Moreover, persona-targeted content strategically guides platform algorithms to the intended audience, making your campaigns more efficient and cost-effective when it comes to reaching your target audience. It’s an iterative process that gradually uncovers and targets new, previously unrecognized audiences . As new personas are identified, brands can refine their campaigns to a more focused long-term strategy targeting the most impactful personas, ensuring fast, sustainable growth.

Creating Marketing Personas

Persona marketing heavily relies on a step-by-step process that builds your strategy based on research, data analysis, strategic testing, and controlled experimentation. 

User Analysis & Research

To create personas that accurately reflect the users in your market, you need to start by researching and analyzing data about your users. 

Start by data mining your existing customer base and analyzing that data. There are many tools available through the multitude of platforms your users are on, from Shopify to TikTok, Google Analytics to Klaviyo. Triple Whale is a great tool that brings all of this disparate data together for you. 

More than just user behavior, you’ll want to gather feedback from your customers directly, such as post-purchase surveys or customer reviews. These provide direct insights into preferences, pain points, and motivations that may not otherwise be obvious from behavioral data alone. Outside of your internal research, you’ll need to look at your competition, as well. Who are they targeting? How are they targeting them? Do you notice any underserved segments in their target audience you could potentially tap into? 

Building Your Personas

Once you’ve compiled and analyzed your customer data, you can begin to segment them into groups. The most effective persona marketing begins by segmenting into broad personas that you’ll progressively refine over time. 

For example, say you’re a skincare company. You may start by targeting females aged 25 to 35 against 45 to 65. A broad range allows you to cast with a wide net from the beginning. After you do some testing, the data shows that females between 30 and 45 are actually your top buyers. 

But it’s more than just identifying a demographic (in this example, females aged 30 to 45 who buy skincare products). Product-specific insights are also needed to build effective presonas.

Perhaps for your next test, you’ll tweak your testing to gather product-specific insights. Maybe it’s a wrinkle cream, maybe it’s acne cream. After testing those, you find that the highest performing persona is a female between 30 and 45 who is worried about wrinkles. From there, you target deeper; try an anti-aging cream versus an extra hydrating face serum. 

As the process evolves and more data is gathered, then you can shift your focus to identifying specific personas.

This gradual broad-to-narrow approach opens up a wider potential audience and prevents the risk of early siloing, where you might prematurely narrow down your audience and miss out on valuable segments.

Eventually, you have highly refined customer profiles to which you can easily adapt your marketing strategies.

These profiles should encompass a range of information, including demographic details like age, gender, and location, but go beyond that to incorporate their interests, lifestyle choices, online behavior patterns, and specific pain points. This level of detail helps in creating a holistic understanding of who your audience is and what drives them.

By combining comprehensive profiles with product-specific insights, you can create robust and effective personas that resonate with your target audience on multiple levels. 

Beyond A/B Testing: The Need for Deeper Insights

While A/B testing has been an industry staple, it has obvious limitations when it comes to persona testing. A/B testing typically involves comparing two variables to determine which is better. 

But persona targeting demands a more holistic view of the customer that A/B testing alone cannot provide. As your personas become more precise, your testing needs to adapt to account for the specific and sometimes minute differences between them. This is where multivariate testing comes into play.

It’s particularly effective at examining nuances of different personas, revealing how various aspects of a campaign resonate with each segment. 

Multivariate testing enables brands to simultaneously analyze the impact of multiple variables in a campaign. This strategic approach allows for the gathering of comprehensive information in one go, rather than learning from one variable at a time.

Gathering information faster means you can scale and adapt your strategies faster.

The downside is that multivariate testing is complicated and, if not done precisely, builds errors in your data. 

Meta and TikTok demand a marketing approach that is agile, data-driven, and nuanced. You have to be able to adapt to fast changes in consumer behavior and preferences, and traditional A/B testing simply does not allow for the fast-paced adaptation required to succeed on these platforms.

Data-Driven Persona Refinement

The main benefit of using persona marketing is its ability to connect you with untapped market segments while allowing you to dig deeper into the market segments that are already working.

Once you’ve identified a successful persona, you shift your focus to creating ads that highlight your product’s benefits for that persona. Analyzing data from these ads is crucial for refining your approach and creating a more specific and curated  persona. It allows you to identify what resonates with that persona and where they drop off. 

It’s crucial that you test a variety of personas, including those that don’t seem obvious at first, because you’ll never know what you’ll find or what will be a success. 

Energy Drink Case Study

A fitness company, for whom we handle advertising campaigns, recently began producing their own brand of energy drinks. While they expected to get a response from athletes and health enthusiasts, by doing targeted persona testing for this particular product, they were able to discover a wildly unexpected but highly profitable market segment: gamers.

People who play video games seemed like the opposite of their target demographics, but through an iterative approach to persona marketing, they connected with this community. They realized that the fitness aspect of the product became irrelevant to this new market segment, which allowed them to refine their creative for this new and different persona, more efficiently marketing their products and increasing their ROI.

This approach not only diversifies the customer base but also opens up new avenues for product relevance and engagement. It highlights the importance of persona testing and the unexpected and rewarding market success that can come with it.

Influencers as a Tool for Targeting Personas

Bringing influencers into your persona marketing is a highly effective tool on Meta and TikTok. But one thing people often get wrong when using influencers to target personas is that the influencer themself is not the persona. Instead, they are a conduit to effectively reach and engage with the persona. 

Before selecting an influencer, it’s important to thoroughly research the audience that the influencer is connecting with. Say your target persona is men over 50; that doesn’t necessarily mean that the best influencer to connect with that persona is another man over 50. Selecting the right influencer is critical and involves a thorough analysis of their audience demographics and content to ensure alignment with the target persona.

Micro influencers, with their smaller but more engaged followings, offer a budget-friendly and targeted approach. Macro influencers, though more expensive, provide a wider reach. Decisions regarding whitelisting and content usage are also pivotal. This involves determining whether the influencer will post content on their own account, thereby leveraging their organic reach, or if the content will be primarily used on the brand’s platforms.

Common Pitfalls in Persona Targeting

Persona targeting, while powerful, is fraught with potential pitfalls. Recognizing and addressing these common mistakes is crucial:

  1. Overly Specific: Avoid creating personas that are too specific at the start of your campaign.
  2. Relying on Assumptions: Always use data-driven insights to inform your persona development, not just do what you think is best.
  3. Neglecting Persona Evolution: Personas are not static. Regularly update them to reflect changes in market trends, consumer behaviors, and competitive landscapes.
  4. Ignoring the Customer Journey: Map out the customer journey for each persona to understand their touchpoints and pain points.
  5. Underutilizing Data: Utilize both quantitative and qualitative data for a comprehensive understanding.
  6. Inadequate Testing: Employ rigorous multi-variant testing methods to validate and refine your personas.

The benefits of persona testing can’t be over-emphasized, nor can the difficulties and complexities of successfully implementing persona targeting. By following strategic methods, utilizing advanced analytical software, and recruiting expert teams, you can incorporate persona-targeted content into your marketing strategy, reaching previously unreachable customers and getting the most out of the ones you have.

About the Author: Ryan Ruiz is an Associate Creative Director at adQuadrant with 12+ years of advertising and digital marketing experience. He graduated from Seattle University with a BA in Digital Design and Psychology. He has since then partnered with industries like NorCal Honda, Savage X Fenty, Outer, and 1st Phorm to build and grow their paid advertising strategies and creative. He currently resides in Los Angeles, and enjoys film, animation and interior design.