The Basis for Persona-Based Communication

What makes customers tick?

That’s the question every successful marketer has asked at some point or another. The problem is, there’s no one easy answer. That’s because most businesses aren’t looking to engage just one customer. We typically target a broader audience, and each human we speak to views the world in their own unique way. So, for a utility company serving a massive customer base spanning across various demographics and propensities, “What makes customers tick?” is a question with infinite possible answers. Here’s how to identify and leverage the ones that matter.

You may have read or heard us say before that Fiveworx goes beyond meter data to engage a customer of one. But what does that actually mean? It means that we focus, not only on data related to customer age, energy use, household income, and other quantitative measures, nor do we stop at geographic location. We dig deeper into the psychographic and behavioral factors that influence customer decision making.

What makes customers “tick” and inspires them to act boils down to their fundamental beliefs, their value systems. Each customer’s attitudes, opinions, perceptions, and behaviors directly affect every decision they make, including what products to buy and what measures to complete in improving their home. Fundamental factors, such as the customer’s worldview thinking styles, deeper emotional drivers, and other psychographic characteristics, help determine how they perceive and react to every message they receive. These are vital considerations for engaging your customers.

Why? Well, for example:

I have an 11-year-old daughter. A clothing company could easily get that information and send me an email promoting preteen girls’ clothing—and that email would be somewhat personalized due to the product advertised. However, without leveraging psychometric information, the company would probably send me the exact same email as every other contact in their database with a preteen female in the household. Even though I have a daughter in the age range, the email would most likely feel impersonal and irrelevant to me. It would be much more compelling to receive a message that appeals to what motivates me to buy—whether it’s keeping my daughter on trend so she feels confident at school, saving money on a good deal, or avoiding mall crowds and checkout lines. Why would I decide to make a purchase now?

It’s easy to see how psychological information can make marketing more effective. But, as a utility looking to improve customer satisfaction and meet specific organizational objectives, how do you make psychosocial data actionable? Even once you’ve defined a way to capture the relevant psychometrics, putting them into action largely comes down to a question of scalability. How do you take psychological data from millions of customers and use it to individualize engagement at scale to drive customer loyalty, move the needle, and reach your objectives?



Personas are a scalable way of segmenting customers into groups of like-minded individuals in order to personalize communication and speak to each group most effectively to drive results.

Generally, people defined by psychosocial characteristics surround themselves with like-minded people with similar interests. It’s fair to assume that an environmental activist would be attracted to friends and companions who are also passionate about protecting the environment. That same environmental activist would likely be more motivated by a message calling upon them to “Save energy to save Earth!” than a message to “Stop wasting money on energy!”

Individuals and groups defined by psychosocial characteristics are also more likely to identify and feel a personal connection with brands/providers who share similar interests and perspectives to their own. These personal connections are what lock in customer satisfaction and loyalty. Identifying a relatively small number of personas for segmenting customers allows you to create quality touchpoints and frame each message in a way that engages and inspires customers based on their interests.

For example, our four energy personas help us sort utility customers by behavioral and psychological factors. The environmental activist I mentioned before would most likely go in the True Believer persona. A stay-at-home mom who prioritizes her children and family above all else might be a Concerned Parent. Could one customer be both? Of course! But the persona assigned to each customer is ultimately determined by which predominant drivers move them to take energy-related action. Or, as you could say, what truly makes them tick.

To learn more from Patrick about how persona-based communication helps connect with customers on a much deeper level, check out our latest white paper: Why Personalization Matters and our Persona Overview video." height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">